Atom and Archetype: The Pauli/Jung Letters, 1932-1958 – Updated Edition
[Some Greek words have not been translated]
Dear Professor Jung, Zollikon, 27 February 1952
It has been a long time since I spoke to you at any length, and in the meantime all sorts of material has accumulated that I would like to tell you about and make available to you.
Now that classes are over for the semester, I can set about putting this long cherished plan into action.
I’m talking about the different considerations and amplifications that your book Aion has triggered.
Apart from astrology, where our views certainly differ, there is still much that has caught my interest-namely, the subject dealt with in chap. V, and also that of chap. XIII and XIV.
It may be of interest to you to see the problems dealt with there from a different angle than the conventional one.
As you well know, when it comes to religion and philosophy, my background is Lao-tse and Schopenhauer (although 1 could expand the time conditioned determinism of the latter with the idea of the complementary pairs of opposites and the acausal factor).
Given this background, your analytical psychology and, 1 believe, your personal mental attitude in general
has always seemed readily accessible to me, but I must confess that specifically Christian religiousness-especially its concept of God- has always left me emotionally and intellectually out on a limb. (I have no emotional resistance to the idea of an unpredictable tyrant such as Jahweh, but the excessive arbitrariness in the cosmos in this idea strikes me as an untenable anthropomorphism from the point of view of natural philopophy.)
In the Lao-tse world-picutre, the problem of evil does not exist, as can be seen particularly in Taoteking no. 5 (“Nict Liebe nach Menschenart hat die Natur… [Wilhelm’s translation: “Nature’s love is not like human love…”)
But Lao-tes’s whole concept is better suited to the intuitive world-picutre of the Chinese, whereas Western science and its perceptions are alien to it.
This does not mean that I would go so far as to claim that Lao-tse’s point of view, however satisfying it seems to me, is the last word on these matters as far as the Western world is concerned.
On the other hand, Schopenhauer’s philosophy-also because it mediates between the West and East Asia-enables me to have much easier access to your book Aion.
For I was always of the opinion that it was precisely the privatio boni that was the bone of contention that led Schopenhauer to reject the ,” as he called it.
From a critical point of view, I should like to say myself that what is being rejected here is only the idea of a humanlike consciousness in God.
I actually tend to identify Schopenhauer’s so-called will (the way he uses the word has not gained currency at all) with the of the Gnostics, which is mentions on pp. 278-82 of Aion [CW 9ii, pars. 299-304].
Such an “unknowing God,” remains innocent and cannot be held morally responsible, emotionally and intellectually the difficulty no longer arises of reconciling him with the existence of sin and evil.
I can happily agree with your view that the emotional and intellectual discussion of the “problem of evil” has once again become an urgent necessity for modern man.
This is particularly true for a physicist now that the possibility of using the results of physics for the purposes of mass destruction is just around the corner.
Even when there is no direct involvement in such a use of physics, it is possible that unless this discussion takes place, it can lead to a certain stagnation in the physics (because in the unconscious the libido will flow away and hence also the interest in physics in the narrower sense of the term).
Given the central role plays by the doctrine of privatio boni here (I believe that a lot of people today-like you or me-will tend to reject it).
I have investigated the historical origins of this tenet.
My work on Kepler had also led me to look more closely at Neoplatonism (since Kepler was strongly influenced by Proclus, Fludd, and Iamblichus-though as an alchemist he followed Aristotle much more than Plato or the Neoplatonists).
And I saw not only how Scotus Eriugena (who I felt to be a very weak sort of Christian) was a prominent promulgator of the privatio boni but also that Plotinus (whom I read in translation last summer) supported it as a basically full-fledged doctrine.
At the same time, he gives the impression that there is powerful opposition to this tenet on the part of the
I was also struck by the fact that according to Plotinus, matter is supposed to be a pure privatio and “absolutely evil” to boot; furthermore, evil, evidently as understood by Parmenides, is depicted as “nonbeing.”
