Quantum Physics,
Depth Psychology, and Beyond

Thomas J. McFarlane¹



Rogério Fonteles Castro²


_________________________________________________________ ¹ M.A., California Institute of Integral Studies (philosophy),  M.S., University of Washington (mathematics). B.S., Stanford University (physics).

² Graduation and Post-graduation in Physics from the Federal University Ceará



ABSTRACT: This paper begins with a review of developments in the modern Western worldview, especially as they relate to the relationships between psyche and matter, with particular emphasis on certain trends in psychology and physics in the early 20th century. Next the paper discusses several ideas relating to the connection between psyche and matter, especially those related to Jungian depth psychology and quantum physics. The paper concludes with some thoughts on how the unity of psyche and matter suggested by these ideas might provide a framework for an integrated understanding of both the inner and outer realms of experience.




If a union is to take place between opposites like spirit and matter, conscious and unconscious, bright and dark, and so on, it will happen in a third thing, which represents not a compromise but something new. [1] – C. G. Jung


The modern worldview of Western culture is characterized by an implicit division between the objective or physical realm of existence and the subjective or psychic realm of existence, with the objective or physical realm generally dominating the subjective or psychic realms to the point of virtual exclusion, as in the materialistic worldview which considers mind to be a mere epiphenomenon of matter. The dominance of modern materialism is due in large part to its association with the remarkable theoretical and practical power of classical physics as developed by Newton and his successors. According to this model, reality consists of a fixed and passive space containing localized material particles whose movement in time is deterministically governed by mathematical laws. Consequently, mental phenomena, in this picture, are nothing more than the complex functions of the material brain governed by physical laws.


Fig 14 - Nise da Silveira e C. G. Jung.tif



Although scientific materialism provided the dominant worldview of modern Western culture, it did not exist to the total exclusion of other alternatives. Nevertheless, these alternatives did not succeed in fundamentally challenging the dominance of materialism. Instead, this challenge largely came from within empirical science itself. In the 20th century the modern materialistic worldview began to unravel in the face of scientific developments, particularly in physics. In physics, the development of relativity and quantum theory served to radically undermine various fundamental assumptions at the base of the materialistic model. For example, the special and general theories of relativity forced physicists to revise their basic conceptions of space, time, movement, gravitation, matter, energy, and the nature of the cosmos as a whole. Quantum theory, on the other hand, forced a revision of the concepts of causality, determinism, and locality. Perhaps most importantly, it even challenged the idea that properties of matter have an objective existence independent of observation. As a result, 20th century physics undermined the very basis for materialism, and suggested to some thinkers that the psyche may be involved, in some mysterious way, with the determination of the observed properties of matter.

Meanwhile, developments in psychology during the 20th century explicitly introduced the psyche into the domain of scientific inquiry. In particular, Freud’s psychoanalytic theory demonstrated the reality of a psychological unconscious, an unobservable psychic reality which contains repressed personal impulses and desires. These hidden psychic contents exert their influence upon consciousness and thus can be indirectly known by us through a study of various conscious contents, such as our dreams. Although the concept of the psychological unconscious did not initially challenge materialism, the discovery of the transpersonal depths of the unconscious by Jung (i.e., the collective unconscious and psychological archetypes) presupposed a psychic reality that was difficult to reconcile with any strictly materialistic understanding of human nature. Moreover, Jung’s later work with the phenomenon of synchronicity provided evidence that the deepest regions of the unconscious (i.e., the unus mundus) consists of “psychoid” structures that transcend the distinction between psyche and matter altogether.

The above developments in 20th century physics and psychology have analogous implications: just as psychology revealed in the deepest regions of psyche a profound connection with matter, physics revealed in the depths of matter a profound connection with the psyche. Although the precise nature of these connections remains elusive and controversial, the provocative possibility of transcending the dualism of mind and matter has provided motivation for the development of a more comprehensive and unified worldview. As Jungian psychologist Marie-Louise von Franz says,

The unexpected parallelisms of ideas in psychology and physics suggest, as Jung pointed out, a possible ultimate oneness of both fields of reality that physics and psychology study. . . . The concept of a unitarian idea of reality (which has been followed up by Pauli and Erich Neumann) was called by Jung the unus mundus (the one world, within which matter and psyche and are not yet discriminated or separately actualized). [2]

The remainder of this paper will explore in more detail some of these developments during the 20th century, with a particular emphasis on depth psychology and quantum physics. Because this paper does not presuppose familiarity with quantum physics or depth psychology, a brief exposition of some basic concepts in these two areas of research will precede the discussion of their connections.






