Aion VII

Aion VII

Carl Jung
卡尔 荣格


267 “Mater Alchimia” could serve as the name of a whole epoch.
Beginning, roughly, with Christianity, it gave birth in the sixteenth
and seventeenth centuries to the age of science, only to
perish, unrecognized and misunderstood, and sink from sight in
the stream of the centuries as an age that had been outlived.


But, just as every mother was once a daughter, so too was alchemy.
It owes its real beginnings to the Gnostic systems, which Hippolytus
rightly regarded as philosophic, and which, with the
help of Greek philosophy and the mythologies of the Near and
Middle East, together with Christian dogmatics and Jewish
cabalism, made extremely interesting attempts, from the modern
point of view, to synthetize a unitary vision of the world in
which the physical and the mystical aspects played equal parts.


Had this attempt succeeded, we would not be witnessing today
the curious spectacle of two parallel world-views neither of
which knows, or wishes to know, anything about the other.
Hippolytus was in the enviable position of being able to see
Christian doctrine side by side with its pagan sisters, and similar
comparisons had also been attempted by Justin Martyr.

假如这个企图当时成功,我们今天将不会见证到这个耐人寻味的景象,两个并列的世界观的景象。其中没有一个世界观知道,或希望知道关于另外一个世界观的任何事情。海普利塔斯所处的立场让人羡慕,因为他能够看见基督教的信条,跟它的异教徒的姐妹们相提并论。贾斯丁 马泰尔也曾经企图做这些的比较。

To the honour of Christian thinking it must be said that up till the
time of Kepler there was no lack of praiseworthy attempts to
interpret and understand Nature, in the broadest sense, on the
basis of Christian dogma.


268 These attempts, however, inevitably came to grief for lack
of any adequate knowledge of natural processes. Thus, in the
course of the eighteenth century, there arose that notorious rift
between faith and knowledge.


Faith lacked experience and science
missed out the soul. Instead, science believed fervently in
absolute objectivity and assiduously overlooked the fundamental
difficulty that the real vehicle and begetter of all knowledge is
the psyche, the very thing that scientists knew the least about
for the longest time.


It was regarded as a symptom of chemical
reactions, an epiphenomenon of biological processes in the
brain-cells—indeed, for some time it did not exist at all. Yet all
the while scientists remained totally unaware of the fact that
they were using for their observations a photographic apparatus
of whose nature and structure they knew practically nothing,
and whose very existence many of them were unwilling to admit.


It is only quite recently that they have been obliged to take into
their calculations the objective reality of this psychic factor. Significantly
enough, it is microphysics that has come up against
the psyche in the most tangible and unexpected way. Obviously,
we must disregard the psychology of the unconscious in this connection,
since its working hypothesis consists precisely in the
reality of the psyche. What is significant here is the exact opposite,
namely the psyche’s collision with physics. 1


269 Now for the Gnostics—and this is their real secret—the
psyche existed as a source of knowledge just as much as it did for
the alchemists. Aside from the psychology of the unconscious,
contemporary science and philosophy know only of what is outside,
while faith knows only of the inside, and then only in the
Christian form imparted to it by the passage of the centuries,
beginning with St. Paul and the gospel of St. John. Faith, quite
as much as science with its traditional objectivity, is absolute,
which is why faith and knowledge can no more agree than
Christians can with one another.


27° Our Christian doctrine is a highly differentiated symbol that
expresses the transcendent psychic—the God-image and its properties,
to speak with Dorn. The Creed is a “symbolum.”


This comprises practically everything of importance that can be ascertained
about the manifestations of the psyche in the field of
inner experience, but it does not include Nature, at least not in
any recognizable form.


Consequently, at every period of Christianity
there have been subsidiary currents or undercurrents
that have sought to investigate the empirical aspect of Nature
not only from the outside but also from the inside.


27 1 Although dogma, like mythology in general, expresses the
quintessence of inner experience and thus formulates the operative
principles of the objective psyche, i.e., the collective uncon-
scious, it does so by making use of a language and outlook that
have become alien to our present way of thinking.


The word “dogma” has even acquired a somewhat unpleasant sound and
frequently serves merely to emphasize the rigidity of a prejudice.
For most people living in the West, it has lost its meaning as a
symbol for a virtually unknowable and yet “actual”—i.e., operative—


Even in theological circles any real discussion of
dogma had as good as ceased until the recent papal declarations,
a sign that the symbol has begun to fade, if it is not already


This is a dangerous development for our psychic
health, as we know of no other symbol that better expresses the
world of the unconscious. More and more people then begin
looking round for exotic ideas in the hope of finding a substitute,
for example in India.


This hope is delusory, for though
the Indian symbols formulate the unconscious just as well as
the Christian ones do, they each exemplify their own spiritual
past. The Indian teachings constitute the essence of several
thousand years of experience of Indian life.


Though we can
learn a lot from Indian thought, it can never express the past
that is stored up within us. The premise we start from is and
remains Christianity, which covers anything from eleven to nineteen
centuries of Western life. Before that, there was for most
Western peoples a considerably longer period of polytheism and


In certain parts of Europe Christianity goes back
not much more than five hundred years—a mere sixteen generations.
The last witch was burnt in Europe the year my grandfather
was born, and barbarism with its degradation of human
nature has broken out again in the twentieth century.



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