Synchronicity vs Coincidence


  • Different ways in which coincidences can come about are:
    • Synchronicity (not paranormal related)
    • Random chance
    • Hidden causality both normal and paranormal
  • Carl Jung defines Synchronicity as "a certain curious principle which takes the coincidence of events in space and time as meaning something more than mere chance" (1949)
  • Jung saw synchronicity as more than meaningful coincidences – he also conceived of it as an acausal connecting principle for all types of phenomena that could not be fully explained by standard notions of causality, including quantum randomness and the results of ESP experiments.
  • Wolfgang Pauli, "It would be most satisfactory of all if psyche and physis could be seen as complementary aspects of the same reality."
  • An essential element of Jung’s theory of synchronicity is the distinction he made between the wider principle of synchronicity, and the narrower category of synchronistic events, which he describes as "a special instance of general acausal orderedness."
  • Consistent experimental results can be obtained from the wider principle of synchronicity (ie study of natural numbers, ESP, quantum mechanics), but narrower synchronistic events are more unpredictable.
  • A characteristic of synchronistic events is that the people involved are often profoundly moved.
  • Paul Kammerer (Biologist and Lemarckian – believed in alternate view of evolution where species could develop traits to pass on to next generation – contrasts popular Darwinian theory of evolution) considered coincidence as a fleeting glimpse of the underlying activity of seriality, which he held to be ubiquitous and continuous in life, nature and cosmos connecting thought, feeling, science and art.
  • A synchronistic event differs from a coincidence when meaningfulness is at the heart of the event.
  • An attractive force at play?
  • Richard Wilhelm (important influence on Jung) translated the I-Ching for the West (1920s) This brought the idea of the Tao to Jung, and believed to connect the objective physical world to subjective psychological world.
  • J. B. Rhine (Botanist) coined the term Extra Sensory Perception (ESP) and influenced Jung by his research in ESP.
  • Pauli (Physicist, and considered by Einstein to be more his spiritual son, and more intelligent) provided valuable constructive criticism for Jung’s work.
  • One mathematical criticism of Jung’s work on synchronicity relates to "more than by chance". With a proper understanding of probability, chance actually allows all sorts of things to occur.
  • For synchronicity, there must be an equivalence of meaning between the subjective and objective aspects of the coincidence. Whether there is a meaning is a different matter.
  • David Richo (2007) "Chance and synchronicity will look the same in the display of an event but they are worlds apart … Chance happens to us, synchronicity happens in us."
  • The composition of synchronicity are:
    • an equivalence of meaning between an external event and deep psychological processes in the individual involved
    • an accompanying feeling of numinosity experienced as an emotional charge
    • a flash of total insight or absolute knowledge.
  • Marie-Louise von Franz (1984) The realisation of meaning is a living experience that touches the heart just as much as the mind, an illumination characterised by great clarity as well as something ineffable.
  • As synchronistic events touch both physical and psychic realms, there must be a Unitarian reality. One world.
  • Von Franz says (1975), the most essential and certainly the most impressive thing about synchronistic occurrences is the fact that in them the duality of soul and matter seems to be eliminated. An empirical indication of an ultimate unity of all existence, which Jung, using the terminology of medieval natural philosophy called the unus mundus.
  • Jung claims ESP and PK are forms of synchronicity
  • Other philosophers point out that if the event wasn’t meaningful it would go unnoticed. But we can distinguish between meaningful coincidences and meaningless coincidences as meaningful coincidences do more: they compensate unconscious one-sidedness; and express a specific archetypical meaning as an expression of the self (self-development). Not all coincidences do this.
  • Jung says archetypes underscore synchronicity. Archetypes are structural components of the collective unconscious that influence how we think and act.

These notes were taken from the Australian institute of Parapyschological Research website online videos of the 2016 mini-conference.
See www.aiprinc.org to find out more.

© 2020 Cedric Joyce