Definition (reminder).

Synchronicity is a concept developed by Jung (1875-1961) to account for the simultaneous appearance of a psychic state and an event, with no causal links between them, but which can make sense to the person experiencing them. We call it “signifying (and subjective) acausal coincidence”.

Two sources are cited: the philosopher Schopenhauer (1788-1860), who spoke of “simultaneity without causal link, which we call chance”1 and “significant simultaneity” (an equivalent of “signifying coincidence”), and the zoologist Kammerer (1880-1926), who invented the “law of series” – this law of seriality complementing the laws of causality and finality2.

In Jungian theories, synchronicity has remained a hypothesis, sometimes equated with magic, since cases of synchronicity can also fall into the realms of parapsychology (telepathy, telesthesia, clairvoyance) or divination (I Ching, premonitory dreams, for example).

Today’s psychiatry denies this theory, and even considers it a pathological symptom to watch for possible messages, denouncing these “delusions of interpretation”.

What we can think, scientifically

The scientific hypothesis of the unus mundus (“One World”)

Jung borrowed this term from Schopenhauer, defining an intermediate universe (which he called psychoid), where psychic and physical energies are unified. This is a state where neither matter nor psyche are distinguishable. In the words of physicist Olivier Costa de Beauregard (1911-2007), we have an “infrapsychism coextensive with the four-dimensional world of Einstein-Minkowski”3. The physicist Pauli (1900-1958) – Nobel Prize winner in 1945 – subscribed to Jung’s hypotheses (with whom he drew a diagram combining physics and psyche) and showed how scientific representations (Kepler, Einstein…), arise from spontaneous inner images.

The unus mundus hypothesis can also be used to explain, for example, psychosomatic phenomena or, directly, somatization following psychic pathologies (Michel Cazenave).

Current epistemologists, sometimes on the bangs of official physics, are reinterpreting quantum physics to make room for the psyche and the mind (for example, Tom Atham & Emmanuel Ransford: Les racines physiques de l’esprit. Le mystère des quanta et la conscience/”Physical Roots of the Spirit. The mystery of quanta and consciousness”, éd. Quintessence, 2009).

The misuse of statistics

By definition, the probability of an unlikely event occurring is low. On the other hand, out of a very large number of statistically improbable events, it is highly probable that one will occur. Put another way, the occurrence of acausal coincidences, reduced to the infinity of all possible occurrences of this kind, cannot therefore constitute any kind of scientific proof.

The “birthday paradox” illustrates this misuse of statistics: how many people do you need to bring together to have a 50/50 chance that two people in this group will have their birthday on the same day (born on the same day of 365, but not in the same year)? You only need to gather 23 people, and with 57 people the probability is over 99%. This statistical reality is counter-intuitive, but real nonetheless. Seeing it as a sign is delusional.

Metaphysical considerations

The quest for meaning

In a desacralized (or secularized or secularized) world, nonsense (or Sartrean absurdity, or Nietzschean death of God, or Russian nihilism, etc.) offends people who go on a “quest for meaning”, for example to a certain Westernized (in)Buddhism, or to various “paths” of “personal development”, or even to sects. Cases of synchronicity, which everyone experiences (you think of someone, they phone), are an opportunity to make the probabilistic error mentioned above and to perceive signs (meaning) behind chance events, to the point of thinking about opening up new spiritual paths. In literature, we see “writers” jumping on the bandwagon (Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, for example).

Metaphysical simultaneity

Everything that exists in the relative (hic et nunc) is essentially found, beyond time and space, within an eternal (or instantaneous) absolute, and is therefore in some way simultaneous4. So, before the existence of the world: space and time, there is no time. The act of creation is not at the beginning of time, it includes the creation of time, it is at its principle5. If we are capable of at least imagining the Absolute, essential simultaneity becomes self-evident, and can form the basis for all kinds of relative simultaneities.

The unique source of theological “spirit matter”

In Christian theology, the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo is very precise: creation is productio rei ex nihilo sui et subjecti. All production is therefore ex nihilo sui, meaning that the form produced did not exist beforehand, but also ex nihilo subjecti, meaning that there was no pre-existing matter from which and in which the form would have been produced by God. Creation ex nihilo therefore means a contrario that God is the sole Cause, both formal and substantial, of what exists.

This unique Source has enabled several authors to survive (intellectually) the irreducible Cartesian body-soul dualism (now outdated): Malebranche thanks to a permanent divine intervention, Leibniz through a pre-established harmony, and Spinoza with a pantheistic solution.

In any case, “traditional knowledge” does not separate body and mind, but sees them as polarized by a common origin: substantial and essential, and does not indicate that one comes out of the other, as in Edelman’s The Biology of Consciousness (Odile Jacob, 1992) or in an empirical idealism à la Berkeley (1685-1753), where matter is merely an abstraction, and only minds and perceived ideas exist.

The sole source of meaning

Philosophical thinking shows that meaning can’t be generated. The cognitive act as such is that “by which a known object unites itself directly with a knowing subject, in a kind of reciprocal transparency that is the very experience of the intelligible”6. As Simone Weil has clearly shown, “intelligence, in its act of intellection, is perfectly free, and no authority, no will, even our own, has power over it: we cannot force ourselves to understand what we do not understand”.

This means that, before “searching for meaning”, we need to recognize that there is meaning, and that this meaning is given to us (we can think here of Platonic knowledge through recollection). In Christian parlance, we speak of the “Light that enlightens every man coming into this world” (John 1:9). So the first step towards knowledge is necessarily one of absolute humility, which will govern the rest. Without renouncing one’s own supposed light (and, in particular, the artificial enlightment of the eponymous Age), one pursues chimeras, and pride builds only “ignorant knowledge”7.

Conclusion (provisional)

As we can see, the question of synchronicity – whether it’s a question of explaining quantum physics or premonitory dreams – refers back to a critique of knowledge. In other words, we believe that scientific epistemology itself needs a philosophical epistemology (or critique of knowledge), a metaphysics (and therefore an ontology, which it lacks)8.


  1. Parerga und Paralipoména (1850).[]
  2. This theory was developed, in a way, by Rupert Sheldrake (1942) with the concept of “morphic resonance” or “morphogenetic fields” : For example, what one lab teaches to rats, the rats in another lab on the other side of the world, with no link between them, know.[]
  3. It was he who proposed the principle of retrograde causality to explain quantum physics[]
  4. I tried to “account for” this in Initiation à la métaphysique. Les trois songes (“Introduction to metaphysics. The three dreams”), Paris: l’Harmattan, 2008, Preface by Michel Cazenave; “Tu sors de l’espace-temps”(“You step out of space-time”), pp. 27-31 and commentary pp. 53-54.[]
  5. As in the formula in principio erat Verbum (Gospel of John, Prologue), sometimes mistranslated as “in the beginning was the Word”, instead of “in the principle” or equivalent.[]
  6. Jean Borella, Lumières de la théologie mystique, L’Âge d’homme, 2002, p. 124.[]
  7. Even if it is, of course, quite nice to know how to send a man to the moon or to have a refrigerator. But, this is when science (knowledge) becomes technoscience (practical applications).[]
  8. See Wolfgang Smith, Physics, a science in quest of an ontology (Philos-Sophia Initiative Foundation, 2023.[]