From cosmological models to the archetype of Four

Post 5 – “Towards an enantiodromic approach to the universe. Jung, Pauli,​ and beyond …”

Authored by Alain Negre

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The contemporary cosmological model is based on the idealized space of physics. The concepts of qualitative physics (emergence, attractor …) allow for the search for reflections of the archetype of the four.

Gravitational waves are tiny distortions of space-time that propagate at the speed of light. The signals below correspond to gravitational waves resulting from the two merging black holes represented in the post “Models of the universe as a whole”.

These tiny expansions and contractions of distances, of the order of a thousandth of the diameter of a proton (an attometer = 10-18 m), were successively observed by three detectors at 10 h 11 min 58.6 s UTC on January 4, 2017:

  • on the left in orange, by the one from Hanford in Washington state;
  • in the center in blue, three thousandths of a second later, by that of Livingston in Louisiana;
  • on the right in purple, six thousandths of a second later, by that of Cascina, near Pisa in Italy.

Please note, in grey, the signal template which is cross-correlated with the data. Without these wave patterns that comply with the predictions of general relativity, the signals could not have been extracted from the noise.

Physical signals and archetypal reflections

Thus, the detection of physical signals “embedded in noise” requires the use of templates or patterns that represent the expected waveforms. In science, this type of measurement must of course be supplemented by blind tests that do not make any assumptions about the signal; otherwise, this would tend to be a circular argument.

Likewise, the discernment of the reflections of the archetypal number in the cosmological narrative presupposes some idea of the various archetypal forms, symbols or images that could be drawn among the infinity of twists and turns of the story.

These reflections come from the unitary psychophysical world. They are, in a way, “embedded in the noise” of the cosmic unconscious, extended over all dimensions of time and space and in the smallest fluctuating folds of the “quantum foam”.

The works of Jung, Pauli, and von Franz

Invisible to the human eye, the reflections of the numbers refer to various traditional representations, such as that of the Pythagorean school, and – of course – to the works of Carl Gustav Jung, Wolfgang Pauli, and Marie-Louise von Franz.

At the end of Aïon [1], Jung engages in a fascinating interpretation of historical images of the archetype of the Self which is the “super-organizer archetype” of all archetypes. He comes to the diagram on page 259, shown below:

Emphasis is given to the Four and to the square which symbolizes the stability and permanence of the Self. But the Three also appears through a dynamic process of restoration and rejuvenation, which Jung describes with reference to alchemical symbolism.

Wolfgang Pauli, in his letter to Jung of February 27, 1952 [2], is struck by the interior symmetry between the large and small squares, which evokes, for him, an “automorphism”. This mathematical concept of group theory refers to a reflection of a system on itself. But it is also an element of his neutral language – neither physical nor psychic – for which he calls: Pauli wishes to construct a “background physics” in the sense of the birth of scientific concepts (cf. [2] in Post 2).

Thus, the Jung diagram exhibits a “qualitative automorphism” which is visible in the self-reproduction of the figure. There also appears the play of opposites and the complementary or compensatory transformations which characterize the self-regulating function of psychic life. The idea of ​​restoring an original state of wholeness that is continually being generated – the ouroboros – is also present, as in the zodiac, another particularly interesting symbol of the Self, which harmoniously interweaves the numbers 3 and 4.

The structure of the zodiac described by Dane Rudhyar

Beyond the contemporary negative connotation of astrology and its 12 signs, the structure of the zodiac perpetuates a very rich imaginative logic, beautifully described in the book “The Pulse of Life” by Dane Rudhyar. [3]

The author describes each zodiac sign as a specific combination of two interacting and interdependent forces, the day-force and the night-force. The zodiac is thus illustrated by the cycle of the seasons of the temperate zones of the northern hemisphere.

More than a simple cyclical process, Rudhyar emphasizes a spiraling evolution integrating:

  • in the first part of the cycle, a movement of involutive descent of a unitary spirit and of integrating and organizing forms. This is a phase of incarnation, of incorporation of an impulse, which can be compared to new hypotheses aiming to give precedence to the concept of information and designated by Wheeler under the slogan of “it from bit”, that is “existence from the bit”.
  • in the second part of the cycle, a two-way movement:
  • an evolutionary ascent towards a progressive refinement of material systems involving a process of differentiation. This ascent is reflected in the thermodynamics of irreversible processes which show the existence of phenomena of spontaneous self-organization, symmetry breakings, and evolutions towards ever more complexity and diversity.
  • a devolutive descent corresponding to the phase of degradation of matter, an irreversible phenomenon well described by the second law of thermodynamics.

Reflections of the archetype of Four

In all representations of the totality, the archetype of Four dominates. This number evokes the square which, along with the circle, the center, and the cross, is one of the four universal symbols. Below is a representation of the four goddesses of the Navaho pantheon, which expresses the Four as a recurring power from the One. 

