Atom and Archetype: The Pauli/Jung Letters, 1932-1958
Motto: “To be,” or “not to be,” this is the question
Dear Professor Jung, 27 February 1953
A year has elapsed since I last wrote to you, and now I feel the time is right to carry out what has long been my intention; namely, to write to you again.
The topic I have chosen this time could be called: “Reflection of an Unbeliever on Psychology, Religion, and your Answer to Job.”
I do not doubt that you have received very many letters about your book Antwort auf Hiob [Answer to Job] (especially from theologians who, consciously or unconsciously, are beset with grave doubts and for whom your psychology will surely be welcomed as a means of helping them to deal with these doubts).
Nevertheless, despite the wealth of your experience, this letter will probably strike you as rather unusual.
My topic will deal with neither the complete historical development of the Judeo-Christian God-image nor all too general ideological questions.
Instead, I should like to single out in particular the last four chapters of your book, where the problem of the anima and hence-by definition-the opposition Catholicism-Protestantism and the individuation process playa crucial role in your religious-psychological reflections.
For in this way there is a connection between this chapter of your new book and your earlier book, Psychology and Religion” which I have deliberately alluded to in the heading above.
It goes without saying that if I react at all to such a personal book, it can only be in this personal way.
Hence it is impossible for this letter to remain on a purely scientific level, and in order to enable the emotional side and the unconscious to have their say, too, I shall make use of dreams.
In doing so, I have selected some that are very typical in that their motifs recur-with variations-at intervals extending over many years.
Even if my reaction and my point of view regarding these problems is a personal one, it is nevertheless clear to me that we are all-as children of the 20th century-affected unconsciously by the same archetypal occurrences,
however different our conscious attitudes toward them may be; this is true of the psychologist who, at the end of a book and in the eventide of a long working life, sees a new hieros gamos approaching, the physicist who has to compensate for the one-sidedness that ensued after the pioneering scientific achievements of the 17th century, and the pope, who, by way of sanctioning an ancient popular belief, declares a new dogma.
Thus I write and report the following in the hope that in spite of any differences in the nuances of our opinions, there is still a sufficiently broad basis of understanding between us in these problems, which are as thorny as they are crucial.
To read your book Antwort auf Hiob [Answer to Job], I had chosen the period of the equinox last autumn—after overcoming certain reservations, by the way.
On the evening of 19 September I had read the first 12 chapters (up to and including the Apocalypse).
My attitude was not at all critical; on the contrary, the effect that these chapters had on me, with their touches of
Sarcasm, was as if I had enjoyed some light reading, and I was in a cheerful, albeit somewhat superficial mood.
However, in the night immediately after reading your book I had the following dream:
“At first I am riding in a train with Mr. Bohr.
Then I get out and find myself in a stretch of countryside clotted with little villages.
Now I start looking for a station so that I can ride off to the left.
I soon find it.
The new train comes from the right and seems to be a small local train.
As Iget in, I immediately see “the dark girl” in the compartment, surrounded by strangers.
I ask where we are, and the people say, ‘”The next station is Esslingen, and we are nearly there.”
I wake up very annoyed because we have come to such an uninteresting and boring place.”
Thus was the pleasure of the evening turned into the annoyance of the morning.
Apparently “the dark one” was being sought out in the dream.
The place she lives seems to be somewhere in the Zurich Oberland.
Esslingen actually-i.e., extremely provincial, only loosely connected with the city of Zurich, which is where I pursue my main activity, theoretical physics (represented by Bohr).
The reason for my irritation seems to be the fact that I have to go off to such a remote, provincial setting to find the dark one.
Now what does this have to do with your book?
Well, it has a lot to do with it, and I immediately saw a connection.
The dark one for me has always been the counterpole to Protestantism, the “men’s religion that has no metaphysical representation of woman.”
The pair of opposites Catholicism-Protestantism has long tormented me in my dreams.
It is the conflict between an attitude that does not accept, or only partially accepts, the “ratio,” and another attitude that does not accept the anima.
