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School of Theology at Claremont 


1001 1365363 

A Critical Examination 



Professor of Philosophy, Emeritus 
Brown University 
Providence, Rhode Island 

Without prior commitment either pro or contra. 
Professor Ducasse approaches the possibility, reality, 
or impossibility of survival of the human personality 
after the body’s death. He examines impartially the 
merits of the considerations - THEOLOGICAL or 
which advocates on either side of the question have 

Various questions which, on reflection, arise on the 
subject are set forth explicitly. 

A Critical Examination of THE BELIEF IN A LIFE AFTER DEATH is a monograph 
in The Bannerstone Division of AMERICAN LECTURES IN PHILOSOPHY, edited by 
MARVIN FARBER, Ph.D., Department of Philosophy, University of Buffalo, Buffalo, 
New York 



They are purged of the question-begging tacit assumptions, the ambiguities, and the 
vagueness which has been responsible for the barrenness of such discussions in the 
past. ~ 

What connection the question of survival has and does not have with RELIGION, with 
makes clear. 

The author defines the kind of evidence which, if we should have it, would prove or 
establish a positive probability that a given human personality, or some particular 
component of it, has survived the body. The various forms are considered which a life 
after death, if there be one, could with any plausibility be conceived to take. 

Written for EVERYMAN who approaches the question of survival with a wary but 
genuinely open mind rather than wishfully, piously, or with adverse prejudice — for 
EVERYMAN who is willing to attend with care to the considerations on which 
responsible conclusions on this difficult but import matter depend. 


EVOLUTION. 192 pp., (Amer. Lee. 
Philosophy), $9.75 

Steven Brena - PAIN AND RELI¬ 
GION: A Psychophysiological Study. 
176 pp., 7 il., $8.95 

Ferdinand Gonseth - TIME AND 
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Guggenheimer. 468 pp., 5 il., (Amer. 
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Jules H. Masserman & John J. Schwab 
cordance vs Discord in Human Behav¬ 
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George W. Miller - MORAL AND 
164 pp., 6 il., $9.25 

Howard L. Parsons - HUMANISM 
AND MARX’S THOUGHT. 440 pp., 1 
table, (Amer. Lee. Philosophy), 


me oeiiei m a Lire mier imniiii 

The Belief in a Life After Death 



School of Theology at Claremont 

1001 1365363 

A (Jritical Examination 



Professor of Philosophy, Emeritus 
Brown University 
Providence, Rhode Island 

Without prior commitment either pro or contra, 
Professor Ducasse approaches the possibility, reality, 
or impossibility of survival of the human personality 
after the body’s death. He examines impartially the 
merits of the considerations - THEOLOGICAL or 
which advocates on either side of the question have 

Various questions which, on reflection, arise on the 
subject are set forth explicitly. 

'Sex. D) 





Publication Number 423 

A Monograph in 


Edited by 

Department of Philosophy 
University of Buffalo 
Buffalo , New York 

The following books have appeared thus far in this Series: 

Causality in Natural Science—V. F. Lenzen 
Emotions and Reason—V. J. McGill 

A Good and Bad Government According to the New Testament—Jean Hering 

The Phenomenological Approach to Psychiatry—J. H. Van den Berg 

Operationism—A. C. Benjamin 

Psychoanalysis and Ethics—Lewis S. Feuer 

Culture, Psychiatry, and Human Values—Marvin K. Opler 

The Origins of Marxian Thought—Auguste Cornu 

Metascientihc Queries—Mario Bunge 

Anthropology and Ethics—May and Abraham Edel 

Naturalism and Subjectivism—Marvin Farber 

The Language of Education—Israel Scheffler 

It is the purpose of this series to give representation to all important 
tendencies and points of view in Philosophy, without any implied 
concurrence on the part of the Editor and Publisher. 




A Critical Examination of 


Second Printing 



J \K 

Professor of Philosophy, Emeritus 
Brown University 
Providence, Rhode Island 


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The question whether there is, or can be, or cannot be a life 
after death for the individual is seldom formulated unambigu¬ 
ously, or approached with a genuinely open mind, or discussed 
objectively on the basis of the relevant empirical or theoretical 
considerations. Persons in whom survival after death is an article 
of religious faith generally assume that it and other dogmas of 
their religion are, as such, authoritative; and hence that the point 
of engaging in discussions of the matter is not to try to find out 
whether or not survival is a fact, but only to convince others that 
it is a fact—or at least to show them that the reasons which lead 
them to doubt or to deny it are invalid. 

Persons, on the other hand, who have had training in science, 
or at least those among them who do not lay aside their scientific 
habits of thought when subjects reputedly religious are concerned, 
commonly take it for granted today that the progress of physiolog¬ 
ical and behavioristic psychology has finally proved that the con¬ 
sciousness and personality of man is—as they are wont to phrase 
it—a function of the nervous system and of certain other constitu¬ 
ents of the living human body; and hence that there cannot pos¬ 
sibly be for the individual any life or consciousness after the body 
has died. 

A position in some ways intermediate between the two just 
described is that of the Spiritists or Spiritualists. Survival of the 
personality after death is held by them to be not an article o£ 
faith but a matter of knowledge. That is, they hold it as some¬ 
thing for the truth of which they have adequate empirical evi¬ 
dence in the communications, received through the persons they 
call mediums, that purport to emanate from the surviving spirits 
of the deceased. Thus, irrespective of whether or not that evi¬ 
dence really proves what it is alleged to prove, the fact that em¬ 
pirical—ox more specifically testimonial —evidence is what Spiritu- 



alists appeal to for support of their belief means that, in so far, 
they conceive the question of survival as a scientific rather than 
as a religious one. 

On the other hand, two factors have cooperated in making 
Spiritism or Spiritualism claim for itself also the status of a re¬ 
ligion. One of these factors has been the need to protect the ac¬ 
tivities of mediums from the application of ordinances or laws 
against fortune-tel has been that, because of the 

widespread vagueness as to what questions are or are not essenti¬ 
ally religious, and of the fact that most religions have 

asserted that there is for the individual a life after death, there¬ 
fore belief or knowledge as to such life has uncritically been as¬ 
sumed to be religious inherently , rather than perhaps only in- 

In the present book, the question as to the possibility, reality, 
or impossibility of a life after death is approached without com¬ 
mitment, explicit or implicit, to any one of the three positions 
concerning it just described. What the book attempts is a philo¬ 
sophical scrutiny of the idea of a life after death. That is, it at¬ 
tempts to set torth, as adequately as possible, the various questions 
which, on reflection, arise on the subject; to purge them both of 
ambiguity and of vagueness; to point out what connection the 
subject does and does not, have with religion; to examine without 
prejudice the merits of the considerations—theological or scien¬ 
tific, empirical or theoretical—which have been alleged variously 
to make certain, or probable, or possible, or impossible, that the 
human personality survives bodily death; to state what kind of 
evidence would, if we should have it, conclusively prove that a 
human personality, or some specified component of it, has sur¬ 
vived after death; and to consider the variety of forms which a life 
after death, if any, could with any plausibility be conceived to 

Needless to say, this ambitious program is not likely to be 
carried through with complete success. Nor—in view of the pre¬ 
judices and the wishful thinking either on the pro or on the contra 
side which infect the great majority of persons who take some in¬ 
terest in the question—is much of what will be said likely to be 
found agreeable by all readers; for the sacredness of a number of 



the “sacred cows” which have influenced the beliefs or disbeliefs 
entertained on the subject of survival after death will have to be 

Moreover, at a few places, the issues to be considered can¬ 
not, by their very nature, be discussed with any prospect of decid¬ 
ing them in a responsible manner unless they are first formulated 
with greater precision, and their implications then developed 
more rigorously, than has usually been done in discussions of the 
question as to a life after death. But precision and rigor—even 
when utmost care is taken, as it will be, to make its literary form 
as psychologically painless as possible—entails the need on the 
reader’s part of closer attention than many are willing to give. 
For it is much easier to jump to conclusions than to draw them 
responsibly—to jump to conclusions provided they be favorable, 
if one is moved by wish to believe; or to jump to conclusions pro¬ 
vided they be adverse, if one is moved by wish to disbelieve. 

The issues involved, however, are ultimately so important 
that wishful thinking, on either side, will, to the best of the au 
thor’s ability, be excluded in this book from his consideration of 
their merits. 

The author’s obligations to the works of the various writers 
discussed or referred to in the text are indicated by the footnotes. 
Some portions of the text have appeared as articles in periodicals. 
Several Sections of Chapter XI formed part of a communication 
presented by the author at the 1957 Interamerican Congress of 
Philosophy, which later appeared in the journal, Philosophy and 
Phenomenological Research , as an article entitled “Life, Telism, 
and Mechanism.” Chapter XVI borrows extensively from an ad¬ 
dress by the author at the celebration in 1956 of the Fiftieth An¬ 
niversary of the founding of the American Society for Psychical 
Research, which, with the other addresses, was published in the 
Society’s journal. Chapters XX and XXV were published as ar¬ 
ticles, respectively in the International Journal of Parapsychology, 
and in the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Re - 
search. Grateful acknowledgement is here made to the editors 
of these periodicals for permission to incorporate into the text 
the materials mentioned. 





Chapter Part I 

Immortality, Religion, and Science 

I. Belief and Disbelief in a Life After Death 

1. Life: Physiological or psychological . 

2. Immortality, survival, eternal life. 

3. Causes of belief in survival . 

4. Why a life after death is desired . 1 

5. Causes of disinterest or disbelief in survival . 1 

6. Causes of, distinguished from grounds for, belief or 

disbelief . ... ] 

II. Religion and the Belief in a Life After Death. ] 

1. The belief in survival not inherently religious ] 

2. Religion and religious beliefs. ] 

3. Grounds on which belief in survival is based in 

Christianity . 

4. The moral arguments for belief in a life after death ; 

III. The Case Against the Possibility of a Life After Death ; 

1. Empirical facts that appear to rule out any possibil¬ 

ity of survival . 

2. Theoretical considerations that appear to preclude 

survival . 

3. Unimaginability of any plausible form of survival 



Part II 

The Key Concepts 


IV. What is Material 0 ; and What is “Living” 3S 

1. Two questions to be distinguished 4( 

2. Which things are “material” 4( 

3. “Material derivatively vs. fundamentally 41 

4. What is “living” 45 

V. What is “Mental” . 4f 

1. Which occurrences are denominated “mental” 4 1 

2. Introspeci’ action, Intuition 4( 

3 “Content” vs “object” of consciousness 41 

4 “Mental” derivatively vs. fundamentally 4f 

VI. What is “A Mind” 51 

1. I he trails in terms of which one describes particular 

minds 5! 

2. What is a power, capacity, or disposition . 55 

3 What a mind is 5 Z 

Part III 

The Relation Between Mind and Body 

VII What Would Establish the Possibility of Survival 5! 

1. Summary of the findings of Part II 5! 

2. Theoretical possibility; empirical possibility; and 

f actuality 6< 

3. The tacit theoretical premise of the empirical argu¬ 

ments against the possibility of survival 6 

VIII Mind Conceived as Bodily Processes; Matter Conceived 

as Sets of Ideas 6: 

J. The contention that thought is a physical process 6 

2. Connection to be distinguished from identity 6 



Chapter Pa& 

3. Disguised assertions about the word “thought” mis¬ 

taken for assertions about thought. 6' 

4. The radically idealistic conception of material ob¬ 

jects 61 

IX. Two Versions of Psycho-physical Parallelism 7< 

1. Mind and body as in “pre-established harmony” . 7< 

2. Mind and body as two “aspects” of one same thing 7 

3. Mental activity as a “function” of cerebral activity 1 \ 

X. Mind as “The Halo Over die Saint” . 7 

1. Epiphenomenalism . 7 

2. Metaphorical character of the epiphenomenalistic 

thesis . 7 

3. Arbitrariness of the epiphenomenalistic contention 

as to causality between cerebral and mental 
events . 7 

XI. Hypophenomenalism: The Life of Organisms as Prod¬ 

uct of Mind 8 

1. Two hypophenomenalistic conceptions: Plotinus, 

Schopenhauer . 8 

2. Biological hypophenomenalism distinguished from 

cosmological 8 

3. The life processes apparently purposive 8 

4. Objections to a teleological explanation of life 

processes 8 

5. The nature, kinds, and levels of purposive activity 8 

6. Conation: “blind,” vs. accompanied by awareness 

of its conatum 8 

7. Desire, and ignorance or knowledge of how to satisfy 

it . \ 

x jj the belief in a life after death 


8. Autotelism and heterotelism 8 

9. What ultimately differentiates purposiveness from 

mechanism . 8 

10. Servomechanisms 8 

11. Creative vs. only activative conations 9 

12. The question as to how conation organizes matter 9 

13. Telism ultimately the only type of explanation in 

sight for the life processes 9 

14. Conation in the vegetative, the animal, and the hu¬ 

man activities 9 

15. Hypophenomenalism vs. epiphenomenalism . 9 

16. Hypophenomenalism and experimentation . 9 

XII. Mind and Body as Acting Each on the Other. 9 

1. Interaction as conceived by Descartes . 10 

2. Interaction and the heterogeneity of body and mind 10 

3. H. S. Jennings on interaction between body and 

mind 10 

4. What interactionism really contends . 10 

5. Which human body is one’s own. 10 

6. Interaction and the conservation of energy. 10 

XIII. Lamont’s Attack on Mind-Body Dualism 10 

1. Dualism and supernaturalism 10 

2. Naturalism and materialism 10 

3. The senses in which ideas are, and are not, ulti¬ 

mately private 11 

4. Lamont’s position actually an ontological dualism 11 

5. Lamont’s account of the mind as a “productive func¬ 

tion” of the body 11 

6. A supposititious puzzle 11 

7 “Verdict of science?” or “Turning aversions into dis¬ 



Part IV 

Discarnate Life After Death and the Ostensibly 
Relevant Empirical Evidence For It 
Chapter Pagt 

XIV. Various Senses of the Question Regarding Survival After 

Death . \2) 

1. The bodily component of a personality. 121 

2. Survival—of just what parts of the psychological 

component. 121 

3. Survival—for how long. 12' 

4. “Sameness" in what sense, of a mind after as before 

death . 12' 

5. Conceivable forms of discarnate life . 12< 

6. H. H. Price’s depiction of post mortem life in a 

world of images . 12' 

7. The architect of a person’s heaven or hell 13< 

8. Life after death conceived as physical reembodiment 13< 

XV. Survival and Paranormal Occurrences . 13 

1. Where empirical evidence of survival might be 

found . 13 

2. Critique of Rhine’s account of what marks an event 

as paranormal. 13 

3. Broad’s analytical account of the marks of paranor- 

mality . 13 

4. The chief kinds of ostensibly paranormal occur¬ 

rences . 13 

5. Questions relevant to reports of paranormal occur¬ 

rences . 14 

XVI. Paranormal Occurrences, Science, and Scientists 14 

1. Reports of paranormal occurrences commonly dis¬ 

missed offhand by scientists. 14 

2. What accounts for the dogmatism of scientists on the 

subject of paranormal events . 14 



Chapter Pa 8 

3. Why the paranormal phenomena are regarded as 

impossible 14 

4. Clash of a reported occurrence with the metaphys¬ 

ical creed of the natural sciences 14 

XVII. Instances of Occurrences Prima Facie Indicative of Sur¬ 
vival 15 

1. Apparitions and hauntings 15 

2. “Out-of-the-body” experiences 16 

3. Materializations and other paranormal physical phe¬ 

nomena 16 

4. “Possessions” 17 

5. Memories, seemingly of earlier lives; and xenoglossy 17 

XVIII. Additional Occurrences Relevant to the Question of Sur¬ 
vival 17 

1 Communications, purportedly from the deceased, 

through automatists . 17 

2. Communications through automatists from fictitious 

and from still living persons 18 

3. Mrs. Sidgwick’s interpretation of the Piper com¬ 

munications 18 

4. Cross-correspondences 18 

XIX. How Stands the Case for the Reality of Survival. 19 

1. What, if not survival, the facts might signify . . 19 

2. The allegation that survival is antecedently improb¬ 

able 19 

3. What telepathy and clairvoyance would suffice to 

account for 19 

4 The facts that strain the telepathy-clairvoyance ex¬ 
planation 19 


Chapter Pflg< 

5. What would prove or make positively probable that 

survival is a fact. 19{ 

6. The conclusion as to survival which presently ap¬ 

pears warranted. 20! 