The existing scientific concepts cover always only a very limited part of reality, and the other part that has not yet been understood is infinite. Whenever we proceed from the known into the unknown we may hope to understand, but we may have to learn at the same time a new meaning of the word `understanding’. [3] – Werner Heisenberg


The fundamental laws of quantum physics were discovered independently in 1925 by Werner Heisenberg and in 1926 by Erwin Schrödinger in response to puzzling experimental evidence that contradicted the fundamental concepts of classical physics. For example, electrons (which were previously thought to be particles) were found to exhibit properties of waves. Conversely, light (which was previously thought to be waves) was found to exhibit properties of particles. This confusion of classical distinctions between particles and waves was resolved by Niels Bohr’s principle of complementarity, according to which the wave and particle concepts are understood to be mutually exclusive but both necessary for a complete description of quantum phenomena.


A consequence of this wave-particle duality is that all matter has a wave aspect, and cannot be said to have a definite localized position at all times. Moreover, by virtue of their nonlocal wave properties, pairs of spatially separated particles sometimes exhibit nonlocal correlations in their attributes. Another consequence of the wave-particle duality is a corresponding duality between the unobserved and the observed. This duality raises puzzling questions regarding the nature of measurement in quantum mechanics: how is it that the wave suddenly changes into a particle, and how is this sudden transformation related to observation?


“Heisenberg, a brilliant advocate of quantum orthodoxy, even asserted that any explanatory model we can construct from reality can only have the purpose of better understanding, representing only speculation. quantum mechanics), from quantum theory, even the traditional opposition between ‘realism’ and ‘idealism’ can no longer be employed and traditional theories of knowledge fail. “Heisenberg says, when one tries to penetrate the details of processes atomic events hidden behind the reality of our daily environment, the contours of the object-real world dissolve not in the haze of a new obscure image of reality but in the clear clarity of a mathematics that connects the possible (and not the ‘factual’ ) by means of its’ laws. “(OSCAR BECKER, 1965).


A deeper understanding of these subtle issues requires some basic understanding of the way quantum physics describes phenomena. According to quantum physics, the state of an unobserved quantum of matter or light (such as an electron or photon) is represented by a solution to Schrödinger’s wave equation. This solution is a quantum wave function y(x) whose intensity |y(x)|2 at any particular position x represents the probability of observing the quantum at that position. When the quantum is observed, however, it is seen to have a definite actual position, and the wave function no longer properly describes the quantum. Thus, when the quantum is unobserved, it is a nonlocal wave of probable positions; and when the quantum is observed, it is a particle having a definite localized position. As a result, both the particle and wave concepts are required to completely characterize a quantum: the particle concept is required to describe its particle-like behavior when observed, while the wave concept is require to describe its wave-like behavior when unobserved. The particle and wave concepts are called “complementary” descriptions because they are both needed to characterize the observed and unobserved aspects of any quantum, as illustrated in the following table.

Although observation is evidently necessary to bring about the transition from possible to actual, the fundamental nature of observation in quantum theory remains somewhat mysterious. This problem of measurement derives from the fact that, prior to observation the quantum is described as being a nonlocal wave of probability spread throughout space, while after observation only one of the possible values is actualized. Thus, observation involves a discontinuous “collapse” (also called a “projection”) of the quantum wave function from a continuum of possibilities to a single actualized value. This projection, however, is an ad hoc element of the formalism, and is not a lawful transformation that is governed by Schrödinger’s wave equation. There is no explanation for how, when, or where this mysterious projection happens. Moreover, when the projection takes place, the laws of quantum physics do not predict which of the possible values will be actualized in any given observation, thus violating classical determinism and introducing an element of acausality and spontaneity into the theory at a fundamental

In a fundamental analysis of the quantum measurement process, John von Neumann argued that consciousness is required to explain the projection of the wave function from possibility to actuality. In particular, he reasoned that because all physical interactions are governed by Schrödinger’s wave equation, the projection that is associated with observation must be attributed to a non-physical consciousness that is not governed by physical law. According to von Neumann, this activity of consciousness only serves to cause the projection, and does not select or influence the particular value actualized. There is thus a spontaneity inherent in the projection that takes place in the transition from the unobserved to the observed.







