Archetypes and Synchronicity

PAULI SHOWED THAT BENEATH MATTER, abstract pattern determines the behaviour of matter in a noncausal way.[i]

The ‘theory of synchronicity’ originally grew out of Jung’s psychotherapeutic experiences and his theory of archetypal symbols, as well as meanings in alchemy. While Jung had talked about “synchronicism’ as early as 1929, in particular with regard to Eastern philosophy and the I-Ching, it was thanks to the new quantum physics, particularly Heisenberg’s ‘principle of uncertainty’ and Pauli’s ‘exclusion principle’ that the theory could be expanded further with new scientific plausibility.[ii]

In collaboration with Pauli, Jung explored the question of hidden symmetry within the universe from the perspectives of both physics and psychology and published his ideas on synchronicity.[iii]

SYNCHRONICITY IS DESCRIBED variously as “the coincidence in time of two or more causally unrelated events which have the same or similar meaning” and “acausal parallelisms”.[iv] As with archetypes, essential to synchronicity is meaning.

Jung’s position was that while causal explanations of natural events, inherited from the modern scientific view, are valid for explaining much of what occurs in nature and experience, they are insufficient to explain all.[v] Phenomena exist which “cannot be explained causally unless one permits oneself the most fantastic ad hoc hypotheses”.[vi] As Cosgrove states:

“Jung’s position would find some agreement from scientific ‘realists’ and critics like Paul Feyerabend. Relativity theory indicates that space and time may be reduced to zero under certain conditions where, logically, linear causality becomes impossible. It collapses distinctions between being and becoming. Only an enduring unity, or an inexplicable discontinuity make sense under these conditions, description becomes purely contextual. To accept this unity may render us silent. But characteristically humans seek to create meaning and do so through metaphor. The metaphors of synchronicity are those of harmony and correspondence… This principle of meaning cannot be grasped through empirical observation or measurement, but rather apprehended phenomenologically, below the intellectual level of formal science.”[vii]

Charles Card has argued that if quantum mechanics led to a revolution in physics, it is a revolution not yet completed. There is the mystery of non-locality at its heart – in other words the phenomenon where measurements made at the microscopic level refute local realism and are independent of our description of how nature operates. This may entail deeper and more fundamental changes to our scientific weltbild, world view, than those already taken place. Card concludes that quantum non-locality “is the most dramatic indication of the possibility of archetypal order in quantum phenomena”.[viii]

Archetypal Holographic Universe

THE ‘HOLOGRAPHIC UNIVERSE’ idea, or holographic model, has also been suggested as a mechanism for explaining the existence of archetypes.[ix] Theoretical physicist David Bohm argues that behind the quantum lies an even deeper reality which he called the implicate order, which causes apparently random quantum processes to unfold as they do. The implicate order is “enfolded” in the explicate order or manifest reality detectable at the quantum level and the level of everyday experiences. Interestingly, de Quincey draws links between the theory of Bohm and Jung:

“Like Bohm, Carl Jung proposed that below the conscious mind lies the unconscious psyche, and that below causal matter lies the realm of indeterminate quantum events. Deeper still, below both the level of unconscious psyche and quantum events, lies the realm of a-causal archetypes. Jung called it the “unus mundus,” an indivisible continuum of “psychoid” events. (“Psychoid” means of the nature of both psyche and matter). The archetypes can never be known directly; they can only be inferred from their effects on the conscious psyche (eg. in dreams via the unconscious) and on material objects (eg. patterning of physical processes via quantum events).”[x]

Evidence from psychiatrist Stanislav Grof indicates that archetypal images can be modelled by the holographic idea; that holography’s success at modeling many different aspects of the archetypal experience suggests that there is a deep link between holographic processes and the way archetypes are produced; and that evidence of a hidden, holographic order surfaces virtually every time one experiences a nonordinary state of consciousness.[xi]

Holist physicist, philosopher and author F. David Peat, states that Pauli was fascinated with the idea that just as Jung had identified the objective element within the collective psyche, physics would have to come to terms with the subjective aspects of matter, which he termed “the irrational”.[xii] Pauli found this dualism between objective and subjective especially significant and indicative that there was a much deeper connection between mind and matter:

“Below the everyday appearances of matter, in which the scientist acts as an impartial observer, are encountered quantum processes in which observer and observed are intimately linked. Below this level, Heisenberg and others have hinted, there may no longer exist a fundamental ground of matter but, rather, fundamental symmetries and ordering principles.”[xiii]

At their deepest, the subjective layers of matter and the objective layers of the mind are hidden from direct perception. Their existence can only be inferred from their impacts at higher levels. It is possible that below quantum phenomena there is a new, nonmaterial level of symmetry. Could it be, asks Peat, that below the collective unconsciousness there is something beyond mind; “a fundamental dynamic ordering perhaps? … (whereby) … At such a level the division between mind and matter would no longer apply and the domain of creative ordering and objective intelligence would have their ground”.[xiv]

Recent support for Jung’s theory of archetypes has come from Christopher Isham, a theoretical physicist at Imperial College London, whose main research interests are quantum gravity and foundational studies in quantum theory. He has linked space and time and the development in quantum theory of the space-time continuum with progress in philosophical and psychological thought from Plato to Kant to Jung.[xv]

‘Emergence Theory’ which involves the shift away from materialist, mechanistic reductionism that has dominated the modernist scientific world view, towards mental causation which is not reducible to physical causation, also gives further support for archetypal theory.[xvi] Also, Christopher Hauke argues that while the writing of Jung and post-Jungians has been ignored as “anachronistic”, “archaic” and “mystic”, it is more relevant now than ever before. Not only is it a response to modernity, it offers a critique of modernity and Enlightenment values which brings it into line with postmodernism.[xvii] As has been shown, postmodernism is inherent to both quantum physics and archetypal epistemology

[i] Peat (1988) Synchronicity, 17.
[ii] Ibid, 22.
[iii] Ibid, 34.
[iv] Ibid, 23.
[v] Denis Cosgrove, ‘Environmental Thought and Action: Pre-modern and Post-modern’, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, vol. 15 (1990), 352.
[vi] Ibid, 352. Cf. C.G. Jung, Synchronicity – An Acausal Connecting Principle (Princeton, N.J., 1973).
[vii] Ibid.
[viii] Charles R. Card, ‘The Emergence of Archetypes in Present-Day Science and its Significance for a Contemporary Philosophy of Nature’, 14.
[ix] Michael Talbot, The Holographic Universe (London: Harper Collins Publishers, 1996).
[x] Christian de Quincey, ‘Deep Spirit: Quantum Consciousness?’, 5.
[xi] Talbot (1996) The Holographic Universe, 71; Cf. Stanislav Grof, Beyond the Brain (Albany, N.Y: State University of New York Press, 1985).
[xii] Peat, ‘Time, Synchronicity and Evolution’, 3. http://www.fdavidpeast.com/biography/essays/text/saur.txt.
[xiii] Peat (1988) Synchronicity, 103.
[xiv] Ibid, 104.
[xv] See Christopher Isham, ‘Space and Time at the Edge of Mind’, Royal College of Psychiatrists: http://www.repsych.ac.uk/college/specialinterestgroups/spirituality/publications/newsletter”/
[xvi] See Philip Clayton and Paul Davies, The Re-Emergence of Emergence – The Emergentist Hypothesis from Science to Religion (Oxford University Press, 2006).
[xvii] Christopher Hauke, Jung and the Postmodern – The Interpretation of Realities (Routledge, London, 2000).

The Celestial Earth – “subtle bodies of Light”

CORBIN DESCRIBES SOPHIA, the divine presence of wisdom for our world in an intermediate imaginal world – the Celestial Earth, as follows:

“Between the intellectual and the sensible… [is] a ‘spiritual corporeity’ which represents the Dwelling, the Divine Presence, for our world. This Dwelling is Wisdom itself, Sophia.”[i]

Sophia is “the imaginal place of the Divine Presence in our world”. Sophia as the Celestial Earth is typified in the Shi’ite gnosis by Fatima, “the Sophia of the Shi’ite theosophy and cosmology”.[ii] Thus Sophianity is for the human being to accede here and now to the Celestial Earth, to the world of Hurqalya, world of ‘celestial corporeity’, which is that of the subtle bodies of Light.[iii]

“the Soul of the Perceiver”

THE QUANTUM WORLD of nonmaterial symmetries and archetypes also requires new ways of envisioning the world, description and language.

