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Saturday, September 19, 2015

Carl Jung: …: the freedom appears in the non-predictability of synchronistic phenomena.




To Karl Schmid

Dear Professor Schmid, 11 June 1958

Frail Jaffe has laid before me the questions you have raised in your very kind letter to her.

Your questions are of such a nature that I have to answer them myself, so I must apologize for officiously intervening in the discussion.

The difficulty you are up against has to do with the real nature of empirical thinking.

For instance, when you ask about the "organizing archetype," this is a philosophical and speculative question far removed from empirical thinking, which is primarily concerned with facts, though the empiricist too is an inquisitive fellow with a bent for speculation.

I forbid myself to ask such a question because it is not underpinned by a sufficient number of facts for us to be able to answer it.

First of all we have to ascertain the facts of the so-called "organization" or arrangement.

We have taken the first tentative steps in this direction by setting up the hypothesis that in very many cases there exist recognizable archetypal models upon which the whole arrangement appears to be constructed.

This is a formal statement of the same kind as the characterization "synchronicity."

Nothing substantive has been said about the nature of this arrangement; in other words, no theological or any other speculative hypostasis has been made.

I can also say, therefore, that in itself the archetype is an irrepresentable configuration whose existence can be established empirically in a multitude of forms.

The archetype of the "mother," for instance, manifests itself in infinitely many forrns and yet the one common characteristic of the mother-idea always remains intact.

The same is true of the "father."

At the same time the archetype is always of an objective nature since it is an a priori ideational pattern which is everywhere identical with itself.

Thus it can appear as the image of the real mother but also as Sophia, or matter, which, as the name shows, also contains the mother-idea although it refers to a scientific concept.

The archetype, then, is a modality that represents visual forms, and synchronicity is another modality representing events.

The concept "event" cannot be included under the concept "form," since form and event cannot be made to coincide.

Hence you cannot describe synchronicity as an archetype but only as a modality sui generis.

The concept of synchronicity says that a connection exists which is not of a causal nature.

The connection consists firstly in the fact of coincidence and secondly in the fact of parallel meaning.

It is a question of meaningful coincidences.

Therefore it would only be confusing to throw together two entirely different concepts.

The empiricist only speaks of data that can be determined with sufficient certainty, and from these data he tries to crystallize out characteristics of the as yet unknown.

Starting from the equation the unconscious = the unknown, he can determine that one aspect of it is the archetype.

With regard to the dynamic processes of the unconscious, he can also determine that the further characteristic of synchronicity exists; in other words, that archetypes have something
to do with synchronicity.

These two aspects are joined together by the hypothesis that
synchronistic phenomena are very often connected with archetypal constellations.

This much can be determined by experience.

In so far as both modalities, archetype and synchronicity, belong primarily to the realm of the psychic, we are justified in concluding that they are psychic phenomena.

In so far, however, as synchronistic events include not only psychic but also physical forms of manifestation, the conclusion is justified that both modalities transcend the realm of the psychic and somehow also belong to the physical realm.

This can be expressed in other words by saying that there is a relativity of the psychic and physical categories-a relativity of being and of the seemingly axiomatic existence of time and space.

The expression "type" is applicable only to the archetypes, since they are in fact typical.

It cannot be applied to synchronicity, since the only typical thing that can be determined about it is the meaningful coincidence.

So far as our experience goes, all that can be determined about synchronicity at present is a boundless variety of phenomena even though a number of synchronistic events could be characterized as typical.

Typical characterizations have therefore been chosen, for instance telepathy, precognition, clairvoyance, etc.

But these characterizations are not types of meaning such as the archetypes are.

So your question concerning the "freedom" of the unconscious is easily answered: the freedom appears in the non-predictability of synchronistic phenomena.

It is possible only where no causal nexus is present, as is by definition the case with synchronicity.

Time and space are present for the empiricist, and causality likewise, which is not possible without them.

For the empiricist it is unthinkable that they are mere categories of understanding and would not exist at all outside it.

But he knows that causality is only a statistical truth and accordingly there must be exceptions, i.e., legitimate instances of acausality where time and space are relative or absent and something nevertheless occurs.

Research has shown that such unconditioned or absolute events do occur within the field of archetypal constellations and in the form of meaningful coincidences.

It is unthinkable that a world could have existed before time and space, for whatever world we can imagine is always bound to time and space and hence to causality. The most we can imagine is that there are statistical exceptions to such a world.

Synchronicity is not a name that characterizes an "organizing principle," but, like the word "archetype," it characterizes a modality.

It [Synchronicity] is not meant as anything substantive, for what the psyche is, or what matter is, eludes our understanding.

Modern physics is in a similar situation, as it can make no valid statements about what is substantive.

Not, at any rate, to the extent that it can about those modalities which are expressible in equations, whereas we have no means of visualizing the nature of light, or can grasp it only by means of a paradox, i.e., as wave and particle.

No more than we can determine what psyche or matter is can we recognize what the "organizing principle" is.

Naturally we can postulate that there is "something" hidden behind these phenomena, but this gets us no forrader since it is impossible for us to conceive what that "something" would have to be like in order to appear now as causality and now as synchronicity.

I have just read that modern physicists have coined a name for it: the terrifying expression "universon," which is at the same time "cosmon" and "anti-cosmon."

Such extravaganzas get us nowhere.

This is where mythology begins.

I therefore stop speculating when I have no more possibilities of ideas and wait on events, no matter of what kind, for instance dreams in which possibilities of ideas are presented to me but do not come this time from my biased speculation but rather from the unfathomable law of nature herself.

The result is a legitimate mythology and not an arbitrary universon-fantasy.

It is legitimate to ask yourself what it is that carries the qualities of the archetypal and synchronistic, and to pose the question, for instance, of the intrinsic nature of the psyche or of matter.

This natural need is a legitimate occasion for further conceptualizations which, precisely because the question is all-embracing, cannot be the product merely of the conscious intellect but must necessarily proceed from the total man, i.e., from the co-participation of the unconscious.

Thus, starting from the principle unus est lapis, the medieval alchemists inferred the unity of human nature, and for them the synthesis of the stone harmonized with the synthesis of our human components; hence they equated the Vir Unus with the Unus Mundus. (Microcosm = macrocosm.

In India : personal atman-purusha = supra personal atman-purusha.)

This far-reaching speculation is a psychic need which is part of our mental hygiene, but in the realm of scientific verification it must be counted sheer mythology.

Although there is a psychic need to postulate things like "universon," "matter," "anti-matter," etc., no scientifically responsible knowledge is gained thereby.

So if I occasionally speak of an "organizer," this is sheer mythology since at present I have no means of going beyond the bare fact that synchronistic phenomena are "justso."

The same is true of the inherent "knownness" of things (there are many examples of this in biology!).

The 'absolute knowledge' which is characteristic of synchronistic phenomena, a knowledge not mediated by the sense organs, supports the hypothesis of a self-subsistent meaning, or even expresses its existence.

Such a form of existence can only be transcendental, since, as the knowledge of future or spatially distant events shows, it is contained in a psychically relative space and time, that is to say in an irrepresentable space-time continuum."

This statement, too, is mythology, like all transcendental postulates.

But this particular statement is a psychic phenomenon which also underlies the "subjectless" consciousness in yoga philosophy.

Hoping I have given some sort of answer to these difficult questions,

Yours sincerely,

C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Page 445-449