"A Multi-causal Approach to Synchronicity" is the title of an online article written by Zachary Stinson, in which he argues against Jung, Robert Aziz and Victor Mansfield´s conceptions of acausality.
Reading it one can find the following:
- "Synchronicity has long been described as an acausal connecting principle. However, the use of this descriptor is not only misleading, but also outright false..."
- "previous attempts to clarify the acausal label have served only to further muddy the waters of discussion"
- "a multi-causal conception of synchronicity is proposed..."
I would appreciate information about articles or books defending Jung´s acausality as superior to multi-causality in matters relating to synchronicity.
Stinson´s article can be found at
Excellent topic! I saw this essay when it came out and saved it, kind of kept it on the back burner as something to think about. Synchronicity is definitely a popular topic these days. There's an article in the issue of SPECULATIONS which came out a few weeks ago called "Jung as Speculative Realist" which goes into synchronicity quite a bit. It seems that this is a burgeoning area of crossover between Jungian thought and contemporary trends in philosophy like Speculative Realism.
Von Franz's NUMBER AND TIME and DIVINATION AND SYNCHRONICITY may be good places to look if you haven't already. She proposes a double mandala motif where causation only works in one mode of temporality (i.e. chronological time) but from the perspective of the other modality ("ainological time") we cannot put things into sequence of cause and effect. Von Franz points out that science relies on retrodiction (postdiction) and the probability calculus while divination is actually more accurate the smaller the sample size -- science is most accurate with sample size "infinity" while divination is most accurate with sample size 1.
What is at stake here is the idea of a unidirectional time which only moves forward, so that one thing leads to the next. If we can imagine another order of time which is more "simultaneous" (or where the past and future are coextensive with the present) then we can defend against Stinson's claim that "acausality muddies the waters." (Incidentally, some thinkers demand unequivocal, definitive answers, so perhaps Stinson is right to say the notion of acausality muddies the waters, but wrong to think the waters should be clear -- in other words, that it is a "necessary muddying" so to speak).
Also Deleuze's work (drawing from Bergson) on multiplicities and two orders of time, Chronos and Aion fits in here.
If you are curious about the Deleuze-Jung connection I highly recommend Kerslake's DELEUZE AND THE UNCONSCIOUS (2007). (It's available on aaaaarg.org as free PDF download -- requires sign-up but there is no cost, then you have to upload 2 PDFs to gain access to download links for everything on the site including the aforementioned Kerslake book).
Perhaps one defense against Stinson is to repeat Deleuze's critique of representation, i.e. that Stinson is "thinking representationally" instead of being able to account for the non-representational or sub-representational. What this means is basically that Stinson is still only thinking in one multiplicity, the discrete one, so he is only capable of thinking difference-in-degree, causality, stuff like that. (See the link to the Multiplicity philosophy page on Wikipedia below). According to this critique (and I am not prepared to make it, but can repeat it here in brief) there are two ways of looking at the world, only one of which allows for true difference in kind, the other merely allowing for difference in degree. (One contains the other, i.e. difference-in-kind contains difference-in-degree). Again it's a double mandala motif which argues, in effect, causality only accounts for one of the mandalas, for one of the two "orders" if you will.
Resources for Deleuze's thought:
Thanks for this message.
Searching with Google "SYNCHRONICITY, CAUSALITY AND ACAUSALITY" I found an article by Victor Mansfield and others which seems to me quite relevant to our topic, it can be found at
Causation ||material |formal |efficient |final
Pcychological function ||senses |emotion |thought |intuition
Physical principle ||conservation of energy |space-time |causality |synchronicity
Physical interaction ||electromagnetic |weak nuclear|strong nuclear |gravity
I've sent the scheme above within an article being reviewed for a journal right now. I sent it more than two months ago, but the idea is about ten years old. In my case (I am an engineer tought to wonder "what is inside the box") Aristotle and the first row in the column came recently into focus. There are four rows and it looks to me like four causes being repeated again: causation (efficient as its "strongest" element), psychological function (intuition and final cause as strongest in consciousness - problems with acceptance of final (Conscious?) cause from the point of view of modern science and reductionism), physical principle (context, form(al cause), space-time as the "strongest" element), and physical interaction (material cause, electromagnetic interaction providing conservation of energy and participating in changing of material structure).
The last row is the most problematic (if this whole story makes sense). Gravity for instance is responsible for time dilation and the final destiny of the universe (Big Crunch or eternal exapnsion). When I say "strongest" in the previous paragraph, I actually want to say "the element within the row refering to the whole row".
Any opinions? :-)
There should be "taught" instead of "tought". Actually, I thOught there would be more mistakes when I write in English about something as weird as my previous comment.
I'll be waiting for some time for replies. Negative comments would be more appreciated than neutral.
Interesting scheme although I am not sure I understand it completely. I would like to ask the following:
a) Did you develop the scheme about ten years ago or did you find it?
b) In this scheme synchronicity is related to final causation. What is your view on teleology?
I started thinking about it ten years ago. At that time it was in a very rough form. It was one of those “Wait a minute!” moments around the same time I read that Jung’s paper on synchronicity. It was ten years ago so I haven’t been forcing it to other people, especially because I had a heated discussion about my religious beliefs (I consider myself spiritual, whatever that means). Yes, a book about teleology (providing more questions than answers) did motivate me to think about it over and over again. In the meantime, I’ve had quite a few events that might qualify as synchronicity. Also, David Bohm and Robert Rosen (with his approach to anticipation and a hypothesis that there is no life and consciousness without causal loops) were doing something similar. Also, the book Godel, Echer, Bach about strange loops necessary for emergence of consciousness has motivated me to reconsider talking or not talking with other people about my ideas.
Back to the last, the most problematic row in that table: Electrons obey the Pauli exclusion principle (there is no an outside force pushing them that way, only equations) and move in discrete orbits and their behavior doesn’t really resemble causality. On the other hand, atomic nuclei (though Jung has mentioned a few times their spontaneous fission as an example of acausality) are stable most of the time. Quantum mechanics is full of “spooky actions at the distance” (Einstein’s words – he didn’t like that spookiness): quantum erasers, double-slit experiments… This spookiness becomes expected with that scheme or at least that’s how it looks to me. Also – permute the elements within the table and you’ll get nothing. So, is that table actually something?
This comment wouldn’t be complete without this link (about Robert Rosen’s approach to relations instead of parts and seemingly flawless math): http://www.people.vcu.edu/~mikuleck/PPRISS3.html .
Again, I didn't read Stinson's full article yet, but one thing I found interesting was the discussion on causes, philosophically speaking. In Jung's The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche, he discusses the contradiction of "final causes", which I think you'd find valuable. A cause can't also be a purpose, as the two concepts are mutually exclusive. It was an important aspect of his energic theory. One thing about the literal interpretations of science is that it often leads to what Jung called a hair-splitting logic which easily overlooks the broader meaning in ideas. I didn't come away with the same impression of Jung's article on synchronicity that Stinson did. Though it's been some time since I read Jung's piece, it seemed to me that some of the confusion in understanding Jung's view results from the mixture of the causal and final concepts. Both of Jung's articles are in his, Structures...
"which I think you'd find valuable" - The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche was the starting point about 11 years ago when I got hooked to Jung and his approach to depth psychology. That scheme (correct or not) mentioned above is my original contribution, something that a reviewer in a journal should sooner or later accept or reject. It's a part of an article with 20 pages. I'm tired of waiting for other people to let me know what's wrong with my ideas presented there. Those ideas are a decade old and I posted the article for review in January.