Have you ever felt you went beyond your ordinary self and felt connected to something bigger than you?
In a 2016 UK survey, over 84% of respondents (including atheists, agnostics, Christians, and Buddhists) said yes to this question.
So what’s going on?
In the complex web of modern life, we’re conditioned to embrace our rational minds and spend every second of our conscious hours in search of opportunities and threats. We are encouraged to get ahead, win friends, influence people, attract praise, avoid blame and generally focus on satisfying the individual everyday ego.
Indeed, the idea of a “self”, as a unique and coherent individual, has existed ever since humans began to live in groups and become sociable.
But is this egoic view of ourselves scientifically accurate?
Or is there something more to the human experience? And could our most basic assumptions about who we are be wrong?
In this series of talks, we explore the psychology of the ‘Self’, drawing on perspectives from Jungian psychology, neuroscience and the work of Aldous Huxley – to question our most basic assumptions about who we are, and our place in the world.
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The English writer Aldous Huxley revolutionised western culture’s attitude towards self-transcendence and mystical experiences. In his essays and books like Doors of Perception, he helped shift our culture from the hostility of mainstream psychology and psychiatry to a more sympathetic viewpoint. This paved the way for the sixties counterculture and helped lead to a sharp rise in reported mystical experiences in the sixty years since his death. This talk will look at Huxley’s life and ideas, how he went from a famous atheist and cynic to a spiritual guru who opened our minds, inspired the field of transpersonal psychology, and ignited the contemporary boom in contemplative and psychedelic practice.
Jules Evans is Policy Director at the Centre for the History of Emotions at Queen Mary, University of London and a leading researcher into ecstatic experience. He also runs the world’s biggest philosophy club, the London Philosophy Club, which has over 6,000 members. Jules’ first book, Philosophy for Life and Other Dangerous Situations was published in 19 countries and was selected by Matthew Syed as a Times Book of the Year. He has written for The Times, Financial Times, Guardian, Spectator and WIRED and is a BBC New Generation Thinker. You can keep up to date with Jules’ work on his website: www.philosophyforlife.org
In this lecture, we will look at Jung’s theory of individuation, where he maps out a path of psychological personality development that, ideally, culminates in greater self-knowledge. Intricately linked to this process is a gradual unfolding of the archetypal Self, which can be understood as an ideal image that both drives and is the end goal of individuation.
While this lecture seeks to provide an in-depth introduction to this central concept in Jung’s psychology, we will also ask some important critical questions: Is individuation an elitist endeavour? Can individuation be achieved without being in relationship to others? Most importantly, is individuation, as Jung conceived it, still possible in our hi-tech and digitally connected world?
Dr Kevin Lu, PhD, is Director of Graduate Studies and Director of the MA Jungian and Post-Jungian Studies in the Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies, University of Essex. He is a former member of the Executive Committee of the International Association for Jungian Studies.
Dr. Lu’s publications include articles and chapters on Jung’s relationship to the discipline of history, critical assessments of the theory of cultural complexes, and Jungian perspectives on graphic novels and their adaptation to film.
We are living in an age of heightened individualism. Success is a personal responsibility. Our culture tells us that to succeed is to be slim, rich, happy, extroverted, popular – flawless.
The pressure to conform to this ideal has changed who we are. We have become self-obsessed. And our expectation of perfection comes at a cost. Millions are suffering under the torture of this impossible fantasy.
It was not always like this. To explain how we got here, Will Storr will take us on a journey across continents and centuries. Full of thrilling and unexpected connections between history, psychology, economics, neuroscience and more, this talk will help you make sense of who you are, where you come from, and the origins of some of our most basic assumptions about the world.
Will Storr is an award-winning writer. He’s the author of five critically acclaimed books, including the novel The Hunger and The Howling of Killian Lone. His journalism has appeared in The Guardian, The Sunday Times, The New Yorker and The New York Times. His prizes include a National Press Club award for excellence and the AFM award for Best Investigative Journalism. His work on sexual violence against men earned the Amnesty International Award and a One World Press Award. He’s also been presented with the AIB Award for Best Investigative Documentary for his BBC radio series.
He teaches popular storytelling classes in London and has been invited to present his Science of Storytelling workshop all over the world, from Bangkok to Istanbul to the European Parliament. Will is also an in-demand ghostwriter whose books have spent months at the top of The Sunday Times bestseller chart. You can follow him on twitter @wstorr.
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