Author Topic: Dr. Hyslop excerpt on Survival of Personality  (Read 36 times)

Frater V.I.M.

Dr. Hyslop excerpt on Survival of Personality
« on: April 12, 2018, 09:15:10 am »
Here's a particularly interesting excerpt from Dr. James Hyslop's Life After Death: Problems of the Future Life and Its Nature (1918). It's from chapter V, "Modern and Scientific Doctrine." It's a rather long excerpt . . . but totally worth it if you have the time. I figured folks here would find this extract interesting/informative. Here ya go:



If a psychic researcher tells you that materialism is the only theory that can be maintained by science, the philosopher may rise and say that he does not believe that science supports materialism and perhaps that he does not believe in materialism as having any foundation whatever in its support. But he usually evades the question of the survival of personality. He has no missionary zeal for immortality and stigmatizes psychic research as unnecessary for the defense of survival. He may ridicule the psychic researcher for saying a word of apology for materialism or for admitting that materialism has any strength or support whatever. Indeed many a philosopher will speak in confident tones that materialism has long since been refuted and abandoned and perhaps sneer at you for being ignorant of the history of philosophy and scientific opinion generally.

But this type of mind is easily reduced to silence. It knows where its bread is buttered and that, if it boldly advocated materialism or recognized its strength it would not be wanted in a philosophic chair where the interests of religious faith have to be defended, or at least not antagonized. He can conjure up a meaning of the term which he can deny and save himself the danger of friction with those in authority. The fact is the term “materialism” does service for two totally different conceptions and unless this is recognized, the philosopher will have things all his own way. These two conceptions define or determine two distinct types of materialism. They may be called naive and philosophical materialism. In the controversies of the past no such division has been adopted. Indeed the parties opposing materialism did not dare admit the two types, as it would embarrass them in the concealment of their views on immortality, about which they did not wish to say anything and which they did not dare oppose. They might permit the public to infer what they did not admit or believe, and they wanted to escape any defensive word for the theory.

Now it was naive materialism that the philosopher has always denied. He either did not deny philosophic materialism, or he evaded a confession of belief in it for the same reasons that led him to deny the naive form of it. Naive materialism is based upon sensation and the ideas which most men have when forming their ideas of things from it. It is closely related to one form of Realism, presentative Realism as distinct from the hypothetical. Presentative or naive Realism supposes that the external world is exactly as it appears in sensation. It asserts that we see things as they are and does not think that we get our knowledge of reality from inferences or by some internal faculty which is above sense. It takes the world as it is revealed in sense perception. It is directly opposed to what is called Idealism which is supposed to deny the criterial nature of sensation in the judgments of reality and an external world. That is, Realism and Idealism are the two opposing theories regarding the nature of reality. Idealism is most closely associated with intellectual and non-sensory processes in the judgments of reality while Realism is more closely associated with sensation and sensory processes in those judgments. Realism assumes that the material world is rightly known in sensation and Idealism that it is rightly known only by intellectual and non-sensory processes. The opposition between them is quite radical.

Philosophic materialism, however, is not based upon sensation or any conception of reality dependent on sensation. It is as much based upon the intellectual processes as Idealism. In all its history it has eschewed sensation and sensory criteria for reality. The atoms of both the ancient and modern philosophers were supersensible, quite as supersensible as spirit. In that respect philosophic materialism is at one with Idealism and always has been. It would be as distinctly opposed to naive Realism as any form of Idealism.

The fact is that there are two pairs of antitheses here whose definition may clear up the confusion. One is the opposition between Materialism and Spiritualism and the other is that between Realism and Idealism. The first pair are metaphysical theories about the nature of reality; the second pair are epistemological theories about the source of our knowledge of reality. This distinction will mean that a Realist may be either a materialist or a spiritualist, and an idealist in the theory of knowledge may be either a materialist or a spiritualist in metaphysics. But there is no necessary antagonism between philosophical materialism and Idealism as usually held. It is only when a man equivocates with the term Idealism, especially the historical and accepted meaning of the term, that he can find any opposition between it and philosophic materialism.

It was the result of Kant’s reflections that this confusion arose. Kant recognized that it was Materialism and Spiritualism that were opposed to each other. But as his arguments about immortality resulted in an agnostic conclusion, the term Spiritualism was dropped as an unsustainable theory, and the meaning of the term Materialism was changed over to the sensational conception of the situation and Idealism opposed to it. Kant does not talk about Realism. He says little about Materialism other than that it is the correct antithesis to Spiritualism, while his adoption of Idealism and his silence about Realism leaves him with a tacit alteration of the term “materialism” in subsequent thought for an antithesis to Idealism, and that consecrated the naive sensory conception of it as the one which could easily be denied, while the philosopher could remain agnostic or silent on the question of immortality. In the antithesis between Materialism and Spiritualism, if you deny Materialism, you must affirm Spiritualism and with it survival. If you deny Spiritualism and with it immortality you must affirm Materialism.

In the antithesis between Realism and Idealism, the assertion of one denies the other. But considering that naive materialism or Realism and philosophical materialism are not convertible, the denial of naive materialism does not imply the truth of Spiritualism. Nor does it imply the falsity of philosophical materialism. The two theories may be as strictly opposed to each other as the other two antitheses. But it is the interest of the philosopher to deny “materialism” in order to escape the accusation of denying survival, and so he hits upon that conception of it which will save him the necessity of argument on the latter issue and he can leave the plebs to infer what they please. It is philosophical materialism to which psychic research is opposed and whose strength it frankly concedes, from the standpoint of normal experience, and all scientific results in that field. It may also oppose naive materialism, but not because it fears its denial of immortality, but simply because it is idealistic in its theory of knowledge. The denial of sensational or naive materialism affirms Idealism, but it does not affirm Spiritualism. But the defender of Idealism is quite willing to have the plebs believe that it does affirm it, so that he may escape the duty to give further evidence. It is not naive materialism that the psychic researcher apologizes for, or defends from the standpoint of normal experience, but philosophical materialism and the philosopher who evades this issue is either ignorant of his calling or he is deliberately equivocating.

Nor does the philosopher who opposes materialism, when ignoring or ridiculing psychic research, gain anything by saying that he does so because materialism cannot explain consciousness. He knows that, if he admits consciousness to be a function of the organism, he gains nothing by denying naive materialism, and so he conjures up some way to say that materialism has never reduced consciousness to any equivalent in physical phenomena. He denies the application of the conservation of energy to mental phenomena. He denies the causal nexus, the material causal nexus, between physical and mental phenomena. He asserts with great confidence that physiology, biology, and other sciences have not reduced and cannot reduce consciousness or mental phenomena to any physical equivalent. He expects by this either to prove the existence of soul or to enable him to evade the issue. He never seems to discover that, if you did so reduce it, you would absolutely prove the spiritualistic theory. He does not see that his own position does not carry survival with it and that he only paves the way for skepticism and agnosticism, which he thinks he has refuted by denying the success of reducing mental to physical phenomena. To make them interconvertible would be to make them identical in terms of the conservation of energy and that would be to make mental phenomena always existent, at least as parallel with physical or as continuous with it. That would be a conclusion which he either opposes or denies where it would be his interest to affirm it.

Now it must be emphasized that philosophical materialism does not depend on proving a nexus of the same kind between physical and mental phenomena. It does not depend on affirming that it can reduce mental phenomena to physical ones. Its problem is not primarily an explanatory one in that sense of the term. It is not “explaining” consciousness in terms of its antecedents. It is concerned with evidence for a fact; namely, the dependence of consciousness on the organism for its existence, not for its nature. The philosophical materialist may not know any more about the nature of consciousness than the opponent of materialism. He is not trying to “explain” consciousness in terms of antecedents or equivalents. He is occupied with an evidential problem. What he contends for is that all the evidence is for the fact that it is a function of the brain, whether he can tell how this is possible or not. It is not how it depends on the brain, but the fact of it that concerns him, and he maintains that all the facts and evidence of normal experience favors that view, and he will abide his time in determining how this is possible.

The man who asserts that we have not reduced consciousness to its physical equivalent is only equivocating or indulging in subterfuges, if he supposes that this has anything to do with the main question, which is a question of fact, not of understanding. The modern question is an evidential one, and less an explanatory problem. “Explanation” has various forms and we cannot pick out one of them, after the analogy of the conservation of energy, and neglect others. It is this equivocal import of the term that has led to the emphasis of evidential problems, or at least encouraged it. In any case, science is primarily interested in the evidence for the genuineness of facts and explanation is secondary in importance. It does not seek how anything takes place until it proves that it does occur. The first problem of philosophical materialism is the evidence that consciousness is so associated with the organism as to create a presumption or proof that it is a function of that organism, and once that is established evidentially, it awaits refutation. It does not require to understand all the mysteries of mind before defending its thesis as a fact. Its maxim is not, “How can I understand the relation of consciousness to the brain?” but “What is it as a fact.” It relies upon a simple set of facts to support its claims. It finds that consciousness is always associated with physical structure and organism and that, when this structure disappears, all evidence in normal life that a particular individual consciousness still exists disappears with it. Barring the consideration of psychic phenomena there is no escape from its contention. You may think and say all you please about the failure to “explain” consciousness. That is not its task or at least not its first task.

Evidence is the first duty of every sane intellectual effort and all philosophic speculations about the nature of consciousness have passed into the limbo of the imagination and illusion. Science has come to dictate terms to philosophy in that respect. It demands that any hope of a surviving consciousness must base itself on facts which prove that the standard of philosophic materialism is not final in its conclusions. It is right in insisting on the correctness of its method, and this is the uniformity of coexistence and sequence as determinative of what hypothesis shall be entertained in regard to the relation of consciousness and the organism. If you wish to refute philosophical materialism you must isolate an individual consciousness and have evidence that it can act independently of the organism with which it had normally been associated. This is the method of difference or isolation as distinct from that of agreement or association.

All that philosophical materialism can do is to ignore supernormal phenomena—or disprove them—and concentrate the emphasis upon the normal facts of experience which show the association of consciousness with the organism and the absence of normal evidence of its continuity when that association is interrupted by death. It thus conforms to the maxim that regulates all convictions in normal life about everyday affairs, and if it cannot employ the method of difference, or isolation, there is no appeal from its verdict. But psychic research comes in with the proposal to apply the method of collecting facts which prove that this consciousness has continued in existence in a state of dissociation from the physical organism. These facts attest or favor the hypothesis that we get into some form of communication with discarnate consciousness, and while that communication is not the object of the research, it is a part of the conclusion from the facts which can be proved to be indubitably supernormal. But the main point is that philosophical materialism can be challenged only from the point of view of evidence, not from that of explanation.

This evidence consists summarily in supernormal information that constitutes facts in support of the personal identity of the dead. It may require more or less to establish this fact, but it is the type of fact that I am defining here. The necessity of doing this is that we no longer take the medieval point of view that the existence of soul guarantees the survival of personal identity. Instances of secondary personality among the living, or even ordinary amnesia in normal life, tend to raise the question whether a soul might not survive and yet not retain any memory of its personal identity. The theosophist who accepts reincarnation defends this point of view universally. Hence it is important to ascertain whether the same stream of consciousness with its terrestrial memories survives as determining the only practical interest which anyone can have regarding immortality or survival.

It is to this issue that psychic research is devoted, and it challenges philosophical materialism, not in regard to any contention about the nature of either the soul or consciousness, but in regard to the fact of supernormal knowledge and survival. It does not dispute the fact that the evidence in normal life is predominantly for materialism. It only contests its sufficiency. Naive materialism it can ignore, as that is either harmless or has to be transformed into the philosophic type before it can have any interest for intelligent men. That is only a convenient foil to one’s cowardice, ignorance, or hypocrisy. It is the basis of ethical materialism which does not dispute survival, though it may dispute the ideals that are supposed to determine salvation in any world whatever, material or spiritual. It is philosophic materialism that constitutes the enemy of spiritualism, and science has so fully determined the method of solving all problems of fact that it demands and must have the evidential problem solved first.

I have said that circumstances make this problem one of personal identity, not the nature or the dignity of consciousness. That personal identity can be proved only by the most trivial facts. It is not to be proved by learned revelations or fine literature, either really or apparently coming from a transcendental world, but by trivial memories of the discarnate. The case is like evidence in a civil court. It is not a man’s style in literary productions that are invoked to prove a crime, but his boot tracks or some mark on his body. The more trivial and exceptional the fact, the better the evidence. It is the same in the proof of survival. We must have the most trivial facts in a man’s memory to prove his personal identity, and they must either not coincide with similar facts in the lives of others or they must articulate with a large number of incidents in the life of the individual so that the collective mass of them cannot be duplicated in the life of any other person.

The problem, then, is not the nature of matter nor the nature of consciousness. We may assume consciousness to be anything, if we desire. While we can hardly conceive it to be a mode of motion, we are too ignorant of its nature to deny that possibility, as we cannot conceive such motion in matter as is assumed in the undulatory and corpuscular theories of light, heat and electrical phenomena, though the evidence points to its being a fact. Any attempt to prove a spiritual interpretation of life by appeals to the nature of consciousness is doomed to failure, not because we know that consciousness is something distinct from physical phenomena, but because we have no means of proving that distinction beyond the most superficial appearances. There is no doubt that consciousness does not appear to be a mode of motion and that it does appear to be very different from it, but the naive mind cannot see superficially that sound is a mere mode of motion and this is still more true of light, heat and electricity.