Part V 

Life After Death Conceived as Reincarnation 

XX. The Doctrine of Reincarnation in the History of 

Thought 20' 

1. W. R. Alger on the importance of the doctrine of 

metempsychosis 201 

2. Metempsychosis in Brahmanism and Buddhism 2H 

3. Pythagoras and Empedocles 21 

4. Plato. 21 

5. Plotinus. 21! 

6. Origen . 21 

7. The Jews, Egyptians, Celts, and Teutons 21* 

8. Hume. 21 

9. Kant . 21 

10. Fichte . 21 

11. Schopenhauer 21 

12. Renouvier 21 

13. McTaggart 21 

14. Ward. 21 

15. Broad 21 

16. Various forms of the reincarnation hypothesis 22 

XXI. Difficulties in the Reincarnation Hypothesis. 22 

1. The materialistic objection to any form of life after 

death 22 

2. The objection that we have no memory of having 

lived before . 22 

3. The objection that memory is indispensable to iden- 



Chapter Pa < 

tity of person 2! 

4. The objection that, without memory of one’s acts, 

nothing can be learned from experience of their 
consequences . 2! 

5. The objection that wisdom, virtue, knowledge, and 

skills are not innate but are gradually acquired 
after birth. Z 

6. Native aptitudes, heredity, and growth of the self . 2! 

XXII. Incompetent Kinds of Evidence for and Against Rein¬ 
carnation 2 

1. "D£j2t Vu" experiences. 2 

2. Illusions of memory 2 

3. Paranormal retrocognitions 2 

4. Testimony, purportedly from discarnate spirits 2 

XXIII. Verifications of Ostensible Memories of Earlier Lives 2 

1. The rebirth of Katsugoro 2 

2. The rebirth of Alexandria Samona . 2 

3. The case of Shanti Devi 2 

4. The "Rosemary" case 2 

XXIV. Regressions to the Past Through Hypnosis . 2 

1. An experiment in New York in 1906 . 2 

2. The hypnotic experiments of Col. de Rochas 2 

3. The Edgar Cayce "life readings". 2 

XXV. The Case of "The Search for Bridey Murphy". 2 

1. The hypnotist and author, and his subject. 2 

2. Emergence of "Bridey Murphy" during Virginia’s 

hypnosis 2 

3. The chief documents of the "Bridey Murphy" con¬ 

troversy 2 



Chapter Pa£ 

4. The Bridey statements that have not so far been 

verified . 28 

5. Examples of the Bridey statements that have been 

verified . 28 

6. The allegation that the true Bridey statements are 

traceable to forgotten events of Virginia’s child¬ 
hood . 28 

7. The comments of psychiatrists on the “Bridey 

Murphy” case . 2< 

8. What conclusions are, and are not, warranted about 

the case. 2? 

XXVI. How Stands the Case for the Reality of Survival as Re¬ 
incarnation . 3( 

1. Mediumistic communications from minds surviving 

discarnate, vs. memories in a reincarnated mind 31 

2. Reincarnation as “possession”. 3i 

3. Reincarnation and illusion of memory. 3< 

4. Extrasensory perceptions vs. memories of an earlier 

life . 3' 

5. What would be the best possible evidence of rein¬ 

carnation . 3 





Immortality, Religion, and Science 

Chapter I 


That there is for the human individual some sort of life 
after death has been and still is widely believed. To the majority 
of mankind, this idea has not seemed paradoxical nor a life after 
death difficult to imagine. It has often been conceived as lived in 
a body and surroundings nearly or quite as material as our present 
ones, though the future environment and the experiences to be 
had in it have generally been thought of as rather different, 
whether for the better or the worse, from those of life on earth. 

1. Life: physiological or psychological? Persons, however, 
who find such a material conception of a future life incredible 
either because of its crudity or because of the destruction the 
body undeniably undergoes after it has died, are likely to think of 
survival in essentially psychological terms and therefore to mean 
by “personal survival” more or less what Dean W. R. Matthews 
does, to wit, “that the center of consciousness which was in ex¬ 
istence before death does not cease to be in existence after death 
and that the experience of this'center after death has the same 
kind of continuity with its experience before death as that of 
a man who sleeps for a while and wakes again.” 1 

As we shall see eventually, a number of difficulties are im¬ 
plicit even in this seemingly clear statement. Yet, some meaning 
thus psychological rather than physiological has to be given to the 
word “life,” if the hypothesis of a life after death is to have any 
of the personal and social interest it commonly has. For life in the 
merely biological sense of the word—the sense in which even the 

1 Psychical Research and Theology, The Sixth Myers Memorial Lecture, Proc. 
Soc. for Psychical Research, Vol. 46:15, 1940 41. 



body of a man in coma, or a vegetable, has life—has, by itself, only 
an impersonal scientific interest for us. It acquires any other 
only if, or in so far as, an organism alive in this physiological sense 
is a necessary basis for life in the sense of conscious psychological 
experience. In these pages, therefore, the words, “life after 
death”—except at places where a different sense may be indicated 
specifically or by context—will be taken to mean at least conscious 
psychological experience of some sort, no matter how caused and 
whether incarnate or discarnate. 

2. Survival, immortality, eternal life. I shall refer to the 
belief that there is for the individual a life after death as belief in 
survival rather than as belief in immortality; for immortality, 
strictly speaking, is incapacity to die, which, as ascribed to a 
human consciousness, entails survival of it forever after bodily 
death. But survival for some indeterminate though considerable 
period, rather than specifically forever, is probably what most 
persons actually have in mind when they think of a life after 
death. Assurance of survival for a thousand years, or even a hun¬ 
dred, would, for those of us who desire survival, have virtually as 
much present psychological value as would assurance of survival 
forever: we should be Doubled very little by the idea of indi¬ 
vidual extinction at so distant a time—even less troubled than is 
now a healthy and happy youth by the knowledge that he will die 
within fifty or sixty years. 

Persons, on the other hand, who are tired of life; or who have 
found it to have for them negative rather than positive value and 
believe this to be of its essence; or who, like Professor C. D. Broad 
would for some other reason welcome assurance of non-survival; 
would be more distressed by prospect of survival for a long pe¬ 
riod, and even more by prospect of survival forever, than by 
that of survival for only a short time. 

The expression “eternal life” is sometimes used to express, 
in a positive way, what “immortality”—distinguished from simply 
survival-expresses negatively. “Eternal” life, as so used, then 
generally means life that is everlasting in the future—hie without 
end though not without beginning. Conceivably, however, life 
might be without beginning as well as without end. This is what 



theories such as that of metempsychosis assume, which regard not 
only the human body but also the human mind or consciousness 
or soul as an evolutionary product. 

Similarly, when God’s being is spoken of as “eternal” what 
is meant is sometimes that he is both without beginning and with¬ 
out end—that he always did and always will exist. Perhaps more 
often, however, what is meant is that God’s consciousness is time¬ 
less. Eternal life, then, or consciousness of eternity, whether ex¬ 
perienced by God inherently or by man on rare occasions, means 
a form of consciousness that does not include or that transcends 
consciousness of time. 

For a person the content of whose consciousness were thus 
timeless, the question whether that content endured but a mo¬ 
ment, or a thousand years, would have no meaning since he 
would have no consciousness either of duration or of change. 
Indeed, the question could not even present itself to him. But 
were external observation possible of the consciousness of such a 
person—for example, of a mystic in ecstasy—the observer could 
meaningfully say that the other experienced eternal life, or lived 
in eternity, for five minutes, or as the case might be, for fifteen, 
or for some other finite time, on a given occasion. 

3. Causes of belief in survival. The first question which 
arises in connection with the idea that there is for the individual 
an after-death life is why the belief in it is so widespread. 

The clue to the answer is to be found in the fact that each 
of us has always been alive and conscious as far back as he can 
remember. It is true, of course, that his body is sometimes sunk 
in deep sleep, or in a faint, or in coma from some injury or grave 
illness; or that the inhaling of ether or some other anaesthetic 
makes him unconscious of the surgical operation he then under¬ 
goes. But, even at those times a person does not experience un¬ 
consciousness, for to experience it would mean being conscious 
of being unconscious; and this, being a contradiction, is impos¬ 
sible. Indeed, at such times, he may be having vivid dreams; and 
these are one kind of consciousness. The only experience of un¬ 
consciousness a person ever has is, not of total unconsciousness, 
but of unconsciousness of this or that; as when he reports: “I am 



not conscious of any pain/’ or “of any difference between the 
color of this and of that,” etc. 

Nor do we ever experience as present in another person un¬ 
consciousness itself, but only the fact that, sometimes, some or 
all of the ordinary activities of his body, through which his being 
conscious previously manifested itself to us, cease to occur. That 
consciousness itself is extinguished at such times is only a hypoth¬ 
esis which we construct to account for certain changes in the 
behavior of another person’s body; or to explain the eventual 
lack in him—or, as the case may be, in ourselves—of memories re¬ 
lating to the period during which the body—his or our own— 
was in an inert, unresponsive state. 

Lack of present memory of having been conscious at a par¬ 
ticular past time obviously is no proof at all that one was uncon¬ 
scious at that time; for if it were, then it would prove that one 
was unconscious during the first few years of one’s life, and indeed 
during the vast majority of its days, since one has no memory what¬ 
ever of one’s experiences on any but a very small minority of one’s 
past days. That we were conscious on the others is known to us 
not by memory of them, but only by inference from facts of va¬ 
rious kinds. 

The fac t, then, is that each person has been alive and con¬ 
scious at all times he can remember. Being alive and conscious has 
therefore become in him an ingrained habit; and habit auto¬ 
matically entails both tacit expectations and tacit belief that what 
is tacitly expected will occur. 2 Just as every step which finds 
ground underfoot builds up tacit belief that so will the subse¬ 
quent steps, and every breath which finds air to breathe, tacit be¬ 
lief that so will the subsequent breaths, just so does the fact that 
every past day of one’s life was found to have a morrow contribute 
to generate tacit expectation and belief that every day of one’s life 
will have a living morrow. As J. B. Pratt has pointed out, the child 
takes the continuity of life for granted. It is the fact of death 
that has to he taught him. But when he has learned it, and the 
idea of a future life is then put explicitly before his mind, it seems 
to him the most natural thing in the world. 3 

•CC. C. D. Broad: The Mind and its Place in Nature, p. 524. 

•J. B. Pratt: The Religious Consciousness, Macmillan, New York, 1943, p. 225. 



Such, undoubtedly, is the psychological origin of the wide¬ 
spread ingenuous belief that one’s life and that of one’s fellows 
does not end at death. 

Another root of the idea and belief that persons who were 
known to us and have died continue to live—and hence that we 
too shall survive after death—is the fact that sometimes those per¬ 
sons, as well as persons who are still in the flesh, appear to us in 
dicams. Especially when the dream was both vivid and plausible, 
it easily suggests a view of the human personality which is rather 
common among primitive peoples and which has been held even 
by some educated and critical persons. It is that each person’s 
body of flesh has a subtle counterpart or double, which can be¬ 
come detached from and function independently of that body; 
this separation being temporary as it occurs in periods of sleep 
during life, but permanent at the death of the body. 

Evidently, such an idea of the constitution of man fits in 
very well with the ingenuous natural belief in life beyond death, 
for it provides concrete images in which to clothe the otherwise 
elusive abstract notion of a personality living on, discarnate. 

Belief in a life after death, however, might conceivably origi¬ 
nate in a given person in either one of two ways less ingenuous 
than those described in what precedes. One of these more critical 
ways would be out of attention to certain occurrences observed 
or reported, and then interpreted as empirical evidence of the 
survival of a deceased person. Communications purportedly from 
such a person and containing identifying details, received either 
through a “medium” or by oneself through automatic writing; 
or sight of an “apparition” of the dead person, would be examples 
of the kinds of experience in view. 

The other possible kind of rational origin which belief in 
a life after death might have in a given person would be attention 
by him to arguments which, whether really or only seemingly co¬ 
gent, purport to prove immortality on metaphysical grounds. It 
is safe to say, however, that the belief can have this origin only in 
a very few persons, and that those arguments, irrespective of their 
cogency or lack of it, function in fact for the majority of those 
who know and accept them, much rather only as rationalizations 
of a belief in immortality they had previously acquired either in 



the automatic manner described earlier, or out of wishful think¬ 
ing, or out of uncritically accepted childhood teachings. 

We shall eventually consider the merits of both of the above 
kinds-empirical and theoretical-of prirna facie evidence for sur¬ 
vival. At this point, however, what we must ask is why survival 
is desired by the many persons who do desire it; and what general 
connection obtains between desire and belief, lack of desire and 
lack of belief. 

4. Why a life after death is desired. One does not actually 
desire valued things which one already has or assumes one has. 
They get desired only when loss of them occurs or threatens. This, 
which is true for instance of desire for air to breathe or for earth 
to stand on, is equally true of desire for continuation of life. It 
is not until the witnessing or the awareness of death thrusts upon 
the mind the question whether the life that was continues some¬ 
how, that actual desire for life beyond death arises. From then 
on, the desire operates automatically to bolster the shaken naive 
belief in survival, and the belief in so far becomes a “wishful 

The desire for survival of oneself and of other persons has 
its roots in a variety of more specific desires which death immedi¬ 
ately frustrates, but satisfaction of which a life beyond death would 
make possible even if not automatically insure. In some persons, 
the chief of these is desire for reunion with persons dearly loved. 
In others, whose lives have been wretched, it is desire for another 
chance at the happiness they have missed. In others yet, it is de¬ 
sire for further opportunity to grow in ability, knowledge, char¬ 
acter, wisdom; or to go on contributing significant achievements. 
Again, a future life for oneself and others is often desired in order 
that the redressing of the many injustices of the present life shall 
be possible. 

Even in persons who believe that death means complete and 
final extinction of the individual’s consciousness, the craving for 
continued existence is testified to by the comfort they often find 
in various substitute but assured forms of “survival.” They may, 
for instance, dwell on the continuity of the individual’s germ 
plasm in his descendants. Or they find solace in the thought that, 



the past being indestructible, the particular life they live will re¬ 
main ever after an intrinsic part of the history of the world. 
Also—and more satisfying to the craving for personal importance— 
there is the fact that since the acts of one’s life have effects, and 
these in turn further effects, and so on, therefore what one has 
done goes on forever influencing remotely, and sometimes greatly, 
the course of future events. 

Gratifying to one’s vanity, too, is the prospect that, if the 
achievements of one’s life have been important or even only con¬ 
spicuous, or one’s benefactions or evil deeds notable, then one’s 
name may be remembered not only by acquaintances and rela¬ 
tives for a little while, but may live on in recorded history. 

Evidently, survival in any of these senses is but a consolation 
prize for the certainty of bodily death—a thin substitute for the 
continuation of conscious individual life, which may be disbe¬ 
lieved, but the natural craving for which nevertheless is evidenced 
by the comfort which the considerations just mentioned even then 

5. Causes of disinterest or of disbelief in survival. Lack of 
belief and even positive disbelief in survival are certainly more 
widespread now in Western countries than was the case in earlier 
times. Of the various causes which account for this, one of the 
chief is probably “the greater attractiveness of this world in our 
times and the increase of interests of all sorts which keep one’s 
attention too firmly fastened here to allow of much thought being 
spent on the other world.” 4 

As compared with earlier ages, the standard of living is now 
high for the large majority of the populations of Western coun¬ 
tries. Leisure has greatly increased, and so have political liber¬ 
ties. Class distinctions no longer firmly stand, as formerly, in the 
way of personal ambition. And when there is pie at the baker's 
and money for it in one’s pocket, “pie in the sky” is not thought 
of and hence not desired. It is when life is hard, joyless, and hope¬ 
less that one dreams of and longs for escape to another world 

4 J. B. Pratt: The Religious Consciousness, The Macmillan Co. N. Y. 1943, 



where those who on earth were the miserable last shall be the 
happy first. 

