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

Jung Synchronicity89


Synchronicity postulates a
meaning which is a priori in relation to human consciousness and apparently exists outside man.
86 Such an assumption is found above all in the philosophy of Plato, which takes for granted the existence of transcendental images or models of empirical things, the eidos (forms, species) whose reflections we see in the phenomenal world. This assumption not only presented no difficulty to earlier centuries but was on the contrary perfectly self evident. The idea of an a priori meaning may also be found in the old mathematics

89 Conclusions
I do not regard these statements as in anyway a final proof of my views, but simply as a conclusion from empirical premises which I would like to submit to the consideration of my reader. From the material before us I can derive no other hypothesis that would adequately explain the facts. I am only too conscious that synchronicity is a highly abstract and “irrepresentable” quantity.

It ascribes to the moving body a certain psychoid property which, like space, time, and causality, forms a criterion of its behaviour.
We must completely give up the idea of the psyche’s being somehow connected with the brain, and remember instead the “meaningful” or “intelligent”behaviour of lower organisms, which are without a brain. Here we find ourselves much closer to the formal factor which, as I have said, as nothing to do with brain activity.

If that is so, then we must ask ourselves whether the relation of soul and body can be considered from this angle, that is to say
whether the coordination of psychic and physical processes in a living organism can be understood as a synchronistic phenomenon rather than a causal relation.

Leibnitz regarded the coordination of the psychic and the physical as an act of God, of some principle standing outside empirical nature.

The assumption of a causal relation between psyche and physis leads on the other hand to conclusions which it is difficult to square with experience: either there are physical processes which cause psychic happenings, or there is a preexistent psyche which organises matter. In the first case it is hard to see how chemical processes can ever produce psychic processes, and in the second case one wonders how any immaterial psyche could ever set matter in motion.

The synchronicity principle possesses properties that may help to clear up the body-soul problem. Above all it is the fact of causeless order, or rather, of meaningful orderedness, that may throw light on psychophysical parallelism.

The "absolute knowledge" which is characteristic of synchronistic phenomena, a knowledge not mediated by the sense organs, supports the hypotheses of a self-subsistant 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.

95 Outside the realm of psychophysical parallelism, which we cannot at present pretend to understand, synchronicity is not a phenomenon whose regularity it is at all easy to demonstrate. One is as much impressed by the disharmony of things as one is surprised by their occasional harmony.

In contrast to the idea of a preestablished harmony, the synchronistic factor merely stipulates the existence of an intellectually necessary principle which could be added as a fourth to the recognised triad of space, time, and causality. These factors are necessary but not absolute - most psychic contents are non-spatial, time and causality are psychically relative - and in the same way the synchronistic factor proves to be only conditionally valid.

But unlike causality, which reigns despotically over the whole picture of the macrophysical world and whose universal rule is shattered only in certain lower orders of magnitude, synchronicity as a phenomenon that seems to be primarily connected with psychic conditions, that is to say with processes in the unconscious. Synchronistic phenomenon are found to occur – experimentally - with some degree of regularity and frequency in the intuitive, “magical” procedures, where they are subjectively convincing but are extremely difficult to verify objectively and cannot be statistically evaluated (at least at present).

96 Synchronicity is not a philosophical view but an empirical concept which postulates an intellectually necessary principle. This cannot be called either matterialism or metaphysics.

No serious investigator would assert that the nature of what is observed to exist, and of that which observes, namely the psyche, are known and recognised quantities. If the latest conclusions of science are coming nearer and nearer to
a unitary idea of being, characterised by space and time on the one hand and by causality and synchronicity on the other, that has nothing to do with materialism. Rather it seems to show that there is some possibility of getting rid of the incommensurability between the observed and the Observer. The result, in that case, would be a unity of being which would have to be expressed in terms of a new conceptual language….

Boe: a new conceptual language - Difference-Theory (GSB) , Systemstheory (Luhmann, Fuchs)

Space, time, and causality, the triad of classical physics, would then be supplemented by the synchronisity factor and become a tetrad, a quaternio which makes possible a whole judgement:

Here synchronicity is to the three other principles as the one-dimensionality of time is to the three-dimensionality of space, or as the recalcitrant fourth in the Timaeus, which, Plato says, can only be added “by force” to the other three.

Just as the introduction of time as the fourth dimention in modern physics postulates an irrepresentable space-time continuum, so the idea of
synchronicity with its inherent quality of meaning produces a picture of the world so irrepresentable as to be completely baffling.

The advantage, however, of adding this concept is that it makes possible a view which includes the psychoid factor in our description and knowledge of nature - that is,
an a priori meaning or “equivalence”. The problem that runs like a red thread through the speculations of alchemists for 1500 years that repeats and solves itself, the so-called axiom of Maria the Jewess: Out of the Third comes the One as the Fourth.