This pair of opposites has appeared repeatedly in many different forms, e.g. as
intuitive feeling-scientific thinking
It is a pair of opposites that seems to call for resolution by means of coniunctio.
Now I knew beforehand that the new Catholic dogma about the Assumption into Heaven of the body of the Virgin Mary is discussed toward the end of the book Antwer au Hiob.
The declaration of this dogma had made even me sit up and take note, in one definite connection and in one definite light; that was the case from the very start and is still so today.
My source was mainly my (Protestant) colleague Gonseth, who had had discussions about this with Catholic intellectuals (especially Thomists) in Rome (in connection with the line of philosophy taken by him).
He reported that these intellectuals were somewhat embarrassed because of the concretism of the pope and regarded the new dogma as a concession to the people and also as a “metaphysical maneuver” against Communism.
Now inasmuch as politics have always been a prerogative of the princeps huius mundi, and inasmuch as anyone involved in politics (and that applies to the greater part of the Catholic clergy) is, in psychological terms, in intimate “contact with the Devil,” then the initiative for the new dogma (expressed in the terminology of your book Antw.au Hiob) would actually have come from the Devil; it is a countermeasure against the Devil.
Of course, in the 2oth century I cannot really understand what the pope means when he says “Heaven” (and I am not the least bit interested in what he means).
It does acquire some meaning for me if I identify “Heaven” here with the “place beyond Heaven” the nonphysical space in which, in accordance with Platonic philosophy, “Ideas” are to be found.
This is probably not all that arbitrary inasmuch as historically, Christianity has taken over many words and expressions from Plato and the Platonists.
The “maneuver” would then consist in the fact that a concession to matter was to be made, which, since the days of Neoplatonism, has counted only as the privatio of ideas and as evil, or as the Devil in Christian terms.
One may harbor doubts as to whether this concession is enough, since in the new dogma it is actually strongly “disinfected” matter.
To me, however, it seems to be a meaningful and acceptable approach in which a decline into materialism (politically: into Communism) will be avoided because the matter will be taken into the world of ideas, not in its inorganic form but only in connection with the soul, the “metaphysical” representation of woman.
In this form, the “maneuver” seems to be quite logical.
In terms of social practice, doing away with soulless mental institutions would be a most beneficial consequence.
But as a symbol of the monistic union of matter and soul, this assumptio has an even deepter meaning for me.
Any deeper form of reality—i.e., every “thing as such”—is symbolic for me anyway, and only the “manifestations” is concrete (see p. 16).
It is true that in the empirical world of phenomena there must always be the difference between “physical” and “psychic,” and it was the mistake of the alchemists to apply a monist (neutral) language to concrete chemical processes.
But now that matter has also become and abstract invisible reality for the modern physicist, the prospects for a psycho-pyusical monism have become much more favorable.
Inasmuch as I now believe in the possibility of a simultaneous religious and scientific function of the appearance of archetypal symbols, the fact of the declaration of the new dogmas was and is for me a clear sign that the psychophysical problem is also now constellated anew in the scientific sphere.
The hieros gamos, whose dawn you see even from a distance. must also help with the solution to this problem.
I shall talk briefly about the fact that the parallels you draw between the new dogma and a definite stage of the individuation process also seem to me to provide strong support for this view.
But first I should like to report on my further emotional reactions as I read your book to the end.
I did, of course, await with bated breath what you would have to say on the subject of matter and on the psychophysical problem when you came to the new dogma.
To my disappointment, however, I found that there was no mention of the latter, and matter itself was alluded to only briefly in the expressions “creaturely man” and “incarnation of God,” otherwise being basically ignored.
I thought to myself, “I don’t know what the pope means with ‘Heaven” but it is certainly not in this book, for matter has not been broached here.”
I attributed the failure to mention the connection with the psychophysical problem to your endeavor to get a discussion going with the theologians, which struck me as doomed to failure from the outset.
It seems to me now that there are other factors involved as well (see under note 28).
Having given vent to my wrath, I immediately realized that it was the same feeling as when [ woke up after the dream [ recounted earlier.
