Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Jung ... Jesus ... Does it work? Is it science?

1. The key thing about science is that you could be wrong. I know Popper made this a cardinal principle, but it's also psychologically definitive. Most people believe their opinions and will defend them against evidence - more accurately, pointing to evidence to the contrary is taken as rather juvenile, not polite. Religion is a case in point. Suppose you ask 'could you accept that you could be wrong about this ... and here are some reasons'. Would that be an acceptable dialogue?

Actually I am less concerned about religion than about Jung. Personality type theory (which I have mentioned numerous times in this blog) has explanatory power, but is it science? I don't know whether the adherents would prefer Jung to the evidence, but devastating critiques like the theory's detachment from brain architecture and evolutionary theory suggests that it cannot be the last word. However a Jungian perspective which took all this into account would just be 'scientific psychology' and not very Jungian. So there's the dilemma for the adherents. Seems OK in physics, Isaac ... you're still revered.

2. Dominic Crossan's view of Jesus's historical life and beliefs seems to pull its punches on a critique thereof. Apart from an elliptical remark late on, that if the Roman Empire had not converted, the 'dream might have died in the Galilean hills', he is silent on whether the 'Jesus project' actually had a sociological reality. I take his view to be that Jesus only envisioned on a tactical scale, and had no blueprint for an idealised community on earth. Therefore his radical egalitarian views are always an asymptotic target, and never a sustainable equilibrium state of society. However, Jesus' message is too abbreviated to know what he would have proposed if his approach had really taken hold and succeeded against the opposition of religious and roman authority. It would be an interesting analysis to study however, if someone would work on it. "Wonderful theory, wrong species"? (Wilson).

3. It's been a truism in literature that there are no new plots, only new narratives of plots. Does this mean that there are no new ideas in the human condition? After all, we don't change much as a species from generation to generation. Perhaps the only new ideas are those from science and mathematics, and they stopped being accessible to anyone but specialists a while ago. So here's a point, new ideas do not come from nowhere, they come from an intellectual (+ emotional?) confrontation with an emerging reality. In science, experiments but also theoretical messiness; in art, new conditions of living and reflection, perhaps catalysed by new technologies. When we lack the ability to do new experiments, though, science ultimately loses its anchors and becomes tidying-up mathematics or speculative mathematics. In other scientific areas (psychology again) the new technologies of brain imaging open up new science and turn our paradigms upside down.

0. I think this is where I came in.