Again, in the present Age of Science the spirit of critical in¬ 
quiry, with its demand for proofs, has robbed the teachings of re¬ 
ligion of the authority they had earlier. One consequence of this, 
and of the materialistic conception of the nature of man fostered 
by contemp ''rary science, has been that the unplausibility—to use 
no stronger term—of the picturesque ideas of the life after death 
which had been traditional in the Western world has become 
glaring. And this in turn has deprived the idea of a future life of 
the support which desire for it had previously lent it; for, as 
Pratt pointedly remarks, “some sort of belief in at least the possi¬ 
bility of the object is a condition of any real desire for it.” 5 

These are the chief factors which have caused substantial 
numbers of persons today to doubt or positively disbelieve that 
there is for the individual consciousness any life after the body’s 
death; or at least to view the idea of it with little or no interest. 
These persons, however, although numerous, are probably still 
a rather small minority of the population; for death goes on frus¬ 
trating of expression one’s love of persons who were dear, and 
thereby thrusting upon the living the idea of a life after death, 
stimulating in them the desire that such life be a fact; and, 
through this desire, fostering the belief that it is a fact. 

6. Causes of, distinguished from grounds for, belief or dis¬ 
belief. It may not be amiss to stress here, however, that the argu¬ 
ments, the empirical facts, or the longings which suffice to con - 
vince some persons that a given idea is true, are not necessarily 
sufficient to prove or even to make objectively probable that the 
idea is true. For convincing is a psychological process where rhet¬ 
oric and appeal to bias of various kinds are usually more efficacious 
than would be sound logic; and where automatic yielding to long- 
established habits of interpretation of appearances commonly 
takes the place of scrupulous verification. 

It is only in exceptionally rational persons, or in exceptionally 
rational moments of the rest of us, or in circumstances where 

'op. Cit . p. 2S9. 



nothing tempts us to jump to unwarranted conclusions, that only 
what suffices to prove suffices to convince; or, when the conclusion 
concerned is an unwelcome one, that what does suffice to prove 
or to establish a positive probability also suffices to convince. 

However, since we are now emphasizing that many beliefs, 
for example belief in survival after death, can be and often are 
acquired uncritically, i.e., without adequate evidence or perhaps 
any evidence that the beliefs are true, impartiality requires us to 
stress also that the fact that a given belief has been acquired un¬ 
critically is not by itself positive evidence that the belief con¬ 
cerned is erroneous. What its having been so acquired does is 
only to put the burden of proof on the person who so acquired 
it, and who maintains that it is true. 

Chapter II 


Most religions have taught in one form or another that the 
"soul” or “spirit” of the individual does not perish when his body 
dies, but goes on living in another world where it meets conditions 
appropriate to its particular nature and deserts. Hence, before we 
turn to an exposition of the grounds on which contemporary na¬ 
tural science bases the case against the possibility of survival of 
man’s consciousness after death, it will be well for us to consider 
the relation between religion and the belief in survival, and the 
grounds on which theologians—or more particularly Judaeo-Chris- 
tian theologians—have affirmed that the belief is true. 

1. The belief in survival after death not inherently reli¬ 
gious. Although, as just noted, belief that the human personality 
survives bodily death has been inculcated by most religions, it is 
not in itself religious. If the survival hypothesis is purged of 
vagueness, is defined in a manner not involving contradictions or 
other demonstrable impossibilities, and is dissociated from the ad¬ 
ditional supposition commonly coupled with it that survival will 
be such as to bring reward or punishment to the surviving person¬ 
alities according as they lived on earth virtuously or wickedly, 
then it is no more religious than would be the hypothesis that 
conscious beings live on Mars. In both cases alike the question is 
simply one of fact—however difficult it may be to get evidence 
adequate to settle it one way or the other. 

If human personalities survive the body’s death and do so 
discarnate, then—although their continued existence is normally 
as imperceptible to us as were bacteria before we had microscopes 
and as still are the subatomic entities of theoretical physics—those 




discarnate personalities are just another part of the population 
of the world; and their abode—if the word still has significance in 
relation to them—is just another region or dimension of the uni¬ 
verse, not as yet commonly accessible to us. 

The supposition that there is an immaterial, or anyway a 
normally imperceptible realm of existence peopled by discarnate 
human consciousnesses is, moreover, quite independent logically 
of the supposition that a God or gods exist—as independent of it 
logically as is the fact that incarnate human consciousnesses now 
inhabit the earth: No contradiction at all would be involved 
either in supposing that one or more gods exist but that there 
is no post mortem human life, or in supposing that there is a life 
after death but no God or gods. 

But although the belief in a life after death is thus not in¬ 
herently religious, nevertheless a close connection between it and 
religion has obtained throughout the history of man. What I 
shall now attempt is to make clear the nature of this connection; 
that is, what it presupposes with regard to man’s personality, and 
with regard to the relation between his life on earth and the post 
mortem life which the religions have taught he will have. For 
this purpose, what religion itself essentially is must first be con¬ 
sidered briefly. 

2. Religion and religious beliefs. Even a sketchy acquaint¬ 
ance with the history of religion suffices to show that the beliefs 
and practices which have been taught by the religions of man¬ 
kind have been very diverse and in many cases irreconcilable. This 
entails that no possibility exists of conceiving the essense of reli¬ 
gion in terms of some core of beliefs or/and practices common to 
all the religions—to the non-theistic as well as to the monotheistic, 
the polytheistic, and the pantheistic, and to the religions of primi¬ 
tive as well as of highly civilized peoples—for there is no such 
common core. Nor, of course, can the essence of religion be con¬ 
ceived responsibly as consisting of the teachings of some one par¬ 
ticular religion, held to be the only “true” religion on the ground 
that its teachings are divine revelations; for the question would 
then remain as to whether the belief that its teachings are, and 
alone are, divine revelations is demonstrably true, or on the con- 



trary is itself but one among other pious but groundless beliefs. 

It follows that only a functional conception of religion can 
be comprehensive enough to apply to all the religions; a concep¬ 
tion, that is to say, according to which religion is essentially a 
psychological instrument for the performance of certain functions 
ubiquitously important to human welfare, which are not other¬ 
wise performed adequately in any but a few exceptional cases— 
and which e °n religion has often performed none too well. 

More specially, this conception is that a religion is any set 
of beliefs that are matters of faith—together the observances, 
attitudes, injunctions, and feelings tied up with the beliefs— 
which, in so far as dominant in a person, tend to perform two 
functions, one social and the other personal. 

The social function is to provide, for conduct held to be 
socially beneficial, a sanction that will operate on occasions where 
conflict exists between the private interest of the individual and 
the (real or fancied) social interest, and where neither the legal 
sanctions, nor those of public opinion, nor the individual’s own 
moral impulses, would by themselves be enough to cause him to 
behave morally. In such cases, an additional and sometimes suffi¬ 
cient motivation for moral conduct is provided by religious be¬ 
liefs, and in particular by a belief in a life after death if this be¬ 
lief is conjoined, as usually it has been, with a belief that, in that 
life, immoral conduct that escaped punishment on earth and 
moral conduct that went unrewarded each gets its just deserts 
through the inescapable operation of some personal or impersonal 
agency of cosmic justice. 

To provide the motivation called for, the second of these 
two beliefs is of course necessary in addition to the first; for belief 
in a future life whose particular content were in no way dependent 
on the manner — virtuous or vicious — in which the individual 
lived on earth would exert no psychological leverage on him for 
virtuous conduct now. To exert this leverage is the function of 
the pictures of hells, heavens, paradises, purgatories, and other 
forms of reward or punishment, painted by the religions. 

It is to be noted that, insofar as those two beliefs, acting 
jointly, cause the individual to behave morally, i.e., justly or al¬ 
truistically, in cases where he otherwise would behave selfishly 



or maliciously, those beliefs foster in him the development of 
moral feelings and impulses; for as a person acts, so does he tend 
to feel and, on later occasions, tend to feel impelled from within 
to act again. The long-run effect of the harboring of beliefs 
religious in the sense stated could therefore be described as “edu¬ 
cation of the heart,’—arousal and cultivation in the individual of 
the feelings and impulses out of which, even at cost to himself, 
issues conduct beneficial or assumed beneficial to his fellows. 

The individual, however, is likely to be much more directly 
aware of the value his religious beliefs have for him personally 
than of the value they have for society through the personal sacri¬ 
fices they require of him for the social benefit. And what the in¬ 
dividual’s religious beliefs do for him personally in proportion 
to their depth and firmness and to the faithfulness with which he 
lives up to them is to give him a certain equanimity in the ups 
and downs of life—a certain freedom from anxiety in times of 
trouble, and from self-complacency in times of worldly good for¬ 
tune. To the religious man, his religious beliefs can bring cour¬ 
age in adversity, hope in times of despair, and dignity in times 
of obloquy or frustration. Also, humility on occasions of pride, 
prudence in times of success, moderation and a sense of respon¬ 
sibility in the exercise of power; in brief, a degree of abiding 
serenity based on a conception of man’s destiny and on the cor¬ 
responding scale of values. 

The belief in a life after death, in future compensation there 
for the injustices of earth, in future reunion with loved ones who 
have died, and in future opportunities for growth and happiness, 
undoubtedly operates to give persons who have it a measure of 
the equanimity they need wherewith to face the trials of this 
world, the death of those dear to them, and the prospect, near or 
distant, of their own death. But in order to operate psycholog¬ 
ically in this way for the individual, and through him for the 
welfare of society in the way described before, the belief in sur¬ 
vival and the other beliefs the religions have taught do not at all 
need to be in fact true, but only to be firmly believed. Nor do 
their contents need to be conceived clearly, but only believably. 
Indeed, the vagueness which commonly characterizes them is often 
a condition of their believability, for it insulates from detection 



the absurdities in some of them which would be evident if the 
beliefs were clear instead of vague. In order that the beliefs 
should function, what needs to be clear is only the sort of conduct 
and attitude they dictate. 

The fact, then, that belief in a life after death has prom- 
inentlv figured in most religions and has with varying degrees of 
efficacy participated in performance there of the social and per¬ 
sonal functions described above, constitutes no evidence at all 
that there is really for the individual some kind of life after death. 

On the other hand, the psychological fact that what has op¬ 
erated towards perfonnance of those functions is not truth of, 
but simply belief of, the idea of survival, constitutes no evidence 
at all that that idea is untrue. For here as elsewhere it is impera¬ 
tive to distinguish sharply between the question as to whether a 
given belief is true—which is a question ad rem; and questions as 
to how the given belief affects the persons who hold it, or as to 
how they came to hold it—which are questions ad hominem, i.e., 
biographical questions. That a given person came to believe or 
to disbelieve a given proposition does not entail anything con¬ 
cerning the truth or falsity of the proposition unless what caused 
him to believe or to disbelieve it consisted of evidence adequate 
to prove, or at least to make objectively probable, that the proposi¬ 
tion is true, or as the case may be, that it is false. But if what 
induced the belief or disbelief did not consist of such evidence, 
then it leaves wholly open the question of truth or falsity of the 
proposition concerned. 

3. Grounds on which belief in survival is based in Christian 
theology. The grounds on which Christian theologians have con¬ 
tended that the human personality survives after death are chiefly 
of two kinds—empirical, and moral. 

The empirical argument consists in pointing at the resurrec¬ 
tion of Jesus: That Jesus, having died, rose bodily from the dead 
proves, it is argued, that the human personality is not destroyed 
by death and that the human body admits of being resurrected 
after it has died. This proof of “immortality” has been accepted 
by millions of Christians and has been regarded as one of the most 
precious assurances brought to mankind by Jesus. 



Yet the logic of the inference by which human immortality 
is deduced from the resurrection of Jesus is so fallacious that the 
argument has been characterized by Professor C. D. Broad as one 
of the world’s worst. “In the first place,” he writes, “if Christianity 
be true, though Jesus was human, He was also divine. No other 
human being resembles Him in this respect.” Hence the resur¬ 
rection of one so radically different from mere men is no evidence 
that they too survive the death of their bodies. 

The fallacy of the reasoning which would infer the second 
from the first becomes glaring if one considers a reasoning of 
exactly the same form, but the particular terms of which are free 
from the biassing religious commitments that obtain for orthodox 
Christians in the case of the Resurrection: Obviously, from the 
fact that Tom Jones, who falls out of an airplane and has a para¬ 
chute, survives the fall, it does not follow that John Smith, who 
falls out of the same plane but has no parachute, will also survive. 

Moreover, Broad points out that the case of man is unlike 
that of Jesus in another respect also: “the body of Jesus did not 
decay in the tomb, but was transformed; whilst the body of every 
ordinary man rots and disintegrates soon after his death. There¬ 
fore, if men do survive the death of their bodies, the process must 
be utterly unlike that which took place when Jesus survived His 
death on the cross. Thus the analogy breaks down in every rele¬ 
vant respect, and so an argument from the resurrection of Jesus 
to the survival of bodily death by ordinary men is utterly worth¬ 
less.” 1 

But anyway, the facts concerning the resurrection of Jesus- 
taken as premise in that argument—are not known to us exactly, 
or in detail, or with certainty. The men to whom the passages 
of the New Testament bearing on the subject are (rightly or 
wrongly) ascribed, and the men who passed on from one genera¬ 
tion to another their own account of what they had heard about 
the life, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus, were not dis¬ 
passionate historians careful to check the objectivity of the reports 
which came to them and to record them accurately. Rather, they 
were essentially zealous propagandists of an inspiring message, 

1 Religion, Philosophy, and Psychical Research, Harcourt N. Y. 1953, pp. 236-7. 



bent on spreading it and getting it accepted. As H. L. Willett 
points out, “the friends of Jesus were not interested in the writing 
of books. They were not writers, they were preachers. The 
Master himself was not a writer. He left no document from his 
own hand. The first disciples were too busy with the new prob¬ 
lems and activities of the Christian society to give thought to the 
making of records.” l 2 The text of the Gospels was in process of 
getting i emulated for several generations. Most of it did not reach 
the form in which we have it until some time near the middle of 
the second century A.D. Indeed, “the very oldest manuscript of the 
New Testament is as late as the fourth century A.D. All the 
originals, the autographs, perished at a very early date—even the 
first copies of the originals are utterly gone.” 3 

These facts easily account for the discrepancies we find, for 
instance, between the several statements in the Gospels concerning 
the discovery of the empty tomb. Also, for the scantiness of the 
descriptions of the appearances of the “risen” Jesus during the 
weeks following his death. At the first of these appearances—to 
Mary Magdalene at the tomb—he is unaccountably mistaken by 
her, who had known him well, for the gardener (John 20- 15); 
and later is similarly unrecognized at first by the disciples fishing 
in the sea of Tiberias (John 21 -4). Nor is there any clear-cut 
statement that his appearances were touched as well as seen. For, 
at the tomb, he enjoins Mary not to touch him; and Thomas, 
when Jesus appeared to him and to the other disciples, apparently 
then felt no need to avail himself of the opportunity he had de¬ 
sired earlier to verify by touch the material reality of the visible 
appearance. And the statement in Matthew 28 - 9 that the two 
women, being met by Jesus on their way from the tomb, “took 
hold of his feet” may well mean only that, in reverence, they 
prostrated themselves at his feet. 

That the body which the disciples and others repeatedly saw 
appearing and disappearing suddenly indoors irrespective of walls 
and closed doors, and likewise out of doors, was not the material 

l The Bible through the Centuries. Willett, Clark & Colby, Chicago 1929, p. 220. 

•Ernest R. Trattner: Unravelling the Book of Books, Ch. Scribner's Sons, N.Y. 

1929, p. 244. Cf. Alfred Loisy: The Birth of the Christian Religion, preface by 
Gilbert Murray, Allen Sc Unwin, London 1948, pp. 41-53. 



body of Jesus is further suggested by the accounts of his final dis¬ 
appearance; for the statement that he then “was taken up; and a 
cloud received him” out of the disciples’ sight (Acts 1 - 9), or that, 
while blessing them, he “was carried up into heaven” (Luke 
25-51) could be taken literally only in times when astronomical 
knowledge was so lacking as to permit the supposition that the 
earth is the center of the universe, and that heaven is some dis¬ 
tance above the blue vault of the sky. 