Four Navaho primaeval goddesses: the one of the three is the fourth. [4]

The Four reflects a stabilization in the perfection of the actualized totality of the primordial unity of Being. It thus appears natural to initiate the exploration of cosmological reflections by this number.

Emergence and second law of thermodynamics

Cosmological events take place along a linear time axis graduated from
t = 0 to t = ¥. Among the myriad of events, four stand out by their character-evoking qualitative concepts of statistical physics.

First of all, two events are said to be “strongly emergent”.

In general, we speak of a phenomenon of emergence [5] when we find a level of organization on a higher scale presenting a certain novelty, or which cannot be predicted from rules that govern the underlying level.

Two “strongly emergent” events

We distinguish weak emergence (when we can explain using local rules of the lower level or reconstitute by numerical simulation) from strong emergence in that the latter resists an explanation in terms of interactions of components of a lower level. So we can perfectly explain the (weak) emergence of water from oxygen and hydrogen gases.

On the other hand, we do not know how to explain in a simple way the (strong) emergence of space-time out of the quantum vacuum, nor that of consciousness out of matter. The first so-called “strongly emerging” event is cosmic inflation which, at the age of 10-35 second, causes – in an exponential way – a fluctuation from the quantum vacuum toward our empirical universe.

The second similar event occurs at the age of 13.8 billion years. With the advent of Homo Sapiens, this is the exponential emergence of reflective consciousness. It is probably the first, or one of the first, appearances of a thinking species, given its location in relation to the time span of the stellar age which is most favorable for the emergence of complexity. 

Research has actually shown that the peak of the time interval probability of having host stars for living planets would only be attained in billions of years. These are expected to be stars of smaller mass than the Sun and will therefore have a lifespan of about a thousand times longer than the current age of the universe. [6]

Two “attractor-type” events

The other two events are said to be of the “attractor” type (simple attractor); that is to say they “attract” the universe either towards ever more degradation and increasing entropy or towards ever more complexity and increasing negentropy.

The first occurs during the decoupling of matter and light at the age of 380,000 years.

Why this attractor nature? Without decoupling, gravity would have been unable to clump matter into structures such as galaxies, stars, and planets. The universe would have remained indefinitely smooth. It would not have survived. Rather, it would have been “attracted” to “thermal death”, the zero degree of temperatures.

This is shown by the last scattering surface, a sphere centered around the earth, from which come the photons released during the decoupling between matter and light at the age of 380,000 years.

This vestige of the decoupling observed today in the cosmic background shows a tendency toward uniformity, that is to say toward maximum entropy in the past of the universe – hence the contradiction already noted above at the origin of Penrose’s conformal cyclic model. [7]

The second attractor-type event is common to the various possible destinies of the universe, in both types: the “thermal death” type, i.e. with infinite entropy, and that of “infinite negentropy” such as Frank Tipler’s speculative Omega Point hypothesis. [8]

A circular representation

By adopting a circular representation, we can join the two ends of linear time into a single point. This is a limit point where time is no longer defined, both when approaching Planck’s wall at the “beginning” and during the transition between shrinking and expanding, or even in the state of rarefaction of matter of a universe in indefinite expansion.

This attracting point thus resides at the border of two contraction / expansion phases of a closed universe, or at the border of two phases of Penrose’s conformal cyclic model in which the universe “loses track of how big it is at the transition between aeons”. 

“During those years, between 1918 and 1920, I began to                                         understand that the goal of psychic development is the self.                              There is no linear evolution; there is only a circumambulation of the                         self.” [9]

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[1] Carl Jung, Aion: Researches into the Phenomenology of the Self.  CW 9, Part II, 2nd ed., tr. R.F.C. Hull. Princeton NJ: University Press (1969) 

[2] Pauli to Jung, February 27, 1952, in C.A. Meier, ed., Atom and Archetype: The Pauli/ Jung Letters, 1932-1958, p.79, (Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001).

[3] Dane Rudhyar, The Pulse of Life (Boulder, CO: Shamballa, 1978). Available at

[4] Marie-Louise von Franz, On Divination and Synchronicity: The Psychology of Meaningful Chance, Toronto: Inner City Books, 1980, p. 93.

[5] Timothy O’Connor

[6] Abraham Loeb, “Relative Likelihood for Life as a Function of Cosmic Time”. Available at

[7] Roger Penrose, Cycles of Time: An Extraordinary New View of the Universe. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2011. 

[8] Frank Tipler, The Physics of Immortality, New-York, NY, Doubleday, 1994. 

[9] C.G. Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, (New York, NY: Pantheon Books, 1963), p.196.

William House
William is an earth scientist and writer with an interest in providing the science "backstory" for breaking environmental, earth science, and climate change news.