Since the stars have fallen from heaven and our highest symbols have paled, a secret life holds sway in the unconscious. …Our unconscious…hides living water, spirit that has become nature, and that is why it is disturbed. Heaven has become for us the cosmic space of the physicists, and the divine empyrean a fair memory of things that once were. But “the heart glows,” and a secret unrest gnaws at the roots of our being. [4] – C. G. Jung


The notion of the psychological unconscious was first extensively developed in Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams, published in 1900, and further developed in his Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, published in 1905. In addition to the contents of our conscious awareness, Freud considered the psyche to also contain an unconscious region whose contents are hidden and cannot be directly observed. These unconscious contents, according to Freud, consist of previously conscious contents that have been repressed and forgotten. The unconscious is thus a kind of `skeleton closet’ containing personal psychological contents that were conscious in the past but then hidden away. Although they are no longer directly observable, these unconscious contents can be indirectly known through their effects on consciousness, such as their influence on our dreams. In Freud’s conception, the unconscious contains only personal psychic contents that were previously conscious, but then repressed, typically during childhood.


After studying with Freud, Carl Jung deepened and expanded Freud’s notion of the unconscious, most notably in his Psychology of the Unconscious, published in 1912, and his Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious, published in 1934. According to Jung, the unconscious contains, in addition to repressed personal contents, a deep and vast region of collective psychic contents, called the collective unconscious. In contrast to the personal unconscious contents that were previously conscious, the collective unconscious contents do not derive from previously conscious personal contents. Instead, the collective contents are innate and universal. In Jung’s words,

We have to distinguish between a personal unconscious and an impersonal or transpersonal unconscious. We speak of the latter also as the collective unconscious, because it is detached from anything personal and is common to all men, since its contents can be found everywhere, which is naturally not the case with the personal contents.[5]


Although the collective unconscious is present in the depths of each individual psyche, it is not subjective in the sense of being different from person to person. Because the collective unconscious is common to all individuals, it is objective in the sense that all individuals share these same deep psychic structures. As Jung writes,

The collective unconscious stands for the objective psyche, the personal unconscious for the subjective psyche.[6]


In short, the door to the unconscious does not open up to a skeleton closet, as Freud proposed, but opens up to a larger world beyond the walls of the conscious psyche.

It is important to note that between the personal and collective regions of the psyche there are various intermediate levels of depth, each having its share of universality and particularity. Jung explains:

In as much as there are differentiations as corresponding to race, tribe, and even family, there is also a collective psyche limited to race, tribe, and family over and above the “universal” collective psyche.[7]


The unconscious, in other words, is not divided into distinct personal and collective regions, but rather is a continuum with the personal and universal contents at each extreme. Jung’s most important contribution and his primary interest, however, is in the deeper regions of the collective unconscious, whose structures Jung calls archetypes. Like Plato’s Ideas, the archetypes of the collective unconscious are universal patterns that shape our experience of the world and provide it with common elements. Following Kant, however, Jung considers the archetypes as epistemological structures rather than independent ontological entities:


The collective unconscious, being the repository of man’s experience and at the same time the prior condition of this experience, is an image of the world which has taken eons to form. In this image certain features, the archetypes or dominants, have crystallized out in the course of time.[8]


According to Jung’s conception of the collective unconscious, the archetypal structures are not fixed, but dynamic. Not only do the archetypes evolve over time, but they also have dynamic and creative activity in the present. Moreover, this activity is not merely a reaction to the activities of consciousness, but is inherent in the unconscious itself. As Jung explains.


