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Jung may have missed the mark in the details but the intuitive vision that he was trying to get at is correct and profoundly important. Numbers or more precisely the mathematical properties of numbers are the key to understanding the unity of psyche and matter. Jung thought numbers were discovered and thus similar to archetypes.
The mathematical properties of numbers are discovered and absolute and yet creative. At some point in time each of them may be discovered but at any point in time only an infinitesimal fragment of them can be known. These seemingly paradoxical properties come from mathematics' concern with the potentially infinite in a universe in which everything that exists is a particular finite experience. This is one clue to understanding the relationship between the particular and the infinite.
There are levels of understanding. Understanding the mechanisms of some process is sometimes though of as full or complete understanding. It takes little thought to recognize how mistaken this is. One can easily learn the rules (or mechanisms) of the game of chess. The limitations of this mechanistic level of understanding become obvious as soon as one plays an opponent with more experience. For understanding to be of practical value it almost always must go beyond mechanisms. It must predict elements of behavior without fully modeling the mechanistic evolution of a system. This is true even in something as combinatorially simple as a game of chess .
The archetypes have been built from an unfathomable history of experience. The details of those experiences are different but there are structural similarities that are universal enough to find their way into our genes . The generality that makes these experiences important enough to incorporate in our genetics makes it problematic to apply the experience to specific situations. To a large degree life is a process of refining archetypal material into ideas, intuitions, art and behavior that have value in our life and times. Jung saw medieval alchemy
as providing both a powerful metaphor for this process and as an intuitive and intellectual study of the process albeit one tinged in superstition[22,21,24]. Archetypal material related to sex, birth and family is among the most basic and direct. Even in this domain the refinement of archetypal material is far from straightforward as the immense problems we are having today in family structure confirm. Much of the difficulty is rooted in the contradictory and competitive nature of the archetypes.
The problem is not just to refine archetype images individually to golden nuggets of practical value. Their deepest values can only be realized through a union of contradictory claims,JungMysterium . Because of the immense time scale over which the archetypes developed they are inevitably concerned most fundamentally with the creative aspects of life. It is those aspects that have universal meaning and value . Creativity is ultimately incompatible with any single path of development. It can only be rooted in contradictory forces with no ultimate resolution but only provisional resolution s at a single point in a divergent evolutionary process .
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