Jung’s Map of The Soul and Sam Harris
It’s unbelievable how you randomly pick up some book and it just starts shaking you up instantly.
Hence there are all those deep quotes about how reading a book is dangerous and whatnot.
Jung’s map of the soul by Murry Stein now is turning out to be one such book. Carl Jung is always referred to as hard to read and boy was that true with the last book I picked up of his, even the name of which I do not remember now.
MOTS starts breaking down the psyche, part by part and explains how the parts make a whole and how they function, and with that, I now suddenly realize how difficult it is to talk about these concepts. At every step forward I feel like the need to take two steps back and cover the initial concepts first.
We can get into that later, but for this post, I now want to get into how the book immediately sets my neurons firing and the first thing which pops in is Sam Harris’s bold proclamations about the nonexistence of a free will.
Halfway through the book, the only thought in my head was “why the f*** does SH make psychological claims when he’s not a psychologist at all!”
Sam’s entire claim of negating free will stems from a few of his core arguments:
- free will is sort of an agency to do things vs not to do things, will power in simple terms
- a lot of will power is based on good upbringing, genetics, and so on.
- people do not get to choose one’s parents and genes and hence the idea of “having” will power goes out the window because it’s based on factors outside of their direct control
- hence no free will.
This made a lot of sense to me for a long time. Like SH I have been a proponent of material rationalism for a long time now. However, after reading MOTS I see that the free will debate doesn’t end with these points but rather it beings.
In fact now when I read these arguments again it feels like these are actually arguments for the existence of a free will instead of against it.
Read that again. He agrees that will power depends on good upbringing and genetics, meaning if somehow we can give those things to everybody then yes we would on average have more people in society who had a better shot at delaying gratification, striving harder, grit, focus and so on.
His conclusion about the non-existence of free will is actually a conclusion from the fact of reality that at this stage in our civilization we cannot give everybody those conditions which develop healthier self-control and will power.
What he completely misses and never even brings up is the field of psychology and psychotherapy.
He never asks the simple question of “why?”; why do people with good upbringing and genetics have more of a powerful will? This because of his complete blindness to the existence of the field which Jung dedicated his entire life to.
At this stage, I am simply appalled by how boldly he repeatedly makes the claims against free will without once leaving any scope of discussion for where the field of psychology and psychotherapy are even going.
The fact that he gets away with it is a sign of the terrible state of affairs with psychology at this point.
In the next post, I will go into the parts of the book which explain concepts SH doesn’t even know exist causing him to miss the mark so grossly.
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