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Pauli and Jung: The Meeting of Two Great Minds

4.3 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0835608374
ISBN-10: 0835608379
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The great physicist Wolfgang Pauli (1900-58) was one of the founders of quantum theory. Carl Jung (1875-1961) was the groundbreaking psychologist who first articulated the theory of archetypes. Their influence upon one another is most notable in the theory of synchronicity, in which causally unconnected things reveal meaning to the seeking mind. Using the long and profound correspondence the two men exchanged for more than 20 years, Lindorff explores the connections they found between their disciplines. More than most physicists, Pauli was open to exploring mysticism, for he himself had many experiences that could be so labeled. This book's special strength is the exploration of the physicist's dreams, which he documented and shared with Jung over many years. Reading of them, we gain profound respect for the mind's ability to observe and comment upon itself through symbols. Jung plays a somewhat secondary role to Pauli in the book, but the physicist is such a complex, compelling personality that he more than fills center stage. Patricia Monaghan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

From the Publisher

In the year 2000, the Wolfgang Pauli Centennial was celebrated in Zürich at Pauli’s institute, known as the ETH (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule), the MIT of Switzerland. Lining the hall were photos and exhibits highlighting the major events and accomplishments of his fifty-eight years.

Who was this man who has been compared with Einstein?

The weeklong international conference was devoted to presentations on theoretical physics, the field in which Pauli had earned his stellar reputation. As the last speaker, I addressed Pauli’s interest in metaphysics and his association with the psychologist Carl Gustav Jung. To my surprise, the auditorium remained filled to capacity; I had underestimated the reach of his metaphysical thought.

A luncheon reception was held later in the Kronenhalle Restaurant, where Pauli had often dined. There his spirit came to life as "old timers" spontaneously shared their experiences with this mercurial figure. Some recalled his idiosyncratic behavior, while others described their encounters with the notorious "Pauli Effect," in which Pauli’s presence seemed mysteriously to affect the physical environment.

Although this gathering honored Pauli for his unique standing among the physicists of the twentieth century, my mind turned to Pauli’s philosophical outlook, which reached beyond the scope of traditional science. Among other concerns, he addressed the moral dilemma that physics faced in the aftermath of the development of the atomic bomb. But for Pauli this was symptomatic of a broader concern, that physics (and science in general) needed to expand its compass beyond the realm of rationally understood phenomena.

I was initially intrigued by Pauli’s early dreams, which Jung had published, and which are presented in chapter 2. When I learned that the dreamer was the renowned physicist, my curiosity deepened. And when I discovered that Pauli and Jung had been engaged in a correspondence for over two decades, I was hooked.

Although Jung was twenty-five years Pauli’s senior, the two men developed a profound relationship, based primarily on their mutual interest in the interaction of psyche and matter—Jung from the side of psychology, Pauli from the side of physics. Jung described this interaction as a synchronicity, a meaningful relationship between psyche and matter in which the archetypes are said to extend into the realm where psyche and matter interact. For Pauli it was the psychophysical problem, the need to merge physics with the psychology of the unconscious. Pauli recognized that the rationalistic perspective of physics had fostered a dangerous "will to power." If physics were opened to a consideration of psychic phenomena, he maintained, scientists would be exposed to a holistic vision with a humanistic dimension.

Inspired by his dreams, Pauli came to realize that matter and psyche have a common metaphysical foundation. Like a modern-day alchemist, Pauli believed that an awareness of the metaphysical connection between psyche and matter would enrich the scientific mind —with far-reaching consequences, not the least of which would be an encounter with the unconscious. The irrational realities in quantum physics, he maintained, would help make this accessible to consciousness. For Pauli, the parallel discoveries in physics and psychology early in the twentieth century were meaningful coincidences. In 1900, Planck’s discovery of the quantum showed that at the subatomic level, the rational physics of Newton no longer applied. Jung in turn discovered the collective unconscious, a psychic realm that functioned independently of the conscious mind. In both cases the rational law of causality was violated. This and other similarities offered tantalizing hints that matter and psyche were interrelated in a dimension of reality whose essence was the concern of Jung and Pauli alike, but from their very different fields of expertise.

Nobody viewed Wolfgang Pauli with ambivalence. Those who knew him best valued his unusual qualities; others resented his sharp tongue and harsh judgments. A few were able to distinguish the worldly Pauli from the "eternal" Pauli and perceive the whole man. This book is intended to reflect that wholeness.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 313 pages
  • Publisher: Quest Books (November 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0835608379
  • ISBN-13: 978-0835608374
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #862,718 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Wolfgang Pauli and Carl Jung were among a handful of geniuses who transformed the physical and psychological landscapes of the 20th century. Their thoughts about the nature of mind and matter, and the dark side of Western science's "will to power," are especially meaningful today given the material and psychosocial challenges of the 21st century.

I found especially interesting Pauli and Jung's interests in parapsychology and the mind-matter interface. When intellectual giants seriously entertain controversial topics that confuse lesser minds, I pay close attention.

Lindorff's recitals of Pauli's dreams, and Pauli and Jung's symbolic analysis of them, will probably not appeal to readers expecting ordinary biographies. But for those of us who are interested in rational, intuitive, and symbolic ways of knowing, this is a magnificent book.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a response by the author to a review of Dr. Rohrde, who apparently formed a judgement of my book without attempting to digest its contents. Pauli was a serious thinker who happened to believe in the collective unconscious. With Jung's help, he sought to understand his dreams, which he saw as opening his mind to the relationship between psyche and matter. Pauli saw this as having far reaching importance to him personally as well as to the future of scientific exploration.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a detailed, faithful chronicle of the correspondence between Wolfgang Pauli, father of quantum mechanics, and Carl Jung, father of modern psychology. The product of their correspondence is as profound as one could imagine. Thank you, Dr. Lindorff, for telling this story. I started reading it at a time when I was feeling overwhelmed and out of my element in my research. This book has helped me find enthusiasm and wonder for the scientific process again. This is a fascinating book, and well worth reading for those of us who ask fundamental questions about human perception and the universe around us.
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