In the light of these considerations, and of the complete lack 
of facts as to what became of the material body of Jesus, the state¬ 
ments in the New Testament concerning the several appearances 
of Jesus after his death make sense only if interpreted as reports 
of what are commonly called “apparitions” or “phantasms” of 
the dead—an interpretation which, incidentally, is consonant with 
Paul’s statement (I Corinthians 15 - 40/44) that the resurrection 

of the dead, which “is sown in a natural body;.is raised in 

a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual 
body,” which Paul, in verse 44, calls also a “celestial” body and 
distinguishes from the “terrestrial.” 4 

It is appropriate in this connection to note that apparitions 
of the dead (and occasionally of the living) are a type of phenom¬ 
enon of which numerous well-attested and far more recent in 
stances are on record; 5 and it is interesting to compare the earliest 
testimony we have for the post mortem appearances of Jesus— 
which was first reduced to writing some twenty-five years after the 
events; which reaches us through copies of copies of the original 
written record; and which concerns events dating back nearly 
two thousand years—with, for example, the testimony we have for 
the numerous appearances in Maine in the year 1800 of a woman, 
the first wife of a Captain Butler, after her death. 

It is contained in a pamphlet now very rare, but of which 
there is an original in the New York Public Library and a photo- 

4 That the post mortem appearances of Jesus were not his physical body, but 
were “apparitions” in the sense of hallucinations telcpathically induced by the then 
discarnate Jesus, is ably contended by the Rev. Michael C. Perry in a scholarly 
work, The Easter Enigma, Faber & Faber, London 1959, published since the present 
chapter was written. 

“See for example G. N. M. Tyrrell: Apparitions, with a preface by Prof. H. H. 
Price, London, Duckworth & Co. Ltd., Rev. ed., 1953. 



stat copy now before me. It was published in 1826 by the Rev. 
Abraham Cummings (1755-1827) A.B., A.M., Brown University, 
1776. He was an itinerant Baptist minister who visited and 
preached in the small villages on the coast of Maine. The pam¬ 
phlet, of 77 pages, is entitled Immortality Proved by the Testi¬ 
mony of Sense . It relates the apparitions of the deceased Mrs. 
George Butler at a village near Machiasport. ‘‘The Specter,** as 
the Rev. Cummings terms her apparition, manifested itself not, 
as in most leports of apparitions, just once and to but one person, 
but many times over a period of some months and to groups num¬ 
bering as many as forty persons together, both in and out of doors; 
and to Cummings himself in a field, on the occasion when, having 
been notified of its appearance, he was on his way to expose what 
he had thought must be a delusion or a fraud. 

The “Specter” was both seen and heard; it delivered lengthy 
discourses to the persons present, and moved among them; it pre¬ 
dicted births and deaths which came to pass; and on several occa¬ 
sions sharply intervened in the affairs of the village. Moreover, 
the Rev. Cummings had the rare good sense to obtain at the time 
over thirty affidavits—reproduced in the pamphlet—from some of 
the hundred or more persons who had heard and/or seen the 
“Specter.** 6 

It is safe to say that most readers of the above summary ac¬ 
count of the apparitions of the deceased Mrs. Butler will receive 
it with considerable skepticism. How much more skepticism, then, 
would on purely objective grounds be justified about a series of 
apparitions dating back nearly twenty centuries instead of only 
a hundred and fifty years, and concerning which we have none 
but remotely indirect evidence; whereas in the more recent series 
we have as evidence over thirty verbatim statements from as many 
of the very persons who observed the apparitions. Judging both 
cases objectively—in terms of the criteria applied in court to the 
weight of testimony—there is no doubt that the case for the his- 

•A readily accessible, detailed account of this extraordinary affair can be found 
in William Oliver Stevens’ Unbidden Guests, N.Y. 1945, Dodd, Mead & Co. pp. 
261-9 where the essential facts recorded in the pamphlet are presented in more 
orderly manner than by Cummings, whose literary ability was low, and whose 
recital of the facts is encumbered by tedious theological reflections. 



toricity of the appearances of Jesus is far weaker than that for the 
historicity of the appearances of Mrs. Butler. And yet, although 
we find the latter dubious and perhaps dismiss the account of it 
as “a mere ghost story,” we—or anyway millions of Christians— 
accept on the contrary as literally true the traditional account of 
the appearances of Jesus. 

The explanation of this irresponsibility is, of course, to be 
found in the great differences between the personalities concerned 
and between the historical setting and emotional import of the 
lives and deaths of the two. For the personality, the life, and the 
death of Mrs. Butler were commonplace and attracted no wide 
attention. The only thing that did so in her case was the series of 
her apparitions after death. On the contrary, the personality and 
the life and the death of Jesus were heroic and spectacular; and 
this, together with the inspiring nature of his message, gives great 
emotional interest to everything connected with him. This in¬ 
terest, the hunger to believe it begets, the implanting of the tradi¬ 
tional stories in childhood, and the fact that it is easy to accept 
but hard to doubt what is believed and valued by everybody in 
one’s environment—these are the psychological causes which ac¬ 
count for the fact that most Christians to-day find it easy and 
natural to believe in the “resurrection,” i.e., in the reappearance 
of Jesus after death, even when the weakness of the evidence for 
it is pointed out to them; but on the contrary find the reappear¬ 
ance of Mrs. Butler after her death difficult to believe even when 
the much greater strength of the evidence for it is brought to their 

4. The moral arguments for the reality of a future life. 
From the contention that the resurrection of Jesus assures man 
of life beyond death, we now turn to the so-called moral argu¬ 
ments also appealed to in support of the belief in personal survival. 

The premise of these arguments is the goodness, justice, and 
might ascribed to God. Summarily put, the reasoning is that “if 
God is good and God is sufficiently powerful, how can such a 
God allow the values (potential or actual) bound up with in¬ 
dividuals to become forever lost?.The world would be 

irrational if, after having brought into being human beings who 



aspire against so many almost overwhelming odds to achieve 
higher values, it should dash them into nothingness.” 7 

Again, divine justice assures a future life to man, for, without 
one, the innumerable injustices of the present life would never 
be redressed. The wicked whose wickedness went unpunished on 
earth r perhaps even prospered them would at death be escaping 
punishment altogether; and the virtuous who made sacrifices in 
obedience to duty or out of regard for the welfare of others would 
at death be going finally unrewarded. If moral persons were 
not eventually to gain happiness, then morality, in the many cases 
where it brings no recompense on earth, would be just stupidity. 

Such, in substance, are the moral arguments. Do they prove, 
or at least make probable, that there is for man a life after death? 

Let us examine first the contention that it would be irra¬ 
tional to behave morally at present cost to oneself if such behavior 
is not eventually rewarded by happiness. 

So to contend is tacitly to equate rationality in moral deci¬ 
sions with fostering of one’s own distant welfare. The truth is, 
however, that to behave rationally is simply to behave in ways 
which one believes best promote attainment of one’s ends, such as 
these may be. And the fact is that men do have not only egoistic 
but also altruistic ends: most men do genuinely care, in varying 
degrees, about the welfare of other human beings, or of certain 
ones among these, as well as about their own personal welfare. 
Hence, behavior designed to promote the welfare of another per¬ 
son whose welfare one happens to desire—and perhaps to desire 
more than one's own—is quite as rational as behavior intended and 
shaped to promote one’s personal welfare. Thus, if a man’s be¬ 
havior towards others is motivated on the one hand by belief 
that the particular forms of behavior termed moral make for the 
welfare of such of his fellow beings as are affected by them, and 
on the other by the fact that he does desire their welfare enough 
to subordinate his own to theirs, then his behaving in the ways 
termed moral is perfectly rational. Indeed, so behaving is the 
essence of genuine love; that is, of love that prompts to action 
for the beloved’s welfare; as distinguished from love merely senti- 

’Vergilius Fenn: First Chapters in Religious Philosophy, Round Table Press, 
N.Y. 19S7, p. 279. 



mental which sees the loved one essentially as object that arouses 
beautiful love-feeling and which therefore uses the beloved as 
emotional candy, crippling him in the process if need be. 

Moral behavior, on the other hand, is irrational or rather 
non-rational, when it consists only of uncomprehending, machine¬ 
like obedience to whatever code of behavior happens to have been 
psychologically planted in the mind during childhood years. 

The bearing of these remarks on the contention that morality 
unrewarded on earth is irrational if not rewarded after death is 
that true morality is rooted in intelligent love and, for the person 
whose morality it is, constitutes self-expression and is self-reward¬ 
ing. Being not investment but generous gift, it takes no thought 
of dividends whether on earth or in a future life. 

As regards now the contention that if God is good and is 
sufficiently powerful, he cannot allow the actual and potential 
values bound up with individuals to become forever lost, its ob¬ 
vious weakness is that its premise is altogether “iffy*': if there is 
a God, if he is good, if he is powerful enough to preserve the soul 
when the body dies, if the world is rational, if justice ultimately 
obtains, then there is for man a life after death! It may be that 
these “ifs” are true, but so long as they have not been proved 
true, neither has the reality of the future life, which their being 
true would entail, been proved. 

And the fact is that their truth has never yet been proved nor 
even shown to be more probable than not. All the would-be 
proofs of the existence of an omnipotent, omniscient, and per¬ 
fectly good creator of the world, which theologians and theologiz¬ 
ing philosophers have elaborated in the course of the centuries 
have, on critical examination, turned out to be only ingenious 
pieces of wishful reasoning. Indeed, if a God of that description 
existed and had created the world, there could be no evil in it; 
for the endless sophistries which have been packed into the notion 
of “free will” for the purpose of eluding this ineludible conclu 
sion have patently failed to do so. Hence, if the world was ever 
created, and if it was created by a God, then that God was finite 
whether in power or in goodness or in knowledge, or in two or in 
all of these respects. Even such a God, however, could be a power¬ 
ful, wise and good friend, and as such well worth having. 



In any case, that annihilation of the personality at death 
would be an evil-and hence that God would prevent it if he 
could—is far from evident. For there is ultimately no such thing 
as evil that nobody experiences; hence, if the individual is totally 
annihilated at death, the non-fulfilment of his desire for a post 
mo 'em life is not an evil experienced by him since, ex hypothesi, 
he tlh n no longer exists and therefore does not experience dis¬ 
appointment or anything else. But, if God does not desire that 
man's desire for a life after death be fulfilled, and knows that it 
will not be, the non-fulfilment of man’s desire for it is not a dis¬ 
appointment to God either, and is therefore not an evil at all. On 
the other hand, what is an evil—and this irrespective of whether 
there is or is not a life after death—is the distress experienced by 
the living due to doubt by them that they will, or that their de¬ 
ceased loved ones do, survive after death. 

The remarks in this chapter concerning the nature and func¬ 
tions of religion, the alleged proofs of the existence of a God of 
the traditional kind, the nature of evil, and the implications of the 
fact that there is a vast amount of evil on earth, have perforce 
been much too brief to deal adequately with questions so heavily 
loaded with biassing emotion. 8 If those remarks are sound, how¬ 
ever, they entail that neither religion nor theology' really provides 
any evidence that there is for man a life after death. 

But even if there is not, believing that there is does affect 
the believer’s feelings, attitudes, and conduct; and to affect these 
in the valuable ways described earlier is the function of religion, 
which it has performed with varying degrees of success. The func¬ 
tion, on the other hand, of the arguments on which theology 
bases its affirmative answer to the question as to a life after death, 
is to make the idea that there is such a life psychologically be¬ 
lievable by the vast numbers of human beings who, for obvious 
reasons, turn to religion rather than to science or to philosophy 
for an answer to that momentous question. 

•Readers who might wish to see what more elaborate defense of them the 
writer would give are referred to what he has written on the subject elsewhere. In 
particular, to Chapts. 8, 15, 16, and 17, respectively on What Religion is, Gods, 
The Problem of Evil, and Life after Death, of the author’s A Philosophical 
Scrutiny of Religion, Ronald Press, New York, 1953. 



That these arguments achieve this but nothing more, i.e., 
convince many of the persons to whom they are addressed not¬ 
withstanding that they really prove nothing, does not mean that 
those who propound them are not sincere It means only that, 
except in the case of outstandingly rational persons, becoming 
convinced and convincing others is, as pointed out earlier, mostly 
a matter of rhetoric, of suggestion, of appeal to prejudices or to 
fears or hopes; whereas proving or establishing probabilities is a 
matter of logic or of empirical evidence. 

Chapter 111 


In Chapt. I we were occupied mainly with the variety of 
psychological factors which cause people to believe, or as the case 
may be to disbelieve, that there is or can be a life after death for 
the individual. As pointed out in Sec. 6 of that chapter and again 
at the end of Chapt. II, some considerations may induce belief, 
or disbelief, and yet constitute no evidence or insufficient evidence 
that what is believed is true or what is disbelieved false; for to 
convince is one thing, and to prove is another. 

In the present chapter, on the other hand, what we shall con¬ 
sider are the grounds, empirical and theoretical, on which is based 
the now widespread belief that the Natural Sciences have by this 
time definitely proved that any life after death is an impossibility. 
As Professor J. B. Rhine notes in a recent article, “the continued 
advance of biology and psychology during the last half-century 
has.... made the spirit [survival] hypothesis appear increasingly 
more improbable to the scholarly mind. The mechanistic (or 
physicalistic) view of man has become the mental habit of the 
student of science; and with the wide popular influence of science, 
the effect on educated men is well-nigh universal.” 1 

What then are, in some detail, the grounds on which the 
scholarly mind is maintaining that survival is impossible or at best 

1. Empirical facts that appear to rule out the possibility of 
survival. There are a number of facts—some of common observa¬ 
tion and others brought to light by the Natural Sciences—which, 
it has been contended, definitely show both that the existence of 

Research on Spirit Survival Reexamined Journal of Parapsychology, Vol. 20: 
124, No. 2. June 1956. 




consciousness is wholly dependent on that of a living organism, 
and—some of them—that the particular nature of the consciousness 
at given times likewise wholly depends on the particular state of 
the organism at those times. 

a) For one, it is pointed out that nowhere except in living 
organisms are evidences of consciousness found. 

b) Again, as observation passes from the lower to the higher 
animal organisms, the fact becomes evident that the more elab¬ 
orately organized the body and especially the nervous system is, 
the greater, more subtle and more capable of fine discriminations 
is the consciousness associated with it. 

c) Again, everyone knows that when the body dies, the fa¬ 
miliar evidences of the consciousness it had possessed cease to 
occur; and that, even when the body is still living, a severe blow 
on the head or other injuries will, temporarily, have the same 

d) The dependence of consciousness on the brain, moreover, 
is not only thus wholesale but obtains in some detail. Lesion, 
whether by external or by internal causes, of certain regions of 
the cortex of the brain eliminates or impairs particular mental 
capacities—for example, the capacity to understand written words; 
or as the case may be, spoken words; or the capacity to speak, or it 
may be to write, notwithstanding that the capacity to produce 
sounds or to move the hand and fingers is unimpaired. 

