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The Force of Character: And the Lasting Lifeby James Hillman
Synopses & Reviews
Sigmund Freud's most brilliant student, Carl Jung, adopted the fundamental insights of his teacher, but used them to reach very different conclusions. Jung's own most innovative student, James Hillman, followed much the same pattern. Hillman moved from New Jersey to Switzerland in the fifties to study with the great psychologist. He went on to become the first Director of Studies at the Jung Institute in Zürich. In 1975 he wrote one of the most innovative and influential works of psychology of the late twentieth century, Re-Visioning Psychology, which pioneered a new school of psychological thought, Archetypal Psychology. Hillman is greatly indebted to Jung's innovations, yet his ideas stand in marked contrast to those of his teacher. Jungian thought is fundamentally Germanic. Jung's focus was the self, his mode holistic. Hillman was drawn to a more Mediterranean mode. He was most influenced by the Ancient Greeks and the Renaissance Italians. Archetypal Psychology encourages a mode of living that is fragmented and pantheistic, rather than single-minded and monotheistic. At its heart is the idea of soul as conceived by Plato and such Renaissance Italians as Marsilio Ficino and Giordano Bruno.
And, in the past few years, the ideas of Archetypal Psychology have begun to filter into the consciousness of the wider culture. Thomas Moore's 1992 Care of the Soul, which is essentially a primer of Hillman's ideas, was one of the bestselling books of the nineties. And recently, Hillman established a popular audience of his own. Published in his seventies, The Soul's Code was Hillman's first international bestseller. This book explores Hillman's "acorn theory," the idea that we all come into this world with a unique image (the Greeks called it "daemon," the Romans, "genius") that determines our fundamental character. This idea is found, in one form or another, in almost all cultures throughout history. Yet it is strangely — and in Hillman's opinion, dangerously — absent from our modern, capitalist worldview. The Force of Character is a follow-up to The Soul's Code. In it, Hillman explores the ramifications of his acorn theory for the last period of life, old age. As always, Hillman's approach to the ideas that shape our lives — ideas such as fate, soul, imagination, and calling — is at once rooted in tradition and revolutionary in the fullest sense of the word. This book is certainly one of the most erudite and provocative on the subject in recent memory. Farley, Powells.com
"Provocative...Hillman breathes new life into a venerable concept, and in so doing helps us to rediscover the soulful possibilities of aging." Publishers Weekly
"This is a book that will comfort someone afraid of getting old. Its gentle messages shine through." Los Angeles Times
"As a new and provocative take on a topic many would rather avoid, Hillman's book has some value. But a definitive explanation of aging would require much more rigor." Derek Bickerton, The New York Times Book Review
Includes bibliographical references (p. -221) and index.
About the Author
James Hillman is a psychologist, scholar, international lecturer, pioneer psychologist, and the author of more than twenty books, including The Soul's Code, Re-Visioning Psychology, Healing Fiction, The Dream and the Underworld, Inter Views, and Suicide and the Soul. A Jungian analyst and originator of post-Jungian "archetypal psychology," he has held teaching positions at Yale University, the University of Chicago, Syracuse University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Dallas, where he cofounded the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. After thirty years of residence in Europe, he now lives in Connecticut.
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