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The Soul's Code: In Search of Character and Calling

The Soul's Code: In Search of Character and Calling

4.1 6
by James Hillman

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Plato and the Greeks called it "daimon," the Romans "genius," the Christians "guardian angel." Today we use the terms heart, spirit, and soul. To James Hillman, the acknowledged intellectual source for Thomas Moore's bestselling sensation Care of the Soul, it is the central and guiding force of his utterly compelling "acorn theory"—in which each life is formed


Plato and the Greeks called it "daimon," the Romans "genius," the Christians "guardian angel." Today we use the terms heart, spirit, and soul. To James Hillman, the acknowledged intellectual source for Thomas Moore's bestselling sensation Care of the Soul, it is the central and guiding force of his utterly compelling "acorn theory"—in which each life is formed by a unique image, an image that is the essence of that life and calls it to a destiny, just as the mighty oak's destiny is written in the tiny acorn.

In this new look at age-old themes, Hillman provides a radical, frequently amusing, and highly accessible path to realization through an extensive array of examples. He urges his readers to discover the "blueprints" particular to their own individual lives, certain that there is more to life than can be explained by genetics or environment. As he says, "We need a fresh way of looking at the importance of our lives."

What The Soul's Code offers is an inspirational, positive approach to life—a way of seeing, and a way of recovering what has been lost of our intrinsic selves.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Decades ago, pioneering Jungian analyst and author Hillman (Kinds of Power) challenged the assumptions of Western psychology by applying the ancient concept of "soul" to the modern psyche. Rendered in simpler terms by his protg, bestselling author Thomas Moore, Hillman's work on soul has fed the public imagination with the nourishing idea that we are vastly deeper and more permeable to the influences around us than we may think. Here, Hillman discusses character and calling, introducing an "acorn theory" that claims that "each life is formed by its unique image, an image that is the essence of that life and calls it to a destiny." Borrowing the language of Plato's Myth of Ur, Hillman suggests that this imaginary sense of our lives or callings drives each of us like a personal daimon or force. Drawing on extraordinary lives from Judy Garland to Coco Chanel to Hitler, he describes the movements of the daimon, showing how it can use everything in our environment, from lucky accidents to bad movies, to allow the acorn to "grow down" and express itself in the real material of our lives. Without succumbing to oversimplification or wishful thinking, Hillman challenges the reductive "parental fallacy"the contention that our early experience with our parents determines our selves and our futures. The daimon, he says, pulls us up out of mere conditioning to have a fate. In this brilliant, absorbing work, Hillman dares us to believe that we are each meant to be here; that we are needed by the world around us. Simultaneous Random AudioBook; author tour. (Aug.)
Library Journal
Hillman has written ten books, but he is best known as the inspiration for Thomas Moore's Care of the Soul. Now, for this book on finding one's personal calling, he's getting a big print run himself.
Kirkus Reviews
What set of factors most influence the course of an individual human life? Nature? Nurture? The choices a person makes, including one's intimate relationships? Or is it the complex interplay of all of these? For Jungian analyst and prolific writer Hillman (Kinds of Power, 1995, etc.), the correct answer is apparently "none of the above."

Rather, Hillman focuses single-mindedly on each person's special daimon, an abstract, almost mystical notion lifted from Neoplatonic thought that he defines as "an invisible nonhuman escort," and "the lot your soul chose before you ever took a breath." This daimon, he argues, "the essence" or blueprint of each life, calls us to a very particular destiny, and it does not willingly suffer our neglect. In developing endless variations on this idea, he comes out sounding extraordinarily fatalistic, positing, for instance, that "assassination was written in Gandhi's script." Thus, he largely downplays such basic aspects of the human condition as choice, conflict, ambivalence, chance, irrationality, and madness. And Hillman's intense focus on individuals and their unique fates means that the communal side of life, and specifically altruism and other positive social values, are also given little weight. Finally, as the following passage exemplifies, Hillman's prose often seems both confusingly bloated and maddeningly ethereal: "I am different from everyone else and the same as everyone else; I am different from myself ten years ago and the same as myself ten years ago; my life is a stable chaos, chaotic and repetitive both, and I can never predict what tiny, trivial bit of input will result in a huge and significant output." This, and passages like it, are likely to leave many readers scratching their heads.

This verbose book would have benefitted by being pruned into a stylistically far tighter essay, less declamatory and more reflective.

Product Details

Transworld Publishers Limited
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Meet the Author

A world-renowned lecturer, teacher, author, Jungian analyst, and former director of the Jung Institute, James Hillman was born in New Jersey and spent much of his life in Europe. He is the author of over twenty books, translated into ten languages, including The Myth of Analysis and Reinventing Psychiatry (nominated for a Pulitzer in 1975). He lives in Thompson, Connecticut, and is the father of four.

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The Souls Code: In Search of Character and Calling 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There are 4 basic world hypotheses that underlie our scientific models, including pdychology. We are all familiar with the mechsnistic model, which manifests as behavioral and cogbitive-bdhaviorl theorypies; the organismic model, which is reflected in the stage theories of development, such as Freud and Piaget, and: the contextualist models, such as Harry Stack Sullivan. The fourth model, which is based on the Platonic theory of ideal images, is represented only in the theory of the archetypes of C. G. Jung and the subsequent Archetypal Psychology of James Hillman. Jsmes formulation is as valid scientifically as any of the others, but is not taken seriously by the mechanistic theorists predominating in American psychology, largely due to a tendency to be unable to extricate themselves from the fundamentalist faith in embracing their favored world view. Hillman, standing outside of he currently prevailing zeitgeist of the cognitive-behavioral mythos, provides a very lucid expoosition of an alternative framework that places the immediacy of our felt experience, squarely at the center of the psychology of the soul. Based on the Platonic theory of the ideal image, Hillman's Archetypal Psychology brings meaning back into the practice of psychology, and offers a view of the lsndscape of the soul, revealing the depths of our experience as living beings in a living world. His work offers us an antidote to the flat, horizontal world of behavioral psychology by opening perception to the vertical dimension of the upper and lower worlds of our being that we so desperately need to see and integrate into our individual and collective lives so as to bring healing into contemporary society. You will find Hillman's work offers true sustenance for your hungry soul.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As I read Hillman's theory of 'the acorn' the more it seemed to me that it sounded like the old fashioned concept of 'destiny' or 'calling.' Sometimes i thought he was indulging in more than a bit of creative fantasy--pushing his cases history to their 'imaginal' limits. I did not get anything out of it, went back to my beloved and much read 'Puer Papers.' Late Hillman is not as impressive as early Hillman.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Walked in with a dil<_>do and a whip. "Hello?"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago