C.G.Jung
Synchronicity

An Acausal Connecting Principle
The Collected Works of C.G. Jung,
Volume 8, Bollingen Series XX
Princeton University Press 1973


Jung Synchronicity3

3 Foreword
…I hope it will not be constructed as presumption on my part if I make uncommon demands on the open-mindedness and goodwill of the reader. Not only is he expected to plunge into regions of human experience which are dark, dubious, and hedged about with prejudice, but the intellectual difficulties are such as the treatment and elucidation of so abstract the subject must inevitably entail. As anyone can see for himself after reading a few pages, there could be no question of a complete description and explanation of these complicated phenomena, but only an attempt to broach the problem in such a way as to reveal some of its manifold aspects and connections, and to open up a very obscure field which is philosophically of the greatest importance.

5 Exposition
The discoveries of modern physics have, as we know, brought about the significant change in our scientific picture of the world, in that they have shattered the absolute validity of natural law and made it relative. Natural laws are statistical truths, which means that they are completely valid only when we are dealing with macrophysical quantities. In the realm of the very small quantities prediction becomes uncertain, if not impossible, because very small quantities no longer behave in accordance with the known natural laws.

The philosophical principle that underlines our conception of natural law is causality. But if the connection between cause and effect turns out to be only statistically valid and only relatively true, then the causal principle is only of relative use for explaining natural processes and therefore presupposes the existence of one or more other factors which would be necessary for an explanation. This is as much as to say that the connection of events may in certain circumstances be other than causal, and requires another principal explanation.

We shall naturally look around in vain in the macrophysical world for acausal events, for the simple reason that we cannot imagine events that are connected non-causally and are capable of a non-causal explanation.

6 But that does not mean that such events do not exist. Their existence - or at least their possibility - follows logically from the premise of statistical truth
.

Boe: systems-theory - difference-theory: vgl FuchsProspekt7: Das Unjekt System – Unjekt: Begriff der die Trichotomie von “Sein/Nichts/ Möglichkeit” unterläuft durch die Referenz auf Dinge die es gibt aber nicht auf die Weise gibt, wie wir gewöhnlich dieses “Es gibt” verstehen.

6 The experimental method of enquiry aims at establishing regular events which can be repeated. Consequently, unique or rare events are ruled out of account. Moreover, the experiment imposes limiting conditions on nature, for its aim is to force her to give answers to questions devised by man. Every answer of nature is therefore more or less influenced by the kind of question asked, and the result is always a hybrid product. The so-called “scientific view of the world” based on this can hardly be anything more than a psychologically biased partial view which misses out all those by no means unimportant aspects that cannot be grasped statistically.

7 Although, in biology especially, we move in a sphere where causal explanations often seem very unsatisfactory - indeed, well-nigh impossible - we shall not concern ourselves here with the problem of biology, but rather with the question whether there may be not some general field where acausal events not only are possible but are found to be actual facts.

Now, there is in our experience in an immeasurably wide field whose extent forms, as it were, the counterbalance to the domain of causality. This is the world of chance, whether chance event seems causally unconnected with the coinciding fact. So we shall have to examine the nature and the whole idea of chance a little more closely.

Chance, we say, must obviously be is susceptible of some causal explanation and is only called “chance” or “coincidence” because it's causality has not yet been discovered. Since we have an inveterate conviction of the absolute validity of causal law, we regard this explanation of chance as being quite adequate.

8 But if the causal principle is only relatively valid, then it follows that even though in a vast majority of cases an apparently chance series can be causally explained, there must still remain a number of cases which do not show any causal connection.

11 Here I should like to draw attention to a treatise of Schopenhauer’s, “On the apparent design in the fate of the individual”, which originally stood godfather to the views I'm now developing.. It deals with the “simultaneity of the causally unconnected, which we call “chance”. Schopenhauer illustrates this simultaneity:

12 Schopenhauer: “All events in a man's life would accordingly stand in two fundamentally different kinds of connection: firstly, in the objective, causal connection of the natural process; secondly, in a subjective connection which exists only in relation to the individual who experiences it, and which is thus as subjective as his own dreams….That both kinds of connection exists simultaneously, and the selfsame event, although linking two totally different chains, nevertheless falls into place in both, so that the fate of one individual invariably fits the fate of the other, and each is the hero of his own drama while simultaneously figuring in a drama foreign to him - this is something that surpasses our powers of comprehension, and can only be conceived as possible by virtue of the most wonderful preestablished harmony”.

In his view “the subject of the great dream of life…is but one”, the transcendental Will, the prima causa, from which all causal chains radiate and, because of the circular parallels, stand to one another in a meaningful relationship of simultaneity.

Schopenhauer believed in the absolute determinism of the natural process and furthermore in a first cause. There is nothing to warrant either assumption.
The first cause is a philosophical mythologem which is only credible when it appears in the form of the old paradox (“to be/not to be”), as unity and multiplicity at once.

Neither philosophical reflection nor experience can provide any evidence for the regular occurrence of these two kinds of connection, in which the same thing is both subject and object.

Schopenhauer zhought and wrote at the time when causality held sovereign sway as a category a priori and had therefore to be dragged in to explain meaningful coincidences. But, as we have seen, it can do this with some degree of probability only if we have recourse to the other, equally arbitrary assumption of the unity of the first cause

13 Since this problem is concerned with the foundations of our epistemology, he derived it in accordance with the general trend of his philosophy from transcendental premise, from the Will which creates life and being on all levels, and which modulates each of these levels in such a way that they are not only in harmony with their synchronous parallels but also prepare and arrange future events in the form of Fate or providence.

19 … There are events which are related to one another experimentally, and in this case meaningfully, without there being any possibility of proving that this relation is a causal one, since the transmission exhibits none of the known properties of energy. There is therefore good reason to doubt whether it is a question of transmission at all.

Boe: meaning - the transmission metaphor

19 Is it It seems more likely that scientific explanation will have to begin with the criticism of our concepts of space and time on the one hand and with the unconscious on the other. As I have said, it is impossible, with our present resources to explain... the fact of meaningful coincidence, as a phenomenon of energy...Therefore it cannot be a question of cause and effect, but of falling together in time, a kind of simultaneity. Because of this quality of simultaneity, I have picked on the term “synchronicity”to designate a hypothetical factor equal in rank to causality as a principle of explanation… I consider synchronicity as a physically conditioned relativity of space and time.

20 In man's original view of the world (20) as we find it among primitives, space and time have a very precarious existence. They become “fixed” concepts only in the course of his mental development, thanks largely to the introduction of measurement. In themselves, space and time consist of nothing. They are hypostatised concepts born of the discrimination activity of the conscious mind, and they form the indispensable co-ordinates for describing the behaviour of bodies in motion. They are, therefore, essentially psychic in origin, which is probably the reason that impelled Kant to regard them as apriori categories.

But
if space and time are only apparently properties of bodies in motion and are created by the intellectual needs of the observer, then their relativization by psychic conditions is no longer a matter for astonishment but is brought within the bounds of possibility.

This possibility presents itself when the psyche observes not external bodies, but itself.


...
The decisive factors in the unconscious psyche, the archetypes,…constitute the structure of the collective unconscious. The latter represents a psyche that is identical in all individuals. And it cannot be directly perceived or represented, in contrast to the perceptible psychic phenomena, and on account of its “irrepresentable” nature I have called it “psychoid”.

Boe: the collective unconscious - psychoid: Sinn-medium

20
The archetypes are formal factors responsible for the organisation of unconscious psychic processes: they are “patterns of behavior”. At the same time they have a “specific charge” and develop numinous effects which express themselves as affects. The affect produces a partial abaissement du milieu mental, for although it raises a particular content to a supernormal degree of luminosity, it does so by withdrawing so much energy from other possible contents of consciousness that they become darkened and eventually unconscious. Owing to the restriction of consciousness produced by the affect so long as it lasts, there is a corresponding lowering of orientation which in its turn gives the unconscious a favourable opportunity to slip into the space vacated. Thus we regularly find that unexpected or otherwise inhibited unconscious contents break through and find expression in the affect.

21 The problem of synchronicity has puzzled me for a long time, ever since the middle twenties, when I was investigating the phenomena of the collective unconscious and kept on coming across connections which I simply could not explain as chance groupings.

(Footnote: Even before that time certain doubts had arisen in me as to the unlimited applicability of the causal principle in psychology: causality is only one principle and psychology essentially cannot be exhausted by causal methods only, because the mind (= psyche) lives by aims as well.

Psychic finality rests on a “preexistent” meaning which becomes problematical only when it is an unconscious arrangement. In that case we have to suppose a “knowledge” prior to all consciousness. (Hans Driesch))

Boe: psychoid archetypes, purpose, causa finalis – cf. Terrence Deacon

28: „Synchronistic events rest on the simultaneous occurrence of two different psychic states. One of them is the normal, probable state (the one that is causally explicable), and the other, the critical experience, is the one that cannot be derived causally from the first…
29 An unexpected content which is directly or indirectly connected with some objective external event coincides with the ordinary psychic state: this is what I call synchronicity, and I maintain that we are dealing with exactly the same category of events whether their objectivity appear separated from my consciousness in space are in time…

Space and time, the conceptual coordinates of bodies in motion, are probably at bottom one and the same (which is why we speak of a long or short „space of time“. Synchronicity in space can equally well be conceived as perception in time, but remarkably enough it is not so easy to understand synchronicity in time as spatial, for we cannot imagine any space in which future events are objectively present and could be experienced as such through a reduction of this spatial distance since experience has shown that under certain conditions space and time can be reduced almost to zero, causality disappears along with them, because causality is bound up with the existence of space and time and physical changes, and consists essentially in the succession of cause-and-effect.

For this reason synchronistic phenomena cannot in principle be associated with any conceptions of causality. Hence the interconnection of meaningfully coincident factors must necessarily be thought of as acausal“ (Jung-Synchronicity28-29).


Jung Synchronicity


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