The present thesis explores the process of psychological development, termed individuation in the psychology of Carl G. Jung, in comparison to the process of spiritual progress, termed deification-theosis in the writings of Maximus the Confessor, a philosopher and theologian of the seventh century AD. Despite the fact that these two systems of thought belong to entirely different academic disciplines, contexts and historical times, they appear to have striking similarities, regardless of some crucial differences.
Three interrelated areas are addressed: (a) the distinctiveness of each model, focusing on the constituent psychic elements, structure and functions that they address; (b) the manner in which each model-theory defines ‘the spiritual’ and relates its elements to spiritual experience; and (c) the ways they define the specific stages of development (psychological and/or spiritual) as well as the nature and process of attaining their respective final goal.
The main themes the thesis explores are:
1. The epistemology of comparative methodology, in general, and of investigating psychological and spiritual realms, in particular.
2. The historical, philosophical and psychological underpinnings of the relationship between the ‘psychological’ and the ‘spiritual’ through a structured framework based on phenomenological and ontological dimensions that address the bodily, psychic, social, cultural, and metaphysical levels.
3. The conceptualization of spiritual experience by Jung and Maximus, and an investigation of the implications of their different pivotal points (psychological vs. metaphysical), emphasising the significance of the unconscious/instinct- and transcendence-based discourses, respectively.
Thus, the thesis develops a systematic framework for comparing these two approaches, which is then applied in examining a specific theme that overlaps the psychological and spiritual realms, i.e. Jung’s pivotal text on ‘Answer to Job’.