“The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.”
–Alfred North Whitehead

Uncovering the Unconscious: Towards an Integral Psychology

This paper was presented at the Jung Society of Monterey in 2019 (video below, unfortunately with poor audio):



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7 responses to “Uncovering the Unconscious: Towards an Integral Psychology”

  1. Beatrix Murrell Avatar

    Interesting post. Years ago I put myself through some five years of dream work, mainly leaning on Jungian psychology and symbolism. Very helpful, bringing the depths of my personal unconsciousness into a more conscious state. And from my experience with this, I am pretty much in agreement with you about the “integrative” aspect of this.

    On the other hand, there are loads of other psychological perspectives. One that I intend to pursue, especially when it comes to perhaps comparing our little inner universe with the greater outer universe is that of Gestalt. I have found intriguing the ideas of “patterns,” if you will.

    Probably you have read Fred Alan Wolf’s book THE DREAMING UNIVERSE, published back in 1994. It’s actually a serious effort, coving a huge amount of territory when it comes to dreams. Indeed the bibliography in this book is worth its weight.

    Anyway, for one so young, you really seem far along down the track,
    so to speak. Keep at it. 🙂


    1. Matthew David Segall Avatar

      thanks for your thoughts, Beatrix. I have not read much about Gestalt psychology… that is Fritz Perls’ brainchild, no? I have spent a bit of time at Esalen where he lived and developed his method for several years during the 60s. “Patterns” are not that far off from Jung’s archetypes, so far as I can tell. What do you think about the comparison? When seen in light of synchronicity, archetypal events also unify the inner and the greater, the psyche and the cosmos.

      I haven’t read that particular FAW book… I have seen most of his videos and read “Mind into Matter: A New Alchemy of Science and Spirit”. I have no doubt that title is worth my time! I’ll try and get a hold of it.

      in time,

  2. Steve Avatar


    That was a great effort, except that I think that the very first paragraph is a little awkward and wobbly, in contrast to the consistent strength of the remaining prose, which I admire very much.

    As to the content, I remember reading Carl Jung’s (or, rather, Aniela Jaffe’s) _Memories, Dreams, Reflections_, which proved to be a life-changing book. It prompted me to pick up a third degree in college–in psychology. But what I came to learn in the process of getting that degree compared to what I thought I would learn turned out to be very different.

    I started off thinking that I’d learn about the logical structure and dynamics of the mind, and I did. I learned about Freud’s psychodynamic theory, a great deal about behaviorism and learning theory, and a very great deal about neuroscience. By the time that I was finished, I was talking about amygdalae, neurons, ion channels, and fear-potentiated startle responses, not dreams and the “unconscious.” Those three years represented a sequence of disillusionments. These days, I never touch the many volumes of Carl’s Collected Works that I own; I don’t even think about them.

    Have you considered that we are, essentially, biological robots, and that our consciousness will cease permanently at biological death? I don’t mean to pose this question so starkly, but I want to cut to the chase. Your delightful and sparkling prose overflows with the magnificence of what a linguistically able brain can produce, but what would happen to that ability if you suffered from prefrontal dementia or had a transorbital lobotomy?

    Not only would you not be able to write as you can now, but this very question begs us to ask, “What is identity?” If identity somehow transcends biology (and thus, some form of metaphysical dualism is valid), then whatever travails we experience in this life, the dispersion of our molecules somehow won’t annihilate our identities–i.e. us, in the deepest sense.

    By identity, I roughly mean memory, perception, sensation, encapsulation (a sense of self as distinct from other entities), computation, emotion, drives, values, aversions, “will,” locomotion, goals, high-level patterns that we might call “personality,” and an environment containing other recognizable entities to which we can relate. Is identity a high-level (literally, sociolinguistic, brain-produced) construct that applies only to a human being, or can identity exist without “matter,” and specifically, the structure that matter takes and the dynamics that that structure undergoes through the workings of its constituent parts (molecules, organs, organ systems, and so on)?

    I think that you believe that consciousness is a process. I concur. But I also think that you believe that consciousness and identity are not necessarily dependent upon matter–that, most crucially, “we” “survive” “death.” (It’s necessary to quote all three words for obvious reasons.)

    Do you believe that we survive, Matt, and if so, why?