Similarly, the capacity for the various kinds of sensations— 
visual, auditory, tactual, etc.—is connected in the case of each with 
a different region of the brain; and the capacity for voluntary 
motion of different parts of the body is dependent on different 
parts of the brain cortex, situated along the fissure of Rolando. 
The parts of the brain which govern these various sensory and 
motor capacities vary somewhat from person to person; and, in a 
given person, a capacity destroyed by lesion of the cortical center 
for it often returns gradually as, presumably, a different part of 
the cortex takes on the lost function. But the fact that the mental 
powers are dependent on the functioning of the brain remains 2 

•Concerning the general plan of the nervous system, and the dependence of 
various mental capacities on particular regions of the brain, see for example pp. 
24-35, and the diagrams there, in Warren Sc Carmichael’s Elements of Human Psy¬ 
chology, Houghton Mifflin & Co. Boston, 1930. 



e) The dependence is further demonstrated when certain re¬ 
gions of the brain are radically disconnected from the rest, as by 
the operation called prefrontal lobotomy; for marked changes in 
the personality then result. 

f) Again, changes in the chemical composition of the body 
♦luids affect the states of consciousness. The psychological effects 
of alcohol and of caffein are familiar to everybody. Various drugs 
—mescalin, lysergic acid diethylamide, sodium amytal, sodium 
pentothal, heroin, opium, benzedrin, etc.—affect in diverse remark¬ 
able ways the contents of consciousness, the impulses, dispositions, 
and attitudes. Consciousness is affected also by the quantity of 
oxygen, and of carbon dioxide, in the blood. And the retardation 
in bodily and mental development known as cretinism can be 
remedied by administration of thyroid extract. 

g) To the same general effect is the fact that, by stimulating 
in appropriate ways the body’s sense organs, corresponding states 
of consciousness, to wit, the several kinds of sensations, can be 
caused at will in a person; and, conversely, the capacity for them 
can be done away with by destroying the respective sense organs 
or cutting the sensory nerves. 

h) Again, the typical differences between the male and the 
female personality are related to the differences between the sex 
functions of the body of man and those of the body of woman. 

i) The facts of heredity show that the particular personality 
an individual develops depends in part on the aptitudes his body 
inherits from the germ plasm of his progenitors. And observation 
shows that the rest depends on the environmental conditions to 
which he is subjected from the time of birth onward. How im¬ 
portant in particular these are during childhood is strikingly 
shown by such cases as that of the two “wolf children” of India, 
the older case of the “wild boy of Aveyron,” and a few others 
where young children had somehow managed to maintain life 
and to grow up among animals without human contacts until 
later discovered and studied. They had developed various animal 
skills, and virtually lost the capacity to acquire the skills, e.g., for 
speech, which a child automatically picks up at a certain age when 
situated in a human environment. 3 

'The Wild Boy of Aveyron, by J-M-G Itard, The Century Co. London 19S2 



2. Theoretical considerations that appear to preclude sur¬ 
vival. That continued existence of consciousness after death is 
impossible has been argued also on the basis of theoretical con¬ 

j) It has been contended, for instance, that what we call 
states of consciousness—ideas, sensations, volitions, feelings, and 
so on—are in fact nothing but the minute chemical or physical 
events themselves, which take place in the tissues of the brain; 
for example, the chemical change we call a nerve current, which 
propagates itself from one end of a nerve fiber to the other, and 
then on to the dendrites of another fiber; the electrical phe 
nomena, externally detectable by electroencephalography, which 
accompany nerve currents; the alterations which, at the synapse 
of two neurons, facilitate or inhibit the propagation of a nerve 
current from one to the other; and so on. 

k) That these various brain processes must be the very 
processes themselves, which we ordinarily call mental, follows, 
it has been contended, from the fact that the alternative supposi¬ 
tion—namely, that ideas, volitions, sensations, emotions, and other 
“mental” states are not physical events at all—would entail the 
absurdity that non-physical events can cause, and be caused by, 
physical events. For, it is asked, how could a non-physical volition 
or idea push or pull the physical molecules in the brain? Or, con 
versely, how could a motion of molecules in the brain cause a 
visual or auditory or other kind of sensation if sensations were 
not themselves physical events? 

l) The possibility of it, one is told, is anyway ruled out 
a priori by the principle of the conservation of energy; for causa¬ 
tion of a material event in the brain by a mental, i.e., by an im¬ 
material event, would mean that some additional quantity of en¬ 
ergy suddenly pops into the physical world out of nowhere: and 
causation of a mental event by a physical nerve current would 
mean dissipation of some quantity of energy out of the physical 

(tr. from the 1894 French edition.) Wolf Children of India, by P. C. Squires. Am. J 
of Psychol., 1927, No. 38, p. 313. Wolf-Children and Feral Man, by J A. L. Singh 
and R. M. Zinng, Harper & Bros. New York 1942. Wolf Child and Human Child, 
by A. Gesell, Harper & Bros. New York 1941. 



The conclusion is therefore drawn that the events we call 
“mental” cannot be either effects or causes of the molecular 
processes in the nerve cells of the brain, but must be those very 
processes themselves. And then, necessarily, cessation of these 
processes is cessation of consciousness. 

m) Another conception of consciousness, which is more often 
met with today than the chemico-physical one just described, but 
which also implies that consciousness cannot possibly survive after 
bodily death, is that “consciousness” is the name by which we 
designate merely certain types of behavior—those, namely, which 
differentiate the animals from all other things in nature. Accord¬ 
ing to this view, for example, an animal’s consciousness of a differ¬ 
ence between two objects consists in the difference of its be¬ 
havior towards each. More explicitly, this means that the dif¬ 
ference of behavior is what consciousness of difference between 
the two objects is; not , as commonly assumed, that the dif¬ 
ference of behavior is only the behavioral sign that, in the ani¬ 
mal, something not publicly observable and not physical—called 
“consciousness that the two objects are different”—is occurring. 

Or again, consciousness of the typically human kind called 
‘ thought,” is identified with the typically human sort of behavior 
called “speech;” and this, again not in the sense that speech ex¬ 
presses or manifests something different from itself, called 
“thought,” but in the sense that speech—whether uttered or only 
whispered—/* thought itself. And obviously if thought, or any 
mental activity, is thus but some mode of behavior of the living 
body, the mind or consciousness cannot possibly survive the body’s 

n) In support of the monistic conception of man which the 
foregoing facts and reflections point to as against the dualistic 
conception of material body-immaterial mind, the methodolog¬ 
ical principle known as the Law of Parsimony has also been in¬ 
voked. This is done, for example, in the third chapter of a book, 
The Illusion of Immortality, which is probably the best recent 
statement in extenso of the case against the possibility of any life 
after death. 4 Dr. Lamont there states that the law of parsimony 

‘Corliss Lamont: The Illusion of Immortality, Philosophical Library, New York, 
1950, Ch. Ill The Verdict of Science, pp. 114-16. Dr. Lamont states, erroneously, 



“makes the dualist theory appear distinctly superfluous. It rules 
out dualism by making it unnecessary. In conjunction with the 
monistic alternative it pushes the separate and independent super¬ 
natural soul into the limbo of unneeded and unwanted hypotheses 

.the complexity of the cerebral cortex, together with the 

intricate structure of the rest of the nervous system and the mech¬ 
anism of speech, makes any explanation of thought and conscious¬ 
ness in other than naturalistic terms wholly unnecessary. If some 
kind of supernatural soul or spirit is doing our thinking for us, 
then why did there evolve through numberless aeons an organ 
so well adapted for this purpose as the human brain?” (pp. 

3. The contention that no plausible form of post mortem 
life is imaginable. Another consideration still has been brought 
up, notably by Lamont in the book cited, as standing in the way 
of the possibility of a life after death. It is: 

o) the difficulty of imagining at all plausibly what form a 
life could take that were discarnate and yet were not only per 
sonal but of the same person as the ante mortem one. For to sup¬ 
pose that a given personality survives is to suppose not simply 
persistence of consciousness, but persistence also of the individual’s 
character, acquired knowledge, cultural skills and interests, habits, 
memories, and awareness of personal identity. Indeed, persistence 
merely of these would hardly constitute persistence of life ; for, 
in the case of man anyway, to live is to go on meeting new situa¬ 
tions and, by exerting oneself to deal with them, to enlarge one’s 
experience, acquire new insights, develop one’s latent capacities, 
and accomplish objectively significant tasks. But it is hard to 

that the law of parsimony “was first formulated in the fourteenth century by 

.William of Occam, in the words: 'Entities (of explanation) are not to 

be multiplied beyond need.' ” The fact, however, appears to be that the form 
Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem , to which Sir Wm. Hamilton in 
1852 gave the name “Occam's razor," originated with John Ponce of Cork in 1639; 
and that the law of parsimony was formulated, prior to Occam, by his teacher Duns 
Scotus and some other mediaeval philosophers, in various forms; notably, frustra 
fit per plura quod fieri potest per pauciora, i.e., the more is in vain when the less 
will serve (to account for the facts to be explained.) See W. M. Thorbura, The 
Myth of Occam’s Razor. Mind , XXVII (1927) pp. 345 ff. 



imagine all this possible without a body and an environment for 
it, upon which to act and from which to receive impressions. On 
the other hand, if a body and an environment were supposed, 
but of some “etheric” or '‘spiritual” kind, i.e., of a kind radically 
different from bodies of flesh and their material environment, then 
it is paradoxical to suppose that, under such drastically different 
conditions, a personality could remain the same as before to an 
extent at all comparable to that of the sameness we now retain 
from day to day or even from year to year. 

To take a crude but telling analogy, it is past belief that, if 
the body of any one of us were suddenly changed into that of a 
shark or an octopus and placed in the ocean, his personality 
could, for more than a very short time if at all, recognizably sur¬ 
vive so radical a change of environment, of bodily form, of bodily 
needs, and of bodily capacities. 

The considerations set forth in this chapter constitute the 
essentials of the basis for the contention that persistence of the 
individual’s consciousness or personality after the death of his 
body is impossible. Such persistence, Lamont argues, is ruled out 
by the kind of relation between body and mind testified to by 
those considerations. The connection between mind and body is, 
he writes, “so exceedingly intimate that it becomes inconceivable 

how one could function properly without the 

is a unified whole of mind-body or personality-body so closely 
and completely integrated that dividing him up into two separate 
and more or less independent parts becomes impermissible and 
unintelligible .” 5 

It should be noted, however, that both in the allegation that 
the considerations reviewed establish the impossibility of survival, 
and in the contention that those considerations on the contrary 
fail to establish this, certain key concepts are employed. Among 
the chief of these are “material,” “mental,” “body,” “mind,” “con¬ 
sciousness,” “life,” and a number of subsidiary others. Usually, in 
controversies regarding survival, little or no attempt is made to 
specify exactly the meaning those terms are taken to have, for all 
of them belong to the vocabulary of ordinary language and it is 

g The Illusion of Immortality. Philosophical Library, New York 1950, pp. 89- 

113 . 



therefore natural to assume that they are well-understood. And so 
indeed they are—in the ingenuous manner, habit-begotten and 
unanalytical, that is adequate for ordinary conversational and 
literary purposes. But such understanding of them is far from pre¬ 
cise enough to permit clear discernment of the issues in so special 
and elusive a question as that of the possibility or reality of a 
life after death for the individual. 

The fact is that, so long as our understanding of those terms 
remains thus relatively vague, we do not even know just what it 
is we want to know when we ask that seemingly plain question— 
nor, a fortiori, do wc then know what evidence, if we had it. would 
conclusively decide the question or at least establish a definite 
probability on one side or the other. Hence, if our eventual in 
quiry into the merits of the case outlined in this chapter against 
the possibility of survival is to have any prospect of reaching con¬ 
clusions worthier of the name of knowledge than have been the 
findings of earlier inquirers, then we must first of all undertake 
an analysis of the pivotal concepts mentioned above. That anal¬ 
ysis, moreover, must be not only precise enough to define sharply 
the issues to which those concepts are relevent, but must also be 
responsible in the sense of empirical, not arbitrarily prescriptive. 

This is the task to which we shall address ourselves in Part II. 


The Key Concepts 


Chapter IV 


Until the last years of the nineteenth century, physicists be¬ 
lieved that the rocks, metals, water, wood, and all the other sub¬ 
stances about us are ultimately composed of atoms of one or more 
of some seventy-eight kinds—those atoms, as the very word signi¬ 
fies, being indivisible, i.e., not themselves composed of more mi¬ 
nute parts. 

Since then, however, the progress of physics has revealed the 
sub atomic electrons, protons, neutrons, positrons, mesons, etc. 
The sub atomic “particles” are at distances from one another that 
are vast relatively to their own size, so that a material object, such 
as a table, turns out to consist mostly of space empty of anything 
more substantial than electric charges or electromagnetic fields. 

This state of affairs is what is meant by the statement occa¬ 
sionally heard that modern physics has “dematerialized” matter— 
from which it is sometimes concluded that the traditionally sharp 
distinction between matter and mind, or material and mental, 
has been invalidated or at least undermined. 

Yet, if in the dark one walks into a table, one does not pass 
through it but gets a bruise. Whatever may be the recondite sub¬ 
atomic constitution of the table and of other “solid” objects, they 
do anyway have the capacity to resist penetration by other such 
objects. Physics has not dematerialized matter in the sense of 
having shown that wood, water, air, living bodies, and other 
familiar substances do not really have the properties we perceive 
them to have. What physics has shown is that their familiar prop¬ 
erties are very different indeed from those of their sub atomic 




1. Two questions to be distinguished. The allegation that 
physics has now shown that the things we call material are not 
really material rests only on a failure to distinguish between two 
quite different questions. 

One of them is about the nature of the ultimate constituents 
of all material things and about the laws governing the relations 
of those constituents to one another. This is the question to which 
theoretical physics addresses itself. The task of answering it is 
long, highly technical, and still unfinished. And the answers, so 
far as they have yet been obtained, have no obvious bearing on the 
problem of the possibility or reality of a life after death. 

The other question is on the contrary easy to answer; and 
the answer, as we shall eventually see, has bearing on the validity 
or invalidity of some of the considerations alleged to rule out 
survival. The only thing difficult about the second question is 
to realize that we already know perfectly well the answer to it, 
and that our failure to notice this is due only to the fact that we 
do not clearly distinguish the second question from the first. 

For purposes of contrast, the first may be phrased: What do 
physicists find when they search for the ultimate constituents of 
the things we call “material?” On the other hand, the second 
hut of course methodologically prior question is: Which things 
are the ones called “material?” 

2. Which things are “material?” The answer to the second 
of these two questions obviously is that the things called “ma¬ 
terial” are the rocks, air, water, plants, animal bodies, and so on, 
about us; that is, comprehensively, the substances, processes, 
events, relations, characteristics, etc., that are perceptually public 
or can be made so. 

No doubt is possible that, originally and fundamentally, these 
things are the ones denominated “material” or “physical;” i.e., 
that they are the ones denoted—pointed at— by these names. 
Moreover, unless the physicist already knew, thus as a matter of 
linguistic usage, that those things are the ones we refer to when 
we speak of “material” things, he would not even know which 
things are the ones whose ultimate constituents we are asking 
him to investigate and to reveal to us. 



The point, then, which is here crucial is that the objects, 
events, etc., that are perceptually public are called “material” or 
“physical” not because technical research had detected as hidden 
in all of them some recondite peculiarity that constituted their 
materiality, but simply because some name was needed—and the 
name, “material,” was adopted—by which to refer comprehen¬ 
sively to all perceptually public things. 

The case with regard to these things and to our calling them 
“material” is thus parallel in all essentials to that of a given boy 
called George. He is not so called because scrutiny of him after 
birth disclosed to his parents presence in him of a peculiar char¬ 
acteristic, to wit, Georgeness. Rather, “George” is simply the 
name or tag assigned to him by his parents in order to be able to 
refer to him without actually pointing at him. Similarly, “ma¬ 
terial” or “physical” is simply the name or tag assigned by custom 
to the part of the world that is perceptually public or is capable 
of being made so. 

Hence the question as to what recondite peculiarities are pos¬ 
sessed by material things is intelligible at all and is capable at all 
of being empirically investigated, only after one knows which 
things are the ones to be examined in order to answer it; that is, 
knows which things are the ones named “material”—just as one 
can discover the recondite peculiarities of George only after one 
knows which hoy is the one named George. 

3. “Material,” derivatively vs. fundamentally. Something, 
however, must now be added to the statement made above that, 
originally and fundamentally, what the expressions “the material 
world” or “the physical world” denote is the things, events, proc¬ 
esses, characteristics, etc., that are or can be made perceptually 

The addition called for is that, secondly and derivatively, 
those expressions denote also the minute or otherwise unper - 
ceivable constituents of whatever is or can be made perceptually 
public. The existence and the characteristics of these recondite 
constituents are discovered, not of course by perceptual observa¬ 
tion of them since they are not perceptible; but by theoretical in¬ 
ference from certain perceived occurrences which turn out to be 



inexplicable and unpredictable except on the supposition that 
they are effects of certain processes among unperceivable constit¬ 
uents of the perceived things—constituents, namely, having the 
very properties in terms of which we define the nature of the 
“atoms,'’ “electrons,” etc., which we postulate exist. The reality 
of these is then confirmed empirically in so far as the postu¬ 
lating of them turns out to enable us to predict and sometimes 
to control occurrences that are capable of being perceived but 
that until then had remained unobserved or unexplained. 

The title, then, of those recondite theoretical entities and 
events to be called “material” or “physical” is not, like that of 
trees, stones, water, etc., that they are perceptually public since 
they are not so; but that they are existentially implicit in the 
things that are perceptually public. 

4. What is “living.” In an article circulated to newspapers 
by the Associated Press early in December 1957, Dr. Selman Waks- 
man, Nobel prize winner in biology, rightly points out that the 
question whether life after death is possible cannot be answered 
until its meaning has first been made clear. He then proceeds to 
define the meaning he attaches to “life” and to “death” by listing 
certain observable and measurable functions—growth, metabolism, 
respiration, reproduction, adaptation to environment, and intelli¬ 
gence—as being those which, together, differentiate living from 
non-living material and constitute the “life” of the former; and 
by defining “death” as termination of those functions. 