On the one hand, the dream was an anticipation of my reaction after I had read your book, and on the other hand it now led me back to the subject level.
At that moment, I saw that there also “happened” to be a work by McConnell lying on my desk, and I immediately recalled that you had intentionally arranged for your two works Antw. Auf Hiob and the one on synchronicity to be published at more or less the same time.
The ESP phenomena now also one side of the psychophysical problem (where does the psyche actually
stop when it comes to matter?), and if one took both books together, there was a much less “provincial” atmosphere.
On the subject level, a special form of the “dark one” has long been appearing in dreams and fantasies as the tertium, above and beyond the Catholic-Protestant pair of opposites (or the analogous opposites on the list
given)-namely, the Chinese woman (or the Exotic One) with the typical slanted eyes.
These indicate a particularly holistic view, but one that is still insufficiently connected with my rational ego.
As a feminine (anima) figure, however she is linked with emotional interest, which is accompanied by a
stimulation or animation of the pairs of opposites.
She sees connections other than those of conventional time, yet there always appears to me a “figure” that has the tendency to reproduce itself (automorphism) and to be at the basis of the perceptions of the “Chinese woman.”
This “figure” (one can also, in a certain sense, call it “archetype,” see under p. Il) is psychic and physical, which is why the Chinese woman first appeared as the bearer of “psychophysical secrets,” ranging from sexuality to subtle ESP phenomena.
I believe that an animation of pairs of opposites also lies at the basis of ESP phenomena (and with the mantic of the 1 Ching).
Now my attention was drawn to the strangers by whom the dark one was surrounded in the dream.
They seemed to be pointing out inadequately understood ideas to me-i.e., preconscious ones-which are connected with that “Chinese” (holistic) aspect of the dark one.
This was confirmed by the following dream:
Dream, 28 September 1952
“The Chinese woman walks on ahead and beckons me to follow.
She opens a trapdoor and walks down some steps, leaving the door open.
Her movements are oddly dancelike she does not speak but only expresses herself in mime, almost as in ballet.
I follow her and see that the steps lead into an auditorium, in which “the strangers” are waiting for me.
The Chinese woman indicates that I should get up onto the rostrum and address the people, apparently to deliver a lecture.
As I am waiting, she “dances” rhythmically back up the steps, through the open door into the open air, and then back down again.
As she does so, she keeps the index finger of her left hand and her left arm pointing upward, her right arm and the index finger of her right hand pointing downward.
The repetition of this rhythmic movement now has a powerful effect, in that gradually it becomes a rotation movement (circulation of the light).
The difference between the two floors seems to diminish “magically.”
As I am actually mounting the rostrum of the auditorium, I wake up.”
This dream, which made a deep impression on me, marked a certain progress.
First of all, there is the motif of the auditorium with strangers, in front of whom I am to hold lectures.
This has cropped up in previous dreams and is closely linked to dreams that I had been offered a new professorship but had not yet accepted.
For example, when I was traveling to India and heading south off the coast of Spain and Portugal, I had a dream that 1was traveling to Holland to take up an appointment as a professor.
The “stranger” was awaiting me there.
See the table above for Holland as the counter position to science.
The Indian way of thinking more or less c0rresponds to this counter position.
The motif of the not-yet-accepted professorship seems to me very important, for it shows the resistance of the
conscious to the “professorship.”
The unconscious is rebuking me for having kept something specific from the public, something akin to a confession that I had not accepted my appointment out of conventional forms of resistance.
These forms of resistance are sometimes virtually condensed into a
In my case, this shadow was projected onto my father,’ but I later learned to distinguish it from my real father, with the dream figure becoming visibly younger.
This shadow is always intellectual and lacking in feeling and mentally rigidly conventional.
It must be borne in mind that mathematical science for me, and anyone else who pursues it, involves an extremely close link with tradition-a typically Western tradition, by the way; it is a source of strength and at the same time a chain!
Conversions such as that of R. Wilhelm to Taoism or A. Huxley to Indian mysticism are, I think, not likely to happen to a scientist.
