Individual Development

What lives in us, as far as we can perceive and trace it in its empirical

expression, is not a finished and spiritual being that leaps, mature and

complete, from some pre-existence or other into its embodied form, but is

obviously something that only develops and becomes actual very gradually.

Its becoming is conditioned by "stimuli," influences, impressions from

without, and perfects itself in the closest dependence upon the becoming

of the body, is inhibited or advanced with it, and may be entirely

arrested by it, forced into abnormal developments which never attain to

the level of an "ego" or "personality," but remain incomprehensible

anomalies and monstrosities. In general, the psychical struggles slowly

and laboriously free from purely vegetative and physiological processes,

and gains control over itself and over the body. Its self-development and

concentration to full unity and completeness of personality is only

achieved through the deepest self-culture, through complete

"simplification" as the ancients said, through great acts and experiences

of inward centralisation such as that which finds religious expression in

the metaphor of "regeneration." What "building up" and self-development of

the psychical means remains obscure. If we think of it as a summation, an

adding on of new parts and constituents, and thus try to form a concrete

image of the process, we spoil it altogether. If we speak of the

transition from the potential to the actual, from the tendency to the

realisation, we may not indeed spoil it, but we have done little to make

the process more intelligible. So much only we can say: certain as it is

that the Psyche, especially as conscious inner life, only gradually

develops and becomes actual, and that in the closest dependence upon the

development, maturing, and establishment of the nervous basis and the

bodily organisation in general, yet the naturalistic view, a fortiori

the materialistic, is never at any point correct. There are three things

to be borne in mind. First, the origin, the "whence" of the psychical is

wholly hidden from us, and, notwithstanding the theory of evolution and

descent, it remains an insoluble riddle. And secondly, however closely it

is associated with and tied down to the processes of bodily development,

it is never at any stage of its development really a function of it in

actual and exact correspondence and dependence. And finally, the further

it advances in its self-realisation, the further the relation of

dependence recedes into the background, and the more do the independence

and autonomy of the psychical processes become prominent.

We have still to consider and amplify this in several respects, and then

we may go on to still more important matters.

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