The Origin of Consciousness

The Origin of Consciousness


Presenter: Dr Peter Ammann

Dr Peter Ammann explores, by looking at early African stories, how early humans discovered and experienced consciousness.


Consciousness and its origins have become a significant topic of research, particularly in neuroscience. Its primary focus is on understanding what it means biologically. In contrast to these objective approaches, (Jungian) psychology must explore this topic also from a subjective point of view. How do early humans discover and experience consciousness? Jungian Analyst, Dr Peter Ammann, proposes to address the issue by having a closer look at a couple of early African stories.

In these stories reflection as well as mirroring are of crucial importance. Jung thought reflection to be of such great importance that he saw in it a specifically human instinct. The creative process in connection with reflecting and mirroring is a fundamental psychological process that must be closely connected with the evolution of human consciousness. Therefore, it is not surprising that we find it described in stories.

Peter Ammann, PhD, is a founding member of the International School of Analytical Psychology (ISAPZurich), where he is a lecturer, training analyst and supervisor. After training as a cellist, he entered Jungian studies, encouraged by Jung himself as well as by his analysts, Jolande Jacobi and Marie-Louise von Franz, and graduated from the C. G. Jung Institute Zurich in 1965. At the same time, he gained his doctorate at the University of Zürich in the fields of musicology, history of religion and ethnology. He maintains a private practice in Zürich and is lecturing internationally. Pursuing his dream of becoming a filmmaker, he apprenticed with Federico Fellini for the making of Satyricon. His encounter with Laurens van der Post inspired his enduring interests in Africa, the Bushpeople, their rock paintings, and in integrating a Jungian perspective into his documentary films. Since many years he is engaged in promoting a dialogue between Jungian Analysts and Traditional Healers in South Africa.