Is analytical psychology a religion? Rationalist and romantic approaches to religion and modernity

Robert A. Segal

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The relationship between analytical psychology and religion is part of the larger issue of the relationship between modernity and religion. There are three main views on the issue. The fundamentalist position sets religion against modernity and opts for religion over modernity. What I call the 'rationalist' position likewise sets religion against modernity but opts for modernity over religion. By contrast to both views, what I call the 'romantic' position reconciles religion with modernity. Rationalists maintain that religion can exist only in so far as it serves as an explanation of the physical world, which the rise of science now precludes. Romantics maintain that religion, while serving as an explanation of the physical world till dislodged by science, is at heart anything but an explanation. The toppling of the religious explanation by the scientific one, far from dooming religion, prods religion into making explicit what it has in fact been all along. By this categorization, Jung is overwhelmingly a romantic. For him, the function of religion has always been more psychological than explanatory, and the rise of science does not preclude the continuing existence of religious myths as a psychological rather than an explanatory phenomenon. For those for whom science does spell the demise of religion, secular myths can replace religious ones, and those secular myths are more secular versions of religious myths than secular alternatives to religious myths. Yet even if for Jung religion can still exist today because religion is in fact psychology, it does not follow that psychology is therefore a religion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)547-560
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Analytical Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1999


  • Analytical psychology
  • Fundamentalist
  • Modernity
  • Myth
  • Rationalist
  • Religion
  • Romantic
  • Science
  • Secular


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