After some technical biological elaboration, he comes to the 
conclusion that “any belief in life after death is in disagreement 
with all the accumulated wisdom and knowledge of modem bi¬ 
ology”—a conclusion, however, which, notwithstanding its im¬ 
pressive allusion to biological science, then reduces to the mere 
truism that when the functions constituting life terminate they 
do not persist! 

But, as we stated briefly at the beginning of Chapt. I, there 
are two senses in which a man may be said to “live.” One is the 
biological sense, defined as by Dr. Waksman in terms of certain 
public, measurable processes. The other is the psychological sense. 
It is defined in terms of occurrence of states of consciousness — 



occurrence of the sensations, images, feelings, emotions, attitudes, 
thoughts, desires, etc., privately experienced directly by each of 
us: that a man is “living” in the psychological sense means that 
ones and others of these keep occurring. Moreover life, in this 
psychological sense of the term, is what man essentially prizes and 
is usually what he means when he speaks of a “life” after the 
death and decay of the body. 

A biologist would of course be likely to say that, anyway, 
states of consciousness are effects of certain of the processes going 
on in bodies that are biologically “living”; and hence that when 
these die the stream of states of consciousness necessarily ter- 
minates. But this does not logically follow from the known facts: 
for although the biologist knows that some states of consciousness 
are effects of bodily processes, he does not know but only piously 
postulates that all of them without exception are so. Moreover, 
he does not know that some at least of the states of consciousness 
which certain bodily processes cause might not possibly be caus- 
able also in some other way, and hence might not go on occur¬ 
ring after biological life terminates. In any case, the question as 
to whether they then can or do go on is not answered by the 
truism that when biological life terminates, it does not continue. 

Dr. Waksman’s conclusion that biological life after biological 
death is biologically impossible escapes vacuousness only if taken 
to refer specifically to the idea that “life after death” means resur¬ 
rection of the flesh; that is, (a) reconstitution of the body after it 
has died and its material has been dispersed by decay or by worms, 
vultures, sharks, or cremation; and then, (b) resumption in the 
reconstituted body of the processes of growth, metabolism, respira¬ 
tion, etc., which constitute biological “life.” 

Such reconstitution and resumption is what indeed is “in 
disagreement with all the accumulated wisdom and knowledge of 
modem biology.” 

The distinction between biological and psychological life 
having now been made sharp, it is appropriate to notice that, in 
the case of either, being alive is not a matter of wholly or not at 
all. When the body is in coma, under anesthesia, in a faint, or in 
deep sleep, the processes of “vegetative” life still go on, but such 
bodily activities as eating, drinking, seeking food, hiding from or 



fighting enemies, etc., which are typical of the body’s “animal” 
life, are in abeyance, as well as the bodily activities distinctive of 
“human” life-examples of which would be speaking, writing, 
reading, constructing instruments and operating them, trading, 
and the other “cultural” activities. 

In the psychological life of human beings, various levels may 
likewise be distinguished. The neonate’s psychological life com¬ 
prises only sensations, feelings, emotions, and blind impulses. 
Memory, association of ideas, expectations, conscious purpose, do 
not yet enter into it. Soon, however, some states of consciousness 
come to function as signs —signs of events or facts other than them¬ 
selves. At later stages of individual development, psychological 
life at a given time may consist only of uncontrolled dreaming, 
whether by day or night. At other times psychological life is on 
the contrary active—inventive, heuristic, critical, consciously pur¬ 
posive. And it is conceivable that, if there is any life in the psy¬ 
chological sense after biological death, such life may consist of 
only certain ones of these various kinds of psychological processes. 

Chapter V 


From the things, events, etc., called “physical” or “material, ’ 
we now turn to those called “psychical” or “mental.” With regard 
to these, the same two questions arise as did concerning the others. 
Stated here in their right methodological order, they are: (1) 
Which events, processes, etc., are the ones named “psychical” or 
“mental?” and (2) What characteristic does empirical examine.ion 
discover as peculiar to all of them? 

1. Which occurrences are denominated “mental”. The an 
swer to the first of those two questions is that, originally and 
fundamentally, the events, processes, etc. denoted by the terms 
“psychical” or “mental” are the inherently private ones each per¬ 
son can, in himself and only in himself, attend to in the direct 
manner which— whether felicitously or not— is called Introspec¬ 
tion. “Mental” or “psychological” events are thus, fundamentally, 
the immediate experiences, familiar at first hand to each of us, 
of which the various species are called “thoughts,” “ideas,” “de¬ 
sires,” “emotions,” “cravings,” “moods,” “sensations,” “mental 
images,” “volitions,” and so on; or comprehensively, “states or 
modes of consciousness.” 

What introspection discloses may to some extent be published 
by the person concerned, but is never itself public. To publish 
the fact that at a given time one’s state of consciousness is of a 
certain kind consists in performing certain perceptually public 
acts—vocal, graphic, gestural, facial, or other—that are such as to 
cause the percipients of them to think of a state of consciousness 
of that kind and to believe that the state of consciousness of the 
performer of those acts is of that kind at the time. This is what, 
for example, utterance of the words “I am anxious,” or “I wonder 
where I parked my car,” or “I remember him,” etc. ordinarily 




causes to occur in the person who hears them. But the utterer s 
state of consciousness, which such words symbolized, is never 
itself public in the sense in which the sound of those words, or 
the written words, are public. That state of consciousness is in¬ 
herently private to the particular person, of whose history alone 
it is an item-private in the sense that no other person can ex¬ 
amine it, whereas each person can examine his own states of 
consciousness; can, for instance, compare directly the feeling he 
calls “anxiety” with the feeling he calls “wonder,” etc. 

2. Introspection, Inspection, Intuition. In the case of sen¬ 
sations, attention directly to them-vs. to what they may be signs 
of or to what they may be caused by—is termed by some writers 
Inspection rather than Introspection. Inspection in this technical 
sense, then, no less than Introspection, is attention directly to 
experiences that are inherently private; for, evidently, we cannot 
attend to another person’s sensations themselves, but only to his 
appearance or behavior. Such knowledge as we have concerning 
his sensations results from our automatically interpreting certain 
modes of his behavior as signs that, in given situations, he is ex¬ 
periencing sensations similar to, or as the case may be, different 
from, those we are experiencing. 

For example, we do not and cannot discover that another 
person is, say, color-blind to red-green, by inspecting the sensa¬ 
tions he has when he looks at grass and at a poppy, and compar¬ 
ing them with the sensations we have when we look at the same 
objects. We discover it by attending to his perceptually public 
behavior on such occasions, by noticing that in certain ways it is 
consistently different from our own on the same occasions, and 
by taking this as signifying that his color-sensations correspond¬ 
ingly differ from ours. 

For the direct kind of experience, whether attentive or in¬ 
attentive, which when attentive is called specifically Introspection, 
or by some writers in the particular case of sensations, Inspection, 
a generic name is needed; but no such generic name less cumber¬ 
some than “State of consciousness, as such” appears to exist in 
ordinary language. I have therefore proposed for this elsewhere, 
in default of a better, the name Intuition —defining Intuition as 



occurrence of some state of consciousness, as such , i.e., as distin¬ 
guished from what it may be consciousness of, in the sense of 
may signify. 

Intuition, then, may be attentive (clear) or inattentive (dis¬ 
persed, dim;) and, in so far as attentive, it is then inspcctive, or 
introspective, according as the state of consciousness attended to 
is a sensation, or is other than a sensation. 

3. “Content” vs. “object” of consciousness. The second of 
the two questions mentioned at the outset, namely, what internal 
character is peculiar to all the events, processes, etc. that are intui 
tions as just defined, i.e., are “mental” or “psychical,” is more 
technical than the first. Fortunately, it does not need to be gone 
into at any length for present purposes. 1 shall therefore say 
here, without attempting to argue the point, only that in the case 
of the events, processes, etc. in view and only in their case, existing 
consists solely in being experienced and being experienced con¬ 
stitutes the whole of existing. That is, in their case but only in 
their case, esse est percipi. This is the peculiarity that differen¬ 
tiates them from all other things, events, or processes. The term 
“Intuition” thus designates the experiencing of such an experi¬ 
ence—an intuition standing to the intuiting thereof in the same 
kind of relation as, for example, a stroke being struck stands to 
the striking thereof (not, to the object struck;) that is, :n both 
cases equally, as the “connate” or “internal” accusative of the ac¬ 
tivity concerned, as distinguished from the “alien” or “objective” 
accusative of it. Similarly, compare tasting a taste with tasting a 
substance, tasting bitter taste with tasting quinine, thinking a 
thought with thinking of New York, etc. 

Introspection, then, and likewise “Inspection,” is intuition 
attentive to its own modality of the moment, instead of, as nor¬ 
mally, inattentive to it. Its particular modality at any moment 
I term the content of consciousness at the moment, as distin¬ 
guished from the object of consciousness at the moment. 1 

In connection with the above account of states of conscious- 

x The contentions and the terminological proposals sketched in this and the 
preceding two sections are explicated and defended in detail in Chapts. 12, 13 ?nd 
14 of my Nature, Mind, and Death Open Court Pub Co. La Salle, 111 1951 . See iu 
particular pp. 230-40, 275-80, 293-5, 302. 



ness, it will be appropriate to comment here briefly on the fact, of 
which much is being made these days, that we all possess a vocab¬ 
ulary, understood by our fellows, for mental states or states of 
consciousness. This, it is alleged, means that mental states can¬ 
not, as generally has been assumed and as asserted in the text 
above, be occurrences unobservable by other persons than the 
particular one in whom they occur, i.e., be inherently private. 

Rather, it is contended, the denotation of the words which 
denote mental states must have been learned by us in the same 
manner as that of the words which denote physical objects and 
events; namely, by our hearing them applied by other persons to 
public occurrences which they and ourselves were witnessing— 
these, however, being denominated specifically “mental” when 
they consisted of modes of behavior of certain special kinds; e.g., 
anger-behavior, goal-seeking-behavior, listening-behavior, seeing- 
behavior, etc. 

A crucial fact, however, is overlooked by this would-be-in¬ 
clusive behavioristic account of the manner in which men have 
acquired a shared vocabulary for mental states notwithstanding 
the latter’s inherent privacy. That crucial fact is that when the 
behavior, witnessed by another person, which moves him to em¬ 
ploy one or another of the “mental” words in characterizing it, 
is our own behavior—e.g., when he says to us: “Now, don’t be so 
angry" or “Don’t you see that bird?” or “What were you dream¬ 
ing just before I woke you?” or “You are wondering at my ap¬ 
pearance today,” etc.—then the words italicized do not denote 
for us our behavior , which the other person is attending to but 
we are not. Instead and automatically, they denote for us in each 
case the mental state itself which we are subjectively experiencing 
—feeling, intuiting, immediately apprehending—and which, ir¬ 
respective of how in particular it may be connected with our be¬ 
havior at the moment, is anyway not that behavior itself but 
something radically different and inherently private. In English, 
“anger-behavior” denotes one thing, which is public; and “anger” 
denotes another thing, which is publishable but never itself 
public. It is only in Behaviorese—the doctrinaire language of 
the creed of radical behaviorism—that “anger” denotes anger- 



A recent widely discussed work, Gilbert Ryle's The Con 
cept. of Mind y appears largely based on its author’s overlooking 
the crucial fact just mentioned. And one contention in it of 
which much has been made, to wit, that there are no acts of 
will or volitions, is based merely on failure to notice that although 
many voluntary acts indeed are not caused by any act of will, 
nevertheless certain other acts that are voluntary acts are in ad¬ 
dition willed acts, i.e., are initiated by deliberate volitions. 

4. “Mental,” derivatively vs. fundamentally. There now 
remains to point out that, just as the expression “the material 
world” denotes not alone whatever events, processes, thing* etc. 
are or can be made perceptually public, but also, derivatively, 
the imperceptible constituents of them; so likewise the events, 
processes, etc. denominated “psychical” or “mental” include not 
only those, such as mentioned above, that are introspectively 
or “inspectively” scrutinizable, but also, derivatively , ceitain 
others which are not accessible to “inspection” or introspection 
and are therefore termed “subconscious” or “unconscious” instead 
of “conscious.” 

These would comprise such items as the repressed wishes or 
impulses, the forgotten emotional experiences, the complexes, 
censors, etc. which psychoanalysts find themselves led to postulate 
as hidden constituents or activities of the human mind, in order 
to account for some otherwise inexplicable psychological pecu¬ 
liarities of some persons. 

Such hidden constituents can sometimes be brought to con¬ 
sciousness under the direction of the psychoanalyst; but the ex¬ 
ploration of these normally unintrospectable psychological factors 
is still in its infancy as compared with the exploration of the 
atomic and sub-atomic levels of materiality. The mere fact, how¬ 
ever, now definitely known, that there are such things as uncon¬ 
scious, i.e., at the time unintrospectable, psychological processes, 
is, when taken together with even the limited knowledge of 
them so far obtained, of vast importance for assessment of the 
significance of certain of the phenomena alleged to constitute 
empirical evidence of survival of the personality after death 

Moreover, although the terms “the unconscious,” ‘the sub- 



conscious/’ are commonly employed in connection with the fac¬ 
tors brought to light in therapeutic psychoanalysis, nevertheless 
factors of the same kinds undoubtedly operate, but ordinarily in 
a non-pathological manner, in all of us. 

Unconscious also, of course, are various assumptions under 
which a particular person happens to proceed, but which he does 
not realize he makes because he has never formulated them and 
nothing in his experience has happened that would have chal¬ 
lenged their validity and thus made him conscious of them. Un¬ 
conscious also at a given time are all those of his memories which 
he is not then remembering, and all those of his capacities or 
dispositions which he is not then exercising. 

Chapter VI 


In a book cited earlier, Dr. Lamont defines mind as “the 
power of abstract reasoning,” referring to the exercise of it as ‘ the 
experience of thinking or having ideas,” and stating that ideas 
“are non-material meanings expressing the relations between 
things and events.” 1 

But although the power of abstract reasoning mav wtil be 
what differentiates human minds from the minds of animals, and 
developed human minds from the minds of human infants, yet 
human minds comprise, besides the power of abstract reasoning, 
various others, wholly or partly independent ul it. This power 
could at most be claimed to constitute the intellectual pait of tl. 
mind of man; for minds, human as well as animal have also af¬ 
fective and conative capacities, the existence of which Lamont ai 
knowledges but does not include in his definition of mind. His 
definition is therefore arbitrary and unrealistic. 

1. The traits in terms of which one describes particular 
minds. When we are asked to state the characteristics in which 
a given person’s mind differs from that of another, what we say 
is, for example, that he is patient whereas the other is irritable; 
intelligent, and the other stupid; widely informed, and the other 
ignorant; self-disciplined, and the other self-indulgent; and we 
add whatever else we happen to know about his particular tastes, 
opinions, habits, intellectual skills, attitudes, knowledge, personal 
memories, character, ideals, ambitions, and so on. 

It is in terms of such traits that we spontaneously describe 
the particular nature of a particular mind. Correspondingly, the 
generic nature of the human mind would be described in terms 

l The Illusion of Immortality, pp. 70, 100, 101 




of traits shared by all normal human minds. Examples of such 
generic traits would be the capacity to experience sensations— 
dizziness, thirst, warmth, pain, color, tone, etc.; the capacity to 
form mental images—visual, auditory, or other—as in dreams, in 
day-dreams, in memories, and in voluntary imagination; the ca¬ 
pacity to experience emotions, moods, cravings, and impulses; the 
capacity to imagine and desire experiences or situations not at 
the moment occurring; and so on. 

2. What is a power, capacity, or disposition. Lamont’s defi¬ 
nition of mind, however, although inadequate for the reason 
stated, is sound to the extent that it conceives minds in terms of 

The term “power” is nowadays out of favor, as is its virtual 
synonym, “faculty,” the utility of which was destroyed by misuse 
of it as answer to the question “Why?” The classical horrible 
example of such misuse is the vis dormitiva offered as answer to 
the question why opium puts people to sleep. 