    1. Matthew David Segall Avatar


      You’ve raised questions that I’ll be struggling to answer for the rest of my (cognitively able) life. I am rather certain I won’t be able to answer them even half-way adequately at this point in time. I’m also pretty sure that (in the deepest sense) losing my cognitive abilities will still leave “me” somatically coupled with the world, and so able to “make sense” of it in a more primordial way that the intellect has come to forget. And even dying, there is still the earth, and ultimately the universe with which to identify.

      Now, some aspect of what we normally consider our personality while alive definitely ceases when the body dies. But as a spatiotemporal process, the essence of this personality is never forgotten by the greater cosmogenic process within which it was born and perished. Despite its perishing, it remains “objectively immortal” in Whitehead’s terms. It continues to have effects in the ongoing genesis of the cosmos. This is not the egoic survival of bodily death that many religious people seem to hope for; it is the continuity of something in us that is greater than the ego, which was never born and so cannot die (“which was in the beginning, and will be in the end”). This is Jung’s immortal Self, fully integrated with death while alive; or Gebser’s Christ, transparent to the light of heaven on earth.

      The question concerning “identity” in the most general sense is a fascinating one. Fichte and Shelling had some interesting things to say about it. So did Hegel. I think in the end, Schelling came out most convincing, because he recognized not only that Spirit and Nature must always be conceived of as an identity (as Hegel did), but that it was in no sense a lop-sided or hierarchical relationship. Nature is just as real as Spirit, Body just as real as Soul. The Cosmos is not a free creation of the mind of God, but a necessary result of the logic of divinity. To be divine is to be cosmic. Spirit always has a face.

      Consciousness is a process. So is matter. If there is a fundamental stuff of which everything is made, I’d be most comfortable calling it “creativity” (Whitehead).Mind and matter are the same dynamic process of creativity, but the process appears two because of creativity’s polar relationship with itself. Whatever space-time is, it is quite clear that there is more than meets the eye. Most of the universe is not physical in the sense in which physical has been defined for the entire history of science.

      Perhaps we could say that our material and physiological aspect is the trace what was once present experience. Present mind becomes past matter. “We” leave a trail. When this particular body dies, the trail does not. Identity emerges at different levels, depending upon your perspective. So do we survive? Yes, but only on the level in which we are not two separate identities here and now, but members of the same larger being (be it Humanity, Gaia, Sol, or the Universe). What really interests me is the extent to which we might be capable of coming to experience these larger identities while still alive. Jung’s Red Book should be read as artifactual evidence of the worlds which exist beyond what is normally considered “physical.” There is a psychical world that exists in its own right even closer to our immediate experience than anything physically external.

      I quite admire the things that William Blake has to say in “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell” about all this:

      “All Bibles or sacred codes have been the causes of the following Errors.
      1. That Man has two real existing principles Viz: a Body & a Soul.
      2. That Energy, call’d Evil, is alone from the Body, & that Reason, call’d Good, is alone from the Soul.
      3. That God will torment Man in Eternity for following his Energies.

      But the following Contraries to these are True

      1. Man has no Body distinct from his Soul for that call’d Body is a portion of Soul discern’d by the five Senses, the chief inlets of Soul in this age
      2. Energy is the only life and is from the Body and Reason is the bound or outward circumference of Energy.
      3 Energy is Eternal Delight”

      Oh, and thanks for the feedback about the intro paragraph, I’ll see if I can’t give it a tune up.


  3. Beatrix Murrell Avatar

    If I may, re whether we “survive” bodily death, etc., when I was in my early 20s I experienced an out-of-body event (OBE). I was fully conscious of my personal identity and I *knew* that if I didn’t get back into my body that I would die. Really odd, there I was flailing around, with no limbs, and suddenly I was back in my body!

    This was long before all those books about the NDE and OBE became popular. I literally was scared silly by this experience and went to a doctor. He said that somehow I must have stopped breathing for a moment, and not to worry. No doubt he put a little black question mark on my medical record.

    Doesn’t matter, since I know that I had this experience–and now have come to read that it is not necessarily an unique experience. What I took away from this OBE was that I was fully conscious, albeit scared, and I was definitely intuitively aware, knowing that death was imminent if I didn’t return to my body.

    As for “proof,” well perhaps some day–until then, we can only report such incidents. The reporting is compiling, however.


  4. Footnotes to Plato Avatar

    […] of Jung’s), who completely transformed the way I conceive of the relationship between rational and religious consciousness. Eventually, like Whitehead, I came back to religion and theology (I feel most at home in the […]

  5. Intuitive Thinking as a Spiritual Activity: Socrates, Jesus, and the Wisdom of Love | Footnotes to Plato Avatar

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