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

Dear Professor Jung, Zollikon, 17. V. 1952

I should like to thank you once again for the pleasant evening I spent with you.

I shall give a lot of thought to many of the things you said, so that I can digest them properly.

What made the deepest impression upon me was the central role played in your thinking by the concept of “incarnation” as a scientific working hypothesis.

This concept is of particular interest to me, first of all because it is interdenominational (“Avatara” in India) and also because it expresses a psycho-physical unity.

More and more I see the psycho-physical problem as the key to the spiritual situation of our age, and the gradual discovery of a new (“neutral”) psycho-physical standard language, whose function is symbolically to an describe in invisible, potential form of reality that is only indirectly inferable through its effects, also seems to me an indispensable prerequisite for the emergence of the new, predicted by you.

I have also clearly seen how you have linked the concept of incarnation with ethics, which, moreover, just like Schopenhauer (in his work on the basis of morality), you have based on the identification of the Self with one’s fellow men on deeper psychic levels (“what one does to others, one also does to oneself” etc.).

Is it possible to define your point of view as incarnation continua?

There are two essentially different opinions with respect to psychic evolution (as distinct from the biological one): that of recurrence, as is the case in India, for example [the periodically recurring 4 aeons (Yugas)], but also with Heraclitus, according to whom the world is continually resurrected from “fire” and then swallowed up by it again.

The other view is the Christian western one, with the one and only genesis of the world, which ends in a permanent state of rest.

At the moment I see no possibility of objectively deciding between the two.

I actually also mentioned the fire of Heraclitus in my last letter because in those days, in the ancient world, it combined the physical and the psychic by being both a physical energy symbol and a psychic libido symbol (according to Heraclitus, fire was supposed to be “endowed with reason”).

The problem of psycho-physical unity now seems to be returning “on a higher plane.”

I shall be making further inquiries about “Fling saucers.”

In June I have to attend a physicists’ congress in Copenhagen and will discuss the matter with people from America.

There are two contradictory opinions on the subject; according to one of them, which still finds support among experimental physicists in particular, it is a hallucination (like the “sea serpent” and similar sea monsters”); according to the other, more common in military circles, the phenomenon is a real one, and they have been invented by Americans for military purposes and are either special planes or balloons (hence “sacks”).

As I was walking up the hill from Zollikon station after leaving your house, I did not actually see any “Flying saucers,” but I did see a particularly beautiful large meteor.

It was moving relatively slowly (this can usually be explained by factors of perspective) from east to west and finally exploded, producing an impressively fine firework display.

I took it as a spiritual “omen” that our general attitude toward the spiritual problems of our age is in the sense of, in other words is more a “meaningful” one.

Once again many thanks,

Yours sincerely,

W. Pauli

~Wolfgang Pauli, Atom and Archetype, Pages 81-83