If [the unconscious] were merely reactive to the conscious mind, we might aptly call it a psychic mirror world. In that case, the real source of all contents and activities would lie in the conscious mind, and there would be absolutely nothing in the unconscious except the distorted reflections of conscious contents. The creative process would be shut up in the conscious mind, and anything new would be nothing but conscious invention or cleverness. The empirical facts give the lie to this. Every creative man knows that spontaneity is the very essence of creative thought. Because the unconscious is not just a reactive mirror reflection, but an independent, productive activity, its realm of experience is a self-contained world, having its own reality, of which we can only say that it affects us as we affect it–precisely what we say about our experience of the outer world. And just as material objects are the constituent elements of this world, so psychic factors constitute the objects of that other world.[9]


The objective psychic world, or collective unconscious, is thus similar to the objective physical world in that both worlds have objective structures and both worlds have autonomous activity independent of our personal will. For example, just as the objective physical world serves as a creative impetus for the development of our scientific worldviews, the psyche develops and evolves because the objective psyche is not merely repressed conscious contents, but has an autonomous activity that is relatively independent of our personal consciousness. Because this activity of the unconscious is relatively autonomous, it often manifests as a compensation or correction to our conscious views or beliefs. The result is an evolution of the psyche toward wholeness and integration, a process Jung called `individuation’.


In an unconscious compensation, some unconscious content is spontaneously expressed or manifested in consciousness, such as in a dream, and provides the psyche with an opportunity to integrate the unconscious content into consciousness. One of the most interesting and dramatic types of unconscious compensation is the phenomenon Jung calls synchronicity. Synchronicity is necessarily meaningful in the sense that it is a form of unconscious compensation that serves to advance the process of individuation. It is distinguished from other forms of unconscious compensation by the fact that synchronicity involves a connection between inner psychological experience and outer experiences in the world, where the connection is acausal in the sense that the inner experience cannot have been an efficient cause of the outer experience, or vice versa. In short, synchronicity is a meaningful, acausal connection between inner and outer events. Because the phenomenon of synchronicity involves an acausal coordination of the inner and outer worlds in a meaningful way, it is not exclusively a psychological or physical phenomenon, but is “psychoid” meaning that it somehow essentially involves both psyche and matter. Thus, Jung interpreted synchronicity to imply the existence of an extremely profound level of reality prior to any distinction between psyche and matter. In other words, synchronicity phenomena represent a manifestation in consciousness of psychoid structures present in the depths of a transcendental unitary reality Jung called the unus mundus:


Since psyche and matter are contained in one and the same world, and moreover are in continuous contact with one another and ultimately rest on irrepresentable, transcendental factors, it is not only possible but fairly probable, even, that psyche and matter are two different aspects of one and the same thing.[10]

The unus mundus is also implied by the fact that we evidently occupy one reality that contains both psyche and matter, and that these two domains of reality are not absolutely independent and isolated, but interact with each other. As Jung says,

Psyche and matter exist in one and the same world, and each partakes of the other, otherwise any reciprocal action would be impossible. If research could only advance far enough, therefore, we would arrive at an ultimate agreement between physical and psychological concepts.[11]

Jung’s concept of the unus mundus, therefore, not only shows how matter is implicated in the depths of the psyche, but also provides a framework for integrating our understanding of psyche and matter. In this framework, both the objective psychic and objective physical worlds are rooted in a common unity at the depths of reality. Because the unus mundus is normally unconscious, it is experienced as the mysterious Other that is the infinite unseen context of our finite conscious experience. Viewed in its subjective aspect, this unified reality takes the form of a psychic domain containing psychological archetypes that manifest in our inner experience. Viewed in its objective aspect, the unus mundus takes the form of a physical domain containing the archetypal laws of nature that govern manifestations in our outer experience. If psyche and matter are, as this suggests, a single reality viewed from different perspectives, then a comparison of their common elements as revealed in physics and psychology may provide insight into the nature of reality at its deepest and most universal level.




In the diagram above, right and left, respectively: the “Mathematical World Plato” is equivalent to the “World Potential” (Reality Potential Aristotle); “Nothing” equals the “Quantum Vacuum”. Consciousness, then, constituting the “Act of Aristotle”, transmutes Reality Potential (Mathematical World of Plato) in factual reality whose existence is given through the phenomenal world: the Dasein of Heidegger. Matter or idea is a question about the observer’s point of view: when looking for “outside” we have the matter, when looking for “inside” have the idea. Thus, matter and mind, belong to the same “Mathematical World of Plato”, which can take as equivalent to “Unus Worlds” postulated by Carl Jung and Wolfgang Pauli. Finally, the consciousness (Ato of the Aristotle), postulated by Amit Goswami/Husserl, is established as the foundation of all reality in the universe.





