Archetypes LO26433

From: AM de Lange (
Date: 03/25/01

Replying to LO26387 --

Winfired Dressler <> writes:

>In "Psychological aspects of LO's LO26302" Gavin asked me:
>>A question for you. What do you think is the structure-process
>>behind the archetypes.? What makes the archetypes the way
>>they are?
>I have nothing to say with confidence on archetypes. I have encountered
>this word in two contexts, C.G. Jung and Senge. A day after reading
>this question, my imagination was ignited by a harmless umlomo-sentence
>in a book which I browsed intentlessly in an andrewlike manner: Archetypes
>are form without content.

Greetings dear Winfried,

Thank you for your thoughtful reply to Gavin.

My reply will be short since I came to university merely to empty my
e-mail directory. I deleted a lot of junk, glanced through the email from
other lists and then, as usual, spent far too much time on studying the
delightful LO-digests.

Yes, those who use the concept archetype, seem to think of it as a form
without content which then can be used as a template so as to fit content
to it.

After some twenty years of questioning all other possibilities, I am
convinced that content and form cannot exist independently. For example,
the first three essentialities liveness, sureness and wholeness will not
allow it. But then, what I am convinced of should merely motivate fellow
learners to question once again so as to become sure themselves, even if
they become convinced of another possibility.

Goethe also struggeled with the idea of forms which exist seemingly from
the beginning. But since he was deeply under the impression of wholeness,
he would never have subscribed to a concept like "archetype". (I wonder if
the word existed in his times.) He came with the name "Uhr-phaenomen" for
his idea. This word may perhaps be translated into English with
"protophenomenon". At one time I seriously contemplated to call the five
(the number which I have identified so far) elementary sustainers of
creativity by Goethe's "Uhr-phaenomen". An Afrikaans word for it would be
"grondform" (GER "Grundform", ENG "groundform").

In terms of liveness ("being-becoming") I can understand that when the
lifetime of some forms are so long that they go back to times immemorial,
we may be inclined to think of them as "archetypes". However, in terms of
openness ("open- paradigm") I think that certain "protophenomenon" persist
through all the higher levels of organisation which evolved from them. In
that case it is easy, but not correct in my opinion, to think of them as
"forms of which the content can be changed".

A simple example of such a "protophenomenon" which persists through higher
levels of complexity is the "cell wall". Today we use the term "system
boundary" in general systems theory. The "cell wall" had a great influence
on various systems of thinking. For example, in Christian theology,
somewhere in the medival ages, the notion emerged that God Creator lives
outside Creation so as to visit Creation only occasionally. In terms of
LEP we would now say that they began to make this Creator-Creation "cell
wall", which was still open in the early New Testament times, closed
(neither open, nor isolated). Obviously, the next step would eventually be
to make this "cell-wall" isolated, leading to what is often called secular

The seven essentialities are in a certain sense "Uhr-phaenomen". They are
each a distinctive pattern in the complex organisation of the Law of
Entropy Production. (LEP). Whenever new entropy is produced, it has to be
manifested into higher forms. Sometimes the manifestation is clearly in a
particular essentiality. For example, think of liveness
("becoming-being"). How often do we not recognise this essentiality as the
eon-lasting "process-structure" of systems?

Gavin, what do you think Goethe's idea of "Uhr-phaenomen"? I love it
because it does not exclude the "structure-process" pattern of systems, a
pattern which you are very fond of.

With care and best wishes


At de Lange <> Snailmail: A M de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre Faculty of Science - University of Pretoria Pretoria 0001 - Rep of South Africa

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