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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Carl Jung on the Horoscope and Causality

To Hans Bender

Dear Colleague, 10 April 1958

Very many thanks for so thoughtfully sending me your report on Ufo observation.

I shall read it soon and will then return it to you.

It is indeed very difficult to explain the astrological phenomenon.

I am not in the least disposed to an either-or explanation.

I always say that with a psychological explanation there is only the alternative: either and or!

This seems to me to be the case with astrology too.

The readiest explanation, as you quite rightly point out, would seem to be the parallelistic view.

It is in line with the GeulincxLeibniz theory of collateral correspondences which you will find formulated most clearly in Schopenhauer.

My objection to this theory is that it presupposes a strict causality,or rather, is founded on an axiomatic causality.

Accordingly, the correspondence would have to conform to law.

This is to some extent so with very large numbers, as Rhine has shown; but nevertheless so seldom that the limits of mathematical probability are exceeded only by a little.

From this we could conclude that in the realm of smaller numbers the correspondence lies within the limits of probability and so cannot be rated a phenomenon that conforms to law, as your clock and watch simile demonstrates.

You set your watch by the clock, and this amounts to a causal independence, just as in Leibniz's monadology all the monadic watches were originally wound up by the same creator.

The synchronicity concept discards this harmonia praestabilita, or parallelism, because if this principle operated there would necessarily be a far greater and more regular number of correspondences than is the case in reality.

Making due allowance for errors, one gets the impression that these "lucky hits" occur relatively seldom.

Although we cannot conceive of a causal law and hence necessary connection between an event and its determination in time (horoscope), it nevertheless looks as though such a connection did exist; for on it is based the traditional interpretation of the horoscope, which presupposes and establishes a certain regularity of events.

So even if we ascribe only a limited meaning to the horoscope, we are already assuming a necessary connection between the event and the heavenly constellation.

The fact, however, is that our whole astrological determination of time does not correspond to any actual constellation in the heavens because the vernal equinox has long since moved out of Aries into Pisces and from the time of Hipparchus has been artificially set at 0° Aries.

Consequently the correlations with the planetary houses are purely fictitious, and this rules out the possibility of a causal connection with the actual positions of the stars, so that the astrolqgical determination of time is purely symbolic.

Even so, the rough correlation with the actual seasons remains unimpaired, and this is of great significance so far as the horoscope is concerned.

There are, for instance, spring births and autumn births, which play an especially important role in the animal world.

Then, besides the seasonal influences there are also the fluctuations of proton radiation, which have been proved to exert a considerable influence on human life.

These are all causally explicable influences and argue in favour of astrological correlations that conform to law.

To that extent, therefore, I would be inclined to rank astrology among the natural sciences.

On the other hand, astrological observation yields cases where one hesitates to maintain the validity of a purely causalistic explanation.

Cases of astonishing predictions, for instance, give me at any rate the feeling of a meaningful "lucky hit," a meaningful coincidence, since they seem to me to make excessive demands on a causal explanation by their extreme improbability, and to that extent I would rather adduce synchronicity as an explanatory principle.

An historical example of this kind is the reputed coincidence of Christ's birth with the triple royal conjunction in Pisces in the year 7 B.C.

As I have said, astrology seems to require differing hypotheses, and I am unable to opt for an either-or.

We shall probably have to resort to a mixed explanation, for nature does not give a fig for the sanitary neatness of the intellectual categories of thought.

Should you care to make use of these remarks you are quite free to do so.

Hoping I have made my perplexity clear to you, I remain,

Yours very sincerely,

C.G. Jung

P.S. I am taking the liberty of sending you by the same post a copy of my little book Ein moderner Mythus. ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Page 428-430.