Freud-Jung controversy: a failed intercultural dialogue

Ora Gruengard


Psychologists like to present the dispute between Freud and Jung as a psychological
issue, and analyze it in terms of “emotionally immature” father-son relationship. But
whether any of them was or was not “immature” in that sense, it is “cognitively
immature” to ignore the philosophical differences between their views, and, in
particular, their ideological disagreement about father-son relationships. That
disagreement not only reflects their cultural dissimilarities, it also expresses
discrepancies between their personal attitudes to their respective cultural
backgrounds, and is involved with a mutual awareness to those differences. Over and
above all that, it exemplifies a reciprocal attempt to use psychological tools in
order to criticize the other’s culture and de-legitimate and de-validate the other’s
attitude to culture. Those attempts, rather than their interpersonal “father-son”
tensions, are responsible for their failure to come into terms. Their disrupted
dialogue is, therefore, not a case of a simple failure to be aware of one’s own
cultural “conditioning” or accept the “cultural otherness” of the other. It failed
because of divergent attitudes to culture itself. As such it is a better
representative of intercultural failed dialogues than simple-minded models that are
nowadays fashionable in some culturally-minded circles.


philosophy; 20th century philosophy;

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