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Book: Archetypes in Religion and Beyond

Chapter: Conclusion

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.40877


The Jungian concept of archetypes is of immense value for critically distinguishing what is potentially of universal practical value in religious and other cultural traditions, and separating this from the dogmatic elements. However, Jung encumbered the concept of archetypes with debatable constructions like the ‘collective unconscious’ that are unnecessary for understanding their practical function. This book puts forward a far-reaching new theory of archetypes that is functional without being reductive. At the centre of this is the idea that archetypes are adaptations to help us maintain inspiration over time. Humans are such distractable beings that they need constant reminders to maintain integration with their most sustainable intentions: reminders using the profound power of symbol linked to embodied experience. This multi-disciplinary book weaves together religious studies, ethical philosophy, the psychology of bias, the neuroscience of brain lateralisation, the linguistics of embodied meaning, the feedback loops of systems theory, with a lifetime’s experience of Buddhist practice and appreciation of symbolism in the arts: all with the aim of producing a fresh understanding of the role of archetypes in religion and beyond, that can also be directly applied in practice.

Chapter Contributors

  • Robert Ellis ( - rmellis) 'Middle Way Society'