How Uncommonly Difficult

Jung on morality:

Any large company composed of wholly admirable persons has the morality and intelligence of an unwieldy, stupid, and violent animal. The bigger the organization, the more unavoidable is its immorality and blind stupidity […] Society, by automatically stressing all the collective qualities in its individual representatives, puts a premium on mediocrity, on everything that settles down to vegetate in an easy, irresponsible way. Individuality will inevitably be driven to the wall. This process begins in school, continues at the university, and rules all departments in which the State has a hand. In a small social body, the individuality of its members is better safeguarded, and the greater is their relative freedom and the possibility of conscious responsibility. Without freedom there can be no morality.

C. G. Jung (1977)1

Jung concludes:

To find out what is truly individual in ourselves, profound reflection is needed; and suddenly we realize how uncommonly difficult the discovery of individuality is.

C. G. Jung (1977)2

This is certainly the work of a lifetime, undertaken in isolation even as one lives among a community of loved ones, acquaintances, colleagues and neighbors.


Jung, C. G. (1977). Two Essays on Analytical Psychology (R.F.C. Hull, Trans.). In H. Read et al. (Series Eds.), The Collected Works of C.G. Jung (Vol. 7). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. (Original work published 1953). ¶ 240

Ibid., ¶ 242

7 responses to “How Uncommonly Difficult”

  1. Nave 'Torment' Avatar
    Nave ‘Torment’

    This was truly inspiring… I do believe I had managed to glimpse at the “real” me at one point a few weeks back… but whenever I engage with people, interact with friends, even a loved one who keeps her’s unrequited, that glimpse seems to fade.

    This was truly inspiring, as are all the other helpful quotes that you have clustered around your site. Thank you <— and know that this is coming after a day spent in frustration, paranoia, lowered self-esteem, and a touch of panic.

    1. Eve Avatar

      Nave, I spend quite a lot of time these days in a landscape of frustration, paranoia, lowered self-esteem, and a dollop of panic. This is the inevitable dark wood to which Dante referred in his first lines of The Divine Comedy. Welcome to the process, and hang in there.

  2. The Librarian in Purgatory Avatar

    Expanding on the original thought/idea:

    Jonathan Haidt: Religion, evolution, and the ecstasy of self-transcendence

  3. The Limitless Man Avatar

    Librarian in Purgatory – Just read that article. That, combined with these words are blowing my mind while I sit here in Starbucks!

  4. Deb Avatar

    I have missed you my friend. The quote explains at lot too, of how large organizations can be so callous. Hope you are well.

  5. Eve Avatar

    Thank you for sharing these! What good reads. I’ve actually had the experience of having closed my office door and taped a sign to it that said, “DO NOT DISTURB!” and had someone walk right in the door as I was in the middle of writing. Sigh.

  6. The Librarian in Purgatory Avatar

    Auspicious timing. This was in yesterday’s NYTs: “The Rise of the New Groupthink” ( )

    and not that long ago read

    “The New Frontier in Democratic Theory and Practice: Organizational Forms that Simultaneously Optimize Autonomy & Community” ( ), which was particularly interesting reading in light of the Occupy movement.

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