Modern science may have brought us closer to a more satisfying conception of this relationship [between psyche and physis] by setting up, within the field of physics, the concept of complementarity. It would be most satisfactory of all if physis and psyche could be seen as complementary aspects of the same reality.[12] – Wolfgang Pauli


Microphysics is feeling its way into the unknown side of matter, just as complex psychology is pushing forward into the unknown side of the psyche. Both lines of investigation have yielded findings which can be conceived only by means of antinomies, and both have developed concepts which display remarkable analogies. If this trend should become more pronounced in the future, the hypothesis of the unity of their subject-matters would gain in probability. Of course there is little or no hope that the unitary Being can ever be conceived, since our powers of thought and language permit only of antinomian statements. But this much we do know beyond all doubt, that empirical reality has a transcendental background.[13] – C. G. Jung


In attempting to understand the deepest levels of reality, it is wise to take note of Jung’s observation that our concepts are imperfect instruments, and that any conceptual representations we may form of these regions of reality will likely involve antinomies, and should be taken as being essentially symbolic rather than literal. For example, progress in the conceptual understanding of the nature of quanta was accomplished by acknowledging the principle of complementarity, which states that mutually exclusive sets of concepts must be used to completely characterize quantum phenomena in all their aspects. As Marie-Louise von Franz tells us, Jung recognized that this principle of complementarity applied to psychology as well as to physics:


Bohr’s idea of complementarity is especially interesting to Jungian psychologists, for Jung saw that the relationship between the conscious and unconscious mind also forms a complementary pair of opposites.[14]


The analogy suggested here is that the wave-particle complementarity in quantum physics parallels the unconscious-conscious complementarity in psychology. Indeed, just as the wave is the unobserved aspect of the quantum and the particle is the observed aspect, so the unconscious is the unobserved aspect of the psyche and the conscious is the observed aspect. Moreover, the wave is continuously spread throughout space, while the particle has a limited location. Similarly, Jung states that


The area of the unconscious is enormous and always continuous, while the area of consciousness is a restricted field of momentary vision.[15]


The analogy goes even further. The quantum wave function represents probabilities, as contrasted to the actualized particle. Similarly, the archetypal structures of the unconscious represent fundamental potentialities of psychic manifestation, while conscious contents are actualizations of these potentialities. As von Franz explains,


What Jung calls the archetypes…could just as well be called, to use Pauli’s term, “primary possibilities” of psychic reactions.[16]


This suggests that the unus mundus behind both psyche and matter is also a continuous world of potentiality. Jung elaborates:


The common background for microphysics and depth-psychology is as much physical as psychic and therefore neither, but rather a third thing, a neutral nature which can at most be grasped in hints since in essence it is transcendental. The background of our empirical world thus appears to be in fact an unus mundus. … The transcendental psychophysical background corresponds to a `potential world’ in so far as those conditions which determine the form of empirical phenomena are inherent in it.[17]


The following table summarizes the correspondence between complementary principles in psyche and matter:

Extending the analogy between psyche and matter further, physicist Victor Mansfield points out a similarity in the manner in which potentialities are transformed into actualities in the two realms:


In physics the irreversible measurement process transforms the potentialities into actualities. What is the corresponding psychic function that transforms `the potential world…’ into the world of multiplicity? It is reflective consciousness, the association of knowing with the ego, which makes the empirical world possible and brings the transcendental into the empirical world of multiplicity. The primordial unity of the unus mundus is shattered by reflective consciousness-a point agreed upon in most mystical traditions.[18]


In quantum mechanics it’s only when an individual observes that an acausal spacetime event manifests. Our participation through measurement generates acausality. Analogously, when a unique center of consciousness, a specific individual, actualizes a possibility in the unus mundus, acausality enters our world. Introducing a particular perspective, a finite center of consciousness, inevitably brings acausality into the transition from possibilities to actualities.[19]

