Synchronicity : an acausal connecting principle

by Carl Gustav Jung

Book, 1973

Status

Available

Call number

APJ

Call number

APJ

Publication

Princeton, NJ : Princeton University Press, 2011.

Original publication date

1952

Local notes

Jung was intrigued from early in his career with coincidences, especially those surprising juxtapositions that scientific rationality could not adequately explain. He discussed these ideas with Albert Einstein before World War I, but first used the term "synchronicity" in a 1930 lecture, in reference to the unusual psychological insights generated from consulting the I Ching. A long correspondence and friendship with the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Wolfgang Pauli stimulated a final, mature statement of Jung's thinking on synchronicity, originally published in 1952 and reproduced here. Together with a wealth of historical and contemporary material, this essay describes an astrological experiment Jung conducted to test his theory. Synchronicity reveals the full extent of Jung's research into a wide range of psychic phenomena.

User reviews

LibraryThing member ikkyu2462
One of Jung's best known theories, the reader will benefit from a knowledge of statistics and astrology. This work requires a good deal of critical thinking.
LibraryThing member 8982874
In sum, space and time are constants in any given system only when they are measured without regard to psychic conditions. The possibility of acausal events follows from the premise natural laws are statistical truths derived from causality and relativity. There is a strident psychological bias in the scientific method which misses aspects that cannot be grasped statistically. Chance involves situations where causality has not yet been discovered, acausal refers to situations where a causal connection appears inconceivable. Meaningful coincidence seems to rest upon an archetypal foundation, meaningless chance groupings do not; meaning is an anthropomorphic interpretation.

States synchronicity is a psychically conditioned relativity of space and time, where cause and effect are muted because they fall together in time, a kind of simultaneity. But unlike synchronism, which simply means the simultaneous occurrence of two events, synchronicity requires coincidence in time of two or more causally unrelated events which have the same or similar meaning. Put another way, the simultaneous occurrence of a certain psychic state with one or more objective external events which appear as meaningful parallels to the momentary subjective state - and, in certain cases, vice versa.

Moreover, in the unconscious there is something like an a priori knowledge or an immediacy of events which lacks any casual basis. For example, in an experiment where the subject is to identify the card drawn from the deck of cards, the emotional state of the subject will presently allow or block the unconscious image of the result of the card in question. [Perhaps something akin to cryptomnesia in reverse (applying to future images rather than past) when the emotional state of the subject allows the unconscious image. And conversely, perhaps something akin to paramnesia when the emotional sate of the subject blocks the unconscious image.]

Hence, synchronistic events rest on the simultaneous occurrence of two different psychic states: (a) the causally explicable, probable state and (b) the critical experience which cannot be derived casually from the first. The interconnection of meaningful coincident factors must necessarily be thought of as acausal. Here, for want of demonstrable cause, we are likely to fall into the temptation of positing a transcendental one. But a cause can only be a demonstrable quantity. A transcendental cause is a contradiction in terms, because anything transcendental cannot by definition be demonstrated. Acknowledges Ars Geomantica and the I Ching.
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LibraryThing member fearless2012
It's not a long book, but it's rather difficult to understand, at least in terms of the details. In terms of the language, it's the result of being, to put it straight, a sort of ponderous Germanic intellectual sort of book, complete with Latin and Greek words in the text and German sources in the margins, and there's just something about a Teutonic intellectual that makes him difficult to understand at times.... which I over-look, because of its great thoughtfulness, open-mindedness, and its ability to be individual, and not just common Swiss, by being able to think independently and re-consider the prejudices of the mind of the average Germanic intellectual, if that makes sense....

And there are times when his aim of re-considering, even challenging, the assumptions of modern Western science is clear enough:

"We must remember that the rationalistic attitude of the West is not the only possible one and is not all-embracing, but is in many ways a prejudice and a bias that ought perhaps to be corrected."

And if you can't understand the details, and the mathematical proofs, and the statistics.... what are statistics? It's only the most toughminded intellectual who really needs the most difficult bits, and if you notice that the cure doesn't affect you, it might be that you don't have the disease, any-way.

(9/10)
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