Recently I met Prof. Howald at a social gathering and asked him about Neoplatonism; he kindly pointed out that Dr. H. R. Schwyzer had just written a lengthy paper on Plotinus.
This led to an exchange of letters between Dr. Schwyzer and myself, as a result of which I was able to substantially increase my knowledge of the story of the privatio boni: Whereas Plato never uses the word nor the word Aristotle’ polemicizes (together with Parmenides and his school) against the equating of v).’7 with arip’Iatr;.
So even in those days there must have been people of note who supported the idea that the v).’7 no quale was simply a adp’7a’r; of the “Ideas.” (Actually one can, if one chooses, interpret Plato in this way: but that seems to me to be doing Plato a grave injustice.)
In this equation of v).’7 with arip’Iatr; I am inclined to see the older model of natural philosophy (which for me as a physicist is interesting in itself), which was the basis for the later privatio boni.
Later the v).’7 was designated ro Kal,6v by the Neo-pythagoreans.
It seems—in accordance with the idea of your book Aion—that at the time all pairs of opposites were related to the one pair of opposites that was growing in importance==namely, “good-evil.”
Parallel to this is the identification of the “One” with the “Good,” which actually begins back with the early commentators on Plato.
This is what I regard as the model for the theological formula that you mentions, deus Summum bonum.
With Plotinus this has all been elaborated into a doctrine, enhanced by the distinction between the xxx and the xx (This last distinction gives rise to the Plotinistic “Trinity” to XX, XXXX, XXX, whose members are arranged in hierarchical order, unlike in Christian Trinity, where they are of equal importance.)
Whereas everone agrees that Plotinus, who never mentions Christians, never knew the Bible and was not influenced by Christians, there is, conversely, clear evidence of the influence of Plotinus on Christian theology, especially on Augustine (and also on Basilius, whom you quote).
One has the impression that the intellectual formulas of Neoplatonism fell into the laps of the early Christian theologians like ripe fruit.
All they had to do was a little editing in order to harmonize them with the Bible and their conception of God.
At this point I should like to raise for discussion the question of what this whole development in ancient philosophy since Parmenides means psychologically, and your views on the subject would be of great interest to me.
I myself have the impression that especially the story of the Plato commentaries actually corresponds to the dissociation of an early uniform archetype into a light (Noplatonists) and a dark one (Gnositcs).
This division is probably the same as that which appears later as “Christ” and “Antichrist.”
I also suspect that the “being” and “nobeing” things with Parmenides correspond psychologically to the “should be being” (desired) and “should not be being” (undesired) ones.
Parmenides was the reaction to Heraclitus.
For the latter, there is only the “process of becoming,” represented as a permanent living fire; the pairs of opposites are treated symmetrically and God is a coincidentia oppositorum (as later in Christian form with Nicholas of Cusa).
With Parmenides, there is not becoming (there can be no thinking
With Parmenides, there is no becoming (there can be no thinking about “nonbeing” nor hence about “becoming.” since it is devoid of characteristics), the pairs of opposites are treated unsymmetrically favor of the “being,” which is presented as a stationary sphere.
Psychologically speaking, this is yearing for peace and quiet (lack of conflict) as against the dispute (war) of “Heraclitus,” who could “never step twice into the same river.”
The ensuing extremely strong devaluation of matter is for me a sort of rationalized withdrawal from the world.
It strikes me as psychologically significant that it was precisely “those who denied the notion of becoming” who, with their static “ideal world,” gradually came to interpret matter, and then evil, as simply a “lack.”
I can well understand that on a feeling level these philosophical ideas can be intensified into a form of “provocation” and on a thinking level into a logical contradiction if they are connected with the Biblical idea of a “Creator tor God” who is also supposed to be “almighty,” “only good,” and “omniscient” in the bargain.”
As you can see, your chap. V has taken me quite a way back to antiquity (and to the classical philologists).
