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Letters Volume II

To Erich Neumann

Dear friend, 10 March 1959

Best thanks for your long and discursive letter of 18.II.

What Frau Jaffe sent you was a first, as yet unrevised draft an attempt to pin down my volatile thoughts.

Unfortunately the fatigue of old age prevents me from writing a letter as discursive as yours.

The question: an creator sibi consciens est? is not a “pet idea” but an exceedingly painful experience with well-nigh incalculable consequences, which it is not easy to argue about.

For instance, if somebody projects the self this is an unconscious act, for we know from experience that projection results only from unconsciousness.

Incamatio means first and foremost God’s birth in Christ, hence psychologically the realization of the self as something new, not present before.

The man who was created before that is a “creature,” albeit “made in the likeness” of God, and this implies the idea of the filiatio and the sacrificium divinum.

Incarnation is, as you say, a “new experience.”

“It has happened almost by accident and casually . . .”

This sentence might well characterize the whole process of creation.

The archetype is no exception.

The initial event was the arrangement of indistinct masses in spherical form.

Hence this primordial archetype [mandala J appears as the first form of amorphous gases, for anything amorphous can manifest itself only in some specific form or order.

The concept of “order” is not identical with the concept of “meaning.”

Even an organic being is, in spite of the meaningful design implicit within it, not necessarily meaningful in the total nexus.

For instance, if the world had come to an end at the Oligocene period, it would have had no meaning for man.

Without the reflecting consciousness of man the world is a gigantic meaningless machine, for in our experience man is the only creature who is capable of ascertaining any meaning at all.

We still have no idea where the constructive factor in biological development is to be found.

But we do know that warm-bloodedness and a differentiated brain were necessary for the inception of consciousness, and thus also for the revelation of meaning.

It staggers the mind even to begin to imagine the accidents and hazards that, over millions of years, transformed a lemurlike tree-dweller into a man.

In this chaos of chance, synchronistic phenomena were probably at work, operating both with and against the known laws of nature to produce, in archetypal moments, syntheses which appear to us miraculous.

Causality and teleology fail us here, because synchronistic phenomena manifest themselves as pure chance.

The essential thing about these phenomena is that an objective event coincides meaningfully with a psychic process; that is to say, a physical event and an endopsychic one have a common meaning.

This presupposes not only an all-pervading, latent meaning which can be recognized by consciousness, but, during that preconscious time, a psychoid process with which a physical event meaningfully coincides.

Here the meaning cannot be recognized because there is as yet no consciousness.

It is through the archetype that we come closest to this early,”irrepresentable,” psychoid stage of conscious development; indeed,the archetype itself gives us direct intimations of it.

Unconscious synchronicities are, as we know from experience, altogether possible, since in many cases we are unconscious of their happening, or have to have our attention drawn to the coincidence by an outsider.


Since the laws of probability give no ground for assuming that higher syntheses such as the psyche could arise by chance alone, there is nothing for it but to postulate a latent meaning in order to explain not only the synchronistic phenomena but also the higher syntheses.

Meaningfulness always appears to be unconscious at first, and can therefore only be discovered post hoc; hence there is always the danger that meaning will be read into things where actually there is nothing of the sort.

Synchronistic experiences serve our turn here.

They point to a latent meaning which is independent of consciousness.

Since a creation without the reflecting consciousness of man has no discernible meaning, the hypothesis of a latent meaning endows man with a cosmogonic significance, a true raison d’ etre.

If on the other hand the latent meaning is attributed to the Creator as part of a conscious plan of creation, the question arises:

Why should the Creator stage-manage this whole phenomenal world since he already knows what he can reflect himself in, and why should he reflect himself at all since he is already conscious of himself?

Why should he create alongside his own omniscience a second, inferior consciousness-millions of dreary little mirrors when he knows in advance just what the image they reflect will look like?

After thinking all this over I have come to the conclusion that being “made in the likeness” applies not only to man but also to the Creator: he resembles man or is his likeness, which is to say that he is just as unconscious as man or even more unconscious, since according to the myth of the incarnatio he actually felt obliged to become man and offer himself to man as a sacrifice.

Here I must close, aware as I am that I have only touched on the main points (so it seems to me) in your letter, which I found very difficult to understand in parts.

It is not levity but my molesta senectus that forces economy on me.

With best greetings,

Sincerely yours,

C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 493-496