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Carl Jung’s Letter to Paul A. Hilty

Letters of C. G. Jung: Volume 2, 1951-1961

Carl Jung’s Letter to Paul A. Hilty answering a variety of questions:

Dear Mr. Hilty,

Your name, “Hilty” is well known even famous in Switzerland. I thank you for your frank questions, which I will try to answer-helias-with much delay!

  1. I am of the Swiss Reformed branch. My father was a parson. On my mother’s side I had not less than 6 theologians in the family!

  2. I consider myself a Protestant and very much so! I am even protesting against the backwardness of Protestantism.

  3. I cannot say that I hold to church teachings, but I am considering them very seriously.

  4. I don’t believe (in a personal God), but I do know of a power of a very personal nature and an irresistible influence. I call it “God.” I used this term because it has been used for this kind of experience since time immemorial. From this point of view any gods, Zeus, Wotan, Allah, Yahweh, the Summum Bonum, etc., have their intrinsic truth. They are different and fore or less differentiated expressions of aspects of one ineffable truth (Cf. Forward to Answer to Job and “Psychology and Religions,” Terry Lectures 1936.)

  5. AS “God” is the overwhelming experience He is an ineffable, beyond which I would not dare to make any statements, although I fully accept the traditional inference of this absolute oneness and this complexio oppositorum. The use of such an image obviously includes Nature as an aspect of the Deity.

  6. There are no natural laws, only statistical probabilities, included in “God.”

  7. AS there are not axiomatic laws, any so-called “law” suffers exceptions. Nothing therefore is absolutely impossible except alogical contradiction.

  8. I don’t’ know whether is doing improbable things.

  9. Within the reach of my experience I have never encountered a miracle. Thus I don’t know whether such things you mention are possible.

  10. There is no proof of God’s existence. I only know Him as a personal, subjective experience and indirectly through the consensus gentium.

  11. This questions is ridiculous. Time and space are epistemological categories indispensable for the description of moving bodies, but incommensurable with objects of inner experience.

  12. As far as I can judge from the documents of Christian tradition, Jesus Christ was probably a definite human person, yet highly enveloped in archetypal projections, more so that other historical figures like Buddha, Confucius, Lao-tse, Pythagoras, etc. Inasmuch as Christ represents an archetypal image (he is of diving nature and thus the “son of God.” (Cf. Answer to Job and my disquisition about the psychology of the Christ symbol in Aion, Chapter V.)

  13. I know of resurrection only because it is a very important archetypal idea. I don’t know whether it has ever occurred as a physical fact. I see no point in believing something I don’t know. The resurrection is a myth (like questions 14-15)

  14. I don’t think that the human mind is eternal and therefore I don’t’ assume that we can think eternal subjects like infinity, immortality, etc. We can only use such words. We just don’t know what is going to happen after death. The only thing we know within reasonable certainty is that the psyche is relatively independent of time and space or that time and space (including causality) are relatively dependent upon the psyche. (Vide: Jung and Pauli, the Interpretation of Nature and the Psyche, 1955.) Further conclusions from this fact are very uncertain.

17-20 I do not deny the existence of things unknown and I do not presume to a belief in such matters.

  1. “Devil” is a very apt name for certain autonomous powers in the structure of the human psyche. As such the devil seems to me to be a very real figure.

22-24. Unanswerable metaphysical problems beyond my reach.

As you have seen, I could not answer your questions with a simple yes or no, although I should have preferred it. The question of religion is unfortunately more complicated. It can’t be reduced to mere belief of unbelief. This is only true for a confession or a church, but not for religion, the latter being chiefly a matter of experience. Since my answers are far from being complete I have added some books where you can get the necessary information.

Yours Sincerely, C.G. Jung [Letter dated October 25, 1955]