Remo F. Roth

Dr. oec. publ., Ph.D.

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




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

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back to Chapter 1 (will follow)

2. Wolfgang Pauli's Fludd/flood Synchronicity and the Future Development of Psychophysical Research



2.1. The Fludd/flood synchronicity

2.2. Pauli’s interpretation of the pouring out of water

2.3. Wolfgang Pauli’s Kepler/Fludd essay of 1952

2.4. The meaning of the Fludd/flood synchronicity 

2.4.1 The necessity of the solution of the psycho-physical problem

2.4.2 Returning to the findings of the hermetic alchemist Robert Fludd on a higher scientific level

2.4.3 The solution of the problem of the psychokinetic Pauli effect by extending the synchronicity concept

2.4.4 The inclusion of the yang/yin bipolarity of the energetic principle

2.4.5 Summary

2. Wolfgang Pauli's Fludd/flood Synchronicity and the Future Development of Psychophysical Research


2.1. The Fludd/flood synchronicity

In December of the year 1947 Carl G. Jung wrote a letter to Wolfgang Pauli in which he asked him to be a scientific patron of a C.G. Jung Institute, planed to be founded by students of him. Pauli agreed with this proposal and wrote back:

"The way your research and alchemy coincide is to me serious evidence that what is developing is indicative of a close fusion of psychology with the scientific experience of the processes in the material physical world." [Meier, 2001, p. 32; emphasis mine]

Like Carl Jung, Wolfgang Pauli always thought that depth psychology is not a branch of humanistic, but of natural science. In a later letter he writes:

"I should like to point out that psychology always used to be counted as one of the humanistic sciences, but it was precisely C.G. Jung himself who emphasized the scientific nature of his ideas, and it was through his works that the way was paved for an integration of the psychology of the unconscious into the natural sciences." [Meier, 2001, p. 212]

Wolfgang Pauli's promise of becoming a scientific patron of the new institute was obviously guided by the desire that Jungian psychology should not only be an empirical science but also be integrated into the strong (mathematical) empiry of physics. But as I described in Wolfgang Pauli and Parapsychology (part 2), in 1953 - after a heavy battle with Marie-Louise von Franz - he relativated this "occupation" of depth psychology by physics and replaced it by the demand for a reunion of physics with parapsychology.

In the letter of 1947 Pauli also talks of a new project. He writes that his

"attention is focused strongly on the influence of archetypal concepts ... on scientific definitions"

and that he will demonstrate this with the dispute between Johannes Kepler and a hermetic alchemist of those days, Robert Fludd, which was

"the collision between the magic-alchemistic and the (new in the 17th century) scientific way of thinking".

Then he adds that this was

"a collision that I believe recurs on a higher level in the unconscious of modern man".

Pauli's occupation with this dispute between the alchemist and the co-founder of modern quantitative science began in 1940 and increased with a dream in 1946. In this dream he was confronted with the fact that he was accused of the "objectivation of rotation" [Meier, p. 30-2]. We will deal with this dream later, after we have understood what this term means in a symbolic language. Of course it reminds us immediately of one of Pauli's most important inventions, the spin.

In April 24, 1948 the foundation of the C.G. Jung institute took place. When Pauli entered the room, a so-called Pauli effect occurred. Without any outer cause a Chinese vase fell onto the floor and the water poured out, resulting in a flood. Symbolically seen, we can say that this psychokinetic event was a Chinese water flood.

On the other hand, we have seen that Pauli had begun to deal with the hermetic alchemist Robert Fludd, who wrote his name in Latin as Robertus de Fluctibus. Therefore, we can conclude that these two events belong to a synchronicity, the psychic (inner) event of it consisting in the tension in Pauli concerning the dispute between Johannes Kepler and Robert Fludd, the physical (outer) event in this strange psychokinetic anomaly, the Pauli effect of the overturned vase, resulting in a flood.

This synchronicity contains a great deal of meaning which will be treated in the following sections and interpreted in the subsequent chapters [partly published on the internet]. The first meaning is obvious: the similarity of the water flood of the overturned vase with the name of Robert Fludd. Therefore, we must find the common content of Fludd’s work and the symbol of a water flood. Symbolically seen we can say that the meaning of this flood is as follows: An archetypal conception which has a lot to do with "watery" and "being liquid", which was still living in Fludd’s hermetic alchemy, but repressed after Johannes Kepler, wishes to be integrated in the new Zeitgeist of the 21st century .

