The Interconnection of Life World and Abstract World
with the ever darkling threat of War World
Just as I am pushing out my Three Worlds concept of Life Word, Market World and War World, I reach the end of Jung’s Symbols of Transformation. The book is all about the interplay between the conscious mind and the unconscious mind, how they interact and how the whole of human religion and myth and knowledge is the story of their interaction, with the conscious mind being an Abstract World and the unconscious mind being a Life World.
Above all, Jung asserts that we cannot live exclusively in the Abstract World of logic and reason, and we cannot live exclusively in the Life World of unconscious instinct. We are suspended — nay, condemned to be suspended — between the two worlds. Our rational knowledge “gives us a key to the mysterious processes enacted behind the scenes”. And yet our lives are still programmed by the mysterious workings of what we now call the “unconscious” mind of which we know next to nothing. Both Freud and Jung believed that our dreams are manifestations of the unconscious and tend to tell us to what extent our conscious minds are out of joint. Thus both Freud and Jung believed in the analysis of dreams to determine what has gone wrong.
The story of mankind in recent centuries has been a story of the explosion of science and thus an expansion of Abstract World. And the tendency of Abstract World is to marginalize Life World. In hundreds of ways, from getting our food to creating the new generation, to the technology of transportation — and do we humans love transportation — we are not in Kansas any more.
I would say that while both Left and Right celebrate the conscious world of logic and reason they have warned against Abstract World’s marginalization of Life World, but in different ways. The Left has pointed to the egalitarian society of pre-state society as a Good Thing, while proposing a super-abstract state to enforce equality that sometimes, with Stalin and Mao, reduces human society into War World. The Right tends to propose that the more abstract that society becomes the more that people are dehumanized, and proposes that we need to live in a face-to-face community of people we know and love and to whom we feel obligation. Yet the Right tends to support the abstracting of society into the market system in which people are always at the mercy of the abstract verdict of the market rather than the collective human opinion of the local community.
And yet the pursuit of the enemy in War World is a fundamental human instinct, to protect the homeland from marauders. And so, in its pursuit of capitalists, patriarchs, oppressors, racists, sexists, homophobes, to restore equality the Left is reverting to a pre-conscious Life World that instinctively fights to protect its food-growing territory from the enemy.
If science gives us “the key to mysterious processes” and enlarges the Abstract World against Life World then the market economy provides a way for humans to interact with human instincts in Abstract World. Thus, in my Three Worlds concept the challenge is for Market World and Life World to interact and develop rules for interaction and flourishing without the need to resort to War World.