Praxis für Alternative Psychosomatik und Traumdeutung, Dr. Remo F. Roth, CH-8001 Zürich

Remo F. Roth

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dipl. analyt. Psychologe (M.-L. v. Franz)




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Book Project:


Wolfgang Pauli, Carl Jung and the Challenge of the Unified Psychophysical Reality

© copyright 2002-2004 by Pro Litteris, Zürich. All rights reserved

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back to Chapter 3, part 1


3. Carl Jung's quaternity, Neoplatonic philosophy and the "potential being" of Aristotle

 (part 2)




3.1 Wolfgang Pauli's criticism at the newly founded institute

3.2 Carl Jung's "quaternities, projected into heaven"

part 2:

3.3 Being, nonbeing and potential being
3.3.1 The Assumptio Mariae and the "disinfected" matter in the heaven

3.3.2 The coniunctio as the constellated archetype behind the Assumption

3.3.3 The coniunctio and Carl Jung's individuation process

3.3.4 "To be or not to be" and the Platonic privatio boni

part 3 (will follow):

3.3.5 The potential being of Aristotle

3.3.6 Complementarity: Particle and wave as potential being

3.3.7 Pauli's conflict with Jung: The collective unconscious as potential being

part 4:

3.3.8 "Quaternities projected into heaven" and the unsolved psychophysical problem

3.3.9 The spirit of matter, the acausal aspect of the divine world soul and potential being


3. Carl Jung's quaternity, Neoplatonic philosophy and the "potential being" of Aristotle

 (part 2)


3.3 Being, nonbeing and potential being

3.3.1 The Assumptio Mariae and the "disinfected" matter in the heaven

Pauli formulated the expression of the "quaternities projected into heaven" in the context of his criticism of Carl Jung's book Answer to Job, published in 1952. He read the book in the fall of that year and then, in February 1953, wrote the letter to Jung which he titled :"'To be' or 'not to be', this is the question", the famous quotation out of Shakespeare's Hamlet. The letter contains a lengthy treatise that is a criticism of Jung's Answer to Job. In a very sarcastic way Pauli titles it Betrachtungen eines Ungläubigen über Psychologie, Religion und Ihre Antwort auf Hiob (Reflections of an Unbeliever on Psychology, Religion, and your Answer to Job).

Carl Jung's book Answer to Job consists of two main parts. In the first part he deals with Job's fate, in the second with the dogma of the Assumptio Mariae, proclaimed by the Pope Pius XII in the year 1950. The criticism of Pauli, the "Unbeliever", is focused on this second part of Jung's book. Pauli states that this dogma is a "countermeasure against the devil" . Then he continues:

"Of course, in the 20th century I cannot really understand what the pope means when he says 'Heaven' ... It does acquire some meaning for me if I identify 'Heaven' here with the 'place beyond Heaven', the non-physical space in which, in accordance with Platonic philosophy, 'Ideas' are to be found. This is probably not all that arbitrary inasmuch as historically, Christianity has taken over many words and expressions from Plato and the Platonists."

He goes on and states that this "maneuver" of the pope is a "concession to matter",

"which, since the days of Neoplatonism, has counted only as the privatio [the absence; RFR] of ideas and as evil, or as the Devil in Christian terms".

We will come back to the so-called privatio boni, a Platonic and Neoplatonic concept, the fathers of the church have taken over.

Pauli then harbours doubts "as to whether this concession is enough, since in the new dogma it is actually strongly 'disinfected' matter." Of course Pauli speaks here of the fact that the Catholic Holy Virgin Mary is only defined above the diaphragm, because in the Platonic, Neoplatonic and Christian philosophy matter, instincts and the female principle are diabolised. The dogma of the Immaculate Conception states that she is without any sin; her dark side is not accepted. Therefore, when she is taken into heaven, this obscure side is neglected.

If Mary as a female "goddess" is - in a depth psychological language - seen as a symbol of matter, there exists another problem. Therefore Pauli states that:

"matter will be taken into the world of ideas, not in its inorganic form but only in connection with the soul, the 'metaphysical' representation of woman."

These statements show us, that for Pauli, the dogma of the Assumption functions not only as a countermeasure against the devil, but also as a Platonic or Neoplatonic idea. In this dogma, matter is evil, therefore, only when matter is "disinfected", can it be affiliated in the Empyreum, the "place beyond Heaven" as conceived by Plato. We will see in the fourth chapter that this idea is the central content of Neoplatonic alchemy, in contrast to the Hermetic alchemy of Robert Fludd, of whom Pauli was fascinated to such a high degree.

