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Friday, January 1, 2016

Carl Jung: I had to follow the ineradicable foolishness which furnishes the steps to true wisdom.





To the Earl of Sandwich

Dear Lord Sandwich, 10 August 1960

It was a great pleasure to receive your kind letter and congratulations on my 85th birthday.

It is indeed quite a number of years since our interview in 1938, when I received an Honorary Degree at Oxford, while lecturing there at a Congress of Psychotherapists.

It was on the eve of war and I remember the air filled with forebodings and anxious anticipations.

I remember vividly looking at the delightful buildings and lawns · of the Universitas Oxonensis as if seeing them for the first and last time.

Although Oxford has been spared barbarous destruction I had seen it for the first and last time.

I have not been there again although I always dreamt and hoped to delve more deeply into the treasures of alchemistic manuscripts at the Bodleian.

Fate has decreed otherwise.

I had to follow the ineradicable foolishness which furnishes the steps to true wisdom.

Since man's nature is temperamentally set against wisdom, it is incumbent upon us to pay its price by what seems foolish to us.

Old age is only half as funny as one is inclined to think.

It is at all events the gradual breaking down of the bodily machine, with which foolishness identifies ourselves.

It is indeed a major effort-the magnum opus in fact-to escape in time from the narrowness of its embrace and to liberate our mind to the vision of the immensity of the world, of which we form an infinitesimal part.

In spite of the enormity of our scientific cognition we are yet hardly at the bottom of the ladder, but we are at least so far that we are able to recognize the smallness of our knowledge.

The older I grow the more impressed I am by the frailty and uncertainty of our understanding, and all the more I take recourse to the simplicity of immediate experience so as not to lose contact with the essentials, namely the dominants which rule human existence throughout the millenniums.

There are two sciences in our days which are at immediate grips with the basic problems: nuclear physics and the psychology of the unconscious.

There things begin to look really tough, as those who have an inkling of understanding of the one thing are singularly incapable of grasping the other thing; and here, so it looks, the great confusion of languages begins, which once already has destroyed a tower of Babel.

I am trying to hold those two worlds together as long as my machinery allows the effort, but it seems to be a condition which is desperately similar to that of the political world, the solution of which nobody yet can foresee.

It is quite possible that we look at the world from the wrong side and that we might find the right answer by changing our point of view and looking at it from the other side, i.e., not from outside, but from inside.

Thanking you once more for your kind letter,

I remain, dear Lord Sandwich,

Yours very sincerely,

C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 579-580

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