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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).

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.

The integration of archetypes, generally

Spirit, the archetype of spirit a pre-existent meaning in the midst of chaotic life, has been morphed, over the course of centuries of human history, from of a separated form of being into an integrated function of human consciousness. But precisely how does Jung think such an “integration” might have worked?

The integration of spirit

In an earlier post, I mentioned Jung’s view that spirit, the archetype of the built-in meaning in our world, was originally a separate being, “facing” us humans, and then over the evolution of the human psyche has become “integrated” into consciousness. What does that even mean?

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.

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