Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

Living Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming

Archetypal Symbolism

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27771-9_9358-1

Although most commonly associated with Carl Jung (1875–1961), the concept of archetypal symbolism had its origin in the work of German anthropologist and ethnologist Adolf Bastian (1826–1905). Bastian argued that there is an underlying cognitive unity among humanity which accounts for the similarity of basic ideas that appear cross-culturally. These Elementargedanke, elementary ideas, take on particular shapes in different cultures due to being influenced by geography (Kopping 2005).

Jung modified and extended Bastian’s concept in the context of analytic psychology, giving us what is today the most common understanding of this theory. The archetypes in Jungian thought are inherited patterns of instinctual behavior arising from the collective unconscious, which is a repository of the universal “ancestral heritage of possibilities of representation” containing the “whole spiritual heritage of [hu]mankind’s evolution, born anew in the brain structure of every individual,”(Jung 1968) that...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy & Religious StudiesUniversity of Wisconsin-Eau ClaireEau ClaireUSA