In science we are constantly forced to go beyond appearances and are as constantly in the supersensible world for determining the nature of phenomena and seek for the explanation of them. For all that we know consciousness may be one of the “occult” physical forces, so that we have to seek the solution of our problem independently of all theories about the nature of it. The problem has become wholly one of its connections, and not of its nature. It is evidential, not explanatory primarily in terms of its antecedents. What we know in normal experience is that consciousness is always associated with physical organism and when that physical organism perishes, we lack the evidence in normal experience of its survival or existence independently of the body. The evidence proves connections of a uniform kind and if consciousness is not a function of the body with which it is connected there must be evidence of its dissociation and continued existence, or we must stand by the agnostic doctrine that we do not know, or accept the materialistic hypothesis as the only one on which there is any positive scientific evidence.

The materialism that is based upon sensation and the view that the nature of reality is represented in that sensory phenomenon is totally irrelevant to this issue. In all science and philosophy we transcend sense perception as the criterion of reality, though it is necessarily an intermediary in the determination of it. Hence philosophical materialism may hold good even when sensory materialism is denied, and that is the position under consideration. Philosophical materialism is based upon the connections of consciousness regardless both of its nature and of the theory that sensory experience is the measure of reality. The issue has gone far beyond the problems of the nature of anything and rests upon the scientific demand for concrete evidence of a fact. Any phenomena that are provably supernormal and representative of the personal identity of the dead will justify the hypothesis of survival of an individual consciousness, and it is not concerned with any explanations of how it is possible, but merely with the question whether the facts do not prove the fact of continuance after death. That is, one set of facts is construed as evidence of another fact whether we know its nature or not. For instance, we have evidence that evolution is a fact, though we do not base the admission on any knowledge of the nature of matter.

Again we have evidence as to the shape of the moon, though we have never seen one-half of it. The evidence is for a fact, not for a theory of the nature of that fact. Hence the first step in the present problem is to estimate the evidence for survival as a fact, and we may then enter into speculations as to how it is possible. We can study the nature of a thing only after we admit it to be a fact. It might even be true that survival is the essential feature of the nature of consciousness and that this survival might not be involved in or implied by any other characteristic of it. Hence the first thing to do is always to prove the fact and then we may discuss metaphysical questions.

Now scientific materialism is based upon the proved connections of consciousness, not upon theories of the constitution of matter nor upon theories of the sensible or supersensible nature of reality. It is not concerned with any metaphysical theories of matter or of anything else. It simply asks for evidence of facts. Does consciousness depend on material organism for its existence or does it not? What facts have you to prove that it can exist independently of the organism? If we know it only in connection with that organism and have no evidence for its existence in dissociation from that organism, we must at least remain silent in assertion. The materialist will have the first right of way so far as the evidence goes. The idealist cannot, and in fact does not, contend that he has evidence for survival. He only lingers in the limbo of an extinct metaphysics for a faith in survival, not for evidence. Philosophical materialism still survives after sensational materialism has been abandoned.

Now the evidence for the fact of survival is abundant enough, whether you regard it as scientifically proved or not. For the present writer it is scientifically proved by such abundance of evidence for personal identity that he does not deem it necessary even to enter into a summary of it here. Readers must go to the original records and discussions for this evidence. We have here to consider only the difficulties and objections in accepting that evidence as conclusive. There are just three of these to notice. They are (1) what we mean by spirit, (2) the theory of cosmic consciousness, and (3) the place of telepathy or mind reading in the problem.

I take it that one of the difficulties with the spiritistic hypothesis is the conception which many people have of “spirit.” The intelligent scientific man and the philosophers ought to have no difficulty with this matter. Unfortunately both classes are as involved in illusions about it as the layman. Or if they are not under illusion about it, they are accusable of intellectual dishonesty about it. They may take either horn of this dilemma that they please. The psychic researcher, where he has any scientific knowledge at all, is not fooled regarding what may be called the nature of spirit. He simply regards it as a stream of consciousness with its earthly memories intact and he may not speculate as to how it may subsist. He simply claims evidence for the fact of its continuity and leaves open all questions as to its ground or basis.

Most people form their ideas of spirits by the pictures of them which artists, newspapers, and periodicals make of them, or from the pictographic representations which their own imaginations make of such things. There is no adequate thinking of them as causal agents supersensible to their apparent effects on the mind. They think of them in terms of their sensory experiences, precisely as they do in all philosophic matters. It is easier to talk about them in terms of sensory pictures than to recognize the facts. Art, poetry, literature, magazine pictures, stories of apparitions, theosophic representations; that is, sensory thinking and the needs of communications with each other about them, make men imagine that spirits necessarily have the forms with which they are represented, either in the symbolism of the various arts or in the representations of supernormal experiences. Besides these, many alleged communications, and in fact genuine communications about them, represent them in bodily form. The doctrine of the “spiritual body,” the “astral body,” or the “ethereal organism,” represents them as having quasi-material form, and it is quite natural for minds, which are not accustomed to think in terms of supersensible or transcendental causes, to think of them as merely realities like physical ones, except that they do not appear to normal sense perception. All this may actually be true, so far as the present writer is concerned. He is not stating the common conception to refute it or to ridicule it, but merely to show that it is the common conception, and then to point out that it does not say the last word in regard to what the causal reality actually is. No doubt the appearance of “spirits” in apparitions and in the representations of communications about them encourages ordinary belief in their quasi-material reality and form. But art, imagination and popular pictures add to this until it is almost impossible to make the public see the limitations under which any such ideas can be maintained.

Philosophers who abandon sensation and sensory experience as the criterion of the nature of reality, physical or otherwise, ought not to have any difficulties with the problem. They are always telling us that “spirit” is not sensible in form; that it is not physical in appearance; that it does not occupy space; and in every way eschewing the sensible representations of it. But when they wish to accuse the psychic researcher of folly, they attack the common mind for its conceptions and do not take the trouble to educate or redeem it from its naive ways of thinking. It suffices for them to employ the antithesis between matter and mind, an antithesis which they may have pushed beyond its legitimate limits, and thus to disqualify the pictorial representations of spirit without making their own clear or tenable. They may be dealt with separately here. We are at present concerned with the common tendency to conceive spirits as they are pictured in the imagination.

Now the present writer makes no such representation of them. He simply conceives “spirit” as a stream of consciousness, or as a group of mental states with a memory. Or if this sounds too much like a so-called phenomenal definition of it, he will say that “spirit” is that which thinks, feels, and wills apart from the physical organism. This definition does not assert or imply the existence of such a thing, but only says that it will be this when found, and the evidence of psychic research sustains the fact that it does exist.

The evidence that it is something is found in the facts which show that the stream of consciousness can exist independently of the organism. It is not necessary to decide what a spirit is in terms of comparison with something else as a condition of admitting its existence. All that we require is to know that the evidence points to the continuity of a particular personal stream and its memory apart from the organism and then we may leave to further investigation the determination of its place in the scheme of reality. We may make it some fine form of matter, if we like, as even the Epicurean materialists admitted, or we may make it some form of “ether” or supersensible reality that does not have the properties of matter. The physicists of the last century had no difficulty in sup posing something of this kind in their system of imponderable “fluids.” Their ether and corpuscles of to-day only repeat the same general ideas in other terms. They assume a whole system of supersensible realities which are as far from the perception of the senses as any Cartesian “spirit.”