That this synchronicity has to do with the new age of the Aquarius shows the following detail: In a late letter, Carl Jung mentions that the astrological symbol of this new age is a man who pours water out of a vase...! Therefore, we can conclude that the Fludd/flood synchronicity could show us some new principles we have to introduce for the explanation of the highly strange and alien events of the near future, which we can neither understand with the help of modern science nor with depth psychology of the 20th century.  

According to Carl Jung we should find out the meaning of such a synchronicity to obtain new conscious knowledge about the constellated archetype and the preconscious knowledge behind it, which will tell us what the real intentions of the Self, the center of the collective unconscious are. Because this synchronicity happened at the founding ceremony of the new institute and it had been founded for scientific research and the training of Jungian psychotherapists, it is obvious that the synchronicity’s meaning has to do with future scientific challenges of the C.G. Jung Institute.



2.2. Pauli’s interpretation of the pouring out of water 

Before we go on with the interpretation of this synchronicity, we will ask ourselves how Pauli interpreted it. In a letter of June 16, 1948 he writes to Jung:

"When that amusing ‘Pauli effect’ of the overturned vase occurred, on the occasion of the founding of the Jung Institute, I had the immediate and vivid impression that I should ‘pour out water inside’ [‘innen Wasser ausgiessen’] (- to use the symbolic language that I have acquired from you). Then when the connection between psychology and physics took up a relatively large part of your talk, it became even more clear to me what I was to do. The outcome of all this is the enclosed essay." [emphasis mine]

The mentioned enclosure was an essay with the title Moderne Beispiele zur ‘Hintergrunds-physik’ (Modern Examples of ‘Background Physics’).

[My most recent research results (Aug 2006) about this subject see in Background Physics and the Psychophysical Reality]

In it Pauli deals with the fact of "the appearance of quantitative terms and concepts from physics in spontaneous fantasies [and dreams; RFR] in a qualitative and figurative - i.e., symbolic - sense", which began in 1935 or 1936. First they appeared shocking to his rational mind, as "an abuse of scientific terminology". But then he continues:

"Later, however, I came to recognize the objective nature of these dreams or fantasies ... Thus it was that I gradually came to acknowledge that such fantasies or dreams are neither meaningless nor purely arbitrary but rather convey a sort of ‘second meaning’ of the terms applied." [emphasis mine]

And he concludes, that

"the purely psychological interpretation only apprehends half of the matter. The other half is the revealing of the archetypal basis of the terms actually applied in modern physics. What the final [teleological; RFR] method of observation must see in the production of ‘background physics’ through the unconscious of modern man is a directing of objective toward a future description of nature that uniformly comprises physis and psyche, a form of description that at the moment we are experiencing only in a prescientific phase. To achieve such a uniform description of nature, it appears to be essential to have recourse to the archetypal background of the scientific terms and concepts." [emphasis mine]

As Pauli also writes, the beginning of such a reunion is the formulation of a so-called "neutral language" which comprises both sciences, physics and depth psychology.

These introductory words of the Background Physics show us, how Pauli interpreted the symbolic term "pouring out water inside": He allowed himself to quit the pure rational interpretation of physical terms and replace it by a symbolic understanding of them.

Later - in a letter to Marie-Louise von Franz from July 18, 1954 - he describes this project a bit more exactly: Neither the physical language - the first one - nor the psychological - the second one - is good enough. Therefore the unconscious speaks in a physical-symbolic language (a third one) which we must transform into a "neutral language", that can be understood by the rational consciousness. To my mind, finding this fourth, the neutral language, will be the challenge of the beginning 21st century.

We can summarize Pauli’s intention, derived from his psychokinetic Pauli effect at the foundation assembly of the C.G. Jung Institute, as follows: The symbolic term "pouring out water" means to open up the rational mind for the purpose of finding a neutral language which - with the help of quasi-physical terms - describes processes in a world behind or beyond physics and depth psychology, in a world that Pauli later defined as the "unified psychophysical reality".



2.3. Wolfgang Pauli’s Kepler/Fludd essay of 1952

When we look back to Pauli’s conscious reasons for writing the Background Physics, we see that his occupation with Robert Fludd, which increased with the dream about the "objectivation of the rotation", did not play an important role. Therefore, it seems that Pauli, in 1948, did not stress the fact enough that the flood of the Chinese vase had also to do with his occupation concerning the dispute between Johannes Kepler and Robert Fludd.

