The self in the thought of Kierkegaard, Sartre and Jung

Jonker, Christine (2001)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2001.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The problem explored in this study concerns authenticity, and can be formulated as the question: 'How does one become oneself? In order to answer this query, related issues must be addressed, for example: the nature of consciousness/ self-awareness; the individual's relationship to society; the meaning of existence, and so forth. The reply's of three thinkers, Kierkegaard, Sartre and Jung, will be discussed in this investigation. They have been selected for several reasons: Each of their respective theories addresses issues that are generally pertinent in contemporary society, such as: the alienation and dissociation of individuals from each other and themselves through mass-mindedness and the impersonal nature of state and religious institutions; the anxiety that many experience due to, firstly, a lack of confidence in the abovementioned institutions and, secondly, a loss of trust in existing (political, religious, moral, social) life-strategies, because these often fail to give a convincing sense of meaning and purpose to life. Each of the three thinkers places the 'self at the center of their philosophy, and addresses many similar themes which share between them a family resemblance that admits of comparison. The theories are presented in an order that · allows for a dialectical approach to the problem of self: Kierkegaard's fundamentally Christian theory is presented as thesis, and Sartre's atheistic position as anti-thesis. Jung's theory of the psyche is presented as synthesis, because it is antimetaphysical, but nevertheless claims to prove empirically that a convincing religious/ spiritual experience is the key ingredient for authenticity. The outcome of the enquiry will show that the three thinkers point from different directions towards the same basic conceptualization of the 'self: The self is both a project and a goal or, to put it differently, a journey and a destination, the goal/destination being the synthesis of the various disparate and conflicting elements that influence or make up the personality. The study as a whole echoes the three individual approaches in describing the condition of modem man as a malady or sickness, which is the lack of authenticity, of which the symptoms are falsehood, anxiety, alienation, crippled relationships, lack of responsibility and adaptibility, and perhaps, on a larger scale, issues such as social/ political injustice and conflict. The cure for this malady is an enhancement of consciousness/ awareness that is known as 'the self. The self is seen as a 'becoming' and a choice, a dynamic synthesis, something which is not given and cannot be taken for granted, but must be actively striven for. The study outlines and explores the nature and value of such a project towards the self.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie beskou die probleem van outentisiteit, wat as die vraag, 'Hoe word ek myself?', gestel kan word. Om hierdie vraag te beantwoord, moet verdere kwessies, soos byvoorbeeld die aard van (self)bewussyn, die verhouding waarin die indivudu tot die samelewing staan, en die betekenis van 'bestaan' ( eksistensie ), ook aangespreek word. Die voorstelle van drie denkers, Kierkegaard, Sartre and Jung, word bespreek in hierdie tesis. Die drie is vir verskeie redes uitgesoek: Elkeen van hulle spreek pertinente kwessies rondom die modeme samelewing aan, byvoorbeeld: individue se vervreemding en verwydering van hulself en ander weens die massa-mentaliteit en onpersoonlike aard van staats- en godsdienstige instellings; die angs en spanning wat baie ervaar as gevolg van 'n gebrek aan vertroue in bogenoemde instellings, asook 'n gebrekkige geloof in bestaande (politiese, godsdienstige, more le, so si ale) lewensstrategiee wat nie meer daarin slaag om sin of rede aan die lewe te gee nie. Elkeen van die drie denkers plaas die 'self sentraal tot hulle filosofie, en spreek temas aan wat onderling familie-ooreenkomste vertoon, en daarom onderlinge vergelyking toelaat. Die teoriee word aangebied in 'n volgorde wat 'n dialekti~se aanslag tot die probleem moontlik maak: Kierkegaard se Christelike teorie word as tese aangebied, en Sartre se ateistiese posisie as anti-tese. Jung se teorie van die psige word as sintese voorgehou, want, alhoewel dit geen metafisiese aansprake maak nie, beskou dit 'n oortuigende religieuse/ geestelike ervaring as die hoofbestandeel vir outentisiteit. Die gevolgtrekking van die ondersoek sal wys dat die drie denkers vanuit verskillende rigtings na dieselfde konsepsie van die 'self wys: Die self is sowel 'n projek as 'n doel, of, anders gestel, 'n reis en 'n bestemming. Die doel/ bestemming is 'n sintese van die verskillende, onderling botsend~ elemente waaruit die self bestaan en waardeur dit beinvloed word. Die studie in geheel volg die voorbeeld van die drie denkers deur die modeme mens se 'toestand' as 'n soort siekte te beskryf. Die simptome van hierdie siekte, of gebrek aan outentisiteit, is valsheid, angs, vervreemding, gebrekkige verhoudings, die afwesigheid van persoonlike verantwoordelikheid en aanpasbaarheid, en ook miskien kwessies soos sosiale en politiese onreg en konflik. Die remedie vir so 'n siekte is die 'self: 'n verheldering en intensifisering van bewussyn, wat gesien kan word as 'n 'wording' en 'n keuse, 'n dinamiese sintese, iets wat nie as voor-die-hand-liggend beskou kan word nie, maar wat aktief nagestreef moet word. Hierdie studie ondersoek die aard en waarde van so 'n projek gerig op die self

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