From the first Chapter of The Undiscovered Self by Carl Jung

What will the future bring? From time immemorial, this question has occupied men’s minds, though not always to the same degree. Historically, it is chiefly in times of physical, political, economic and spiritual distress that men’s eyes turn with anxious hope to the future, and when anticipations, utopias and apocalyptic visions multiply. One thinks, for instance, of the chiliastic expectations of the Augustan age at the beginning of the Christian era, or the changes in the spirit of the West that accompanied the end of the first millennium.

What are these changes in the spirit of the West that Jung is talking about?

  • the shift from late antiquity to the high middle ages, presumably. The fall of Rome, the spread of Christianity, the rise of Islam, the Norman conquest of England, the Magna Carta, the founding of universities such as Oxford and Cambridge, etc.
    – verbose
    Commented Mar 23, 2023 at 6:05
  • The changes Jung speaks of here are those that are considered valuable(changes that must have brought great peace and prosperity to the people), something that men have hopeful visions of, during times of great distress. The founding of universities could be considered valuable, in a way. But, what else has happened to the spirit of the West that could be considered valuable or something to hope for to happen in the future again. I have little knowledge about the fall of Rome, the rise of Islam etc. Will need to research to understand if it led to peaceful times. Thanks @verbose Commented Mar 23, 2023 at 9:40

1 Answer 1


“Chiliastic” and “apocalyptic” seem to provide enough context.

The end of the first millennium means the year 1000. 19th century historians described the panic and terror that accompanied people who expected the end of the world this year. An online article by The New England Skeptical Society cites German historian Heinrich von Sybel:

As the first thousand years of our calendar drew to an end, in every land of Europe the people expected with certainty the destruction of the world. Some squandered their substance in riotous living, others bestowed it for the salvation of their souls on churches and convents

Later historians reconsidered the problem. While there’s little evidence that the panic happened in 999, apocalyptic expectations were popular in the 10th and 11th centuries. Perhaps that is why the author says “the end of the first millennium” instead of “the year 1000”.

From “The millennium is here again: Is it panic time?” by Jon Paulien (Andrews University Seminary Studies, Autumn 1999, Vol. 37, No. 2,167-178) (PDF):

Further examination of the evidence suggests that apocalyptic thinking was, after all, fairly widespread in the tenth and eleventh centuries (A.D. 900-1100), at least in England and France

French historian Henri Focillon notes an amazing paradox: There is abundant evidence of belief in the imminent end of the world around the middle of the tenth century (around A.D. 950) and in the first third of the eleventh century, but for the years immediately preceding the year 1000 and for that year itself, there is none.

In the last chapters of the book, Jung writes about nuclear Armageddon. Waiting for the apocalypse, people turn inward, toward their souls. So Jung says that to deal with this new technological threat, we need to learn more about ourselves, how our psychology really works.

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