Synchronicity

From Academic Kids

For other uses, see Synchronicity (disambiguation).

Synchronicity is a word created by the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung to describe the alignment of "universal forces" with the life experiences of an individual. Jung believed that many experiences perceived as coincidences were not merely due to chance, but instead reflected the creation of an event or circumstance by the "co-inciding" or alignment of such forces1. The process of becoming intuitively aware and acting in harmony with these forces is what Jung labeled "individuation." Jung said that an individuated person would actually shape events around them through the communication of their consciousness with the collective unconscious2.

Jung spoke of synchronicity as being an "acausal connecting principle" (ie. a pattern of connection that is not explained by causality).

Contents

Example

A well-known example of synchronicity involves plum pudding. It is the true story of the French writer mile Deschamps who in 1805 is treated to some plum pudding by the stranger Monsieur de Fontgibu. Ten years later, he encounters plum pudding on the menu of a Paris restaurant, and wants to order some, but the waiter tells him the last dish has already been served to another customer, who turns out to be M. de Fontgibu. Many years later in 1832 mile Deschamps is at a diner, and is once again offered plum pudding. He recalls the earlier incident and tells his friends that only M. de Fontgibu is missing to make the setting complete, and in the same instant the now senile M. de Fontgibu enters the room by mistake.

Criticism

Since the theory of synchronicity is not testable according to the classical scientific method, it is not widely regarded as scientific at all, but rather as pseudoscientific or an example of magical thinking.

Probability theory can attempt to explain events such as the plum pudding incident in our normal world, without any interference by any universal alignment forces. However, the correct variables required for actually computing the probability cannot be found. This is not to say that synchronicity is not a good model for describing a certain kind of human experience - but it is a reason for refusal of the idea that synchronicity should be considered a "hard fact", i.e. an actually existing principle of our universe.

Supporters of the theory claim that since the scientific method is applicable only to those phenomena that are reproducible, independent of observer and quantifiable, the argument that synchronicity is not scientifically 'provable' should be considered a red herring, as, by definition, synchronistic events are not independent of the observer, since the observer's unique history is precisely what gives the synchronistic event meaning for the observer.

A synchronistic event appears like just another meaningless 'random' event to anyone else without the unique prior history which correlates to the event. This reasoning claims that the principle of synchronicity raises the question of the subjectivity of significance and meaning in the sequence of natural events.

Correlation

Although not scientifically provable in the classical sense, a scientific basis for the phenomenon of synchronicity may be found in the principle of correlation, in so far as a more precise scientific term for Jung's expression 'acausal connecting principle' is 'correlation'.

It is a well-known scientific principle that 'correlation does not imply causation'. Yet, correlation may in fact be a physical property shared by events without there being a classical cause-effect relationship, as shown in quantum physics, where widely separated events can be correlated without being linked by a direct physical cause-effect (see nonlocality, EPR paradox).

Related topics

The feeling of making a connection where there is none has been described as apophenia.

Aspects of the subjective experience of schizophrenia have much in common with the subjective experience of synchronicity, in the sense that ordinary events are seen as having a direct personal relevance to the schizophrenic, but are seen as 'normal' by non-schizophrenics. Many psychoses are similar to schizophrenia but can last for a very short time, such as in rare instances from nicotine withdrawal (as an example) causing the same effect even with a non-schizophrenic.

Those who have experienced a near-death experience or kundalini awakening report an increase in synchronistic events happening to them.

A religious analogy3 of this experience might be attributed to the fulfillment of prayer or miracles, however Jung did not describe it in these terms.

Synchronicity has been proposed as a corollary phenomenon of the many-worlds or parallel universes theory of quantum physics, in that the subject is somehow 'navigating' to those particular alternate worlds that are correlated to their past history, among the myriad possible other worlds that are not as correlated to their past history. Although this idea has made it into the popular press, it is considered pseudoscience by most scientists as the parallel universe theory states that all possible futures exist simultaneously, therefore the subject indeed lives out all possible futures in parallel.

Notes

Note 1: In Synchronicity in the final 2 pages of the Conclusion, Jung stated that not all coincidences are meaningful and further explained the creative causes of this phenomenum. Note 2: Jung defined the collective unconscious as akin to instincts in Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious. Note 3: The Psychovision Synchronicity page (http://www.psychovision.ch/synw/synchronicity_jung.htm) contains a description of these analogies.

Further reading

See also

External links

fr:Synchronicit ja:シンクロニシティ pl:synchroniczność

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