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Archetypes and Code Biology

Temos o gosto de dar a conhecer que o artigo "Archetypes and Code Biology" da autoria de João Carlos Major, foi aceite para publicação na revista BioSystems (Elsevier). Segue o abstract.


As a clinical psychologist, I observe stereotyped formulas of behavior in action every day in the consulting room, despite differences in age, race, or culture; they present themselves as codified rules or typical modes of behavior in archetypical situations. Such circumstances coincide with what C.G. Jung (1969) defended: the existence of archetypes stored in an inherited/phylogenetic repository, which he called the collective unconscious – somewhat similar to the notion of an ethogram, as shown by ethology. Psychologists can use a perspective to facilitate understanding the phenomenon: the code biology perspective (Barbieri 2014). This approach can help us recognize how these phenomenological events have an ontological reality based not only on the existence of organic information but also on the existence of organic meaning.

We are not a tabula rasa (Wilson 2000): despite the explosive diversification of the brain and the emergence of conscience and intentionality, we observe the conservation of basic instincts and emotions (Ekman 2004; Damasio 2010) not only in humans but in all mammals and other living beings; we refer to the neural activity on which the discrimination behavior is based, i.e., the neural codes (Johnson 2000). The conservation of these fundamental set-of-rules or conventions suggests that one or more neural codes have been highly conserved and serves as an interpretive basis for what happens to the living being who owns them (Barbieri 2003). Thus, archetypes’ phenomenological reality can be understood not as something metaphorical but as an ontological (phylogenetic) fact (Goodwyn 2019).

Furthermore, epigenetic regulation theories present the possibility that the biomolecular process incorporates elements of the context where it takes place; something fundamental to understand our concept – the archetype presents itself as the mnesic remnant of the behavioral history of individuals who preceded us on the evolutionary scale. In short: brains are optimized for processing ethologically relevant sensory signals (Clemens et al. 2015).

From the perspective of the corporeal mind (Searle 2002), in this paper, we will show the parallels between code biology and the concept of the archetype, as Jung defended it and as it appears in clinical practice.


(a) For the sake of clarity and transparency, I argue that psychology is a branch of biology.

(b) In this realm, and following the perspective of John Searle (2002) contextualized by the ideas of Gregory Bateson (1979), Antonio Damasio (2010) and Gazzaniga (2019) among others, I argue that the ‘mind’ is caused by the brain, in a body, and in a context. In other words, the ‘mind’ is the name we give to the brain’s functioning, in a body, and in a context. Like ‘digestion,’ it is the name we provide for the digestive system’s functioning – i.e., the functioning of a mechanism. To this extent, ‘mind’ or ‘digestion’ has no reality by itself; that is, we cannot hypostatize the words – they are just labels.

(c) Last but not least – as Marcello Barbieri clearly states: “mechanism is not reductionism, because a machine is a machine not when it is reduced to pieces but when it is put together into a working whole” (Barbieri 2015, p. 16).

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