It is only the habit of conceiving “spirit” as the negation of matter that has created the real or apparent difficulty with the problem. But physical science has made us so familiar with imponderable “fluids,” with ether hypotheses, with inconceivably small corpuscles, with ions and electrons and the like, that there can be no difficulty in imagining something of the kind to explain the attachments of personal consciousness as a function or activity of it. But all these metaphysical hypotheses are not necessary in the scientific problem. We may concede that consciousness may attach to any of the philosophical postulates, and limit ourselves to the accumulation of the evidence that it can exist as a fact independently of the organism. We therefore adopt no other conception of it for our first step in the solution of the problem than the idea that personality is a stream of consciousness, a group of mental states having a memory and center of interest. This does not require us to picture it in the form of an astral or spiritual body, even though there may be such a thing as the condition of that consciousness existing now and hereafter.

This method of approach to the problem simply analyzes it into separate issues. If you may like, one of them is the phenomenal and the other the metaphenomenal or noumenal problem. The first is the scientific and the latter is the metaphysical question. We may or may not regard the latter as either legitimate or soluble. One school of men, those devoted to what is called empirical science, will say that the nature of anything is an insoluble problem and it is not necessary to dispute the issue with them. The other school may feel that it is entirely possible to get an answer to their question, but we do not find it necessary either to affirm or deny this possibility. It is certain that the phenomenal question must first be settled before the metaphysical one can be taken up, if science is to have any word in the solution of it.

In the present age science and its investigation of facts raise the standard of evidence in all problems, and it has to be satisfied before the speculative mind has any rights. The phenomenal problem is simply that which endeavors to ascertain facts that require us to suppose that consciousness is not a function of the physical organism. We have shown that, as long as we know consciousness only in association with the body and as long as we have no evidence for its continued existence after the dissolution of the body, we at least have no evidence for the fact of survival, whatever we may believe about its possibility. To affirm it with any degree of confidence as a fact, not merely as a possibility, requires us to produce facts which necessarily imply that continuity. Science has pressed its claims and evidential problems so far that a pious belief is no longer sufficient to decide the issue even as a working hypothesis. The belief lives on only as an emotional hope, a will to act on its possibility whether we have any assurance, even the slightest, or not. But minds in that condition cannot argue the case with any success. They can only go off into solitude and assert it without proof or evidence. But if we can obtain facts such as veridical apparitions or mediumistic communications that are indubitable evidence of supernormal knowledge and of discarnate personality, we may challenge the dogmatism of materialism with its insistence on an hypothesis which it never proved, though it had the evidence of normal experience in its support.

What we do is to insist that “spirit” is, or at least implies, the existence of an independent stream of consciousness which we shall not picture to ourselves as a quasi-material form, even though we ultimately find such a thing to be a fact. We subscribe to the philosophical conception which always finds that naive sense conceptions are not the final standards of reality.

The phenomena in psychic research which reinforce this view are those of apparitions and the pictographic phenomena in mediumistic communications. These latter offer the solution of all the perplexities in apparitions. The one thing that invited ridicule in apparitions was the existence of “spirit clothes” and allied phenomena, such as the cigar manufactories, the whiskey sodas, and brick houses of Sir Oliver Lodge’s son. The same phenomena or conceptions are reported ad nauseam in the literature of Spiritualism and have always given the scientific man and the philosopher pause when asked if he believed in such things. But the pictographic process in the phenomena of mediumship is the clue out of this perplexity. It shows, as we shall indicate later, that thoughts in the transcendental or spiritual world, in the process of transmission, become phantasms or hallucinations representing quasi-material things, or apparently physical things. The first temptation is to interpret them from the standpoint of naive sense perception and so take them just as they appear to be; that is, to represent “spirit” as a reality exactly like matter in all but its ponderability.

But the examination of them shows indubitably that, whatever the thought may be, its representative in the mind of the living percipient is a phantasm, not a material reality, and that once admitted, we have a clear explanation of apparitions and all quasi-material realities within the domain of psychic experiences. This requires us to think of “spirit” as we would of a physical object which becomes visible only by luminous vibrations which are neither visible themselves nor similar to the object, if the ordinary philosophical and scientific theories be assumed as correct. We abstract from the appearance and interpret it in the light of causality, not of identity with the phantasmal representation. We can postpone or defer the causal theories until we have more knowledge. We simply have the evidence that the conscious and personal stream of mental states exist still. How they may exist is a secondary question.

I may now take up the second difficulty which seems to harass some minds. It is the cosmic reservoir theory, sometimes also expressed as that of the cosmic consciousness or anima mundi. Professor James used the former expression and a number of other people the latter form. The conception which Professor James used evaded all questions of personality in the cosmic basis for explaining mediumistic phenomena purporting to be communications from the dead. The other expression is but a subterfuge for the idea of God. Professor James had picked his idea up from some irresponsible thinkers like Thompson Jay Hudson and a few French writers, and it meant that our mental experiences are impressed or deposited on the cosmic ether or physical Absolute and that mediums are lucky enough to tap that reservoir at the appropriate point to obtain the memories of the right person and read them off as you would the symbols of a phonograph plate.

Now Professor James had no evidence whatever for the existence of any such cosmic reservoir. It was pure imagination, an irresponsible invention without defense or apology for itself, and then relied on analogies which do not apply to the problem. You cannot invent hypotheses in this or any other field. They must first be shown to be facts in normal life and phenomena before we can appeal to them for explaining these new phenomena, and Professor James produced no reason or facts for assuming such a theory. Grant the existence of it, what evidence had he or anyone else for the assumption or assertion that our thoughts were impressed on it? If they were impressed, how could a medium read off the impressions? The analogy of the phonograph record does not hold, and neither does any other physical record of the kind. We have first to agree on the symbolic nature of such a record to make it intelligible to ourselves, much more to others. We might conceive thought or mental states making impressions on sensitive plates, but how could anyone else read them when we cannot transmit thoughts to those who understand our own language? We can only transmit mechanical effects and not thoughts. We have to interpret mechanical effects which have first to be agreed upon as symbolical of certain mental effects or sensations. Professor James is thus in an a priori wilderness of impenetrable density and complexity, with all sorts of assumptions and analogies without evidence and without intelligibility. There was no scientific excuse whatever for advancing such an hypothesis. It only fools the groundlings and does not deceive intelligent scientific men.