But we know that Pauli - two and a half years after this synchronicity - wrote (on Dec. 25, 1950) to Markus Fierz that he believes

"that I carry ‘Kepler’ as well as ‘Fludd’ in myself and that it is for me a necessity to arrive at a synthesis of this pair of opposites, as best I can" [Enz, 2002].

We know, too, that he went on dealing with this extreme tension at the beginning of the 17th century, where quantitative science began to supersede the archaistic-magic world view of the alchemy of the Middle Ages. The result was an article with the title Der Einfluss archetypischer Vorstellungen auf die Bildung naturwissenschaftlicher Theorien bei Kepler (The Influence of Archetypal Ideas on the Scientific Theories of Kepler [Pauli, 1994, pp. 219-79) which he published in the year 1952, together with Carl Jung’s article Synchronizität als ein Prinzip akausaler Zusammenhänge (Engl. transl. in CW 8) in the book Naturerklärung und Psyche (The Interpretation of Nature and Psyche) .

Today, in scientific circles this article is called the Kepler essay (Keplerstudie or Keplerartikel). But when we read it, we see that it has at least as much to do with Robert Fludd; if we include the appendices, we see that Wolfgang Pauli wrote 48 of the total 84 pages (pp. 147-194) about the latter and his alchemical philosophy.

Therefore we can conclude, that Pauli tried to find the above mentioned synthesis of Kepler and Fludd in himself in this article. If he succeeded or not we will see later on.


2.4. The meaning of the Fludd/flood synchronicity

2.4.1 The necessity of the solution of the psychophysical problem  

As we have seen, the reason why Pauli accepted to be a patron of the new institute, was his belief "that what is developing is indicative of a close fusion of psychology with the scientific experience of the processes in the material physical world". Moreover, some months later, in the foundation speech of Carl Jung "the connection between psychology and physics took up a relatively large part". Therefore a second meaning of the Fludd/flood synchronicity is the need of scientific research for the solution of the so-called psychophysical problem.

With the repression of the anima mundi, the world soul of medieval world view, which was the unifying ligament between matter and psyche, the problem arouse, that this connection was not defined anymore. For the explanation of this "missing link" Leibnitz and Spinoza invented the so called "psychophysical parallelity". In a disparaging manner Pauli called this idea "a mental nebula" ("ein geistiger Nebelfleck"). He argued that in a deterministic world it must be possible to explain this relation in a causal way, too, and by this the obscure parallelity would not be necessary anymore. But if we do not believe in a causal relationship it would be better to look for a synchronistic connection.



2.4.2 Returning to the findings of the Hermetic alchemist Robert Fludd on a higher scientific level 

In Robert Fludd’s hermetic alchemy the world soul, the anima mundi, was still the vinculum amoris (ligament of love) of matter and spirit. Thus, we can already conclude that a third meaning of Pauli’s synchronicity is the challenge of going back behind Kepler to Robert Fludd with the goal of finding a new synthesis of the divine male principle with the female.

This task will culminate in the reunion of the quantitative description of nature - which began with Kepler (and before him with Galileo Galilei) - with the qualitative-symbolic of Robert Fludd. Of course, today, this can only be done with the help of an inclusion of the results of modern science, especially of quantum physics and depth psychology, and it has nothing to do with a regression into the pre-scientific world of New Age philosophy.

As we will see, this can, in my opinion, be done only with a new theory which is a reunion of quantum physical theory and depth psychological experience, and which also includes the explanation of parapsychological facts, such as telepathy and psychokinesis. Furthermore, this reunion should take place in the background of the unified psychophysical reality (the unus mundus), Wolfgang Pauli and Carl Jung looked for but could not yet describe in a scientific language.


2.4.3 The solution of the problem of the psychokinetic Pauli effect by extending the synchronicity concept

The vase fell to the floor without any external cause when Pauli entered the room. Therefore we must conclude that at the beginning of the foundation ceremony of the C.G. Jung Institute a so-called Pauli effect happened.

