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Carl Jung: Psyche = highest intensity in the smallest space.


8a11a 1physics

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

To John Raymond Smythies

Dear Dr. Srnythies, 29 February 1952

I hardly dare to write a letter to the Editor of the S.P.R. Journal, as you suggest.

I am afraid my English is too poor, too ungrammatical, and too colloquial.

Amongst very learned and illustrious philosophers my simple argumentation would have no show.

Moreover I know from experience that philosophers don’t understand my uncouth language.

I prefer therefore, if you allow, to write a letter to yourself, and leave it to you to make that use of it you see fit.

Concerning your own proposition I have already told you how much I welcome your idea of a perceptual, i.e., “subtle” body.

Your view is rather confirmed, as it seems to me, by the peculiar fact that on the one hand consciousness has so exceedingly little direct information of the body from within, and that on the other hand the unconscious ( i.e., dreams and other products of the “unconscious”) refers very rarely to the body and, if it does, it is always in the most roundabout way, i.e., through highly “symbolized” images.

For a long time I have considered this fact as negative evidence for the existence of a subtle body or at least for a curious gap between mind and body.

Of a psyche dwelling in its own body one should expect at least that it would be immediately and thoroughly informed of any change of conditions therein.

Its not being the case demands some explanation.

Now concerning your critique of the space concept:

I have given a good deal of thought to it.

You know perhaps that the helium atom is characterized by 2 x 3 space factors and 1 time factor.

I don’t know whether there is something in this parallel or not.

At all events the assumption of a perceptual body postulates a corresponding perceptual space that separates the mind from physical space in the same way as the subtle body causes the gap between the mind and the physical body.

Thus you arrive logically at two different spaces, which however cannot be entirely incommensurable, since there exists-in spite of the difference-communication between them.

You assume that time is the factor they have in common.

Th us time is assumed to be the same physically as well as perceptually.

Whereas w-phenomena bear out clearly that physical and psychic space differ from each other.

I submit that the factor of time proves to be equally “elastic” as space under ESP conditions.

If this is the case, we are confronted with two four-dimensional systems in a contingent contiguity.

Please excuse the awfully tortuous ways of putting it.

It shows nothing more than my perplexity.

The obviously arbitrary behaviour of time and space under ESP conditions seemingly necessitates such a postulate.

On the other hand one might ask the question whether we can as hitherto go on thinking in terms of space and time, while modern physics begins to relinquish these terms in favour of a time-space continuum, in which space is no more space and time no more time.

The question is, in short: shouldn’t we give up the time-space categories altogether when we are dealing with psychic existence?

It might be that psyche should be understood as unextended intensity and not as a body moving with time.

One might assume the psyche gradually rising from minute extensity to infinite intensity, transcending for instance the velocity of light and thus irrealizing the body.

That would account for the “elasticity” of space under ESP conditions.

If there is no body moving in space, there can be no time either and that would account for the “elasticity” of time.

You will certainly object to the paradox of “unextended intensity” as being a contradictio in adiecto.

I quite agree.

Energy is mass and mass is extended. At all events, a body with a speed higher than that of light vanishes from sight and one may have all sorts of doubts about what would happen to such a body otherwise.

Surely there would be no means to make sure of its whereabouts or of its existence at all. Its time would be unobservable likewise.

All this is certainly highly speculative, in fact unwarrantably adventurous.

But >¥-phenomena are equally disconcerting and lay claim to an unusually high jump.

Yet any hypothesis is warrantable inasmuch as it explains observable facts and is consistent in itself.

In the light of this view the brain might be a transformer station, in which the relatively infinite tension or intensity of the psyche proper is transformed into perceptible frequencies or “extensions.”

Conversely, the fading of introspective perception of the body explains itself as due to a gradual “psychification,” i.e., intensification at the expense of extension.

Psyche = highest intensity in the smallest space.

In my essay on synchronicity I don’t venture into such speculation.

I propose a new (really a very old) principle of explanation, viz. synchronicity, which is a new term for the time-hallowed correspondentia.

I go back in a way to Leibniz, the last mediaeval thinker with holistic judgment: he explained the phenomenon by four principles: space, time, causality, and correspondence (harmonia praestabilita).

We have dropped the latter long ago (though Schopenhauer took it up again, disguised as causality).

I hold that there is no causal explanation for ‘JI-phenomena.

Terms like thought-transmission, telepathy, clairvoyance, mean nothing.

How can one imagine a causal explanation for a case of precognition?

}/-phenomena, I hold, are contingencies beyond mere probability, “meaningful coincidences” (sinngemiisse Koinzidenzen) due to a specific psychic condition, namely, a certain emotional mood called interest, expectation, hope, belief, etc., or an emotional objective situation like death, illness, or other “numinous” conditions.

Emotions follow an instinctual pattern, i.e., an archetype.

In the ESP experiments f.i. it is the situation of the miracle.

It looks as if the collective character of the archetypes would manifest itself also in meaningful coincidences, i.e., as if the archetype (or the collective unconscious) were not only inside the individual, but also outside, viz. in one’s environment, as if sender and percipient were in the same psychic space, or in the same time (in precognition cases).

As in the psychic world there are no bodies moving through space, there is also no time.

The archetypal world is “eternal,” i.e., outside time, and it is everywhere, as there is no space under psychic, that is archetypal conditions.

Where an archetype prevails, we can expect synchronistic phenomena, i.e., acausal correspondences, which consist in a parallel arrangement of facts in time.

The arrangement is not the effect of a cause.

It just happens, being a consequence of the fact that causality is a merely statistical truth.

I propose, therefore, 4 principles for the explanation of Nature:

Contingency is usually without meaning, but >�􀏫-phenomena prove that occasionally it has meaning.

One can introduce synchronicity as the necessary supplement to a merely statistical causality, which is a negative way of doing it.

A positive demonstration however demands facts, which I cannot provide in a letter.

They are in my book.

Nevertheless I hope that I have succeeded in giving you some idea at least of what I mean by synchronicity.

If you think of i t as being something not unlike Leibniz’ harmonia praestabilita you are not far off the truth.

But whereas it is a constant factor with Leibniz, it is a thoroughly inconstant one with me and mostly dependent upon an archetypal psychic condition.

Sorry to be a bit late with my answer.

I had a grippe in the meantime and I still feel somewhat under the weather.

Yours sincerely,

C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 43-47.

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