On the other hand, if thoughts are deposited in the ether or in the cosmic reservoir and are directly legible by mediumistic minds, why this selectiveness to stimulate or impersonate the discarnate? Why does not the mind of the medium represent an inextricable confusion of myriads of thoughts deposited from all sorts of people and superposed upon deposits of whole generations of human beings? Had Professor James no sense of humor on this point? Could credulity stretch itself farther? It is the finite selectiveness of the facts which you have to explain, especially when that is accompanied by phonetic confusions just as we would expect them in any spiritistic efforts to transmit thoughts through an organism having phonetic difficulties like the phonograph. You cannot look at the facts in the most superficial way without seeing the inherent absurdity of such a theory, and it would never have had a moment’s consideration, even by laymen, if it had not been for the popularity of Professor James.

Moreover we may go farther. If our thoughts and memories are thus deposited in the cosmic reservoir, so that they can be seen and read by the medium in the selective way that must be assumed to account for them even approximately, what is the difference between that and “spirits?” Any continued existence of my memories in that reservoir is tantamount to my personal identity. That conception must imply or involve my present existence in that reservoir. My present thoughts are mere centers of activity in that reservoir and I have no objection to that view of them. As latent impressions in that deposit reviving them is only a manifestation of memory such as I have now in my thoughts. You cannot set up a reservoir after death without assuming that it is here before it and I either have no evidence for the foreign deposit of my thoughts in that reservoir or I am the same part of it now. This latter view includes my survival as easily as it does my present existence. The same thought will appear in the examination of the second form of the hypothesis and I need not elaborate it further now.

But the critic might say that the thoughts are not impressed upon this etheric or cosmic plate as thoughts, but merely as mechanical signs of them and that they are interpreted by the medium. But I have already answered that conception of the case by demanding that we produce evidence that consciousness produces any such mechanical effects anywhere, even on the brain. That evidence has to be produced before the hypothesis can be advanced to explain supernormal knowledge. The theory of Professor James would dispense with telepathy of any and all sorts. There is no use to suppose that a medium or anyone else is reading a living mind in any instance, but only that he or she is reading the plate in the cosmic reservoir! You explain everything or nothing by such an hypothesis, and I am sure that science will demand some sort of evidence that consciousness produces such impressions on a cosmic receptacle before it will permit its application in the way assumed by Professor James and others.

The hypothesis of cosmic consciousness as a supposed rival of the spiritistic theory is amusing. It differs from the cosmic reservoir theory only in the implication of personal as distinct from impersonal reality as the background of things. It is either identical with one form of the spiritistic theory or it has no relation to it whatever. Dr. Hodgson held the theory of cosmic consciousness and definitely asserted that he preferred to say “spirits” as a more intelligible form of expression for what was expressible in terms of a pantheistic view. This is easily proved. The cosmic reservoir theory has to depend on mechanical impressions on the ether or cosmic receptacle and has its plausibility in the assumption that the deposit is not a mental state while the perception of this impression by the psychic restores the original datum to existence in the mind of the percipient. It was laden with improbabilities and impossibilities, but the cosmic consciousness theory starts with the idea that the Absolute is conscious or is consciousness, and then supposes that our thoughts and memories are deposited in it and tapped by the medium’s mind.

But the deposit of any thought or memory other than its own in the cosmic consciousness either repeats the cosmic reservoir theory with telepathy assumed between the individual and the cosmic mind or it implies that our present mental states are a part of the cosmic consciousness. Either view assumes that we are now an expression of that Absolute; that our personality now is a spark of it and to think of it as perishing is impossible. The memory of our present states would be the same thing as continued existence, because that is all we are now. The monistic theory must make our personality a stream in the cosmic mind and that secures the possibility of its continuance. All that we require is to ascertain the facts which show that existence in it and the persistence of it in the memories of the cosmic mind as deposited in it by our being a part of it, a stream of it, now. It is absurd to suppose that a theory of cosmic consciousness establishes any a priori argument against survival. The pantheistic theory must inevitably imply that survival.

The whole difficulty at this point was caused by misunderstanding the philosophy of Spinoza. He denied the “personality” of God and the personal immortality of the soul. So far he would seem to be clearly opposed to survival of personality. Bat you cannot interpret his denials rightly without taking account of his affirmations. He also affirmed that the rational part of man was immortal and that thought or consciousness was an essential attribute of God. Why then did he deny his personality and personal immortality? The answer to this is very simple.

Early Christianity accepted the Pauline doctrine of the spiritual body. It at the same time set up some sort of antithesis between matter and mind. It supposed that matter did not have any of the properties of mind and that mind had none of the properties of matter. But it did not remain entirely consistent with this. Its doctrine of a spiritual body implied that the spirit occupied space and as long as space was not regarded as a property of matter, it would not discover any inconsistency. But its dualism developed into a radical and absolute antithesis in the philosophy of Descartes. This philosopher maintained that mind and matter had no common attributes whatever. The essential attributes of matter were extension and motion, but without consciousness. The essential attribute of mind was consciousness without either extension or motion. They had no resemblances to each other in any respect whatever. It thus deprived personality of any spatial quality. It could not hold to the doctrine of the spiritual body because that occupied space. As the popular doctrine of personality or a person implied that the mind or soul occupied space, Spinoza, when he adopted the philosophy of Descartes and transformed it from dualism into monism, had to deny the survival of “personality” because he had to deny that it was a spatial datum; namely, he had to deny the doctrine of the spiritual body as held by St. Paul and his followers. In denying “personal” immortality he was only denying the survival of a spatial reality. He was not denying the survival of the stream of consciousness. If he had assumed what some of the philosophers assumed; namely, that “personality” was a stream of consciousness, he would have affirmed personal survival. He actually affirmed the survival of the rational part of man and this rational part was the stream of mental states which were not spatial. It was only a question of terms and of the way we should conceive or represent the soul. His conception of God can be treated in the same way. In denying his “personality” which was conceived as a “spiritual body” and so human in form he was trying to eliminate the anthropomorphic conception of the divine. Though he admitted that God occupied space and had consciousness as an essential attribute, he denied his personality only as anthropomorphically conceived while that conception of personality represented in mental states was attributed to him as distinctly and emphatically as any theistic theory. Again it is only a question of terms and their definition. Now he is said to have said that at death we are absorbed in the Absolute or God just as a drop of water is in the ocean. This simile has been taken as showing how our personality is lost or annihilated. We live a life of individuality and then are absorbed or lost in the infinite. But those who refer to this as indicating how we may be destroyed are only hugging an illusion, and if Spinoza used the analogy he was deceiving himself as well as others; for according to his own philosophy such an annihilation was impossible. It was the spatial form that was absorbed, not necessarily the mental stream. If he wanted to contend for personal annihilation, he should have more distinctly defined his fundamental conceptions or given up the survival of the rational part of man. The analogy of the drop of water is exceedingly illusory. If the drop of water be an indivisible unit, it is not lost in the ocean or the Absolute. It retains its individuality, just as the atoms do in physics and chemistry, or the ions and electrons, assuming that they take the place of the ultimateness of the atoms. A drop of water cannot be lost in the ocean, any more than a shot can be lost in a quart of them, if it have the individuality of a shot.