But a power, or faculty, or capacity, or ability, or—to use 
the term currently in fashion—a disposition, is not an event and 
therefore never can itself be a cause. A power or disposition is a 
more or less abiding causal connection between events of particu¬ 
lar kinds. 2 

More specifically, that something T— whether T be a mate¬ 
rial thing or a mind—has a power, capacity, or disposition D 
means that T is such that whenever the state of affairs external 
or/and internal to T is of a particular kind S, then occurrence of 
change of a particular kind C in that state of affairs causes occur¬ 
rence in it of a change of another particular kind E. 

For example, solubility in water is a power, faculty, ability, 
capacity, or disposition of sugar. This means, not that the sugar’s 

■No need arises here to go into the question of the nature of causality itself. 
I shall therefore say only that a causal connection between events of specified 
kinds is a causal law, and that a causal law is a law of causation not in virtue of 
its being a law (since some empirical laws are not laws of causation) but in virtue 
of the fact that each of the particular sequences, of which the law is an inductive 
generalization, was, in its own individual right, a causal sequence. For the analysis 
of the nature of causality this assumes, interested readers are referred to Chs. 7, 8, 
and 9 of the writer’s Nature, Mind, and Death, Open Court Pub. Co. La Salle. 
Ill. 1951. 



solubility causes the sugar to dissolve when it is placed in water; 
but that sugar is such that (i.e., behaves according to the law 
that) whenever an event of the kind described as “placing the 
sugar in water” occurs, then, in ordinary circumstances, that 
event causes an event of a certain other kind, to wit, the kind de¬ 
scribed as ‘‘sugar’s dissolving in water.” 

This illustration concerns a material thing—sugar. But the 
mental traits of persons are capacities or dispositions in exactly 
the same generic sense of these terms, defined above, as are the 
material traits of sugar and of other material things. 

For example, that a person possesses a memory oj certain per¬ 
sonal experiences, or of some impersonal fact such as that Socra 
tes died in 399 B.C., does not consist simply of occurrences in 
him, at some particular time, of mental images of those personal 
experiences, or of word-images formulating that impersonal fact, 
together with occurrence of what has been termed the feeling of 
familiarity. Rather, it consists in that persons be ng such that 
whenever a question or other “reminder” relating to those per¬ 
sonal experiences or to that impersonal fact presents itself to his 
attention, then, provided that the circumstances in which he is at 
the time be not abnormal, the advent of the “reminder” causes 
those images, together with the feeling of familiarity, to arise 
in him. 

Again, that a person is, say, irritable, does not mean that he 
is at the time experiencing the feeling called Irritation; but that 
he is such that events of kinds which in most other persons would 
not in ordinary circumstances cause the feeling of Irritation to 
arise in them do, in similar circumstances, regularly cause it to 
arise in him. And so on with the tastes, the skills, the gifts—in¬ 
tellectual, artistic, or other—the habits, etc., which a person pos¬ 
sesses. All of them analyze as capacities or dispositions, i.e., as 
abiding causal connections in him between any event of some 
particular kind and an event of some other particular kind, under 
circumstances of some particular kind. 

The term “dispositions”, however, although currently in 
greater favor than “powers” or “capacities,” is really less felici 
tous than these since it suffers from a certain ambiguity of which 
they are free and which easily leads to serious misconceptions. 



For, besides the sense of “disposition” in which the word is syn¬ 
onymous with "capacity” or with “power,” it has another sense, 
in which “a disposition” and the verb “being disposed to . . . 
designate an event, to wit, occurrence of an impulse or inclination 
to act in some particular manner. 

For example, that a given person is at the moment disposed 
to forgive a certain injury that was done him means no more 
than that, at the moment, an impulse or inclination to forgive 
is present in him. This does not mean that he has, or is acquir¬ 
ing, “a forgiving disposition,” i.e., that similar situations regularly 
cause, or henceforth will regularly cause, the impulse to forgive 
to arise in him. 

3. What a mind is. The distinction essential in connection 
with the immediately preceding paragraph is between the nature 
of a given mind, and the history of that mind. 

The history consists of events. Occurrence of some impulse, 
occurrence of awareness of some situation, acquisition or loss of 
some habit or capacity, etc., are events; each of them results from 
exercise of some capacity, and each is an item in the history of a 
mind. On the other hand, an account of the nature of a given 
mind is an account of the particular sort of mind it is at the time, 
i.e., of the particular set of dispositions, capacities, powers, or 
abilities which are what as a matter of course we list when called 
upon to describe that particular mind. The events that constitute 
a mind’s history doubtless are in large part responsible for that 
mind’s having come to be the particular sort of mind it is now. 
Rut rental of them is no part of an account of what it now is. 

The capacities that together constitute the nature of a mind 
are of three comprehensive kinds. These may be denominated 
psycho-psychical, psycho-physical, and physico-psychical, according, 
respectively, as the cause-event and the effect-event entering in 
the description of a given capacity are, both of them, psychical 
events; or, the cause-event psychical but the effect-event physical; 
or the cause-event physical but the effect-event psychical. 

In all three cases the state of affairs, in which the cause-event 
and the effect-event are changes, is normally in part somatic and 
more specifically cerebral; and in part psychical. Whether this 
is the case not only normally, but also invariably and necessarily, 



is another question. Evidently, the possibility or impossibility of 
survival after death depends in part on the answer to it. 

However, if a mind continues to function after the death of 
its body, its functioning would not then normally include exercise 
either of its physico-psychical or of its psycho-physical capacities. 
That is, such awareness, if any, as a discarnate mind had of phys¬ 
ical events would be paranormal and more specifically, “clairvoy¬ 
ant”, i.e., without the intermediary of the bodily sense organs; and 
such action, if any, as a discarnate mind exerted on physical ob¬ 
jects would likewise be paranormal and more specifically “psycho- 
kinetic,” i.e., without the intermediary of muscular apparatus 

It should be noticed that the various dispositions or capacities 
that enter into the nature of a mind constitute together a system 
rather than simply an aggregate. For one thing, as Professor broad 
has pointed out, some dispositions are of a higher order than 
some others, in the sense that the former consist of capacities to 
acquire the latter. 3 An aptitude, as distinguished from e.g., a skill, 
is a capacity to acquire a capacity. Again, possession of ertain 
capacities at a certain time is in some cases dependent on posses 
sion of certain other capacities at that time. 

A mind, then, is a set of capacities of the three generic kinds 
mentioned, qua interrelated in the systematic manner which con¬ 
stitutes them a more or less thoroughly integrated personality, 
and the mind, of which we say that it “has” those capacities, is not 
something existentially independent of them, but “has” them in 
the sense in which a week has days or an automobile has a motor. 
That a mind exists during a certain period means that, during 
that period, ones or others of the capacities, which together define 
the particular sort of mind it is, function. That is, the existing 
of a mind of a particular description is the series of actual occur¬ 
rences which, as causally related one to another, constitute exer 
cisings of that mind’s capacities. A mind’s existing thus consists 
not just of its having a particular nature, but of its having in ad¬ 
dition a history. 

But further, just as a material object consists of various parts 
interrelated in some particular manner, each of which is itself a 

*Examination of McTaggart’s Philosophy, Vol. I: 264-278. 



material object whose nature is analyzable into a set of capacities, 
though to a greater or less extent ones different from those of the 
whole; so likewise a mind has parts, normally connected with one 
another in a certain manner, each of which, like the whole, anal¬ 
yzes into some particular complex of capacities, though capacities 
to some extent different from those of the whole. 

Moreover, in a mind as in a material object, some part of it 
may on occasion become dissociated from the rest and perhaps 
function independently, although then in a manner more or less 
different from that in which it functioned while integrated with 
and censored by the rest. As Professor H. H. Price has remarked 
somewhere, the unity of a mind is not a matter of all or none, but 
rather of more or less. Each of the parts of a mind is itself a mind, 
or mindkin, of sorts. 

The foregoing account of what a mind is has revealed that 
a mind, and a physical substance such as sugar or a physical ob¬ 
ject such as a tree, ultimately analyze equally as complexes of 
systematically interrelated capacities. Had not the word “sub¬ 
stance" so chequered a philosophical history, we could say that a 
mind is as truly a psychical substance as any material object is a 
physical substance. Let us, however, avoid the misunderstandings 
this might lead to, and say that a mind, no less than a tree or 
sugar, is a substantive —using this word as does W. E. Johnson for 
the kind of entity to which the part of speech called a “noun” 
corresponds. 4 

Evidently, the preceding analysis of the nature of a mind in 
terms of capacities or dispositions applies not only to the intellec¬ 
tual or cognitive powers sometimes specifically meant by the term 
“Mind,” but also to the emotional, affective, and conative capaci¬ 
ties sometimes more particularly in view when the terms “soul” 
or “spirit,” instead of “mind,” are used. In these pages, therefore, 
the term “mind” will be used in the broad sense comprehensive of 
“soul” and of “spirit,” as well as of “intellect.” That is, it will 
include whatever constituents of the human personality are other 
than material in the sense of this term defined in Chapt. V. 

* Logic, Cambridge Univ. Press, 1921 Vol 1:9. For a more elaborate account of 
the conception of what a mind is, outlined above, the interested reader is referred 
to Ch 17 of the author’s already cited Nature, Mind, and Death. 


The Relation Between Mind and Body 


Chapter VII 


The inquiry we undertook in Part II, as to what exactly the 
pivotal terms “material,” “mental,” “mind,” and “life” denote, 
was unavoidably somewhat lengthy and technical. It may there¬ 
fore be well to summarize its findings before we proceed, with 
their aid, to an exposition of the case for the possibility of survival. 

1. Summary of the findings of Part II. The first qiu ion 
considered in Part II was: Which things—i.e., which objects, 
characteristics, events, processes, relations, etc.,—are denominated 
“material” or “physical.” The answer reached was that, funda¬ 
mentally, they are the things that are or can be made perceptually 
public; and in addition, derivatively, the minute or otherwise un- 
perceivable existential constituents of those. 

The next question was: Which things are denominated 
“alive” or “living.” The answer was that the marks by which 
we distinguish them from the things called “dead,” or “inor¬ 
ganic,” are in general metabolism, growth, respiration, reproduc¬ 
tion, and adaptation to environment; and that, more particu¬ 
larly in the case of human bodies, the minimal marks of their 
being “alive” not “dead” are breathing, heart beat, and mainte 
nance of body temperature above a certain level. 

The third question was: Which things—still taking this 
word in the comprehensive sense—are denominated “mental” or 
“psychical.” We found the answer to be that, fundamentally, 
they are the ones capable of being introspectively observed; and in 
addition, derivatively, whatever unintrospectable processes, event?, 
etc., are existentially implicit in those that are introspectable 

The fourth question was: What is “a mind.” Distinguishing 




between the history of a mind, which consists of a series of events, 
and the nature of a mind at a given time in its history, we found 
that its nature analyzes as a set of systematically interconnected 
“dispositions,” i.e., capacities, powers, abilities; and that each of 
these consists in the more or less abiding sufficiency, or as the case 
may be, insufficiency, of change of some particular kind C in a 
state of affairs of a kind S, to cause change of another particular 
kind E in S immediately thereafter. For example, that a person 
is of a patient disposition means that kinds of occurrences that 
would in similar situations be sufficient to cause most other per¬ 
sons to feel irritation are in his case insufficient to cause this. 

The dispositions, which together constitute the nature of a 
mind are, we further found, of three comprehensive kinds: psy¬ 
cho-psychical, physico-psychical, and psycho-physical, according as, 
respectively, the cause-event and the effect-event are both psychi¬ 
cal, or the cause-event physical and the effect-event psychical, or 
the cause-event psychical and the effect event physical. 

Lastly, we noticed that existence of a mind having a given 
nature consists, not in existence of something distinct from and 
“having” the set of dispositions that define that mind’s nature, 
but in the series of actual occurrences which constitute exercise 
of ones or others of those dispositions; that is, constitute the his¬ 
torical individuation of a mind having that particular nature. 

2. Theoretical possibility, empirical possibility, and factu- 
ality. In Chapt III, we set forth the considerations that constitute 
the basis—in common knowledge, in the knowledge possessed by 
the Natural Sciences, and in certain theoretical reflections—for 
the contention that survival of the individual’s consciousness after 
the death of his body is impossible. The clarification of key con¬ 
cepts we achieved in Part II now puts us in position to judge 
whether or how far the items of the case against the possibility of 
survival are strong and cogent, or on the contrary weak or inept. 

If and in so far as they turn out to have either of these de¬ 
fects, then and in so far they fail to establish the impossibility they 
are alleged to establish, and they therefore leave open the possi¬ 
bility of a life after death. That is, the case for the possibility 
(not automatically the reality) of survival consists of the case 



against the adequacy of the grounds on which survival is asserted 
to be impossible: That a life after death remains a theoretical 
possibility would mean that the theoretical grounds alleged to 
entail its impossibility are unsound; or, if sound in themselves, 
nevertheless do not really but only seemingly entail it. And.. that 
survival remains an empirical possibility would mean that sur¬ 
vival, notwithstanding possible appearances to the contrary, really 
is compatible with all the facts and laws of Nature so far truly 
ascertained by the sciences. 

If critical examination of the merits of the case against the 
possibility of survival reveals that, notwithstanding the negative 
“verdict of science”, a life after death remains both a theoretical 
and an empirical possibility, then certain questions will con 
front us. 

The first will be as to what prima facie positive empirical 
evidence, if any, is available that survival is a fact. Next, we shall 
have to ask whether such evidence for it as our inquiry may turn 
up is really sufficient to establish survival or the probability of it. 
And, if this itself should be dubious, then the methodologically 
prior question will force itself upon us, as to what kind and quan¬ 
tity of evidence, if it should be or become available, would con 
clusively prove, or make conclusively more probable than not, 
that survival is a fact. Overarching of course these various 
problems, there is the question as to what forms survival, if it be 
a fact, can plausibly be conceived to take. 

3. The tacit theoretical premise of the empirical arguments 
against the possibility of survival. One of the facts listed in 
Chapt. Ill as allegedly proving that consciousness cannot survive 
the body’s death was that a severe blow on the head permanently 
or temporarily terminates all the evidences of consciousness which 
the body had until then been giving. This, it is alleged, and 
likewise the other empirical facts cited in that chapter, shows 
that a person’s states of consciousness are direct products of the 
neural processes that normally take place in his brain; and hence 
that when, at death, these terminate, then consciousness neces¬ 
sarily lapses also. 

This conclusion, however, is based not simply on the oh- 



served facts, but also on a certain theoretical premise, tacitly and 
in most cases unconsciously employed. The nature of it becomes 
evident if one considers the prirna facie analogous empirical fact 
that smashing the receiver of a radio brings to an end all the evi¬ 
dences the instrument had until then been giving that a program 
was on the air, but that this does not in the least warrant conclud¬ 
ing that the program was a product of the radio and therefore 
had automatically lapsed when the latter was smashed. 

The hidden premise of the contention that the cessation at 
death of all evidences of consciousness entails that consciousness 
itself then necessarily ceases is, evidently, that the relation of 
brain activity to consciousness is always that of cause to effect, 
never that of effect to cause. But this hidden premise is not 
known to be true, and is not the only imaginable one consistent 
with the empirical facts listed in Chapt. III. Quite as consistent 
with them is the supposition, which was brought forth by William 
James, that the brain’s function is that of intermediary between 
psychological states or activities, and the body’s sense organs, 
muscles, and glands. That is, that the brain’s function is that of 
receiver-transmitter—sometimes from body to mind and some¬ 
times from mind to body. 

These remarks are not intended to answer or to hint at a 
particular answer to the question of the nature of the relation be¬ 
tween brain or body and mind; but only to make evident that 
the validity or invalidity of the conclusion, from the various em¬ 
pirical facts cited in Chapt. Ill, that man’s consciousness cannot 
survive the death of his body, is wholly dependent on what really 
is the relation between body and mind. 

Our task in the remaining chapters of Part III must therefore 
be to consider the various hypotheses which, in the history of 
thought, have been offered concerning the nature of that rela¬ 
tion, and to decide which one among them best seems to accord 
with all the definitely known facts. 

Chapter VIII 


Among the hypotheses concerning the relation between mind 
and body, one of the most ancient is the radically materialistic 
one. Let us consider it first; and then its polar opposite, the 
radically idealistic hypothesis. 