Similarly, Jung has made a correspondence between the indeterminacy inherent in quantum measurement and the attempt to consciously determine unconscious contents:


Any attempt to determine the nature of the unconscious state runs up against the same difficulties as atomic physics: the very act of observation alters the object observed. Consequently, there is at present no way of objectively determining the real nature of the unconscious.[20]


It should be pointed out here that Jung’s characterization of quantum measurement requires clarification. The quantum measurement does not alter the actual properties of the object being observed since these properties do not have determinate existence prior to measurement. More accurately, the measurement is the occasion for the determination of the actual properties of the object. There is thus a spontaneity that enters nature in quantum measurement. Similarly, the manifestation of unconscious contents within consciousness also has an element of spontaneity, insofar as the particular conscious image manifesting an archetype is not completely determined by previous conscious contents. This type of spontaneity is especially evident in synchronicity.


Although synchronicity phenomena and quantum phenomena have certain similarities, there are also important differences. Consider, for example, nonlocal correlations that have been experimentally observed between two separated quantum events. Like synchronicity, the observed properties of the observed quanta have an element of spontaneity in their manifestation, and the correlations between the two quanta are not due to efficient causation between the two particles. Quantum nonlocality phenomena differ from synchronicity, however, because two quantum events are both events in the outer physical world. Synchronicity, on the other hand, is necessarily a connection between an inner event and an outer event, bridging psyche and matter, and thus pointing to the unus mundus. This brings us to perhaps the most important distinction between the two phenomena, which relates to the inner psychological meaning that is essential to synchronicity. As explained by Mansfield,

In the quantum phenomenon…there is no meaning involved. …In contrast, when an archetype manifests in a synchronicity experience, meaning is the critical point.[21]


Thus, synchronicity essentially involves the manifestation of meaning in the sense of an unconscious compensation that serves an individual’s process of individuation toward wholeness. Nonlocal correlations between quanta, in contrast, are connections between two physical events, and do not involve a manifestation of inner psychological meaning.


Another more subtle distinction between synchronicity and quantum nonlocality is that the quantum correlations are scientifically repeatable and predictable, while synchronicity phenomena appear to be almost entirely spontaneous and unpredictable. A closer psychological analog to quantum nonlocality is parapsychological phenomena. Mansfield elaborates:

Parapsychological phenomena are an example of general acausal orderedness, but not of synchronicity, which I strictly define as an acausal exemplification of meaning in the inner and outer world. Parapsychological phenomena are acausal since no energy or information exchange seems responsible for the correlations measured, but they lack the meaning associated with synchronicity. Furthermore, parapsychological phenomena, like similar quantum phenomena, are “constant and reproducible”…. This reproducibility is in further contrast to the unique and unpredictable nature of the more narrowly defined synchronicity.[22]


Jung considered synchronicity to be a special case of “general acausal orderedness,” which refers to forms of order that cannot be understood in terms of efficient causality or physical determinism. For example, the causal ordering of physical phenomena according to the deterministic laws of classical physics are not acausal orderedness. Nonlocal quantum correlations, however, are an instance of acausal orderedness manifest in the physical world. Synchronicity is also an example of a specific form of acausal orderedness which involves a meaningful connection between inner and outer events, exhibiting a manifestation of the depths of the unus mundus prior to divisions between psyche and matter.


From the above comparisons between physics and psychology, we can infer that the unus mundus is a domain of unified potentiality beyond the limitations of spatial separation and causal relationships in time. Although it is prior to many structures and limitations of manifest phenomena, this domain has orderedness and meaning–it is a domain of Logos. As a result, the deep structure of the unus mundus is perhaps most appropriately represented using the symbols of mathematics. As Jung explains,

Number helps more than anything else to bring order into the chaos of appearances. It is the predestined instrument for creating order, or for apprehending an already existing, but still unknown, regular arrangement or “orderedness.” It may well be the most primitive element of order in the human mind.[23]


And von Franz amplifies Jung, pointing out that mathematical order is common to both psychological and physical domains:


The deepest and most clearly distinguishable archetypal factor, which forms the basis of psycho-physical equivalence is, the archetypal patterns of natural numbers. . . . In respect to mathematical structure, the acausal orderedness in matter is of the same kind as that in the psyche and each is continually reflected in the other.[24]


