collective unconscious refers to that part of a person's
unconscious which is common to all human beings. It contains
archetypes, which are forms or symbols that are manifested
by all people in all cultures. They are said to exist
prior to experience, and are in this sense instinctual.
Critics have argued that this is an ethnocentrist view,
which universalized Jung's European-styled archetypes
into human beings' archetypes.
Less mystical proponents of the Jungian model hold that
the collective unconscious can be adequately explained
as arising in each individual from shared instinct, common
experience, and shared culture. The natural process of
generalization in the human mind combines these common
traits and experiences into a mostly identical substratum
of the unconscious
For Jung then, the Collective Unconscious is not, as many
of his popularisers claim, a kind of "Universal Mind"
or metaphysical reality, like the Platonic World of Forms,
but rather an ultimately biological reality. The Spiritual
concepts of Platonism are not seen as metaphysical, but
biological, or rather, psycho-biological. The Jungian
schema can thus be represented as follows:
Everyone has their own Personal Unconscious. The Collective
Unconscious in contrast is universal. It cannot be built
up like one's personal unconscious is; rather, it predates
the individual. It is the repositary of all the religious,
spiritual, and mythological symbols and experiences. Its
primary structures - the deep structures of the psyche,
in other words.
Jung called "Archetypes"; a later-Hellenistic Platonic
and Augustinian Christian term that referred to the spiritual
forms which are the pre-existent prototypes of the things
of the material world. Interpreting this idea psychologically,
Jung stated that these archetypes were the conceptual
matrixes or patterns behind all our religious and mythological
concepts, and indeed, our thinking processes in general.