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Synchronicity and the Half-Life of Radium


7e7d7 12bradium

Atom and Archetype: The Pauli/Jung Letters, 1932-1958

Dear Professor, Bollingen 30 Nov 1950

Many thanks for your kind letter and for the time and trouble you have taken with my manuscript.

Your opinions are very important to me, not just in the material itself but also in the light of our different points of view.

Re 1. In reply to your question about any possible “negative” synchronistic effect, I can state that RHINE gives a series of examples in which the initially
positive number of hits is strikingly reversed.

I can well imagine that similar things happen in astrological-experiment setups.

But given the complexity of the situation, they are much more difficult to ascertain, for I am the test person whose interest would need to tum into resistance.

For this purpose, I would need to collect and work on a few hundred horoscopes i.e., until I was absolutely fed up with the whole thing.

Only then could one expect negative results.

Re 2 . What you so fittingly describe as “statistical correspondence” characterizes radioactivity, for example, but not, as you correctly say, synchronicity;
in the former case, the regularity of the half-life period can be ascertained only when there is a large number of individual cases, whereas in the latter the synchronistic effect is there only with a small number and disappears when there is a larger number.

There is in fact no connection between the phenomenon of the half-life period and synchronicity.

If I do bring the two together, then it is on the basis of another analogy which seems to me crucial: Synchronicity could be understood as an ordering system by means of which “similar” things coincide, without there being any apparent “cause.”

I now wonder whether it is not so that every state of being that has no conceivable cause (and thus no potentially ascertainable one) falls into the category of synchronicity.

In other words, I see no reason why synchronicity should always just be a coincidence of two psychic states or a psychic state and a non-psychic event.

There may also possibly be coincidences of this kind between non psychic events.

One such case might be the phenomenon of the half-life period.

For the connection of psychic states to each other or to non-psychic events, I use the term “meaning” as a psychically appropriate paraphrasing of the term “similarity.” In the coincidences of non-psychic events, one would naturally use the latter term.

[A quick question: could a possible factor here be the odd result in Rhine’s dice experiment: which showed that with a small number of dice the results are
bad, whereas with a larger number [20-40] they are positive?

A purely synchronistic effect would be just as conceivable with a small number of dice as with a larger one.

But doesn’t the positive result with a larger number indicate an additional synchronistic factor between the dice themselves?

Might there not be a similar harmony with a large number of radium atoms that would not be there with a smaller number?]

Insofar as for me synchronicity represents first and foremost a simple state of being, I am inclined to subsume any instance of causally non-conceivable
states of being into the category of synchronicity.

The psychic and half-psychic cases of synchronicity would be the one subcategory, the non psychic ones the other.

Insofar as physical discontinuities prove to be causally no further irreducible, they represent a “so-ness” [“So-sein”] or a unique ordering factor or a “creative act,” just as well as any case of synchronicity.

I fully agree with you that these “effects” are on various levels, and conceptual distinctions should be made between them.

I just wanted to outline the general picture of synchronicity.

As for the world-picture quaternio, our differences of opinion seem to stem from the different nature of our approaches (which I referred to at the beginning).

The “dreamlike nature” of my physical concepts is based essentially on the fact that they are purely illustrative, whereas in your case they have an abstract-mathematical character.

Modem physics, having advanced into another world beyond conceivability, cannot dispense with the concept of a space-time continuum.

Insofar as psychology penetrates into the unconscious, it probably has no alternative but to acknowledge the “indistinctness” or the impossibility of distinguishing between time and space, as well as their psychic relativity.

The world of classical physics has not ceased to exist, and by the same token, the world of consciousness has not lost its validity against the unconscious.

Spatial and temporal definitions of measurement are different, even thugh they can both be applied to phenomena.

Meter and liter are, and will continue to be, incommensurable terms, and no schoolboy would ever say that a lesson lasts for 10 km.

And so space and time are also visual notions that are eternally separate and antithetical in a visual image of the world in spite of its background identity.

Equally, causality is a credible hypothesis because it can be constantly verified.

