This post about coincidence has been inspired by two occurrences that happened a month apart.
On 19 April, DD, in
On 19 May, one of the partners in my firm, a Czech, called to ask me for an explanation of the saying “The die is cast.” At about the same time, an anonymous commenter posted on DD’s blog “Alea iacta est.” I looked it up the next day to find that it means “The die is cast,” which words were attributed to Julius Caesar (by Suetonius) upon his decision to cross the Rubicon with his army intact. Again, it seemed like a weird coincidence.
So I started thinking about coincidence. At first my question was whether there is such a thing as coincidence. I googled: the first link took me to a website that showed me how to fold an American $20 bill to see the
In reality, the most astonishingly incredible coincidence imaginable would be the complete absence of all coincidences. -- mathematician John Allen Paulos.
But then I realised a question of more fundamental importance is how do we define coincidence. We cannot discuss whether something exists or not if we do not know what we are looking for. It is the lawyer in me: define your terms.
The dictionary on my desk says: “the chance occurrence at the same time or place of two or more events that appear to be related or similar.” But while semantically accurate, the definition does not convey the deeper meaning that the word has attached to it. In addition, too many explanations of “coincidence” focus on finding a parking spot or something else that hollow, which to me is not the same as DD and Richard using the same biblical quote within a day of each other.
More research led me to the term “synchronicity” which was coined by Carl Jung to describe “meaningful coincidence”. According to Jung, synchronicity has occurred when “no causal connection can be demonstrated between two events, but where a meaningful relationship nevertheless exists between them.”
My question has now become “Does ‘synchronicity’ really exist?”
More research to follow.