Thursday, 30 May 2013

PhDs and the Collective Unconscious

"Big" Blog #2:

A few nights ago, I was having a heated debate with my friend on the value of the PhD both as a reflection of intelligence versus "street smarts" of the individual who holds such a degree, the practicality of the pursuit with respect to employment versus the monetary cost to society, and whether it really is just a masturbatory exercise (much like writing this blog).

Although this topic is worthy of  further discussion, it is not in itself the real topic of today's blog.

The morning after our dialogue, an article turns up in the Globe and Mail (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/education/few-academic-jobs-but-canadas-need-for-phds-grows/article12219592/) that examined the merit, and the current and future needs of PhDs in Canada.

So I started thinking about why does this happen, and I am sure to most of us more often than we think? How often have I had an idea for a room design, an outfit, a blog, a business idea and then it shows up in a magazine, on TV, or in another random conversation? Do we loosely pass it off as serendipity? Chance? Irony? Happenstance? Are they related to the strength of our relationships? What is the probability of these occurences happening within a lifetime? And what would be the point of even trying to measure? Are we seeing this happen more because of our virtual networks?

The experience took me back to my fourth year undergrad when I decided to explore the world of literature and philosophy (after having completed 3 "neutral" years in biology). In one of my courses, of which I can't really remember the name of, but was some sort of theoretical literature course, we discussed Jung's proposal of the "collective unconcious" . Was this the explanation I was looking for? Is there some constant current that runs through our intellectual "air" where we all have the same predisposition to the same thoughts?

As it turns out, the concept and the interpretation of the "collective unconcious" is more complicated than I had hoped and would require me to do a lot more re-reading. What peaked my interest on Wikepedia was this - "Healy...claiming that Jung himself 'dared to suggest that the human mind could link to ideas and motivations called the collective unconscious...a body of unconscious energy that lives forever' was the idea of monopsychism.

And the thought was initially kind of depressing for anyone who considers themselves "creative" and/or "unique".

And so, it may be that there is a "stream" of collective ideas and thoughts we all tap into, but the good news is it is more likely an infinite universe which allows for the probability of common threads, but it is the expression of those ideas and thoughts that will never be exactly the same.

Someone already thought about and wrote something similar to what I just said - but not as it is written. It is therefore a comforting thought that I can continue on with Moon Worms!

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