But the fact is that a drop of water is a divisible and collective whole. When it is put into the ocean, it may divide and there is no discoverable line of demarcation between it and the surrounding environment. If it be indivisible, it may not be distinguishable from its environment by perception, but it will preserve its individuality, just as a drop of oil will do in water. There is no objection to this closer spatial relation of a drop of water thrown into the ocean than when apart from it, as an analogy for survival. That is, I should no more object to survival on that analogy than on the one that talks so glibly about separateness and “individuality.” For individuality is not so much spatial separation as it is indivisibility, even though it is perfectly continuous with its environment. Moreover, if a drop of water be divisible it will not actually divide without interference from external agency. It might be put into the ocean and forever remain as it was, if no disturbance from the surrounding water or other external force acted on it. So we may press the case from either of two points of view.

If we press the analogy between mind and a drop of water we have two conceptions of it. First assume that the drop of water is divisible; that is, complex. It might be absorbed in the ocean and divided into its parts and so lose the individuality that it had as a whole. But this depends absolutely on the existence of an interfering force outside itself. It has no internal tendencies to dissolution. With Spinoza’s God as consciousness he would have to show that this external force has any will to destroy either its creations, if that be the description of the facts, or the mental streams which are a part of its functional action. On the other hand, if the drop of water be an integer and indivisible, even the outside force would not divide it, but it would preserve its existence. Apply both suppositions to the soul. If complex, its destruction depends on the will or action of the Absolute. If simple and indivisible, it comes under the head of the indestructibility of substance or God which Spinoza taught. Hence the analogy is exceedingly deceptive.

But this incident of the drop of water does not represent the real position of Spinoza philosophically. It was because of his verbal denial of immortality and the “personality” of God that so much opprobrium attached to Pantheism. Prior to his time Pantheism lived on friendly terms, or at least often did so, with Theism, and only the phraseology of Spinoza led the church finally to oppose Pantheism. But I know no better position to absolutely prove personal immortality, as we define it. In modern thought personality is not conceived as a spatial datum, but as a connected series of mental events with a memory, and on the pantheistic doctrine we are now a stream in the consciousness of God and there can be no escape from survival, unless we abandon the conservation of energy and make the whole cosmic order dependent upon the whims of the Absolute. On the supposition that the Absolute or cosmic consciousness may destroy us at will, the whole question of survival will depend on matters of fact; that is, on evidence: not on metaphysical theories about the indestructibility of either substance or energy. That is the view already taken in the analysis of the problem.

On the other hand, if we accept the pantheistic theory or that of cosmic consciousness as eternal, we have no escape even in the metaphysics of the case from personal survival, as we are now simply a stream of functional activity in that Absolute. The hypothesis of a cosmic consciousness would prove survival instead of disprove it. It is only the doctrine of a spiritual body that it may question, while that of personality as a stream or connected series of mental states with a memory would secure its persistence without any violence whatever to theories of cosmic consciousness, and in fact would be implied by them.

There is the next objection to the spiritistic theory. It is telepathy. I do not regard it as a relevant objection, but because it has a popular acceptance as such, it has to be considered. I shall not discuss it at length, as I must refer readers to the elaborate discussions of it which I have given in many other places. It would take up too much space here to treat it exhaustively. But I may call attention to some things not elaborated before. They are historical considerations.

In the first place scientific men outside of psychic researchers do not admit the existence of telepathy as an explanatory hypothesis. It is used almost exclusively by laymen who are either afraid of it or do not know what it means. It is universally employed to-day as other hypotheses were used in the last generation and abandoned as men were laughed out of court for using them. Pick up any book written for or against Spiritualism during the last fifty years and you are likely to find all sorts of abandoned hypotheses defended in them. Many writers conceived the rival theories as Mesmerism and Spiritualism, or Hypnotism and Spiritualism. Many talked about animal Magnetism as the explanation of the facts. Many resorted to Odylic force. Many explained the phenomena by electricity, usually referring to table tipping and physical phenomena. Some said “psychic force.” But all of them avoided “spirits” as setting up the “supernatural,” and thought that any irrelevant term would serve to eradicate the simplest and most rational explanation of the facts, though it is true enough that physical phenomena alone are not evidence of spiritual realities or even explicable by them until associated with intelligence. But the mental phenomena were not explicable by Mesmerism, Hypnotism, Odylic force, animal magnetism, or even by “psychic force,” unless the definition of it involved “spirit” as it would have to do, if you gave it any intelligible meaning whatever. But all these theories have gone the way of illusion, and no intelligent man would to-day be caught defending them. They never had any real scientific recognition. They were only popular evasions. But telepathy has taken their place and the public throws that in your face, with all the assurance that it had in Mesmerism, electricity and other absurd explanations. You cannot reply to it satisfactorily because those who use it have not scientific intelligence enough to discuss it rationally. It is but a word which is supposed to exclude “spirits” because we find some facts that are not primary evidence of their existence. It is just a shibboleth like all the other ill-advised coinages of terms without explanatory meaning. There is no danger that any really scientific man is going to be deceived by the term. I shall only summarize the points which make it wholly irrelevant to the problem.

1. Telepathy is only a name for facts still to be explained. It is not explanatory of anything whatever. It is but a name for mental coincidences between two living persons that are not due to chance coincidence or normal sense perception and that are not evidence of discarnate spirits. This definition of it begs no questions as to either the directness or indirectness of the connection between minds. It states what we know, all that we know and only what we know. The process for explaining the facts is still to be found.

The conception of it as merely naming the facts prevents it from being logically or scientifically used as a rival theory of phenomena illustrating the personal identity of the dead. Those who apply it so, must show what the process is that is involved and also first settle whether that process is a direct or indirect one.

2. Assuming that telepathy is explanatory and direct between living people, the only evidence for it is based upon present active mental states of the agent and percipient That is A’s present mental state is transferred to B. A is the agent and B the percipient. But that hypothesis will not explain all the facts on record. Many of the supernormal incidents are not present active states of A, the sitter in mediumistic phenomena, so that any use of the term telepathy must extend it to include what A is not thinking of at all. There is no scientific evidence whatever that A’s subconscious is tapped. It may be so, but it lacks scientific evidence in its behalf, and until it has this, the hypothesis of telepathy, even in this extended form has no scientific right of application.