As an archetype, number becomes not only a psychic factor, but more generally, a world-structuring factor. In other words, numbers point to a background of reality in which psyche and matter are no longer distinguishable.[25]






If indeed number, and mathematics in general, reflects the order of the unus mundus, this would explain the profound mystery of how it is that mathematics, which is a phenomenon of the mind, should prove so remarkably effective in representing the physical world. This mysterious harmony between psyche and matter is implicitly present at the foundation of all physics, and testifies to the Pythagorean roots of modern science. The Pythagoreans, however, viewed mathematics as much more than a mere language of quantity. For them numbers were symbols charged with archetypal meaning. The modern view of numbers, in other words, acknowledges only the quantitative aspect of numbers and ignores their aspect as quality and meaning. Moreover, von Franz points out that numbers are not merely static forms, but also represent vibrational energies (as the Pythagoreans recognized in the intimate connection between numbers and musical tones):


Since today we see processes everywhere rather than structures or static orders, I have also proposed seeing numbers in this perspective–as rhythmic configurations of psychic energy. [26]


From time immemorial number has been used most frequently to bridge the two realms because it represents the general structure of psychic and physical energy motions in nature and therefore appears, as it were, to provide the key to the mysterious language of unitary existence, particularly in its aspect of meaning (Tao). [27]

Like quanta, numbers have two complementary aspects, both of which are required if we are to more completely understand them. They have both quantitative and qualitative aspects, both static and dynamic aspects. It is through this double aspect of number, von Franz claims, that we can see their importance as a bridge between psyche and matter:


This complementary double aspect of number (quantity and quality) is in my opinion the thing which makes it possible for the world of quantity (matter) and of quality (psyche) to interlock with each other in a periodical manner.[28]


Although von Franz associates matter with quantity, and psyche with quality, it should be noted that material vibrations, as with musical strings, are experienced as qualities or quantities depending on which aspect of the phenomenon we choose to isolate. Moreover, mathematical ideas experienced in the psyche have aspects of quantity as well as quality. Thus, it appears more appropriate to identify the qualitative aspect of number with its more subtle, vibrational component (whether physical or psychic) and the quantitative aspect of number with its more concrete, discrete component. The table of complementary aspects can then be amended to include the elements of number, as follows:


In any case, the key to the unity of psyche and matter, and to understanding the unus mundus, essentially involves the nature of number. There was at least no doubt as to this point for von Franz:


In the last analysis, the mystery of the unus mundus resides in the nature of number.[29]


The understanding suggested by the above comparisons between structures in physics and psychology, therefore, is that physis and psyche are aspects of the same reality, with mathematics as a key archetypal core of both. However, we should note that the complementarity between psyche and matter (i.e., the two columns of the table above) appears distinct from the complementarity within psyche and matter (i.e., the two rows of the table above), so we should be careful not to confuse the two.


According to von Franz, the physicist David Bohm arrived at a similar understanding of the unified ground of psyche and matter:

David Bohm also presupposes the existence of an “ocean of energy” as the background of the universe, a background that is neither material nor psychic, but altogether transcendent. . . . Ultimately, it corresponds exactly to what Jung calls the unus mundus, which is situated beyond the objective psyche and matter and which also is situated outside space-time.[30]


Bohm’s “ocean of energy” is a deep part of the implicate order of reality, which is distinguished from the explicate order. Typically, we are conscious of only these explicate features of reality, while the implicate features form an unconscious background. Bohm’s idea of the implicate order thus normally corresponds to the unconscious, while the explicate order corresponds to the conscious. He summarizes the idea of the implicate order as follows:


The essential feature of this idea was that the whole universe is in some way enfolded in everything and that each thing is enfolded in the whole. From this it follows that in some way, and to some degree everything enfolds or implicates everything, but in such a manner that under typical conditions of ordinary experience, there is a great deal of relative independence of things. The basic proposal is then that this enfoldment relationship is not merely passive or superficial. Rather, it is active and essential to what each thing is. It follows that each thing is internally related to the whole, and therefore, to everything else. The external relationships are then displayed in the unfolded or explicate order in which each thing is seen, as has already indeed been indicated, as relatively separate and extended, and related only externally to other things. The explicate order, which dominates ordinary experience as well as classical (Newtonian) physics, thus appears to stand by itself. But actually, it cannot be understood properly apart from its ground in the primary reality of the implicate order.[31]


