Spring: A Journal of Archetype and Culture and Spring Journal Books
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Act and Image
The Emergence of Symbolic Imagination

by Warren Colman

ISBN: 978-1-935528-76-0
336 pp.

In this groundbreaking book, Warren Colman provides a reformulation of archetypal symbols as emergent from humans’ engagement with their social and material environment. This view is rooted in a phenomenological perspective that sees psychic life as emergent from embodied action in the world. How then might humans first have developed the capacity for symbolic imagination, epitomized by the oldest known figurative image in the world, the 40,000 year old Lion Man of Hohlenstein-Stadel in Germany? Colman traces the emergence of symbolic imagination through the origins of language, the growth of human sociality and cooperation, and the creative use of material objects from the earliest use of stone tools through the first flowering of figurative imagery in the cave paintings and figurines of Upper Paleolithic Europe. Drawing on recent developments in cognitive archaeology, he argues that the social use of material objects play an active role in the constitution of symbols which enact a distinctively human imaginal mind. This leads to a consideration of how the imaginal world of the spirit may have come into being, not as separate from the material world but through active participation within a world that is alive with meaning. Thus, the psychic, social, and physical aspects of our being are all part of one world which, for humans, is always a symbolic world.
Praise for Act and Image
As recent editor of the Journal of Analytical Psychology, Colman is well qualified to write such a book. He starts with the relatively modest aim of critically exploring Jung’s theory of archetypes, but in doing so he persuasively sets out the theoretical foundations of depth psychology. Integrating research and thinking from neighboring fields, including developmental psychology, neuroscience, linguistics, and social anthropology, he effectively brings the fundamentals of analytical psychology up to date. Colman’s book reminds me of the pioneering writings in the traditions known as phenomenology and philosophical anthropology, but it is rare for a book to be philosophically rigorous and at the same time accessible, clear, and empirically grounded. I hope that this book will have the influence it deserves.
Roger Brooke, Professor of Psychology, Duquesne University, and author of Jung and Phenomenology
With characteristic lucidity, Warren Colman’s Act and Image draws together a wealth of material from psychology, philosophy, and anthropology to both challenge and enlarge our understanding of the basic elements of C. G. Jung’s system. His discussion of the central role of affective response to the symbolic is grounded in a thorough and wide-ranging command of sources rarely encountered in the psychoanalytic or Jungian literature. Colman’s book will be essential reading for anyone venturing into the ongoing discussion of the theory of archetypes, the collective unconscious, and the nature of symbolism in analytical psychology.
George B. Hogenson, Ph.D., LCSW, Jungian analyst and author of Jung’s Struggle with Freud
Drawing on ideas from an impressively wide range of disciplines, Colman questions established ways of envisioning the collective unconscious, and re-visions it as emerging from our species’ evolved capacity for symbolic thinking. As part of this re-visioning, Colman deconstructs the Cartesian, archetypal, and hierarchical view of the psyche, and instead sees the psyche as developing out of our embodied, relational and cultural nature. Colman’s argument is audacious, layered, complex, and thought-provoking; it is a quest to understand the human psyche within a more modern framework and challenges readers to see themselves through fresh eyes.
Daniela F. Sieff, D. Phil, and author of Understanding and Healing Emotional Trauma: Conversations with Pioneering Clinicians and Researchers
Act and Image is a rich and vital addition to the Jungian literature. Colman guides the reader through a sophisticated and in-depth reappraisal of several central Jungian concepts—archetype, image, symbol, and imagination. Drawing from philosophy, phenomenology, archaeology, and anthropology, he invites the reader to critically reflect on commonly held assumptions regarding the relationship between the mind, archetypes, symbols, and imagination. Act and Image is an intellectual tour de force which will reverberate throughout the field of Analytical Psychology. Highly recommended!
Mark Winborn, Ph.D., Jungian psychoanalyst, clinical psychologist, and author of Deep Blues: Human Soundscapes for the Archetypal Journey and SharedRealities: Participation Mystique and Beyond
Chapter 1: The Archetypal Hypothesis
Chapter 2: Expanding the Mind
Chapter 3: From Ape to Human I
Chapter 4: From Ape to Human II
Chapter 5: Constitutive Symbols and the Imaginal Realm
Chapter 6: The Emergence of the Spirit World
Chapter 7: Two Kinds of Thinking
Chapter 8: Participation Mystique Revisited
Chapter Notes
Selected Bibliography
About the Author:
Warren Colman is a Jungian psychoanalyst. He is a training and supervising analyst at the Society of Analytical Psychology in London and Consultant Editor of the Journal of Analytical Psychology. From 1987-1997 he was a senior couples psychotherapist and clinical lecturer at the Tavistock Marital Studies Institute, since when he has been in full time private practice in St. Albans, UK. He teaches, lectures, and supervises internationally and has published over forty papers on a wide variety of topics including couple interaction, sexuality and gender, the self, the therapeutic relationship, synchronicity, and symbolic imagination. This is his first book.