Boe: an a priori meaning - Sinnmedium - Information (Seth Lloyd: 96 the computational universe 102 It has been known since the end of the 19th century that if the universe can be regarded as a machine (the mechanistic paradigm), it is a machine that processes information. In the 1990s, researchers in quantum computation showed that the universe was capable of full-blown digital computation at its most microscopic levels: the universe is, technically, a giant quantum computer. The computational paradigms for the universe supplements the ordinary mechanistic paradigm: the universe is not just a machine, it is a machine that processes information. The universe computes. The universe is a physical system that can be programmed at its most microscopic level to perform universal digital computation. Quantum mechanics is constantly injecting fresh, random bits into the universe. Because of its computational nature, the universe processes and interprets those bits, naturally giving rise to all sorts of complex order and structure. Aristotle, when he had finished writing his Physics, wrote his Metaphysics: literally „the book after physics“. This chapter has discussed the physics of the computing universe and its implications for the origin of complexity and order. Let us use the physics of the computing universe as a basis for its metaphysics.)

98 The revolution brought about by the discovery of radioactivity as considerably modified the classical views of physics. So great is the change of standpoint that we have to revise the classical schema I made use of above…

(Wolfgang) Pauli suggested replacing the opposition of space and time in the classical schema by (conservation of) energy and the space-time continuum. This suggestion led me to a closer definition of the other pair of opposites - causality and synchronicity - with a view to establishing some kind of connection between these two heterogeneous concepts:

99 This schema satisfies on the one hand the postulates of modern physics, and on the other hand those of psychology. The psychological point of view needs clarifying. A causalistic explanation of synchronicity seems out of the question… It consists essentially of “chance” equivalences. Their tertium comparationis rests on the psychoid factors I call archetypes. These are indefinite, that is to say they can be known and determined only approximately. Although associated with causal processes, or “carried” by them, they continually go beyond their frame of reference,…because the archetypes are not found exclusively in the psychic sphere, but can occur as much in circumstances that are not psychic (equivalents of an outward physical process with the psychic one). Archetypal equivalences are contingent to causal determination, that is to say there exist between them and the causal processes no relation that conform to law.

99 They seem, therefore, to represent a special instance of randomness or chance, or of that “random state” which runs through time in a way that fully conforms to law. It is an initial state which is “not not governed by mechanistic law” (Andreas Speiser) but is the precondition of law, the chance substrate on which law is based.

If we consider synchronicity or the archetypes as the contingent, then the latter takes on the specific aspect of a modality that has the functional significance of a world-constituting factor. The archetype represents psychic probability, portraying ordinary instinctual events in the form of types.

It is a special psychic instance of probability in general, which “is made up of the laws of chance and lays down rules for nature that just at the laws of mechanics do”…
Although in the realm of pure intellect the contingent is “a formless substance”, it reveals itself to psychic introspection - so far as inward perception can grasp it at all - as an image, or rather a type which underlies not only the psychic equivalences but, remarkably enough, the psychophysical equivalences too.

99 It is difficult to divest conceptual language of its causalistic colouring. Thus the word “underlying” despite its causalistic connotation, does not refer to anything causal, but simply to an (100) existing quality, an irreducible contingency which is “Just-so”. The meaningful coincidence or equivalents of the psychic and physical state that have no causal relationship to one another means, in general terms, that it is a modality without a cause, an “acausal orderedness”.

The question now arises whether our definition of synchronicity with reference to the equivalence of psychic and physical processes is capable of expansion, or rather, requires expansion. This requirement seems to force itself on us when we consider the above, wider conception of synchronicity as an "acausal orderedness". Into this category come all "acts of creation", a priori factors such as the properties of natural numbers, the discontinuities of modern physics, etc.

Boe: synchronicity = "acausal orderedness" = all "acts of creation"

101 I incline in fact to the view that synchronicity in the narrow sense is only a particular instance of general acausal orderedness - that, namely, of the equivalence of psychic and physical processes where the observer is in the unfortunate position of being able to recognise the tertium comparationis.
But as soon as he perceives the archetypal background he is tempted to trace the mutual assimilation of independent psychic and physical processes back to a (causal) effect of the archetype, and thus to overlook the fact that they are merely contingent.
This danger is avoided if one regard synchronicity as a special instance of general acausal orderedness. In this way we also avoid multiplying our principles of explanation illegitimately, for...

...the archetype is the introspectively recognisable form of our a priori psychic orderedness. If an external synchronistic process now associates itself with it, it falls into the same basic pattern - in other words, it too is "ordered"

Boe: language - fungierende Ontologie!! - Sinnwelt (Fuchs)

101 This form of orderedness differs from that of the properties of natural numbers or the discontinuities of physics in that the latter have existed from eternity and occur regularly, whereas
the forms of psychic orderedness are acts of creation in time. That, incidentally, is precisely why I have stress the element of time as being characteristic of these phenomena and called them synchronistic.

102 Synchronicity is no more baffling or mysterious than the discontinuities of physics. It is only the ingrained belief in the sovereign power of causality that creates intellectual difficulties and makes it appeared unthinkable that causeless events exist or could ever occur. But if they do, then we must regard them as creative acts, as the continuous creation (Footnote: continuous creation is to be thought of not only as a series of successive acts of creation, but also as the eternal presence of the one creative act, in the sense that God “was always the father and always generated the sun” (Origines)) of a pattern that exists from all eternity, repeats itself sporadically, and is not derivable from any known antecedents.

103 For these reasons
it seems to be necessary to introduce, alongside space, time, and causality, a category which not only enables us to understand synchronistic phenomena as a special class of natural events, but also takes the contingent partly as a universal factor existing from all eternity, and partly as the sum of countless individual acts of creation occurring in time.

Jung Synchronicity
Boe: Beobachtung Dritter Ordnung