The names of our categories may be very old and stable [time, space, and and causality,] but the concepts, the modes of classifying and interpreting
which they represent, undergo progressive alteration with the advance of thought.
C.I. Lewis (1929) 1
Successfully refuting Jung’s three anti causal arguments provides the scientific rational for formulating one or more naturalistic theories of synchronicity. Two such naturalistic theories: (1)
M.D. Faber’s regressive naturalistic theory and G.A. Williams’ progressive naturalistic theory will be described and discussed in the present Chapter IV and in the subsequent next two chapters: V and VI.
But before discussing Faber’s and Williams’ synchronicity theories I think it is valuable to fill in the space between Jung’s partial supernatural (occult) theory and Faber’s and Williams’ purely naturalistic theories of synchronicities.
The Progression of Science
Kuhn makes it clear that science progresses to the degree to which an investigator (s) attempts to account for why nature appears to have violated the generally accepted paradigm currently in ‘vogue. This task is accomplished either by (1) challenging primary ontological and epistemological first assumptions; and, or (2) redefining (translating) existing organizing concepts, currently utilized as filters of experience to connect the seemingly random data associated with the phenomenon being investigated, and, or creating new organizing concepts.
Jung’s understanding of the nature of synchronicities led him to tacitly conclude that synchronistic anomalous occurrences appear to violate the generally acceptable paradigm of psychic determinism - lending strong support for the esoteric occultist’s supernatural perspective.
The combination of the special meaningfulness when experiencing synchronicities, plus the exquisite timing in which they occur, lend these events their characteristic sense of the uncanny aura accompanying them. Add to the mix the intense feelings that one is being guided by transcendent invisible forces contributes to the sense that these occurrences have a ‘spiritual’ or ‘religious’ origin. Jung was utterly convinced this is surely the case. Indeed the formulation of Jung’s partly supernatural theory of synchronicities was greatly fueled by his increasing preoccupation with the subject matter of the esoteric occult, particularly that of alchemy. It might be asked what it was about esoteric occultism that Jung thought it to be so compelling, whereas
Freud thought it to be so potentially harmful?
Jung’s Total Embrace of the Esoteric Occult
To accept Jung’s partly supernatural theory of synchronicities is to tacitly accept his philosophical first assumptions about the nature of and acquisition of the knowledge of absolute reality. This is no insignificant issue. This is so because Kant, (1957) a major philosopher, reasoned that because of realistic limitations due to the structure of our minds, humans are forever restricted from having certain knowledgeof the nature ofabsolutereality he refers to as the noumena. This means that the best we can know of reality is that which we directly perceive, referred to as phenomena. We may theorize all we wish,ferventlybelieving our strong faith about our conceptions of absolute reality are coincident with objective reality, but we can never really know for certain as to the capital T truth of this categorical claim. 2 Jung thinks otherwise, writing as if he is utterly convinced that synchronicities support the cosmology of the esoteric occultists.
This means that for Jung the ontological and epistemological primary assumptions he makes about the nature of reality and knowledge of its contents, as well as the ways in which knowledge is acquired, plus the derived organizing concepts he uses to order the raw data associated with synchronicities is for him, not simply theoretical speculation, but instead, is equated with absolute fact.
Thus his core conceptualizations including the collective unconscious, archetypes, archetypal reality, a realm of absolute meaning, the nature of the apriori, the primary archetype of the self, and a level of subsistent meaning are asserted to be transcendent and therefore independent ofhuman perception.
In Jung’s (1952)words:
… We mean by the collective unconscious, a certain psychic disposition by the forces of heredity; from it consciousness has developed. In the physical structure of the body we find traces of earlier forms of evolution, and we may expect the human psyche to conform in its make-up to the law of phylogeny. It is a fact that in eclipses of consciousness – in dreams, narcotic states, [synchronicities] and cases of insanity – there come to the surface psychic products or contents that show all the traits of primitive levels of psychic development. The images themselves are sometimes of such a primitive character that we might suppose them derived from ancient, esoteric teaching. Mythological themes clothed in modern dress also frequently appear. 3
C. Wilson (1988) describes such an ‘occult’ suffused reality as consisting of “… a sense of ‘hidden meanings’ lurking behind the apparently impassive face of everyday reality.4