To R. J. Zwi Werblowsky
Dear Dr. Werblowsky, 17 June 1952
Many thanks for kindly sending me your critical reflections.
For me they are valuable and interesting as the reactions of an (almost) non-participant.
From touching lightly on psychology you have already acquired a “golden finger” and must now give forthright answers before the world.
This happens even with people who have said “good day” to me only once.
I don’t know whether I ought to be glad that my desperate attempts to do justice to the reality of the psyche are accounted “ingenious ambiguity.”
At least it acknowledges my efforts to reflect, as best I can, the “ingenious ambiguity” of the psyche.
For me the psyche is an almost infinite phenomenon.
I absolutely don’t know what it is in itself and know only very vaguely what it is not.
Also, I know only to a limited degree what is individual about the psyche and what is universal.
It seems to me a sort of all-encompassing system of relationships, in which “material” and “spiritual” are primarily designations for potentialities that transcend consciousness.
I can say of nothing that it is “only psychic,” for everything in my immediate experience is psychic in the first place.
I live in a “perceptual world” but not in a self-subsistent one.
The latter is real enough but we have only indirect information about it.
This is as true of outer objects as of “inner” ones, of material existents and the archetypal factors we could also call €t87J.
No matter what I speak about, the two worlds interpenetrate in it more or less.
This is unavoidable, for our language is a faithful reflection of the psychic phenomenon with its dual aspect “perceptual” and “imaginary.”
When I say “God” the dual aspect of the ens absolutum and the hydrogen atom (or particle + wave ) is already implicit in it.
I try to speak “neutrally.”
(Prof. Pauli would say: the “neutral language” between “physical” and “archetypal.”)
The language I speak must be ambiguous, must have two meanings, in order to do justice to the dual aspect of
our psychic nature.
I strive quite consciously and deliberately for ambiguity of expression, because it is superior to unequivocalness and reflects the nature of life.
My whole temperament inclines me to be very unequivocal indeed.
That is not difficult, but it would be at the cost of truth.
I purposely allow all the overtones and undertones to be heard, partly because they are there anyway, and partly because they give a fuller picture of reality.
Unequivocalness makes sense only in establishing facts but not in interpreting them; for “meaning” is not a tautology but always includes more in itself than the concrete object of which it is predicated.
I define myself as an empiricist, for after all I have to be something respectable.
You yourself admit that I am a poor philosopher, and naturally I don’t like being something inferior.
As an empiricist I have at least accomplished something.
If a man is a good shoemaker and knows he is one, people will not inscribe on his tombstone that he was a bad Hat-maker because he once made an unsatisfactory hat.
I am, more specifically, simply a psychiatrist, for my essential problem, to which all my efforts are directed, is psychic disturbance: its
phenomenology, aetiology, and teleology.
Everything else is secondary for me.
I do not feel called upon to found a religion, nor to proclaim my belief in one.
I am not engaged in philosophy, but merely in thinking within the framework of the special task that is laid upon me: to be a proper psychiatrist, a healer of the soul.
This is what I have discovered myself to be, and this is how I function as a member of society.
Nothing would seem more nonsensical and fruitless for me than to speculate about things I cannot prove, let alone know.
I am quite prepared to grant that others may know more about them than I.
I do not know, for example, how God could ever be experienced apart from human experience.
If I do not experience him, how can I say that he exists?
But my experience is extremely small and narrow, and so, in spite of oppressive intimations of the infinite, what
I experience is also small and in the likeness of man-a fact which emerges clearly when one tries to express it.
In our experience everything gets tainted with the ambiguity of the psyche.
The greatest experience is also the smallest and narrowest, and for that reason one hesitates to boast about it,
let alone philosophize about it.
One is after all too small and too incompetent to be able to afford any such arrogance.
That is why I prefer ambiguous language, since it does equal justice to the subjectivity of the archetypal idea and to the autonomy of the archetype. “God,” for example, is on the one hand an inexpressible ens potentissimum, and on the other hand an exceedingly inadequate token and expression of human impotence and perplexity-an experience, therefore, of the most paradoxical nature.
The realm of the psyche is immeasurably great and filled with living reality.
At its brink lies the secret of matter and of spirit.
I do not know whether this schema means anything to you or not.
For me it is the frame within which I can express my experience.
With best regards,
C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 69-71.