This Neoplatonic tendency of the dogma is the main reason, why Pauli does not like it at all. In the letter [1646] to Fierz I will quote below (see sec. 3.3.9), he even "protests against the Assumption of the Queen".


3.3.2 The coniunctio as the constellated archetype behind the Assumption

Nevertheless the Nobel laureate is convinced that the deeper background of the Assumption is the fact

"that we are all - as children of the 20th century - affected unconsciously by the same archetypal occurrences",

which are present as the idea of a new hierosgamos (coniunctio or chymic wedding; s. chap. 4) in Carl Jung's depth psychology, as a compensation "for the one-sidedness that ensued after the pioneering scientific achievements of the 17th century" in quantum physics, and in "the pope, who, by way of sanctioning an ancient popular belief, declares a new dogma.".

Therefore, we can conclude that Pauli refuses the dogma but is convinced that behind it there is a very important new archetypal idea, the coniunctio, not correctly interpreted by the Pope.

He continues:

"But as a symbol of the monistic union of matter and soul, this Assumptio has an even deeper meaning for me. Any deeper form of reality - i.e., every 'thing as such' - is symbol for me anyway, and only the 'manifestation' is concrete."

Then he goes on:

"It is true that in the empirical world of phenomena there must always be the difference between 'physical' and 'psychic', and it was the mistake of alchemists to apply a monist (neutral) language to concrete chemical processes. But now that matter has also become an abstract invisible reality for the modern physicist, the prospects for a psychophysical monism have become much more favourable."

These statements contain the essence of Pauli's view of the archetypal background of the new dogma: Today, we are all influenced by an archetypal occurrence, which shows us that we need a correction to the one-sided development of science since the 17th century. This constellated archetype is the hierosgamos, the sexual unity of a god with a goddess, that alchemy described as the coniunctio oppositorum, and which we can - in modern terms - paraphrase as a union of matter and soul at the background of a monistic psychophysical reality, which is itself invisible. After Pauli, alchemy - but, as we will see, only the Hermetic part of it - has already had a neutral language for describing such a coniunctio, but did not succeed because it applied it to the concrete outer world.


3.3.3 The coniunctio and Carl Jung's individuation process

In the continuation of his letter, Pauli makes reference to a parallel idea concerning this new dogma, which Jung states in § 739 of Answer to Job. Jung writes there:

"Ever since John the apocalyptist experienced for the first time (perhaps unconsciously) that conflict into which Christianity inevitable leads, mankind has groaned under this burden: God wanted to become man, and still wants to. That is probably why John experienced in his vision a second birth of a son from the mother Sophia, a divine birth which was characterized by a coniunctio oppositorum and which anticipated the filius sapientiae, the essence of the individuation process. [Jung, CW 11, § 739; emphasis mine]

In the individuation process Jung requires the conscious realization of the Self, the center of the collective unconscious, in ones individual life because for him the Self is the inner image of God. The individuation process is also a conscious observation of God's incarnation in every individual. But as he describes in Answer to Job, (See also, CW 11, § 713), it cannot be the incarnation of Jesus Christ, the salvator microcosmi, but of a new salvator, the salvator macrocosmi [CW 13, §383-86], whom the alchemists had anticipated as the above mentioned filius sapientiae, the divine child of the coniunctio oppositorum, the sexual relationship of their god and the goddess.

Therefore, it will be a very important task for us, to define the structure of this new image of God. We will see, that for Jung it was the quaternity which will replace the Trinity of the Catholic Church, but in the unconscious of Wolfgang Pauli, another symbol was constellated: a double trinity, known as the Seal of Solomon or the Star of David.

In relation to the individuation process, the very interesting aspect is that this alternative image of God is not originally Jewish - as most people believe - , but belongs to the mysticism of all five world's religions, and is always associated with the human heart. [see Some Thoughts..., section 1.1, esp. footnote 1]

As Jung describes in § 738 of Answer to Job, this coniunctio oppositorum is the "real subject of Hermetic philosophy" [emphasis mine]. The result of this sexual union between the male and the female god is the filius sapientiae (the child; see below), which Jung now [§ 738] compares with the goal of the opus, the lapis (the stone). Then he parallels the lapis and the filius with the son of the sun-woman of the Revelation, and even states that this final product is some sort of homunculus. We will see in the fourth chapter, that Robert Fludd, Wolfgang Pauli's "shadow brother", called it the infans solaris. For Gerardus Dorneus it was the red tincture, which the alchemist had to extract out of the lapis.

