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The Earth Has a Soul: The Nature Writings of C.G. Jung (edition 2002)

by Meredith Sabini

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Member:locilocisu
Title:The Earth Has a Soul: The Nature Writings of C.G. Jung
Authors:Meredith Sabini
Info:North Atlantic Books (2002), Paperback, 248 pages
Collections:Your library
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Tags:psychology

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The Earth Has a Soul: The Nature Writings of C.G. Jung by Meredith Sabini

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From Jung's prolific writings, editor Sabini selected essays, letters, lectures, articles, and book segments that explore the connections between the conscious and unconscious of modern humans (1920s-1950s). Although "nature" represents the collective unconscious of humanity in this work, it is easy to extrapolate Jung's discussions to include current concerns about global warming, environmental destruction, mega-corporations, and fragile, vulnerable populations of all species, including humans. The first Jung book I've been able to read, understand and complete, this text makes Jungian psychology accessible to most readers, touching on a variety of topics, including the need for balance in the human psyche, consequences of imbalance, archetypes, WW II, and others. The book includes B&W photos of Jung, suggested readings, an index, and embedded coded references to Jung's original works. Wonderfully dense and readable, there are many literary gems throughout the book, providing "Aha!" moments and poetic grace.

"You trust your unconscious as if it were a loving father. But it is nature and cannot be made use of as if it were a reliable human being. It is inhuman and it needs the human mind to function usefully for man's purposes. Nature is an incomparable guide if you know how to follow her....

"The unconscious is useless without the human mind. It always seeks its collective purposes and never your individual destiny. Your destiny is the result of the collaboration between the conscious and the unconscious." ( )
  brickhorse | Sep 23, 2014 |
This book is a selection of Carl Jung's books, articles and personal letters, that are supposed to suggest Jung’s view on Man's relation to Nature. I read the book because a review had suggested that it was somehow related to environmentalism. It does, but in a more general sense than the way that I usually think of “environmentalism”.

In order to make it easier to accurately describe how Man interacts with Nature, Jung defines 2 types of “men”: he makes a distinction between what he considers “modern man” and “primitive man”. He emphasizes that “primitive man” is not condescending or judgmental term, but only denotes the simpler way that mankind in certain cultures interacts with Nature.

The book is very readable. Generally, I avoid books on psychology, but I would highly recommend this one. The chapters are:

1 – Jung’s Own Relationship with Nature
2 – Consciousness Slipped from Its Natural Foundation
3 – Nature Was Once Fully Spirit and Matter
4 – The Primitive Knows How to Converse with the Soul
5 – We Have Conquered Nature Is a Mere Slogan
6 – Our Civilizing Potential Has Led Us Down the Wrong Path
7 – We Know Nothing of Man
8 – Nature Must Not Win but Cannot Lose

My favorite is chapter 8, and the title is derived from a quote from Jung. That quote seems to summarize a theme in a lot of Jung's writing in this book: Man and Nature are in a conflict, and although modern man has acquired knowledge and technology to greatly minimize Natures threats to Man's survival, it would be undesirable and impossible to completely defeat Nature.

The book wasn’t quite what I expected, based on the subtitle. It does not discuss the Man/Nature conflict in terms of pollution, exhaustion of natural resources, extinctions, etc. Instead, Jung was interested in modern man’s diminishing familiarity and contact with the natural world. Based on his travels to Africa and to the American southwest, in the early 1900’s, Jung was convinced that there was a significant difference between the way people in these much less technically advanced cultures (i.e. “primative man”) related to the environment. Although he would not prefer to live in the primitive culture, he felt that modern man has lost a natural connection with Nature, and for his own sake, must rediscover it.

Anyone who was ever repulsed, bored, depressed, irritated, or confused by a college freshman psychology course, might find this a refreshing alternative to a typical textbook. Readers already familiar with psychology (Jungian or other), might still enjoy reading about the subject reviewed an uncommon perspective. The editor did a very good job compiling and linking together sources of material. ( )
  dougb56586 | Jul 21, 2013 |
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"These selections ... show a less familiar side of the famous Swiss psychiatrist, whose deep concern over the loss of our emotional and mythic relationship with nature is expressed in moving, poetic terms. While never losing sight of the rational, cultured mind, Jung speaks for the natural mind, source of the evolutionary experience and accumulated wisdom of our species. Through his own example, Jung shows how healing our own living connection with Nature contributes to the whole." -- Back cover.… (more)

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