I have long been perplexed by the various meanings of meaning in coincidences. A book published in 1923 (and still in press) called the Meaning of Meaning only heightened my curiosity. Meaning and its related words have many meanings. For example, mean can mean “average” or “nasty”.
For coincidences, I think I’ve figured it out.
Four different forms of meaning are embedded in meaningful coincidences:
- Emotional Charge: Coincidences usually provoke surprise, wonder, curiosity or interest. This emotional charge draws attention, imbuing meaning. Emotional charge creates a feeling of significance, meaningfulness.
- Parallel Content: Two or more elements of the coincidence have the same or similar meaning. They have a common meaning.
- Explanation: Coincidences usually trigger the question “what does this mean?” Sometimes this question indicates a search for how the coincidence happened, its cause or explanation.
- Use: The question “what does this mean” also indicates an attempt to understand the implications for the person’s future, its personal significance. The coincidence seems to imply something about a decision, whether to make it or not, a course of action or a new possibility.
Thanks to Roderick Main for his comments on the multiple levels of meaning (p. 223-4 in the Pauli-Jung Conjecture (2014).
The next blog, The Goddess of Wealth, illustrates these 4 meanings.