At least since the outbreak of the Industrial Revolution, Western Thinking has seen the universe organized along the line of cause and effect, so that, since the Big Bang, the universe has, essentially, been organized like the toppling over of a huge sequence of dominoes: mechanistic, deterministic, inexorable. Inherent in a universal causality lies the concept of the irreversibility of time: the Cause (A) must precede the Effect (B):

A -> B

Probably to legitimize the possibility of mystical concepts like the collective unconscious and systems of divination like the I Ching, Jung introduced the idea of synchronicity: two coupled events are not necessarily connected by causality, but they can be connected by synchronicity: they occur together without one causing the other:

A <--> B

If you unhitch the world from causality, you also open the flow of time to both directions, which would allow the future to send messages back to the present, which is necessary for a divination system to work.

So is this seriously discussed anywhere in philosophy? Even if a student of Western philosophy is intractably entrenched in causality and the forward motion of time, it seems that a discussion of Western vs Jungian (which is essentially Eastern) concepts would be a good exercise.


2 Answers 2


Synchronicity or mysticism is hardly mentioned in respectable philosophy. A recent mention in psychology (quoted below) throws some light, and Stanislav Grof writes interestingly about it. Synchronicity and mysticism seem to be a better subject fit for psychology than analytical philosophy. It's such a different paradigm, akin to speculating that reality is plastic on a fundamental level. The impenetrability of the Ding an such (thing-in-itself) would disappear, but experience of synchronicity merely suggests that it might be permeable.

Stanley Schneider's essay 'The Mystical and Spiritual in the Large Group' can be read online here:-


Mystical influences were 'in the air.' In 1933, Freud stated an opinion that brought his public coolness towards the occult closer to his private interest and desire for further understanding:

"No doubt you would like me to hold fast to a moderate 
 theism and show myself relentless in my rejection of 
 everything occult.  But I am incapable of currying favour 
 and I must urge you to have kindlier thoughts on the 
 objective possibility of thought-transference and at the 
 same time of telepathy as well."  (Freud 1933, 
 New Introductory Lectures, p. 85)

I would like to say, the answer could be No. The reason will be developed under.

Since I am not familiar with Jung, I just googled as "Jung and Eastern thoughts" and I found a site.

From the source,

ちなみに、東洋思想の中でもユングが特に興味を抱いたのが仏教。 仏教はインド哲学 の一種で、現実世界を「苦」と見るのが特徴的です。 「生きることは苦である」ことを受け入れ、哲学的思索や宗教的実践によって いかにその苦の輪廻(りんね)の世界を脱するか。解脱(げだつ)の境地を実現しよう とするのが、仏教の修行なのです。

Translation :

Now, what he ( Jung ) thought most interesting among "Eastern thoughts" was Buddhism. Buddhism, an Indian born thought, sees the world human beings are living in as an anguish. The Buddhists' practice is, yielding him/her self to the aforementioned idea, "Living ( a life ) is an agony" and through the Buddha's thought and "enlightenment", to seek the salvation from the bondage of this world, "fleeing" the reincarnation of eternal anguish.

The rest of the source just is explaining each idea of Buddhism.

So even you say,

Probably to legitimize the possibility of mystical concepts like the collective unconscious and systems of divination like the I Ching,

I Ching, commonly thought as one of the most important books for Confucians, weighs on the thought of Yin and Yang, about which please refer to the site ( I can not cover its entire thought here with an apology. )

So why I said NO at the first line is, Jung's interest is mostly by Buddhism not the thought by Confucius. ( --- Actually the history or the origin of I Ching is argued by many ( Ex, some say it is already derived from the older Chinese ritual using carapaces than the age in which Confucius lived. )

Have a nice day.

  • If you would like to "double check", kindly ask Mr. Virmaior the moderator who I think can read my mother tongue. ( Or please ask at Japanese site. ) I am sorry, Virmaior.
    – user13955
    Commented Jul 21, 2015 at 15:27

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