After this excursion into history, let us now return to the point where I ascertained that Schopenhauer’s “will” and the “unknowing Cod” of the Gnostics were the same.
Is it possible for this “agnosis” of Cod, which allows this God to retain his innocence, to be of help to modern man philosophically and on a feeling level?
This is a crucial and difficult question on which I cannot take any direct stance, not being a metaphysician.
But if I attempt to look at the question from a psychological point of view, then I have to put the other question instead, namely, whether my own feeling connection to the unconscious (and especially to its superior masculine figures, such as the “stranger”) is similar to that of Schopenhauer to his “will.”
Then I immediately realize that there are crucial differences.
Schopenhauer’s feeling attitude to the “will” is negative and pessimistic.
But my own feeling attitude to the “stranger” is that I want to help him, for I see him as in need of redemption.
What he is striving for is his own transformation, and in this ego consciousness must cooperate in such a way that at the same time it broadens and grows.
I must leave open the question of what the ultimate aims and laws of this transformations are, but his problem is closely related to the laws of this transformation are, but this problem is closely related to the questions dealt with in chap. XIV of Aion.
In the spring of 1951, I had a dream in which the word “automorphism” cropped up (it is a word taken from mathematics).
It is the word for the ascribing to others one’s own characteristics, and isomorphism of an algebraic system with itself, in other words, for a process in which inner symmetry, the wealth of associations (relations) of a system reveals itself.
In abstract algebra there is also “the automorphism-producing elements” (which I cannot specify here), and in the analogy they probably correspond to the “archetypes” as ordering factors, as you yourself defined and interpreted them in 1946.
My interpretation of the dream at the time (it was a proper examination, with the “stranger” as examiner, in which the word “automorphism” had the effect of a “mantra”) was that a generic term was being sought that was to cover both your concept of the archetypes as well as the physical laws of nature.
This is why I read with great interest your formula on p. 370 of Aion [CW 9ii, par. 410] when the book came out.
For a mathematician, it would be an obvious thing to do to apply the term “automorphism” to the relationship of the small square to the large one.
What also occurred to me was that the quaternio on p. 99 of your article on synchronicity [CW 8, par. 961] (on which we had agreed) can also be written thus:
3-dimensional space belongs to one-dimensional time and correspondingly the (also indestructible) momentum (3 components corresponding to the 3 space dimensions) belongs to the (one-component) energy.
The small squares then correspond to the four-dimensionality of the space-time continuum and the 4 figures for energy and momentum.
Thus it seems to me that in the generic term “automorphism” is where the possibility lies for further progress, especially as it belongs to a neutral language (in relation to Physis and psyche) and as it also indicates a complementarity of oneness and plurality (or singularity and generality), cf. Aion, P·99 [CW 9ii, pars. 15-16].
Now insofar as these images of the “Self” (or the Son of God) are subject to laws or destiny or the necessity of those transformations, they appear as in need of redemption, and there arises a psychological (also feeling-toned) connection between them and man (or his consciousness of self).
We do not know whether these transformations all return to their original form or whether they represent an evolution toward unknown objectives.
(You hinted at the latter in connection with your formula on p. 370 [CW 9ii, par. 410] by mentioning a “higher level,” which is attained by the process of transformation or integration.)
I would enjoy talking to you about what this actually means in terms of everyday living with regard to the attitude toward ethical or moral problems.
The conclusion to this letter leads me back to the excursion into history.
It was those who denied the process of becoming (the “static ones) who came up with the idea of the “privatio.”
Thus it comes as no surprise to me that those modern thinkers who—like yourself—are now once again pleading he case for a symmetrical treatment of the pairs of opposites are also closer to the concept of becoming (the stationary sphere of Parmenides).
By way of apology for this lengthy letter, all I can say is that it has taken me about a year to now be able to write it.
I remain with best wishes,
W. Pauli ~W. Pauli, Atom and Archetype, Pages 74-81