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Saturday, July 18, 2015

Carl Jung on Mathematics, Synchronicity and Biology

To E . L. Grant Watson

Dear Mr. Watson, 9 February 1956

You are surely touching upon a most important fact when you begin to question the coincidence of a purely mathematical deduction
with physical facts, such as the sectio aurea (the Fibonacci series.)

My source calls him Fibonacci, not -nicci. He lived 1180-1250) and in modern times the equations expressing the turbulence of gases.

One has not marvelled enough about these parallelisms.

It is quite obvious that there must exist a condition common to the moving body and the psychic "movement," more than a merely logical corollarium
or consectarium.

I should call it an irrational (a causal) corollary of synchronicity.

The Fibonacci series is self-evident and a property of the series of whole numbers, and it exists independently of empirical facts, as on the other hand the periodicity of a biological spiral occurs without application of mathematical reasoning unless one assumes an equal arrangement in living matter as well as in the human mind, ergo a property of
matter (or of "energy" or whatever you call the primordial principle) in general and consequently also of moving bodies in general, the psychic "movement" included.

If this argument stands to reason, the coincidence of physical and mental forms and also of physical and mental events (synchronicity)
would needs be a regular occurrence, which, however, particularly with synchronicity, is not the case.

This is a serious snag pointing, as it seems to me, to an indeterminate or at least indeterminable, apparently arbitrary arrangement.

This is a much neglected but characteristic aspect of physical nature: the statistical truth is largely made up of exceptions.

That is the aspect of reality the poet and artist would insist upon, and that is also the reason why a philosophy exclusively based upon natural science is nearly always flat, superficial, and vastly beside the point, as it misses all the colourful improbable exceptions, the real "salt of the earth”!

It is not realistic, but rather an abstract half-truth, which, when applied to living man, destroys all individual values indispensable to human life.

The coincidence of the Fibonacci numbers (or sectio aurea) with plant growth is a sort of analogy with synchronicity inasmuch as the
latter consists in the coincidence of a psychic process with an external physical event of the same character or meaning.

But whereas the sectio aurea is a static condition, synchronicity is a concidence in time, even of events that, in themselves, are not synchronous (f.i., a case of precognition).

In the latter case one could assume that synchronicity is a property of energy, but in so far as energy is equal to matter it is a secondary effect of the primary coincidence of mental and physical events (as in the Fibonacci series).

The bridge seems to be formed by the numbers.

Numbers are just as much invented as they are discovered as natural facts, like all true archetypes.

As far as I know, archetypes are perhaps the most important basis for synchronistic events.

I am afraid this is all rather involved and very difficult.

I don't see my way yet out of the jungle.

But I feel that the root of the enigma is to be found probably in the peculiar properties of whole numbers.

The old Pythagorean postulate!

Mr. Cook seems to have conceived his ideas about the same time I began to think about archetypes as unconscious a priori determinants
of imagination and behaviour, reaching conscious apperception in the human mind chiefly in the form of so-called mythological images.

I then spoke of "urtiimliche Bilder" (primordial images, in Wandlungen und Symbole der Libido, 1912 . Engl. tr. Psychology of the Unconscious, 1917) .
Inasmuch as karma means either a personal or at least an individual inherited determinant of character and fate, it represents the
individually differentiated manifestation of the instinctual behaviour pattern, i.e., the general archetypal disposition.

Karma would express the individually modified archetypal inheritance represented by the collective unconscious in each individual.

I avoid the term of karma because it includes metaphysical assumptions for which I have no evidence, f.i. that karma is a fate I have acquired in a previous existence or that it is the result of an individual life left over and by chance becoming my own.

For such assumptions there is no empirical evidence I am aware of.

Well, your ideas move in the right direction. Good luck! – The interpretation of your dream is more or less complete.

Sincerely yours,

C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 287-289.