C.G. Jung and the Significance of the Tao
A Presentation by Laurence Browne, Ph.D
Thursday May 4, 2017 7.30-9.30
he Quaker House, 10 Hampson Street
Kelvin Grove (park on Prospect Terrace)
Members and Concession: $10, Non-members $15
“The Tao grows out of the Individual.” (C.G.Jung CW13:80 , 1929)
When Jung’s close associate C. A. Meier was asked once whether he thought Jung was Taoist, Meier replied, “Yes, he was Taoist, and today people don’t realise that his psychology of opposites is virtually the same as Taoism.”1 Indeed, it is highly unlikely that Jung would have been able to develop the idea of synchronicity with such clarity and conviction without his familiarity and affinity with the tao-based correlative thinking of the Chinese.
It is interesting to speculate as to what form, if any, Jung’s exposition of synchronicity might have taken without his exploration of the tao. Perhaps it would have been very much wound up with ESP and quantum physics in combination with his theory of archetypes, with much less of the quintessentially Chinese way of understanding coincidences that Jung so enthusiastically endorses in his foreword to Richard Wilhelm’s translation of the I Ching.
While Chinese thought may not be theoretically necessary for a coherent articulation of synchronicity, its inclusion opens the door to an extremely rich philosophical tradition: one that has no need to refer or defer to the latest findings in psychology or physics to make sense of coincidences. Some of this philosophical tradition will be explored in this presentation, as well as the possibility that the tao itself represents something rather more than simply an interesting Chinese philosophical principle.
1. Rosen, D. 1996, The Tao of Jung: the way of integrity, New York, Arkana, p. xxi.
Laurence Browne, who in 2014 was awarded a PhD in Philosophy by the University of Queensland, lives in Brisbane with his wife and younger daughter. He enjoys travelling and writing, and is currently putting the finishing touches on his forthcoming book, The Many Faces of Coincidence, due for release by Imprint Academic of Exeter, U.K., in August 2017.