Writing Nature with Darwin, Darwinism and Jung


  • Susan Rowland Pacifica Graduate Institute




Charles Darwin and C. G. Jung were revolutionary thinkers about the role of human beings in the natural world. While Darwin’s Origins of Species (1859) sought to remove both God and “man” from the centre of the understanding of nature, C. G. Jung, one generation later, aimed to remove the ego from the central definition of human nature. Although both theorists have been explored for their conceptual ideas, neither has been seriously considered as writers, and in particular as writers of nature and human nature. This paper shows how similar these authors are in treating the unknowable in the psyche and history as of major significance. In particular, both writers require the resources of ancient myth, especially of nature as an Earth Mother goddess in order to represent the inconceivable. The paper also looks at the new critical practice of “literary Darwinism,” which, while viable in its own terms, suffers from being neither “literary,” nor “Darwinian.”