3. Again assuming that telepathy can tap the subliminal, many of the facts obtained in mediumistic experiments were never known by the sitter and could not be secured from his subliminal. You would have to extend your telepathy to include tapping the memories of any living person not consciously connected or aware of the work going on at a distance. There is not one iota of scientific evidence for such an hypothesis. It is not any more reasonable than the supposition that the memories and thoughts of all living people, including those who have died prior to the present living generation, though their lives coincided partly with those of the living and partly with a past generation, extending into the indefinite past, are transmitted to the subconscious minds of all other living people and can thus be picked out by the telepathic psychic. Indeed you do not need telepathy on the part of the medium at all in such a case. She is supposedly the repository of all living thoughts and of all the thoughts of the dead, so that she has only to pick out the right incidents to impersonate the discarnate. That is far simpler than your selective telepathy as it applies it to every thought of living people and makes the selection depend on the mind of the medium working on other minds. But I venture to think that no one is audacious enough to seriously consider such an hypothesis, and the selective telepathy of credulous laymen is no better than that. But you will have to assume it to make any headway against the spiritistic theory. It refutes itself because there is not an iota of evidence for it.

4. Telepathy, as a selective process, has no scientific support whatever. The only evidence for it represents A as active on B. But the conception of it employed to rival the spiritistic theory implies that B is selecting from A his subliminal memories and when it can not find the appropriate ones there, it hunts up a distant relative or friend and supplements its data from the mind of A by some from the minds of C, D, E and others. Prove that this takes place in incidents which completely reproduce the personal identity of the living, and you may then give the spiritistic theory a bad hour.

5. The conception of telepathy which some writers have accepted and among them more particularly Mrs. Sidgwick that it represents a supersensible process of communication between minds generally (1) between living minds, (2) between the living and the dead, and (3) between the dead themselves, is one that completely annihilates its opposition to the spiritistic hypothesis. You can use it to supplant spirits only by regarding it as exclusively a process of supersensible communication between the living. But grant that spirits exist and that they communicate with the living by means of telepathy and with each other by it, and you have no resource in it for setting aside spirits as an explanation of all the facts.

6. Telepathy is an evidential criterion, not an explanatory process. If we knew the process in it, we might make it explanatory, but as it is only a name for the facts, it can serve only as an evidential limitation upon the spiritistic hypothesis. That is, telepathy is a name for supernormal information of what is in the mind of the agent and what the percipient receives so that it cannot serve as evidence for the personal identity of the dead. Evidence of this personal identity is absolutely essential to the spiritistic hypothesis and as mental phenomena of the living only are not evidence for survival, any transfer of this purely living knowledge cannot be regarded as evidence for the existence of the discarnate. That is why it is called telepathy, not because the facts are thereby explained, but because they are not evidence of spirits. Consequently a mere limitation of the evidence is not an explanation of the facts.

7. Telepathy is not a universal explanation of psychic phenomena. There are whole groups of them to which it cannot be applied even on the utmost extension of it as a process. There are (1) Premonitions, (2) Clairvoyance technically defined, (3) Dowsing and (4) Telekinetic phenomena either with or without the association of intelligence. In the end we shall require some general explanation of the whole group of psychic phenomena and that cannot be telepathy, even if we conceded that it is explanatory in its nature. If we find spirits necessary to account for premonitions and clairvoyance as conveying information about concealed physical objects whose place of concealment is not known by any living person, we shall have to give up telepathy as in any way relevant to the phenomena representing the personal identity of the dead.

8. There remains one consideration against the use which people make of telepathy as an explanatory solvent, but it is less conclusive than those which have been discussed. It is the reversal of the process of explanation. What if spirits be the general explanation to which telepathy must be subordinated? That is, instead of explaining all the phenomena by telepathy, why not explain telepathy by spirits? The popular mind extends telepathy to cover all phenomena referred by Spiritualists to foreign beings. But as it is undoubtedly not an explanatory hypothesis at all and spirits are explanatory, may it not be that the latter will explain what telepathy does not account for? The position taken by Mrs. Sidgwick in extending telepathy as a process common to the living and the dead by so much favors this view. It would remain, therefore, to ask and answer the question whether all supernormal interactions between minds, whether incarnate or discarnate, might not be due to the intervention of spirits.

The first and forcible objection to such a view would be that the facts are often so trivial and so lacking in reason that we do not like to think of spirits as engaged in such capricious and meaningless interventions, when if they can intervene at all, they might do better things. For instance, a wife sees a phantasm of her husband’s throat bleeding and learns when she sees him that her experience coincided with the fact that he had at the time received a cut in his barber’s chair. It was not serious and there was no apparent reason in the situation to make it important enough to have foreign intervention of the kind. Probably most telepathic coincidences are of this kind. Those that are strictly such have no evidential characteristics to suggest either the existence or intervention of spirits and hence it is not easy to assert or believe in the intervention.

But this objection comes from the assumption that we must know why the message is transmitted. But we are not concerned with the purpose of such events at first. There are two things to be decided first. They are the fact and the causal agent. Why they occur; that is, the utility served by them is not the first thing to be settled. The very fact that telepathy is not explanatory and that it is extended into the interactions between all minds, living or dead, shows that we have not limited it as we require to do when making it a rival hypothesis to spirits. The latter explains some things which telepathy between the living does not explain. Why not, then, extend the operation of spirits to cover what is admittedly not explanatory at all, when we know that the spiritistic hypothesis is explanatory?

From the a priori point of view spirits can be applied and extended as well as telepathy, and having the advantage of actually being explanatory, there is special excuse for the extension, and then it would only remain to test this hypothesis by ascertaining what the facts are. Our total ignorance of what the process is in telepathy is so much in favor of subordinating it to spirits which, even though we may not know the process, we do know to be legitimate references for the character of causality, and that is fundamental to any hypothesis, prior indeed to any specific process required. The reason why the message is transmitted, to repeat, is not the primary issue. It might be important, if we were assured that all telepathy and all spirit communications were intentional on the part of the agents. But there is much evidence to prove that many messages from the dead are involuntary and unintentional. Whether they are all so is not tenable as yet. But it is possible that even intentional messages do not come until they become automatic and spontaneous, and the capricious character of many telepathic coincidences favor the same view of them. They are rarer in character and meaning than spirit messages, a fact which favors by so much the view that telepathy between the living has far greater limitations than the believer in it supposes. But leaving that undecided, it is clear that there is no such rationale in either telepathy or spirit messages as would force us to the acceptance of any specific purpose in all of them. Once concede that some of them are unintentional, due to sporadically occurring conditions which allow of leakage between minds, and we then have the possibility that even when the interaction is really or apparently purposive, it coincides with automatic conditions that conform to the law of involuntary communications. Grant the latter and we have a clear explanation of the triviality and apparently casual character of the messages. The larger field of consciousness, whether in the telepathic or the spiritual agent, so occupies the attention and interest of the agent that only marginal incidents slip through and it may be necessary to get the intentional message into that marginal field of automatism to secure its transmission. The intervention of spirits may not always imply clearly what goes on, though it be complicated with purpose that gets expression only in conditions of automatism which it may be hard to secure. It is all a question of evidence. Let me look at some facts that suggest this reversal of the application of telepathy.

