Conceptual Language

From IMAGINAL LOVE The Meanings of Imagination in Henry Corbin and James Hillman TOM CHEETHAM SPRING PUBLICATIONS THOMPSON, CONN.

Conceptual language is the rhetorical style of this directed thinking ‒ as it is the rhetorical style of the ego, that master of direction and control. Hillman says conceptual language “is the chronic locus of our collective neurosis as it appears in language.” [37] The concept is the workhorse of rationalism. Rationalism accounts for the world in concept words rather than images or thing words or craft words. It is based on establishing identities ‒ what something is rather than what it is like. And to say what something is we have to treat it schematically, abstractly, since the real thing itself is far too complex, individual and immediate to be anything but itself. So we take this being away from it, and rather than describing it metaphorically, we categorize it with a concept and say what it is. So, Hillman says, we may claim that our hypotheses and conceptual statements are only heuristic, but in practice was substantiate everything because we are trapped in the literalism of our language. Of the rationalism of psychology he writes, We speak in concepts: the ego and the unconscious; libido, energy and drive; opposites, regression, feeling-function, compensation, transference… When working with these terms we curiously forget they are concepts only, barely useful for grasping psychic events which they inadequately describe. [38]

Tom Cheetham

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