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Carl Jung: There is no such thing as an absolute proof

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Letters Volume II

To E. A. Bennet

My dear Bennet, 3 June 1960

Thank you very much for your kind reply and your interesting article about “Individualism in Psychotherapy”-a very useful paper in the actual circumstances.

There seems to be some misunderstanding of terms: by “applicability of a theory” I don’t mean its practical application in therapy, f.i., but its application as a principle of understanding and heuristic means to an end as a characteristic of every scientific theory.

There is no such thing as an “absolute proof”; not even the Mathematical proof is absolute as it only concerns the quantum and not the quale, which is just as important if not more so.

I wondered therefore about your statement that scientific proof of the conception of the archetypes is lacking, and I thought you had something special up your sleeve when you made it.

As there is no such thing as “absolute proof” I wondered where you draw a line between the applicability of a theory and what you call “scientific proof.”

As far as I can see the only proof of a theoretical viewpoint is its applicability in a sense mentioned above, namely that it gives an adequate or satisfactory explanation and has a heuristic value.

If this is not scientific evidence then I must expect of you that you show me what scientific evidence would be in this case.

In other words: what proof is it in your mind that is lacking?

It cannot be an “absolute proof” because there is no such thing.

It must be what you call “scientific proof,” a special kind of proving of which you know since you are able to state that it is lacking.

I cannot be satisfied with the statement that something is lacking, because it is too vague.

I know that there is always something lacking.

Therefore I should be most indebted if you could tell me what is lacking, as you must have some definite idea of how such a thing should be proved otherwise than by the observation of relevant facts.

Please don’t be impatient with me.

It is not hair-splitting but it has much to do with what I call “psychic reality,” a concept very often not understood.

I appreciate your answer highly since I am always eager to improve on whatever I have thought hitherto.

Cordially yours,

C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Page 562

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