by Marinus Jan Marijs
Dealing with the concept of archetypes one should be aware that there is a difference between Jungian archetypes and Platonic archetypes. Jungian archetypes are mostly pre-logical, psychological and evolutionary. On one hand Jungian archetypes are connected with instinctive reactions, on the other hand they are fundamental dynamic principles of creative arrangement.
Jung developed many hypotheses to account for the origin and nature of archetypes. For instance, he suggested that they consist essentially of products of the many experiences of our ancestors sedimented in a region of the psyche he called the ‘collective unconscious’. The collective unconscious comprises the psychological heritage of humanity. Every time we face an important life challenge, an archetype (a collective, transpersonal solution) can be constellated. It follows that personal conflicts, even the motivation to act in certain ways, are not exclusively ours, but to a great extent are determined by collective forces within us.
The concept of psychological archetypes was advanced by the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, c. 1919. In Jung’s psychological framework, archetypes are innate, universal prototypes for ideas and may be used to interpret observations. A group of memories and interpretations associated with an archetype is a complex ( e.g. a mother complex associated with the mother archetype). Jung treated the archetypes as psychological organs, analogous to physical ones in that both are morphological constructs that arose through evolution. Jung states in part one of ‘Man And His Symbols’ (12th printing, Nov.1973) that: “My views about the ‘archaic remnants’, which I call ‘archetypes’ or ‘primordial images,’ have been constantly criticized by people who lack a sufficient knowledge of the psychology of dreams and of mythology. The term ‘archetype’ is often misunderstood as meaning certain definite mythological images or motifs. But these are nothing more than conscious representations; it would be absurd to assume that such variable representations could be inherited. The archetype is a tendency to form such representations of a motif – representations that can vary a great deal in detail without losing their basic pattern (Wikipedia).
Platonic archetypes are trans-logical universal and eternal. Plato’s archetypes as ideal abstract forms did return in Heisenberg’s Quantum mechanics and the mathematical structure of the Cosmos.
The objects that are seen, according to Plato, are not real, but literally mimic the real Forms. In the allegory of the cave expressed in Republic, the things that are ordinarily perceived in the world are characterized as shadows of the real things, which are not perceived directly. That which the observer understands when he views the world mimics the archetypes of the many types and properties (that is, of universals) of things observed (Wikipedia).