"Had this type not existed, there would have been no prophets in Israel." C. G. Jung
Dear James Graham,
In this issue of the "Becoming Whole" letters, we consider an arena of consciousness that has no dimensions: it is not visible nor tangible, yet it contains contents that are indispensable to both the individual and civilization. The comments in this article were partially born from a recent online webinar we offered on the subject.
"Introverted intuition is directed to the inner object, a term that might justly be applied to the contents of the unconscious. The relation of inner objects to consciousness is entirely analogous to that of outer objects, though their reality is not physical but psychic. They appear to intuitive perception as subjective images of things which, though not to be met with in the outside world, constitute the contents of the unconscious, and of the collective unconscious in particular." C. G. Jung
"There is more in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act I
We can thank Jung for seeking more than is dreamt of in purely materialistic philosophies. Intuition, and introverted intuition in particular, transcends the normal empirical frameworks of time, space and causation, for it apprehends a kind of invisible fabric of consciousness that is not constrained by space and time. Jung termed that fabric the "collective unconscious."
The collective unconscious is neither inert, nor stagnant, nor dormant but rather dynamically active and seemingly itself "conscious." Jung favored a passage from Schopenhauer to help comprehend the nature of abundant images potentially gleaned from the collective unconscious: "It is like a living, self-developing organism endowed with generative power, constantly bringing forth something that was not put into it."
That living, self-developing organism is what introverted intuition apprehends. Introverted intuition provides the clearest view to the images actively arising from that dynamic field of consciousness, or as Jung termed it, "the background processes of consciousness."
"In this way introverted intuition perceives all the background processes of consciousness with almost the same distinctness as extraverted sensation registers external objects. For intuition, therefore, unconscious images acquire the dignity of things. . . .The images appear as though detached from the subject, as though existing in themselves without any relation to him." (CW 6, par 657)
Jung used the term "image" to characterize what is perceivable from that field. These images constitute a second arena of consciousness, so important to the human psyche, that five of Jung's eight types are oriented to them, though introverted intuition provides the clearest view.
The image is packed with meaning for current circumstances; it is actively responsive to ego consciousness.
"The inner image is a complex structure made up of the most varied material from the most varied sources. It is no conglomerate, however, but a homogeneous product with meaning of its own. The image is a condensed expression of the psychic situation as a whole, and not merely, nor even predominantly, of unconscious contents pure and simple. It undoubtedly does express unconscious contents, but not the whole of them, only those that are momentarily constellated. This constellation is the result of the spontaneous activity of the unconscious on the one hand and of the momentary conscious situation on the other, which always stimulates the activity of the relevant subliminal material and at the same time inhibits the irrelevant." (CW 6, par 745)
These images form a network of support for advancing the individual, and often society as a whole, toward new potentialities.
"But since these images represent possible views of the world which may give life a new potential, this function, which to the outside world is the strangest of all, is as indispensable to the total psychic economy as is the corresponding human type to the psychic life of a people. Had this type not existed, there would have been no prophets in Israel." (CW 6, par 658)
Intuition apprehends the image holistically; it appears "whole and complete." While extraverted intuition may perceive a whole tangible project, introverted intuition apprehends a whole picture of life on a grand scale, carrying a profound sense of conviction.
"In intuition content presents itself whole and complete, without our being able to explain or discover how this content came into existence. Intuition is a kind of instinctive apprehension, no matter of what the contents. . . . As with sensation, its contents have the character of being 'given' in contrast to the 'derived' or 'produced' character of thinking and feeling contents. Intuitive knowledge possesses an intrinsic certainty and conviction." (CW 6, par 770)
Introverted intuition is oriented to an inner world of unending fascination that ushers up images, ideas, ideals and visions important for both the individual and the collective. The images are not a petty private fantasy, to be written off as trivial imagination. Rather, the intuitive imagination often captures an image or vision that is packed with meaning and possibilities. Once the image is apprehended, it feels not just "real," but more real than real.
Founder, Gifts Compass Inc
Author or Jung's Indispensable Compass
Read the first chapter
Engaging Jung's types for individuation