Nevertheless, the world abounds in “coincidences,” but this proves that it would virtually take laboratories to demonstrate effectively the necessary connection between cause and effect.

“Causality” is a psychologem (and originally a magic virtua) that formulates the connection between events and illustrates them as cause and effect.

Another (incommensurable) approach that does the same thing in a different way is synchronicity.

Both are identical in the higher sense of the term “connection” or “attachment.”

But on an empirical and practical level (i.e., in the real world), they are incommensurable and antithetical, like space and time.

Your compromise proposal is most welcome, for it makes the bold attempt to transcend descriptivism and to extend the concrete world-picture by the one beneath the surface; in other words, it is not just on the surface
like my schema.

Your proposal really set my mind working, and I regard it as perfectly suitable for a more complete world-picture.

You have replaced the space-time connection by energy conservation and space-time continuum, and I would now like to propose that instead of “causality” we have “(relatively) constant connection through effect: and instead of synchronicity we have (relatively) constant connection through contingency, equivalence, or “meaning”-i.e., the following quaternio:

Whereas my original schema seems to formulate the world of consciousness quite adequately, this second one satisfies the- requirements of modem physics on the one hand and those of the psychology of the unconscious
on the other hand.

The mundus archetypus of the latter is characterized essentially through the contingence of the archetypes, which causes their indistinctness and also their inability to be localized.

(The archetypes are always “breaking barriers,” meaning that they disturb the sphere of influence of a definite causal agent by-thanks to the autonomy of their (noncausal) connections-assigning contingent factors to a specific causal process.)

Re 3-1 shall probably have to delete the sentence on p. 9 (and p. 10) on radioactivity and field, because I cannot explain it properly.

I would really need to have a good knowledge of physics, which is unfortunately not the case. I can only suggest that although ray energy and field voltage seem to be incommensurable in physical terms, they have, in psychological term an equivalence to the “breaking of barriers” by means of contingence with the archetypes, or they form their physical equivalence.

Perhaps I don’t know enough about psychology either to be able to develop these ideas further.

Re 4. The psychic “relativity of mass” is actually a logical outcome of the psychic relativity of time and space, insofar as mass cannot be defined without a concept of space and, when it is moved, not without a concept of time.

If these two concepts are elastic, then mass is undefinable-that is, psychically relative; one could just as well say that mass behaves arbitrarily-that it is contingent with the psychic state.

Nothing is known about any prefigured notions on the part of the test person.

My experience has shown that there aren’t any.

If there were, they would only disturb the experiment in my View.

The concept of the relativity of mass does not actually explain anything and neither does the relativity of time and space.

It is simply a formulation.

There is no way of seeing how the term “relativity of mass” can be explained more precisely.

Within the randomness of the throwing of the dice, a “psychic” orderedness comes into being.

Is this modification based on whether the dice are heavier or lighter, or whether their speed is accelerated
or slowed down?

The boundaries of probability are overstepped by mass (i.e., the dice) in exactly the same way as the “knowledge” of the test person acquires improbability.

I seek the explanation for this in the singular nature of the archetype, which sometimes cancels out the constancy of the causal principle and assimilates a physical and a psychic process through contingency.

This synchronistic event can be described as a characteristic of the psyche or mass.

In the former case, the psyche would cast a spell on mass, and in the latter mass would bewitch the psyche.

It is thus more probable that both have the same characteristic, that both are basically contingent and, heedless of their own causal definitions, actually overlap.

A further possibility is that neither mass nor the psyche possesses such a characteristic but that a third factor is present to which it must be attributed, a factor that can be observed in the sphere of the psyche and can be observed from there-namely, the (psychoid) archetype which, thanks to its habitual indistinctness and “transgressivity,” assimilates into each other two incommensurable causal processes (in a so-called numinous moment), creates a joint field of tension (?) or makes them both “radioactive” (?).

I hope I have managed to make myself clear.

Once again, many thanks for your stimulating criticism.

Yours sincerely,

CGJ ~Carl Jung, Atom and Archetype, Pages 59-63