An ARCHETYPE, according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is the original pattern or model of which all things of the same type are representations or copies: PROTOTYPE: IDEA: an inherited idea or mode of thought in the psychology of C.G. Jung that is derived from the experience of the race and is present in the unconscious of the individual.
Jung understood archetypes to be universal, inherited potentials which are actualized when they enter consciousness as images or manifest in behavior on interaction with the outside world. They are autonomous and hidden forms which are transformed once they enter consciousness and are given particular expression by individuals and their cultures. In Jungian psychology, archetypes are highly developed elements of the collective unconscious which are the structures of the unconscious mind shared among beings of the same species (Extracts from Wikipedia: Jungian Archetypes).
We can gage our evolutionary progress through archetypal steps which can become the first imprints of significant change in the species as a whole. Some examples of these archetypal steps in human evolution are: The advent of conscious self-awareness, the capacity to conceptualize abstract ideas, the material and consciousness-transforming advances of the agricultural, industrial, and technological revolutions.
The agricultural, industrial and technological revolutions are easily understood as archetypal steps in our evolution, but because conscious self-awareness and our capacity to conceptualize abstract ideas are from a more ancient origin, they are not as easily perceived as archetypal steps in our evolution.
Conscious self-awareness, as opposed to the simple awareness of less developed animals, is our capacity for introspection and to recognize ourselves as individuals and as members of a species. The capacity to conceptualize abstract concepts, as opposed to object-based concepts, is our ability to turn fictional concepts (nations, religions, corporations, money) into objective reality.
Professor of history Yuval Harari on his TED Talk “What explains the rise of humans?” theorizes that a reason why an insignificant animal in a corner of Africa has come to populate every continent on earth and to determine the fate of other animals and possible the planet itself, is that we have learned to collaborate in large numbers with flexibility and imagination, creating a fictional reality of sophisticated systems of cooperation (nations, religions, corporations, money). And so today we live in a dual reality: The objective reality of mountains, rivers, environment, and the fictional reality. The trouble is that we have given the fictional reality such a degree of control that now the objective reality … other species, our environment … has come to depend for survival on the fictional reality (the link below is for the 17 min talk).
As the above mentioned archetypal steps became an inherent capacity in our consciousness over many, many generations, the capacity of the human mind to perceive the Order of the Universe and embody the Fact that as individual and as a species we are integral elements of that universal Order was first termed “Cosmic consciousness” by the Canadian psychiatrist Richard Maurice Bucke (“Cosmic consciousness, a consciousness of the life and order of the universe which is possessed by few men at present. It is a further stage of human evolution which will be reached by all humanity in the future”). This highly developed consciousness has been already emerging in the minds of individuals like Aristotle, Balzac, Rilke, Rumi, Whitman, Einstein, Sagan, Attenborough, to name a few.
Once we are able to overcome the paradigm based on division, consumerism and constant conflict that currently control us, this archetypal step, this capacity of the human mind to conceptualize its participation in a universal Order, will explode into our collective consciousness to bring the most astonishing transformation Humanity has ever experienced.
I can see children all over the world being taught from a very early age that there is a beautiful, self-organizing and self-creative Order in our Universe, and that it is in us and that we are conscious parts of it.
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