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Pascual Jordan, Time, Space and the Unconscious.


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C.G. Jung Letters, Vol. 1: 1906-1950

To Wolfgang Pauli

Dear Professor Pauli, 29 October 1934

Best thanks for kindly sending me Jordan’s paper.

I think this paper should be published, as it is concerned with the actual change over of the physicist’s mode of observation to the psychological field.

This paper was inevitable.

Having come to the conclusion that the observed is also a disturbance by the observer, the consistent investigator of the unknown interior of the atom could not help seeing that the nature of the observing process becomes perceptible in the disturbance caused by the observation.

To put it more simply, if you look long enough into a dark hole you perceive what is looking in is also the principle of cognition in yoga, which derives all cognition from the absolute emptiness of consciousness.

This method of cognition is thus a special instance of the introspective investigation of the psyche in general.

With regard to Jordan’s reference to para-psychological phenomena, clairvoyance in space is of course one of the most obvious phenomena that demonstrate the relative non-existence of our empirical space picture.

In order to supplement this argument, he would also have to adduce clairvoyance in time, which would demonstrate the relativity of our time picture.

Jordan naturally sees these phenomena from the standpoint of the physicist, whereas I start from that of the psychologist, namely, from the fact of the collective unconscious

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as you. have so rightly noted, which represents a layer of the psyche in which individual differences of consciousness are more or less obliterated.

But if individual consciousnesses are blotted out in the unconscious, then all perception in the unconscious takes place as though a single person.

Jordan says that senders and receivers in the same conscious space simultaneously observe the same object.

One could invert this proposition and say that in unconscious “space” senders and receivers are the same perceiving subject.

As you see, I as a. psychologist would speak from the standpoint of the perceiving subject, whereas the physicist speaks from the standpoint of the common space in which two or more observers are present.

Jordan’s View, earned to its log1cal conclusion, would lead to the assumption of an absolutely unconscious space in which an infinity of observers observe the same object.

The psychological version would be: in the unconscious there is only one observer who observes an infinity of objects.

If you should draw Jordan’s attention to my writings, perhaps I may reccomend you to mention-besides the essay already cited by you – Basic Postulates of Analytical Psychology” in the same volume.

As regards the collective unconscious, there is in an earlier volume, Seelenprobleme der Gegenwart, an essay where I treat this theme in greater detail, namely “The Structure of the Psyche.”

I would be grateful if I could keep Jordan’s paper a while longer.

It has just occurred to me that with regard to the relativity of time there is a book by one of Eddington’s pupils, Dunne, An Experiment with Time, in which he treats clairvoyance in time in the same way as Jordan treats clairvoyance in space.

He postulates an infinite number of time dimensions roughly corresponding to Jordan’s “intermediate stages.”

It would interest me very much to hear what your attitude is to Dunne’s arguments.

I also thank you for your personal news and wish you further progress.

With kindest regards,
Yours sincerely,

C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. 1, Pages 174-176.


Wolfgang Pauli
Pascual Jordan