But let us return to Pauli's letter. After quoting this passage of Jung's Answer to Job he expresses his agreement with Jung's idea that the Assumption belongs to "a definite stage of the individuation process" (that we will discuss below). When we include the above explanations of Jung, we see that Pauli accepts the hypothesis that the Assumptio Mariae and the coniunctio of Hermetic alchemy are prefigurations of the constellated individuation process manifesting in our time.

In a modern language this archetypal occurrence must have to do with a monistic psychophysical reality, which is realized, when the chymic wedding of a male and a female god has taken place and as a result of this coniunctio a child has been born, which is, after Jung, the homunculus.

Thus, we must find out, how we can describe this 21st century's archetypal occurrence in terms of a modern "neutral language" beyond quantum physics and depth psychology. Hermetic alchemy already had a vision of this process - but expressed in an archaic language. Thus, in the following chapters we will go back to Robert Fludd and Gerardus Dorneus for the purpose of finding out how we could formulate this challenge in the terms of 21st century's scientific language.


3.3.4 "To be or not to be" and the Platonic privatio boni

To do this, let us first return to Pauli's letter. Toward its end he comes back to the above mentioned motto "To be or not to be" (see 3.3.1). With it he characterizes the confrontation between "being" and "nonbeing", begun in ancient philosophy. First he tells us that "nonbeing" "did not simply mean not being present" but is "that which cannot be thought about", "which cannot be reduced to notions and concepts". "Being", by contrast, is that which can be grasped by the reasoning process associated with the thinking function.

In a section that is absent in the German original [Meier, 1992] and in the English translation [Meier, 2001], but is included in the copy of the letter in Pauli's Wissenschaftlicher Briefwechsel, he continues, that for us today "nonbeing" means "irrational" and "obscure". Moreover, since Socrates and Plato Good is defined as the rational and Evil is only the absence of Good, a privatio boni.

This Platonic definition, which is also the official doctrine of the Catholic Church, was attacked by Wolfgang Pauli as well as by Carl Jung, for example in a note of § 600 in Answer to Job. Pauli quotes parts of this note; therefore we will include it in our argumentation:

"The naive assumption that the creator of the world is a conscious being must be regarded as a disastrous prejudice which later gave rise to the most incredible dislocation of logic. For example, the nonsensical doctrine of the privatio boni would never have been necessary had one not had to assume in advance that it is impossible for the consciousness of a good God to produce evil deeds. Divine unconsciousness and lack of reflection, on the other hand, enable us to form a conception of God which puts his actions beyond moral judgement and allows no conflict to arise between goodness and beastliness." [Jung, CW 11, § 600, n. 13]

When one reads the letter, one feels that Pauli is very happy about Jung's remark on the privatio boni as a "nonsensical doctrine". Of course it is Jung's approach to an image of God, which is a coniunctio oppositorum he likes so much. We will see that this symmetry of a renewed image of God is very important for the Nobel laureate.

Pauli continues his letter by comparing the Platonic Ideas with the phenomenon of matter. The logical conclusion of the above statements is, that matter is only the absence of these Ideas. We can generalize this Platonic prejudice and say that matter is only the absence of the spirit. As Jung has seen [CW 12, § 405-13; The spirit in matter] it was exactly alchemy that compensated this devaluation of matter by the postulate of the "spirit in matter", which it also called the Spirit Mercurius [CW 13, § 239-303].

In the letter, Pauli goes on and shows a further assumption of the Platonic philosophy about matter: Because Ideas are "being", they are also eternally unchangeable. Therefore, "the process of becoming and the changeable, hence also matter, appeared in a certain form of psychology as nonbeing".

We can summarize these Platonic statements as follows:

Spirit (the Platonic Ideas) is the Good, the eternally unchangeable, is rational and therefore "being", but

Matter is the Evil, the changeable, the irrational and therefore "nonbeing", and

Matter is a privatio of Spirit, as the Evil is a privatio of Good

This Platonic philosophy is also behind the determinism of classical natural science and is the deeper reason, why it is the intention of every scientist, to find "eternal" causal natural laws behind the changeable, behind motion, which is itself a property of matter.

Chapter 3, part 3

See also further articles about Wolfgang Pauli in