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Number as Archetype

Kurt GodelBy Robin Robertson


  • … Because human beings are capable of counting (“one, two, three…”), we imagine that is how numbers were arrived at.
  • … The story seems to demonstrate that a crow (or at least the crow in the story) has a sense of “one”, “two”, “three”, and “many”.
  • … In brief, one corresponds to a stage of non-differentiation; two—polarity or opposition; three—movement toward resolution, as expressed, e.g., in the Christian trinity.

Carl JUngThis paper has been adapted from the final chapter of Jungian Archetypes: Jung, Godel and the History of Archetypes, Nicolas-Hay, 1996, with the permission of Nicolas-Hay. Copyright Nicolas-Hay Publishers.

The sequence of natural numbers turns out to be unexpectedly more than a mere stringing together of identical units: it contains the whole of mathematics and everything yet to be discovered in this field. — Carl Jung[1]

It has turned out that (under the assumption that modern mathematics is consistent) the solution of certain arithmetical problems requires the use of assumptions essentially transcending arithmetic; i.e., the domain of the kind of elementary indisputable evidence that may be most fittingly compared with sense perception. — Kurt Godel[2]


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