The Archetype of the Number and its Reflections in Contemporary Cosmology

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Through the reflection of the archetypal number, detected as “rhythmic configurations of energy” in the history of the universe, author Alain Negre reveals unprecedented links between certain events in this story and raises the questions of their use in theoretical physics as an aid in interpreting and in suggesting new avenues of research.

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Mathematics is built from the natural integers 1, 2, 3, etc. Numbers are fundamental ordering elements and possess qualitative aspects that are widely present in many traditions such as the Pythagorean or the I Ching. During the building process of mathematical construction, these factors—which physicist Wolfgang Pauli called “primary possibilities” of the unconscious—abandon their symbolic meaningful charge to become quantitative mathematical numbers. Since then, although quantity and significance have been deployed in independent fields of knowledge, qualitative unconscious halos of the numbers have not disappeared so far. Pauli met them in his quest towards the famous “exclusion principle.”

They might seep into the scientific discourse that has reached the limits of its method, which sees the observer “coming in through the back door,” as an integral part of the phenomenon “whole universe” modeled by contemporary cosmology. Through the reflection of the archetypal number, detected as “rhythmic configurations of energy” in the history of the universe, author Alain Negre reveals unprecedented links between certain events in this story and raises the questions of their use in theoretical physics as an aid in interpreting and in suggesting new avenues of research.

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1 review for The Archetype of the Number and its Reflections in Contemporary Cosmology

  1. Rated 5 out of 5

    Michael A. Sherbon

    Alain Negre sent us a pre-publication copy to review, he describes a numerical and metaphorical version of cosmic history through the archetypes that unify matter and psyche. This version of history is reviewed in the context of the Pauli-Jung letters that make an effort to interpret the archetypal experience. Beginning with Carl Jung, “An archetypal content expresses itself, first and foremost, in metaphors.” (C.G. Jung, CW 9,1 267 and cited by Victor Mansfield in “Modern Cosmology as Metaphor and the Double Nature of Soul,” Spring: A Journal of Archetypes and Culture Fall and Winter, 1999, pp. 83-100).

    Alain defines “Numbers as fundamental dynamic ordering patterns. Three as the coincidence of opposites. Four, ordering scheme par excellence, and archetypal foundation of the human psyche.” The number four, as Jung’s associate Marie-Louise von Franz says, “… always points to a totality and to a total conscious orientation, while the number three points to a dynamic flow of action. You could also say that three is a creative flow and four is the clear result of the flow when it becomes still, visible and ordered.” (M.-L. von Franz, Creation Myths (Boston, MA: Shambala, 1995, 254).

    Also, Alain notes that “Wolfgang Pauli well recognizes in Kepler a certain archetypal approach to astrology as an inspiring science of symbolic forms, …” (p.62). “Thus, the remarkable zodiacal language, based on the harmonious arrangement of the ternary and quaternary, is a model of formalization that can be used as a frame of reference in the contemporary scientific description of the universe.” (p.108). Alain “raises the questions of their use in theoretical physics as an aid in interpreting and in suggesting new avenues of research.” It could also be seen that the related symbolic and mythical properties of modern cosmology are an additional aid in laying the groundwork for explaining how the ancient archetypes in divination systems work and can be understood as helpful in a variety of practical ways. In particular, Alain draws on the transpersonal astrological and philosophical work of Dane Rudhyar.

    Alain aptly affirms, “As a vast web of potential interconnectedness, the zodiac offers the sciences a new light on old scientific problems. Its symbolic power can push them beyond phenomena, initiate new possibilities to grasp the very limits of mathematical formalization, and regain what had been eliminated in the classical conception of intelligibility: the return of the subject, the observer’s consciousness, and the subjective and spiritual world of meaning.” (p.109). An example of this is Pauli’s “background physics” described by Alain as “a promising breakthrough of a new way to scientifically describe and clarify these hypothetical regulatory mechanisms.” (p.143). Jung tried to exemplify the subject-object connection in his description of synchronicity as an “acausal ordering principle.”

    Alain has reasonably “shown that the narrative of the history of the universe, such as it has been interpreted from the laws of modern physics, affords glimpses of archetypal qualities of the first four integers.” (p.159). “The path opened by Carl Gustav Jung and Wolfgang Ernest Pauli, especially in their rediscovery of a ‘neutral’ language of numbers, allows for the connecting of many areas. These number-archetypes underlie both the psyche and matter, reflecting a unitary psychophysical reality. They enrich the understanding of mathematics as an expression of symmetry and unifying power, allowing for recognition at the same level of dignity of both sides of reality constituted by the physical and the mental, the quantitative and the qualitative.” (p.161) In his article on “Science and Western Thought” in Wolfgang Pauli: Writings on Philosophy and Physics Pauli asks the question, “Shall we be able to realize, on a higher plane, alchemy’s old dream of psychophysical unity, by the creation of a unified conceptual foundation for the scientific comprehension of the physical as well as the psychical?”

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