Reality is a flowing of this whole (or, in Bohm’s terms, a holomovement) with varying degrees of implication and explication. For Bohm, reality includes both psyche and matter, and the idea of the implicate order applies to mind as well as to matter, thus providing a link between the two:

We are suggesting that the implicate order applies both to matter…and to consciousness, and that it can therefore make possible an understanding of the general relationship of these two, from which we may be able to come to some notion of a common ground of both.[32]






And von Franz agrees:


These terms of Bohm’s can be applied quite well to the ideas put forward by Jung in his area of research. For example, in that case the archetypes can be understood as dynamic, unobservable structures, specimens of the implicate order. If, on the other hand, an archetype manifests as an archetypal dream image, it has unfolded and become more “explicated.” If we go on to interpret this image using Jung’s hermeneutic technique. . . that image would “explicate” and unfold still further.[33]


It is significant to note that, as von Franz implies, unconscious content can be explicated to various degrees, making it more conscious. This suggests that there is not a clear distinction between the conscious and the unconscious, but rather a continuum. Indeed, Jung explicitly says just this:


Conscious and unconscious have no clear demarcations, the one beginning where the other leaves off. …The psyche is a conscious-unconscious whole.[34]


In other words, the psyche is a unity or whole containing an explicate region of consciousness that is neither fixed nor ultimately distinguishable from the whole. According to Bohm, however, consciousness is not necessarily coincident with the explicate order, since we can become directly aware of these subtle flowing aspects of the implicate order taking place in the background of the more concrete and explicit aspects of our experience. Nevertheless, our consciousness is often habitually fixated on the more explicit content. As Bohm explains:


One reason why we do not generally notice the primacy of the implicate order is that we have become so habituated to the explicate order, and have emphasized it so much in our thought and language, that we tend strongly to feel that our primary experience is of that which is explicit and manifest. However, another reason, perhaps more important, is that the activation of memory recordings whose content is mainly that which is recurrent, stable, and separable, must evidently focus our attention very strongly on what is static and fragmented. This then contributes to the formation of an experience in which these static and fragmented features are often so intense that the more transitory and subtle features of the unbroken flow…generally tend to pale into such seeming insignificance that one is, at best, only dimly conscious of them.[35]


Bohm seems to point out possibilities of consciousness that were not acknowledged by Jung. In particular, for Jung the unconscious is a transcendental region of reality that we can never know directly. Thus, we only know the unconscious indirectly and imperfectly from the images and other concrete manifestations that surface in consciousness. According to Bohm, however, although consciousness is habitually fixated on the explicit surface manifestations rising up from deeper implicate levels of the psyche, it is nevertheless possible to become directly conscious of these implicate orders of reality–orders of reality that Jung assumed to be forever unconscious. Thus, while Jung remains correct with regard to consciousness that is fixated exclusively on explicit orders, his statements must be qualified to allow for a consciousness that develops the capacity to be aware of subtler levels of manifestation. Such a consciousness will have the capacity for direct awareness of contents that previously would be considered transcendent, unconscious, and only indirectly knowable by inference from more explicit and concrete manifestations. The implication is that we cannot maintain a rigid or ultimate distinction between the transcendent and empirical, between the archetypes and their manifestations, or between the implicit order and the explicit order. Rather, the explicit is imbedded in and essentially integrated with the implicit, with a continuum of degrees of enfolding and unfolding uniting the two. Similarly, the manifested images of the archetypes cannot ultimately be separated from the archetypes, but must be seen as their manifested aspects that are inseparable from the archetypes in their potential-actualized wholeness.







Sobre seletynof

Escola (ensino médio):Colégio Marista Cearense;Faculdade/Universidade: Universidade Federal do Ceará;Curso:Física; Diploma:Pós-Graduação em Física;Profissão:físico e professor; Setor:Científico.

Publicado em 25 de agosto de 2007, em FISICAPSICOLOGIA. Adicione o link aos favoritos. 1 comentário.

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