In the spirit of this tradition and my conscious attitude, everything that is part of the counterposition of the sciences was a private matter, being connected with feeling.
By way of contrast, the people in the lecture hall are expecting a professor who will teach the sciences and also their feeling-intuitive counterposition, perhaps even including ethical problems.
The people in the auditorium, despite my resistance, hold the view that this extended subject matter of the lecture, although personal, is nevertheless also of interest to the public.
Then the dram contains the motifs of the dance.
On the basis of experiencing extending over a lengthy period of time, I came to the conclusion that the rhythmic sensation being expressed here is based on an inner perception of “archetypal sequences.”
As the ordering principle of the pairs of 0pposites is not primarily a temporal one, the tempo is arbitrary, with both last and slow rhythms.”
Alter having seen the God figures on the island of Elephanta near Bombay, I am more or less convinced that the rhythmic movements of the transmigration of souls and the world age [Weltzitalter) in India, especially Siva’s dance, are based on similar experiences.
To the Westerner however, after he has gone through the scientific age, it seems naive and erroneous to project the experience in concretist terms into rhythmic processes in the physis.
It is true that the “Chinese woman” is above and beyond the Catholicism-Protestantism, mysticism-science pairs of opposites, etc.; she is herself that holistic union of psyche and physis that still appears to the human mind as a problem; she is “seeing” in a special way.
But, being free of any rationalization processes, this also means she is not capable of the rational skills of my consciousness, such as logical thinking, mathematics, etc.
This is why she seeks the logos (or me) as a bridegroom and does not yet represent the final stage of development.
Thus, in a later stage of development, a new light-dark masculine figure appears as a superordinate authority: the
This later development is expressed in the following dream, for example:
Dream: 20 December 1952, in Bombay
“A major war is going on.
There is a Chinese couple on my side.
In the course of the fighting, I drive the opposition back.
When I am finally alone with the Chinese again, I catch sight of the stranger.
I demand a formal employment contract for the Chinese couple.
To their delight he agrees.”
It seems that a further stage has thus been achieved in the ongoing confrontation with the unconscious.
But I am still a long way from being able to assimilate into consciousness the contents of the unconscious, which
appear here as “strangers” and “a Chinese couple; and this is probably what the task of the new ‘professorship” would be.
All I could do at this stage was feel my way tentatively into the context associated with these contents.
I am still constantly surprised at this insistence of the unconscious on the new professorship with its lectures in auditoriums and on my appointment, and I wonder what such a professor might say who does not “hold the tail but grasps it in his hand” (namely, theoretical physics) but who also “grasps the head mentally” and not “just in dreams.”
I cannot anticipate the new coniunctio, the new hieros gamos called for by this situation, but I will nevertheless try to explain more clearly what I meant with meant with the final part of my Kepler essay: the firm grip on the “tail–that is, physics-provides me with unhoped aids which can be utilized with more important undertakings as “to grasp the head mentally.”
It actually seems to me that in the complementarity of physics, with its resolution of the wave-particle opposites, there is another sort of role model or example of that other, more comprehensive coniunctio.
For the smaller coniunctio in the context of physics, completely unintentionally on the part of its discoverers, has certain characteristics that can also probably be used to resolve the other pairs of opposites listed on p. 3.
The analogy is on the .. lines:
mutually exclusive complementary experimental setups, to measure position as well as momentum.
Impossibility of subdividing the experimental setup without basically changing the phenomenon.
Unpredictable intervention with every observation.
The result of the observation is an irrational actuality of the unique occurrence.
The new theory is the objective, rational and hence symbolic grasping of the possibilities of the natural occurrences, a sufficiently broad framework to accommodate the irrational actuality of the unique occurrence.
One of the means used to back up the theory is an abstract mathematical sign, and also complex figures (functions) as a function of space (or of even more variability) and of time.
The laws of nature to be applied are statistical laws of probability. An essential component of the concept of probability is the motif of “the One and the Many.”
The atom, consisting of nucleus and shell.
Psychology of the individuation process and the unconscious in general.
scientific thinking-intuitive feeling.
