Jul 15 2010

Psychology and Alchemy by C.G. Jung

The word “alchemy” in the title is suggestive of the scientific merit of this book. Jung seems to believe that psychological wisdom can be found in the writings of the alchemists, and in this work he pores over their texts in search of his own Philosopher’s Stone. The texts are far out to begin with, but Jung’s interpretations of them are even more far out. To say I “read” this book is perhaps an exaggeration; most of it was beyond the realm of readability. Freud takes a lot of heat these days for being unscientific, but compared to Jung’s bottomless penchant for mumbo-jumbo he seems positively rigorous. If you’re looking for insights in this book, it seems to me you can find just about anything you’re looking for; Jung can turn a cake recipe into font of hidden knowledge. Alchemy has been discredited in favor of chemistry; I leave it to other readers to judge how closely Jung’s theories approach scientific psychology.

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