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The extraordinary story of psychoanalyst Carl Jung and physicist Wolfgang Pauli and their struggle to quantify the unconscious.
In 1932, the groundbreaking physicist Wolfgang Pauli met the famous psychoanalyst Carl Jung. Pauli was fascinated by the inner reaches of his own psyche and not afraid to dabble in the occult, while Jung looked to science for answers to the psychological questions that tormented him. Their rich friendship led them, in Jung’s words, into “the no-man’s land between physics and the psychology of the unconscious . . . the most fascinating yet the darkest hunting ground of our times.” Both were obsessed with the far-reaching significance of the number “137”—a primal number that seemed to hint at the origins of the universe itself. Their quest to solve its enigma led them on a lifelong journey into the ancient secrets of alchemy, the work of Johannes Kepler, and the Chinese Book of Changes. This is the captivating story of an extraordinary and fruitful collaboration between two of the greatest thinkers of the twentieth century.
Miller (Einstein, Picasso), professor emeritus of history and philosophy of science at University College London, has written a difficult but rewarding account of the intersection of two great minds. Pauli and Jung, groundbreaking thinkers in physics and psychoanalysis respectively, had extensive interaction, beginning in 1932 when the deeply troubled Pauli went to Jung for treatment. The two men shared an interest in alchemy, astrology, the concept of synchronicity and a search for the single number they believed lay at the heart of the universe. Both were convinced a viable intersection of their two fields existed. Although Jung published analyses of hundreds of Pauli's dreams and the two coauthored a volume on nature and the psyche, Miller makes a weak case that those works significantly enriched physics or psychology. Miller spends more time with Pauli than Jung, and the complex mathematics of his physics leaves the reader a bit at sea. In the end, readers do gain insight into Pauli's personality, making Miller's tale illuminating on a human more than a scientific level. Illus. (Apr.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.