Wholeness of man consisting of consciousness and unconsciousness.
Change in the conscious and the unconscious when consciousness is acquired, especially in the process of the
The result of the coniunctio is the infans solaris, individuation.
The objective, rational, and hence symbolic gasping of the psychology of the individuation process, broad enough to accommodate the irrational actuality of the unique individual.
The aid and means of backing up the theory is the concept of the unconscious.
It must not be forgotten that the “unconscious” is our symbolic sign for the potential occurrences in the conscious.
There is a generalization of the law of nature through the idea of a self-reproducing “figure” in the psychic or psychophysical occurrences, also called “archetype.”
The structure of the occurrences that thus come into being can be described as “automorphism.”
Psychologically speaking, it is “behind” the time concept.
The human personality, consisting of “nucleus” (or Self) and “Ego.”
I should like to add just a few epistemological remarks to this provisional schema.
By allowing for occurrences and the utilization of possibilities that cannot be apprehended as predetermined and existing independent of the observer the type of interpretation of Nature characteristic of quantum physics clashes with the old ontology that could simply say “Physics is the description of reality” as opposed to “description of what one simply imagines.”
“Being” and “nonbeing” are not unequivocal characterizations of features that can be checked only by statistical series of experiments with various experimental setups, which in certain circumstances are mutually exclusive.
In this way, the confrontation between “being” and “nonbeing” that was begun in ancient philosophy sees its continuation.
In antiquity, “nonbeing” did not simply mean not being present but in fact always points to a thinking
Nonbeing is that which cannot be thought about, which cannot be grasped by thinking reason, which cannot be reduced to notions and concepts and cannot be defined.
It was along these lines, as I see it, that the ancient philosophers discussed the question of being or nonbeing.
And it was especially along these lines that the process of becoming and the changeable, hence also matter, appeared in a certain form of psychology as nonbeing—a mere privitio of “Ideas.”
By way of contrast, Aristotle, evading the issue, created the important concept of potential being and applied it to hyle.
Although hyle was actually “nonbeing” and simply a privatio of “form” (which is what he said instead of “Ideas,” it was potentially “being” and not simply a privatio.
This is where an important differentiation in scientific thinking came in.
Aristotle’s further statements on matter (he clung firmly to the Platonic notion of matter as something passive, receiving) cannot really be applied in physics, and it seems to me that much of the confusion in Aristotle stems from the fact that being by far the less able thinker, he was completely overwhelmed by Plato.
He was not able to fully carry out his intention to grasp the potential, and his endeavors became bogged down in the early stages.
It is on Aristotle that the peripatetic tradition and, to a large extent, alchemy is based (vide Fludd).
Science today had now, I believe now, I believe, arrived at a stage where it can proceed (albeit in a way as yet
not at all clear) along the path laid down by Aristotle.
The complementary characteristics of the electron (and the atom) (wave and particle) are in fact “potential being,” but one of them is always “actual nonbeing.”
That is why one can say that science, being no longer classical, is for the first time a genuine theory of becoming and no longer Platonic.
This accords well with the fact that the man who is for me the most prominent representative of modern physics, Mr. Bohr, is, in my opinion, the only truly non-Platonic thinker: even in the early (before the establishment of present day way mechanics) he demonstrated to me the pair of opposites “Clarity-Truth” and taught me that every true philosophy must actually start off with a paradox.
He was and is (unlike Plato) a dekrainos kst exochen, a master of antinomic thinking.
As a physicist familiar with this course of development and this way of thinking, the concepts of the gentlemen with the stationary spheres are just as suspect to me as the concepts of “being” metaphysical spaces or “heavens” )be they Christian or Platonic), and “the Supreme” or “Absolute.”
With these entities, there is an essential paradox of human cognition (subject-object relation), which is not expressed, but sooner or later, when the authors least expect it, it will come to light!
For these reasons I should like to suggest also applying the Aristotelean way out of the conflict between “being” and “nonbeing” to the concept of the unconscious.
Many people still say that the unconscious is “nonbeing,” that it is merely a privatio of consciousness.
