I engage critically with C. G. Jung’s late work on the idea of synchronicities, and related work from other authors at the time. My focus is on methodology, argument analysis and conceptual inquiry (rather than empirical or historical research).

Psyche: Spirit and Soul

Is there a difference between spirit and soul? In his survey of what the term "spirit" means, Jung notes in passing that it is “common opinion that spirit and soul are essentially the same and therefore only arbitrarily separable”. And it is true that, in Jung’s work, the use of notions such as “psyche”, “spirit”, and “soul” seems at times arbitrary or at least vague...

The mirror of Narcissus

There is a chapter (naturally) on smartphones and Instagram in Tim Wu’s "The Attention Merchants", his very readable and eye-opening history of the attention industry; its title: “The fourth screen and the mirror of Narcissus”. This choice is very apt indeed.

Paths to hidden meaning

The archetypal idea of a “hidden meaning behind chaotic events in life” appears when subjects find themselves in certain types of situation: when it seems that “there is no way out”. Jung says this both in the synchronicities essay and in the spirit essay. Yet there is a third line of thought in his work which arrives at the same point, but via an entirely different route.

On the guises of the archetype

Jung’s two essays on synchronicities and on spirit in the fairy tale have a striking claim in common: that there is a “hidden meaning [Sinn] behind the chaotic events in life”. It will be interesting to compare how the two essays introduce the core finding: there is an interesting commonality, and one important difference.

The mirror and the windows

There is in human experience a perennial contrast between the external world and the inner world, the interior. With both worlds, we interact; and to some small extent we can influence and control them. But mostly, they’re wide-open ranges of the unknown: abundant, overpowering, and utterly “other” than ourselves.

Missing meaning-links

I have explored, in some depth now, a particular archetypal idea: that “there is a hidden meaning behind chaotic life”. The way I have explored it was through Jung’s essay on spirit, which deals explicitly with it. But there is a connection between this idea and synchronicities, which Jung, it seems, didn’t make.

Spirit and its origin myth

In the case of Spirit, Jung does not talk about an individual’s process of integrating archetypal contents as psychological functions: he claims that such a process happened as an overarching development in the history of the human species. That, of course, is a variation on an origin myth: a phantasy, projected backwards into history.

The historical forgetfulness of inflation

Inflation of consciousness (or 'ego-inflation') is a danger when engaging successfully with an archetype of the unconscious, and integrating its contents. May something like that have occurred when we integrated the spirit archetype, over those centuries of developing human consciousness?

The ambiguous shadow

In everyday parlance, when we refer to a person’s “shadow”, we often simply mean some grim, dark streak of their personality, perhaps even a violent or evil element. But what Jung meant by the “shadow” is a little more complex than this habit of our everyday talk suggests.

The road to hybris

To integrate archetypes into consciousness is not without risk. The danger lies in mistaking this process of integration for a victory of consciousness over the unconscious.

Leif Frenzel is a writer and independent researcher. He has a background in philosophy, literature, music, and information technology. His recent interest is Jungian psychology, especially synchronicities and the relationship between consciousness and the unconscious.