As many of his colleagues confirmed, Pauli was surrounded by a mysterious aura which seemed to belong to strange psychokinetic events in his surrounding. For example, when he entered the laboratory of his colleague Otto Stern in Hamburg, many times the physical experiments broke down and the apparatus exploded [Enz, 2002]. In February 1950, when he was at Princeton, the cyclotron burnt, and he felt that this mischief belonged to such an effect, named after him. Markus Fierz, his colleague who had a very intimate knowledge of him, explained, that Pauli himself believed in this psychokinetic effect. Pauli told him

"that he senses the mischief already before as a disagreeable tension, and when the anticipated misfortune then actually hits - another one! - he feels strangely liberated and lightened." [Enz, 2002]

When we include this fact into the context of the Fludd/flood synchronicity, it will show us a fourth meaning: Future research should also deal with this psychokinetic aspect of physical anomalies.

This aspect is especially important as it concerns the principle of synchronicity, defined by Carl Jung. He and, especially, his student and my teacher Marie-Louise von Franz, stressed continuously, that the connection between the two events of synchronicity is one of meaning - which means also one of psychic energy - and cannot be one of physical energy exchange, because with such an assumption we would regress into the world of magic causality: We argue causally (cause and effect) but do not know any causal laws concerning this process. But the Pauli effect must have something to do with both energies, because it is obvious that in it psychic energy is transformed into physical. Therefore the fourth meaning of the Fludd/flood synchronicity contains the idea that the concept of Jung’s synchronicity itself should be extended.


2.4.4 The inclusion of the yang/yin bipolarity of the energetic principle

The vase which fell to the floor was Chinese. We know that Pauli dealt intensely with Taoism, where the union of the two energetic principles of yin and yang in the moment of the Tao plays an extremely important role. The fifth meaning of the Fludd/flood synchronicity is therefore the inclusion of energy’s yang/yin bipolarity into a new scientific view of life.



2.4.5 Summary 

When we summarize the above meaning of Wolfgang Pauli’s Fludd/flood synchronicity we obtain the following results: 

The C.G. Jung Institute, founded in 1948, would have had the challenge of scientific research with regard to the topic of the union of modern physics with depth psychology Wolfgang Pauli and Carl Jung looked for.

The content of this research should be an extended view of synchronicity, which - on the bases of symbolically extended quantum physical concepts - includes telepathy and psychokinesis as well. The hypothesis of the unified psychophysical reality should be the background for the explanation of these phenomena as well as a new scientific interpretation of the energy principle as a "fluid" or "watery" yang/yin bipolarity.


Enz, Charles, P., No Time to be Brief, A scientific biography of Wolfgang Pauli, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2002

Jung, C.G., Collected Works, vol. 8, Princeton University Press, 1969

Jung, C.G., Pauli, W., Naturerklärung und Psyche, Rascher Verlag, Zürich, 1952

Jung, C.G., Pauli, W., The Interpretation of Nature and Psyche, Bollingen Series LI, Pantheon Books, N.Y., 1955

Meier, C.A., (ed.), Atom and Archetype, The Pauli/Jung Letters 1932-1958, Princeton University Press, New Jersey, 2001

Pauli, Wolfgang, Wissenschaftlicher Briefwechsel mit Bohr, Einstein, Heisenberg, u.a, ed. Karl v. Meyenn, vol. 2, Springer, Berlin, 1985

Pauli, Wolfgang, Wissenschaftlicher Briefwechsel mit Bohr, Einstein, Heisenberg, u.a, ed. Karl v. Meyenn, vol. 3, Springer, Berlin, 1993

Pauli, Wolfgang, Writings on Physics and Philosophy, ed. Charles P. Enz and Karl von Meyenn, Springer, Berlin, 1994

Pauli, Wolfgang, Wissenschaftlicher Briefwechsel mit Bohr, Einstein, Heisenberg, u.a, ed. Karl v. Meyenn, vol. 4/I, Springer, Berlin, 1996

Pauli, Wolfgang, Wissenschaftlicher Briefwechsel mit Bohr, Einstein, Heisenberg, u.a, ed. Karl v. Meyenn, vol. 4/II, Springer, Berlin, 1999

Pauli, Wolfgang, Wissenschaftlicher Briefwechsel mit Bohr, Einstein, Heisenberg, u.a, ed. Karl v. Meyenn, vol. 4/III, Springer, Berlin, 2001

proofread GJS, Aug. 2003

Chapter 3, part 1

See also further articles about Wolfgang Pauli in

See also Wikipedia article Psychophysisches Problem