(This is probably includes all those who reproach you with “psychologism.”)
This counterposition is that of placing the unconscious and the archetypes, like ideas in general, in supracelestial places and in metaphysical spaces.
This view strikes me as equally dubious and contradictory to the law of the Kairos.
This is why I have opted for the third road in my analogy schema in interpreting the unconscious (as well as the characteristics of the electron and the atom) as “potential being.”
It is a legitimate description by man for potential occurrences in the conscious and as such belongs to the genuine symbolic reality of the “think in itself.”
Like all ideas, the unconscious I in both man and nature, ideas have no fixed abode, not even a heavenly one.
To a certain extent, one can say of all ideas “cuiuslibet rei centrum, cuius circumferential est nullibi” (the center of all things-a center whose periphery is nowhere), which, according to ancient alchemistic texts, is what Fludd said of God, see my Kepler article, p. 174 (tr. P. 219).
As long as quaternities are kept “up in heaven” at a distance from people (however pleasing and interesting such endeavors, seen as omens, may be), no fish will be caught, the hieros gamos is absent, and the psychophysical problem remains unsolved.
The psychophysical problem is the conceptual understanding of the possibilities of the irrational actuality of the unique (individual) living creature.
WE can only come close to dealing with this problem when we can synthetically resolve the pair of opposites “materialism-psychism” in natural philosophy.
When I say “psychism,” I do not mean “psychologism” nor something peculiar to psychology but simply the opposite of materialism.
I could also have said “idealism, but that would have restricted it to time to the famous currents of philosophy prevailing in the 19th century after Kant.
These currents (including Schopenhauer), as well as the whole of Indian philosophy, fall into this category of “psychism.”
But as the alchemists correctly surmised, matter goes just as deep as the spirit, and I doubt whether the goal of any development can be absolute spiritualization.
Sciences made by man-whether or not we wish or intend it even if it is natural sciences-will always contain statement about man.
An that is also precisely what I was trying to express with the analogy schema in this section.
Thus the aim of science and of life will ultimately remain man, which is actually the note on which your book Antwort auf Hiob [Answer to Job] closes.
In him is the ethical problem of Good and Evil, in him is spirit and matter, and his wholeness is depicted with the symbol of the quaternity.
It is today the archetype of wholeness of man from which natural science, now in the process of becoming quaternary, derives its emotional dynamics.
In keeping with this, the modern scientist=unlike those in Plato’s day-sees the rational as both good and evil.
For physics has tapped completely new sources of energy of hitherto unsuspected proportions, which can be exploited for both good and evil.
This has lead initially to an intensification of moral conflicts and of all forms of opposition, both in nations and in individuals.
This wholeness of man seems to be placed in tow aspects of reality: the symbolic “things in themselves,” which correspond to “potential being,” and concrete manifestations, which correspond to the actuality of “being.”
The first aspect is the rational one, the second the irrational one, (I use these adjectives analogously, as you did in the typology theory for the characterization of the various functions.)
The interplay of the two aspects creates the process of becoming.)
Is it in keeping with the Kairos and the quaternity to call these fragments of a philosophy “critical humanism”?
This lengthy letter is a sort of treatise, but it is a personal one and is dedicated to you personally in the form of a letter so that it can be submitted to you for criticism from the viewpoint of analytical psychology.
In section II especially I have provided quite a bit of relevant material.
I certainly do not believe that this paper contains everything that those “strangers’ wanted to hear from me; it is rather a preparatory clarification of my point of view, to enable me to dal with it at greater length.
Should you be able to reply to this letter at some point, it would give me great pleasure, but here is no hurry at all.
Its length is partly due to the influence of India.
Although the country had a very bad effect on my wife’s health, for me, as it was itself a place of extreme contrasts, it was most exciting in the way it brought to the surface all the opposites within myself.
This is the second paper I have written since I returned from India, as befits the demands of the “tail” and the “head.”
With best wishes for your well-being,
W. Pauli ~Wolfgang Pauli, Atom and Archetype, Pages 84-96