CategoryResearch

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).

The mirror and the mask

What we see, when looking into the symbolic mirror, are those parts of ourselves which we would normally avoid to look at, and which we carefully also hide from others. These are part of the personal unconscious and make up, in Jungian terminology, our “shadow”. The false face that we show ourselves and the outside worlds (as long as we ignore the shadow), is called the “persona” (in the ancient...

Mirrors: psychoanalysis & two routes of self-knowledge

Mirrors, when they appear in a story, can symbolize something very interesting: namely, a special way of knowing something about a person. What makes it special is that others can know this about us, whereas we ourselves may not know it. Let’s see if we can explicate the idea in a non-symbolic manner: can we give an account of this special type of self-knowledge without recourse to a story (where...

Synchronistic climates

Part of the job, when researching an interesting phenomenon, is to build up a phenomenological pool: collect typical examples, interesting special cases, and fringe phenomena that may or may not be relevant in conjunction with our focus of interest. With synchronicities, there is an additional category in that pool to which we might pay some attention.

Causal agents, their stand-ins, and the impression of meaningfulness

In the literature on synchronicities, that phenomenon is usually defined as a coincidence of two or more events which invokes a “sense of meaningfulness”, and where the events in question — crucially for the point I want to focus on — are not causally linked. In one respect, that last clause is a sensible requirement. For if there were a causal link between those events, that would suffice as...

Admiration and critical engagement

This post has a more personal character than most of the others. I hope it will clarify how I approach Jung’s work on synchronicities, which is at the center of this blog: my strategy in reading and interpreting it, as well as my attitude towards it, an attitude that is deeply admiring, but critical at the same time (as is probably evident from my postings already). 1. I admire, to begin with...

Mirrors: lost images

There is a certain kind of personal gain which you can only attain by deliberately becoming invisible to others — by ensuring that they can no longer see you for what you really are. If this sounds like a small price to pay, wait to see what develops out of it: for there are hidden costs to the bargain. It is, after all, a pact with dark forces, and in the end, it may leave you in despair.

Sense of meaning and surrender of choice

There is an often overlooked connection between the impression of something as meaningful — a “sense of meaning” — and a willingness to give up one’s own freedom of action and choice. Is that an ingredient in synchronicities, too? (After all, the feeling of meaningfulness is a necessary ingredient in the phenomenon as such.) 1. In his analysis of the history of advertising, Tim Wu explains the...

Subjectivity and the inability to find causal connections

In Jung’s examples of synchronicities, at least three ingredients seem necessary - all of them rather subjective in nature: first, there is a perceived connection between two events; secondly, a subjectively felt need for an explanation of that connection; and thirdly, an inability to construe the connection as a causal relationship.

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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