Negre considers the possibility that modern cosmological theory underwrites a unity of mind and matter.
The tendency of modern science has been disciplinary self-isolation. Questions of religion and culture—and any talk about the human soul—have been relegated to the realm of the irrational or the poetic. In his debut English-language book, the author proposes a unification of the three—a kind of spiritually infused science that seeks to recombine matter and mind into a psychophysical unity. He interrogates the psychology of Jung and the physics of Wolfgang Ernest Pauli in order to find a basis for that unity. The two research scientists, despite their often disparate approaches, corresponded often, and their intellectual collaboration culminated in a joint book, The Interpretation of Nature and the Psyche. At the heart of their examination is number—while contemporary physics depends heavily on mathematics, it narrowly conceives of number as merely quantitative. This is a departure from ancient philosophical traditions that interpreted number as qualitatively significant as well and the fundamental organizing element of reality. Along these lines, Pauli discusses number as the “primary probability” and Jung as the “most primitive element of order in the human mind.” Negre explores their thoughts to find a way in which the numerical structure of the universe is symbolically represented within the zodiac and functions like a collective unconscious, a source of projections that shape people’s common conception of the cosmos, including at the level of scientific theory. The author’s scholarly expertise is redoubtable—he leaps self-assuredly from discussions of Proclus to Heraclitus to Hegel. In addition, he rightfully brings attention to a philosophical friendship that has been unjustly neglected. But the study won’t function as a prefatory introduction for the uninitiated, despite its brevity—Negre’s insistence on employing the murkiest of academic jargon limits the book’s accessibility. Furthermore, the prose is elusive even for those familiar with the material, needlessly dense and serpentine: “Numbers also arouse unconscious resonances. Their ineradicable primitive fundamental quality of ordering can re-emerge only through the re-connection that is reconstituted in the interpretation of the theory or model.”
A captivating scholarly analysis hampered by uneven prose.