The importance of the imagination and an inner non-physical reality behind our physical external world is understood by quantum physicists; in particular Wolfgang Pauli, F. David Peat and David Bohm.

Pauli argued that the psychologist and the physicist are engaged in a complimentary quest. Hence he advocated that the:

“[I]nvestigation of scientific knowledge directed outwards should be supplemented by an investigation of this knowledge directed inwards. The former process is directed to adjusting our knowledge to external objects; the latter should bring to light the archetypal images used in the creation of our scientific theories. Only by combining both these directions of research may complete understanding be obtained.”[iv]

Psychiatrist Anthony Stevens states: “The relationship between the physical world we perceive and our cognitive formulations concerning that world is predicated upon the fact that the soul of the perceiver and that which is recognised by perception are subject to an order thought to be objective.”[v]

Stevens notes that, for Pauli, “…the archetypes which order our perceptions and ideas are themselves the product of an objective order which transcends both the human mind and the external world.”[vi]

Inscape

FOLLOWING ON from Pauli, quantum physicist F. David Peat has also called for changes in our language which apply to both ‘inscape’ and ‘landscape’. This postmodern language draws upon metaphor, allusion, ambiguity and values:

“[T]here can be no single explanation, theory or level within nature. We must seek complementary descriptions rather than the single, all-embracing, complete and logically consistent rational accounts which attempt to answer all questions and close all doors. We must seek to engage nature using all the richness that is possible within human language, by drawing upon metaphor, allusion and ambiguity in order to create coherent yet complementary accounts… the science of inscape and landscape requires a degree of creativity within its language, including the ability to deal with metaphor and ambiguity and to accommodate the qualities and values of our experience.”[vii]

By ‘inscape’ Peat is referring to the authentic voice, or inner-dwellingness of things and our experience of them; hence he argues … “By inscape I wish to suggest the inexhaustible nature of each human being, tree, rock, star and atom, and that there is no most fundamental level, no all embracing account or law of a perception or encounter. Rather one attempts to engage in the inner authenticity of the world”.[viii]

This is the ‘I-Thou’ poesis of the artist and Sophianic Wisdom. As in the Sophia Wisdom Archetype, where there is no dualism, Peat questions the fragmentation within our current (modernist) worldview between inner and outer and “the desire for an objective science which has no room for values, qualities and the nature of subjective experience”.[ix]

Implicate Order

DAVID BOHM has argued similarly that there is “no fundamental distinction between the processes of the imagination and perception”.[x] Bohm distinguishes between primary imagination, creative imagination and reflexive imagination. Thus, “the reality which you perceive is affected by your thought. Thought is working as a kind of imagination being infused into your perception. It becomes part of what you see. And that imagination is necessary”.[xi] According to Talbot, Bohm uses the idea of implicate order to echo the idea that:

“Every action starts from an intention in the implicate order. The imagination is already the creation of the form; it already has the intention and the germs of all the movements needed to carry it out. And it affects the body and so on, so that as creation takes place in that way from the subtler levels of the implicate order, it goes through them until it manifests in the explicate.”[xii]

In other words, in the implicate order, imagination and reality are ultimately indistinguishable.

[i] Henry Corbin, ‘Towards a Chart of the Imaginal’, Temenos 1 (1981), 30.
[ii] Ibid, 31.
[iii] Ibid, 32-33.
[iv] Wolfgang Pauli, ‘The influence of archetypal ideas on the scientific theories of Kepler’ in: C.G. Jung and W. Pauli, The Interpretation of Nature and the Psyche (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1955), 208.
[v] See Anthony Stevens, Archetype – A Natural History of the Self (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1982), 74.
[vi] Anthony Stevens, ‘Thoughts on the Psychobiology of Religion and the Neurobiology of Archetypal Experience’, Zygon, v.21, no.1 (1986), 19.
[vii] F. David Peat, Synchronicity – The Bridge Between Matter and Mind (New York & London: Bantam Books, 1988), 6-7.
[viii] Ibid, 6.
[ix] Ibid.
[x] David Bohm, Thought as a System (London: Routledge, 1994), 151.
[xi] Ibid, 152.
[xii] Michael Talbot, The Holographic Universe (London: Harper Collins Publishers, 1996), 84.