Letters of C. G. Jung: Volume 2, 1951-1961
To Father Victor White
Dear Victor, Park Hotel, Locarno, 9 April 1952 until 14th
Thank you for your human letter.
It gives me some idea of what is happening inside of you.
The privatio bono does not seem to me such a particular puzzle, but I understand that it is of the greatest importance.
It is perhaps best if I set forth my point of view, so that you can see how I look at it.
At the same time I shall try to consider your standpoint too.
I think you agree with me that within our empirical world good and evil represent the indispensable parts of a logical judgment, like white and black, right-left, above-below, etc.
These are equivalent opposites and it is understood that they are always relative to the situation of the one that makes the statement, a person or a law.
Empirically we are unable to confirm the existence of anything absolute, i.e., there are no logical means to establish an absolute truth, except a tautology.
Yet we are moved (by archetypal motifs) to make such statements, viz. religious or metaphysical assertions such as the Trinity, the Virgin Birth and other exceedingly improbable and physically impossible things.
One of these assertions is the Summum Bonum and its consequence, the privatlo boni.
The latter is logically as impossible as the Trinity.
It is therefore a truly religious statement: prorsus credibile quia ineptum.
Divine favour and daemonic evil or danger are archetypal.
Even if you know that your judgment is entirely subjective and relative you are nevertheless forced to make such statements more than a dozen times every day.
And when you are religious you talk in terms of impossibilities.
I have no arguments against these facts.
I only deny that the privatio boni is a logical statement, but I admit the obvious truth that it is a “metaphysical” truth based upon an archetypal “motif.”
The way in which opposites are reconciled or united in God we just
don’t know. Nor do we understand how they are united in the self.
The self is transcendental and is only partially conscious.
Empirically it is good and evil.
The same as the “acts of God” have decidedly contradictory aspects.
This fact however does not justify the theological judgment that God is either good or evil.
He is transcendental, just as much as the self and therefore not subject to human logic.
The supreme powers are assumed to be either indifferent or more often good than evil.
There is an archetypal accent upon the good aspect, but only slightly so.
This is understandable, because there must be some sort of equilibrium, otherwise the world could not exist.
The great difficulty seems to consist in the fact that on the one hand we must defend the sanity and logic of the human mind, and on the other hand we have to accept and to welcome the existence of illogical and irrational factors transcending our comprehension.
We must deal with them as rationally as we can, even if there is no hope of ever getting on top of them.
As we can’t deal with them rationally we have to formulate them symbolically.
A symbol when taken literally is nearly always impossible.
Thus I should say that the privatio boni is a symbolic truth, based on archetypal motivation, not to be defended rationally any more than the Virgin Birth.
Excuse my bad writing.
I am in the garden and there is no table but my knee.
Answer not expected.
I will try to help you as much as possible.
Yours, C.G. ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 52-53.