I had a report from one man of a number of good experiences in so-called telepathy and he happened to say nothing whatever of his other experiences. When I inquired into his life and other experiences he was surprised that I would suppose they had anything to do with his telepathy, and I found from him that he always felt that he was assisted in his telepathic experiences, having frequently had an apparition in his life of a woman who acted as a sort of protector or guide. Through Mrs. Smead, a few months after his death, Mr. Podmore, about whom Mrs. Smead knew nothing but his name and the fact that he was skeptical, said that telepathy was due to spirits and that they could carry a message instantly. It was not evidential or verifiable, but the interest lay partly in the fact that it was put into the mouth of Mr. Podmore who had been such a veteran defender of it and partly in the fact that Mrs. Smead had not speculated about telepathy at all, and might as well have put the statement into the mouth of any other person not so relevant to the situation.

A much more important set of facts was connected with the experiments between Miss Miles and Miss Ramsden. The first set of them was published by the English Society and they contained certain incidents which appeared to support the idea that telepathy might obtain memories and subconscious mental states from the agent, Miss Miles. For many things obtained by Miss Ramsden were events that happened on the same day on which Miss Miles sent her telepathic message and were also not intentionally transmitted by her. This suggested a lot of inquiries by myself and I found that Miss Ramsden had had other experiences than telepathy and that Miss Miles also had had all types of psychic phenomena. She had had apparitions, did automatic writing, was able to produce telekinetic phenomena, and did dowsing—finding water—both by clairvoyance and the use of the divining rod, and what is more important, could always tell when her telepathic experiments were successful by the raps that she heard indicating the success. This last phenomenon was not due to telepathy.

Now I had my report on the phenomena of the two ladies in press and in page proof when Mr. Myers purported to communicate through Mrs. Chenoweth and made an allusion to telepathy, remarking that its success depended on the carrier. I saw at once the meaning of this and to avoid making suggestions, I simply asked what he meant by the carrier, and the reply was that “telepathy is always a message carried by spirits.” This was not verifiable and we cannot refute the belief that it was a subconscious statement by Mrs. Chenoweth who is tolerant of that view. But the spontaneousness of the allusion and the connection in which it was made favors the possibility that it is genuinely transcendental in its origin.

Another instance is still stronger. Mrs. Verrall who was psychic and a lecturer on Greek and Latin Literature in Newnham College, Cambridge, England, believed in telepathy as an explanation of a large number of her own phenomena and those of Mrs. Piper. She was a member of the American Society and knew my position on the possibility of explaining at least some cases of telepathy by spirit intervention. She died in July, 1916, and early in October purported to communicate through Mrs. Chenoweth. She very soon referred to telepathy and coming back to it a second time said that she was not so certain since her death as she was before it that telepathy explained her phenomena and that my hypothesis of spirit intervention might be true. She said she was investigating it, remarking also what was true; namely, that in life she had thought some things were not due to it. She showed a decided leaning to the possibility of my theory. Mrs. Chenoweth knew nothing about her except that she did automatic writing and that she was dead, having seen the mention of her death in Light, the English Spiritualist paper which she takes, or rather the Club to which she belongs. Mrs. Chenoweth knew nothing of her views about telepathy or spirits. Though it may not be proof that foreign intervention is necessary in telepathy between the living, it is interesting to remark that this change of mind characterized two psychic researchers who had died and who had believed in its more general application when living.

I am far from contending for such an hypothesis. I merely regard it as conceivable in spite of the objections applied to it. As we do not know whither telepathy is a direct or an indirect process between the living, the field is clear for any conjectures we may choose to apply, and I am as tolerant to spirits in the case as I might be toward telepathy. We are too ignorant of the process to deny one any more than the other, and I only await evidence for one or the other hypothesis. All the evidence in certain instances tends toward it and only because it is not conclusive must we await more decisive facts. But we are entitled to urge our ignorance as a reason for not being too cocksure that telepathy does not involve spirit intervention. I am not concerned with the position that science requires us to assume telepathy and to stretch it to the breaking point before applying spirits. This assumption is often stated as the duty to assume the “natural” before applying the “supernatural.” But I boldly affirm that science does not require, or even does not permit us to assume telepathy against spirits, except in an argument. When applying scientific theories we are required to assume the explanation that explains and not to make any con cessions to the mere skeptic. In an argument with the skeptic designed to convert him, we are obliged to concede all he demands about telepathy and to stretch it to its full length, but this is a policy of conversion, not a policy of explanation. Regardless of skeptical habits of mind science binds us to explanatory hypotheses and so to the testing of them whether we convert anyone or not. With a skeptic I might concede possibilities in telepathy, when arguing to convert him, that I would not concede in making scientific explanations. We are doing ad hominem work in conversion, but ad rem work in explanation, and our duties are different in them. So I feel no obligations to defend my respectability with skeptics by pretending to have assured beliefs where others may have a better scientific foundation, though I may conduct my discussion as if I did.

I should not even plead the consistency of spirit intervention as an explanation, as a defense of it scientifically. We must have more and better evidence, though consistency would suffice, if there was any assured disproof of telepathy as an exclusively living affair. It will require more evidence than I have presented to establish foreign intervention, and I propose it here more as a possibility than as an assuredly tenable position.

If we knew what the process of communicating is and whether space limitations affect it as they do any relations between living people, we might readily determine whether spiritistic agencies solved the whole problem. For we have some evidence that space affects telepathic phenomena between the living, when experimentally tried, and it is as certain that there are a large number of coincidences which are not affected by space limitations. They are often classified under telepathy, but there is no proof that they belong there, while actual experiments, as far as they go, favor the effect of distance to hinder telepathic transmission. Now in real or alleged messages from the dead, we sometimes receive the statement that they can tell what we are thinking or doing simply by turning their attention to us. I have noticed the same phenomenon as affecting control. That is, if the subconscious turned its attention to someone seen as an apparition, rapport is apparently established at once with that person and direct control will begin with impersonation in the first person, though I suspect that the subconscious, under the influence of automatism, is producing the whole result with modifications transmitted from the person with whom it is in rapport.

This would suggest the view that space does not affect spirit action and they certainly often show that they disregard it when communicating or exhibit knowledge that has to be obtained at a great distance. They also claim that their perceptions are extended beyond ours. Now if this be a fact we can well imagine that transmission might overcome space limitations as well as perception. Accepting this fact they might be the instant transmitters of thoughts which they receive from the living either in the vicinity or at a distance, and their success would depend upon the variable conditions affecting the percipient and the question of voluntary and involuntary messages. But in spite of this possibility we have not yet obtained secure evidence that it is the general fact. There is some evidence that it is the fact in certain instances, but we lack a criterion for determining whether the cases not exactly like them come under the same law.
“All my joy, perfect, transcending sense, is given of Aiwaz, whom we call the Devil.” - Uncle Al

pi_rameses

Re: Dr. Hyslop excerpt on Survival of Personality
« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2018, 04:38:09 pm »
 :) Bookmarked as I'd really like to sit down and mull this one over.
Pro omnis dominos viae sinistra, sic itur ad astra
Nylfmedli14