1. The contention that thought is a physical process. The 
materialistic conception of mind is that “thoughts,” “feelings,” 
ideals,” “mental processes,” or, comprehensively, “states of con¬ 
sciousness,” are but other names for material occurences of ce. 
tain kinds—more specifically, for molecular processes in the tissues 
of the brain; or for speech, vocal or sub-vocal; or for discrimina¬ 
tive and adaptive behavior. This, if true, would entail that the 
supposition that consciousness persists after death has terminated 
these material activities is absurd because then obviously self¬ 

But as Friedrich Paulsen long ago and others since have made 
quite clear, no evidence really ever has been or can be offered to 
support that materialistic conception of mind, for it constitutes 
in fact only an attempt unawares to force upon the words 
“thoughts,” “ideas,” “feelings,” “desires,” and so on, a denotation 
radically other than that which they actually have. 

Paulsen writes: “The proposition, Thoughts are in reality 
nothing but movements in the brain, feelings are nothing but 
bodily processes in the vaso motor system is absolutely irrefuta¬ 
ble”; not, however, because it is true but because it is absurd. 
“The absurd has this advantage in common with truth, chat it 
cannot be refuted. To say that thought is at bottom but a move¬ 
ment is to say that iron is at bottom made of wood. No argument 
avails here. All that can be said is this: I understand by a thought 




a thought and not a movement of brain molecules; and similarly, 
I designate with the words anger and fear, anger and fear them¬ 
selves and not a contraction or dilation of blood vessels. Suppose 
the latter processes also occur, and suppose they always occur 
when the former occur, still they are not thoughts and feelings.” 1 

Words such as “thought,” “feeling,” etc., have two possible 
functions. One is to predicate of something certain characters 
which the word connotes; the other is to indicate —point at, de¬ 
note, tag, direct attention to—certain occurrences or entities. And 
the fact is that, just as our finger does point at whatever we point 
it at, or just as a tag does tag and identify whatever we tag with it, 
so do our words denote—name, tag, direct attention to—whatever 
we use them to denote. And what we use the words “thought,” 
“feelings,” etc., to denote are occurrences with which we are 
directly familiar, and which are patently quite different from those 
we denote by the words “molecular motions in the brain” or 
“modes of bodily behavior.” 

Hence, however much there may be that we do not know 
about states of consciousness or about bodily processes, however 
close and intimate may turn out to be the relation between them, 
and whatever the particular nature of that relation may be, it is 
at all events not identity. 

2. Connection to be distinguished from identity. The point 
just made, although elementary, is crucial. Hence, even at the 
risk of laboring it, a few words will be added in order to render it 

Let us consider the case, say, of the moon and the earth. 
They are connected and influence one another, but the moon 
and the earth arc not one and the same thing. Hence it is pos¬ 
sible to know much about one of them and little about the other. 
On the other hand, the thing which the words “the moon” denote 
is identically the same thing as that which the words “la lune,” 
or the words “the earth’s largest satellite,” denote; and the 
identity entails that, although one might not know all three of 
these names of that single thing, nevertheless, whatever (other 

'Introduction to Philosophy, transl. F. Thilly, Henry Holt and Co. N.Y. 1895, 
pp 82-3. 


than some of its names) one happened to know, or to be ignorant 
of, about the thing denoted by one of them, one would neces¬ 
sarily know it, or be ignorant of it, about the thing denoted by 
either of the other two names. For one thing only is concerned, 
not three. 

Now, a parallel conclusion follows in the case of, say, the 
word “pain” and the words “a certain motion of the molecules of 
the nerve cells of the brain.” If these two sets of words both de¬ 
noted—i.e., were but two different names for—one single event, 
then any person who at a given moment knows pain, i.e., expe¬ 
riences the particular feeling which the word “pain” denotes, 
would necessarily know which particular motion of which par¬ 
ticular things the words “a certain motion of molecules in the 
brain” denote at that moment; for, under the supposition, one 
event only would be occurring, but denoted equally by each of 
those two different names. But the patent fact is on the contrary 
that all men know directly and only too well the event, itself which 
the word “pain” denotes. They know it in the sense of experienc¬ 
ing it, whether or not they happen to know also that it is called 
“pain”; whereas no man knows what particular molecular motion 
is occurring in the nerve cells of his brain at the time he feels 
pain; and only a few men know even that molecular motions occur 
there. Moreover, even this they know not empirically and di¬ 
rectly as on the contrary every man knows pain, but know it only 
indirectly through theoretical inferences. 

How one comes to learn that “pain” is the English name of 
the feeling he or someone else has on a given occasion is one 
question; but what that feeling itself is (and no matter what, if 
anything, it is called at the time) is another question. One learns 
what pain is by having pins stuck into him, and in various other 
manners that likewise cause it to occur. “Pain” is the name of 
the feeling caused in these various ways. 

The concrete occurrences which the word “pain,” and the 
words “thought,” “ideas,” “desires,” “sensations,” “mental states ’ 
etc., denote in English, are quite familiar at first hand to all of 
us, for they are directly experienced by us and open to our intro¬ 
spective attention; and what introspection reveals is, for example, 
that the event we denote by the word “pain” when we say “I have 



a pain” does not in the least resemble- to say nothing of being 
identically—what attention to perceptually public facts reveals 
when directed perhaps to the cutting or burning of the skin, 
or to the writhing or shrinking behavior or to the groans on such 
an occasion; or to the words “I have a pain,” or to the (postulated, 
not observed) molecular motions in the brain. 

All these are material events, and no doubt are connected 
with the mental event called “pain,” which occurs when they 
occur. But connection is one thing and identity is wholly another. 

This simple fact, which becomes patent if only one attends 
strictly to the denotation of the “material” and of the “mental” 
terms, strangely eludes some of the writers who express them¬ 
selves on the subject of the mind-body relation. Dr. C. S. Myers, 
for example, in his L. T. Hobhouse Memorial Lecture for 1932 
entitled “The Absurdity of any Mind-Body Relation,” writes: 

“The conclusion which I have at length reached is that the 
notion of any relation between mind and body is absurd—because 
mental activity and living bodily activity are identical. The most 
highly specialized forms of these two activities are, respectively, 
conscious processes and the processes of living brain matter.” 


But obviously what is absurd is to do, as these statements do, 
both of the following things: On the one hand, to mention two 
activities, to wit, the activity called “mental” and the activity 
called “living bodily activity”—both of which are observable and 
when observed are found to be each patently unlike the other; 
and yet, on the other hand, to assert that these two utterly dis¬ 
similar activities are identically one and the same! 

Farther on, we shall consider specifically another contention 
which is often confused with this and which—however otherwise 
open to criticism—is anyway not absurd; namely, the contention 
that mental activity and living bodily activity are two aspects 
of one same process. 

In conclusion, then, since connection is one thing and iden¬ 
tity wholly another, the fact that the events which the expression 
“mental events” denotes, and certain of the events which the ex¬ 
pression “material events” denotes (specifically, certain neural 
or behavioral events) are perhaps so connected as to form a “psy- 



thophysical unity”—this fact does not entail, as Lamont and others 
have alleged, that the unity is indissoluble; but only that, so long 
as the connectioJi remains what it has been, the two series of 
quite dissimilar events—the mental and the bodily—continue .... 
to form “a psychophysical unity”! 

What cessation of the connection may entail as regards con¬ 
tinuance, or not, either of the bodily series or of the mental one, 
depends on the specific nature of the connection, and cannot be 
inferred simply from the fact that during the life of the body, the 
two were in some way united, i.e., closely connected. 

3. Disguised assertions about the word ‘thought” mistaken 
for assertions about thought. Some additional remarks are called 
for at this point in order to account for the fact that such state¬ 
ments as that thought is really a motion of molecules in the brain, 
or is really a particular mode of bodily behavior, have been made 
by some intelligent persons and have been considered by them 
penetrating instead of absurd as in fact they are 

The first thing to note is that of course anybody can devise 
and use language that differs from the common language in that 
certain words of the common language—for example, the words 
“thoughts,” “ideas,” “feelings,” “desires,” “mental states”—are em¬ 
ployed in the devised language to denote certain things—for ex¬ 
ample, brain states of certain kinds—which are radically other 
than the things they denote in the common language. 

Moreover, a person who is using such a subverted language 
may be unaware that he is doing so and may assume, as naturally 
will his hearers, that when, for instance, he makes the statement 
that “thought is really a motion of molecules in the brain,” he is 
using the common language 

That statement, however, when taken as made in the com 
mon language, is so paradoxical that hearers of it are likely to 
assume—humbly though in fact gratuitously—that somehow ii 
must express a truth which the utterer of it perceives, but which 
the hearer is as yet unable to apprehend And the utterer too— 
but proudly instead of humbly—is likely to assume this. 

On the other hand, if one allows neither humility nor pride 
to becloud one’s judgment, then what one perceives is that the 



statement “thought is really a motion of molecules in the brain” 
is in fact not worded in the common language; and that to make 
that statement is on the contrary to perform an act of subversion 
of the common language. 

That is, one perceives that the statement is in fact not an 
assertion about thought itself and molecular motion itself, but 
only about the words “thought” and “molecular motion;” and 
that, in that assertion, the word, “really,” expresses not at all an 
insight, but only the utterer’s naive preference for language as in 
so far subverted! 

The case is thus exactly parallel, except in one irrelevant re¬ 
spect, to a case where a Frenchman who, using English but hold¬ 
ing with naive pride that French is the one “real” language, were 
to say: “A dog is really un chien.” He would appear to himself 
and to others to be talking about dogs, but he would in fact be 
talking only about the word “dog” and claiming that it would 
be preferable to use instead the word “chien.” The minor and 
only difference between the two cases is that “dog” and “chien” 
belong to two independent languages but have the same denota¬ 
tion in each; whereas both the word “thought” and the words 
“molecular motion in brain cells” belong to the same language, 
to wit, English, but, in it, do not have the same denotation. They 
would have it only in (materialistically) subverted English. 

The statement that thought is really a motion of molecules 
in the brain thus operates as do the statements in which commu¬ 
nists—sometimes perhaps equally sincerely but then naively—use 
“liberation” to denote enslavement and “democracy” to denote 
tyranny: Such statements only befuddle both the persons who 
make them honestly and the persons who accept them uncritically. 

4. The radically idealistic conception of material objects. 
Only a few words will now be needed to make evident that the 
radically idealistic conception of material objects is invalidated by 
the same kind of absurdity which we have seen invalidates the 
radically materialistic conception of mind. 

Paulsen, it will be remembered, rightly insists that feelings, 
sensations, or thoughts themselves, which are introspectively 
known to all of us, are what the words “feelings,” “sensations,” 



or “thoughts” denote, and not the very different things denoted 
on the contrary by such expressions as “motions of molecules in 
in the brain” or “modes of bodily behavior.” 

Now, conversely here, we must insist that when we use the 
latter expressions, or the broader expression “material events and 
objects,” we denote by them material events and objects them¬ 
selves, or motions of molecules or modes of behavior themselves 
and not, as Berkeley would have it, certain groups of systematic¬ 
ally associated sensations; for these are something very different 
indeed. They are elements in the process of perceiving material 
objects, but not in the material objects themselves, which exist 
independently of whether they are or are not being perceived. 

The contention of a radical idealism would be on the con¬ 
trary that what the words “material objects” denote is, identically, 
the same as what the words “perceivings of material objects” de¬ 
note; namely the particular kind of state of consciousness which 
such perceiving constitutes. As in the case of the analogous radical 
materialistic claim, this radical idealistic claim too cannot be 
refuted; and this, again not because it is true but because it is 
absurd. It can and need be met only by flat denial: The words 
“the object perceived” do not, in English as distinguished from 
Idealese, denote the same thing as the words “the perceiving of 
an object;” and words do denote what we employ them to denote. 
To assert that the two expressions denote one and the same thing, 
instead of each something different, is not to set forth a novel 
truth but only here again to subvert the English language and 
thereby to muddle oneself and possibly one’s hearers or readers. 
What specifically the relation is between the material object per¬ 
ceived and the psychological events—sensations and others—that 
enter into the process of perceiving the object is a most interest¬ 
ing but intricate question, into which fortunately we do not need 
to go for present purposes. What need be said is only that, what¬ 
ever may be the relation between the two it is anyway not identity. 

C Imp ter IX 


In the present chapter, we turn from the radically material¬ 
istic and radically idealistic conceptions of the body-mind relation, 
which we have now seen to be untenable, and pass to an examina¬ 
tion of two versions of the conception of it termed Psycho-physical 

1. Mind and body as in “pre-established harmony.” The 
“pre-established harmony” conception of the connection between 
the series of mental events and the series of bodily events goes 
back to Leibnitz. According to him, only “monads” exist—simple, 
unextended “substances” whose essence consists in the power of 
action and whose exercise of this power consists in having ideas. 
A substance, however, is conceived by him as well as by others 
in his day as something wholly self-dependent and therefore as 
incapable of influencing or of being influenced by the activities 
of other substances. Hence the monads “have no windows” 
through which anything might come in or go out. The sequence 
of their ideas proceeds solely out of their own internal, i.e., psy¬ 
chological activity. The material world consists of masses of mon¬ 
ads, whose aggregations, separations, and motions are determined, 
not like the internal states of each monad by mental causes, but 
solely by mechanical ones. Yet, harmony obtains between the suc¬ 
cession of ideas in a given monad, and the motions of it and of 
the other monads associated with it in what we call its body. On 
this view, the correlations which obtain between a man’s mental 
states and his bodily states—for example, that a pin prick and pain, 
or that volition to move the arm and motion of the arm regularly 
go together notwithstanding that neither causes the other—is 



analogous to the correlation which obtains between the motions 
of the hands of two clocks notwithstanding that neither clock, 
causes the other to behave as it does. 

The explanation of the harmony between the behavior of the 
two is of course that it was preestablished by the maker of the 
clocks, who so constructed and so set them that they would keep 
time to each other. Similarly, on the Leibnitzian view, the hai 
mony which obtains between the series of a man s bodily states 
and the series of his mental states is due to its having been pre- 
established by man’s maker, God. 

It is perhaps unnecessary to comment on this quaint concep¬ 
tion beyond saying that no evidence at all exists that body and 
mind are each inherently incapable of influencing the other; nor 
is there any evidence that the harmony which obtains between 
them was preestablished by a cosmic clock maker 

But even if this should somehow happen to be the case, 
nothing at all could be inferred from it as to whether or not 
mental life continues after the body dies. For inferences as to this 
could be drawn only if one knew—whereas in fact one does not- 
first that such a divine “clockmaker” as postulated by the preestab¬ 
lished harmony conception exists; and only if one knew in addi¬ 
tion what his will is as to survival, or not, of man’s or of some 
men’s minds after death. 

On the other hand, if one supposes the connection—or more 
properly then simply the correlation—between the bodily and the 
mental series of events to be a purely de facto parallelism; that is, 
one neither due to causation of the events of either series by those 
of the other, nor due to causation of both series by some one same 
cause distinct from both as in the preestablished harmony concep¬ 
tion; then, ex hypothesis termination of either series would have 
no effect at all on the other. Termination of the bodily series 
might, or might not, de facto, be paralleled by termination also 
of the mental series. From purely de facto parallelism in the past 
and present, nothing at all can be inferred as to the future. 

2. Mind and body as two aspects of one same thing. Still 
another conception of the connection between mind and body is 
of the type envisaged by Spinoza, but divorced in the writings of 



contemporary biologists and psychologists that accept it from the 
theological hypothesis in terms of which Spinoza phrased it. 

The connection in view is of the so-called “double aspect” 
kind, analogous to that which obtains, for example, between the 
two sides of a sheet of paper. There, a creasing of the sheet ap¬ 
pears as a ridge on one side, and automatically and simultaneously 
as a valley on the other side, although the ridge does not cause 
the valley nor the valley the ridge. 

If the paper analogy is used at all, however, its additional 
features also must be considered; for example, the fact that a spot 
of color on one side is not necessarily matched by a difference of 
any kind on the other side. The implication of the paper analogy 
as regards the “double aspect” conception of the connection be¬ 
tween body and mind is then that one cannot tell whether the dif¬ 
ference on the material side, which cessation of the body’s life 
constitutes, is or is not automatically matched on the other side 
by cessation of consciousness, unless one knows independently 
what the entity or substance is, of which body and mind are 
alleged to be two “aspects;” and knows what properties it, as 
distinguished from either of its aspects, has. For only such knowl¬ 
edge would enable one to judge whether the body’s death is 
analogous to, say, the ridging of one side of the paper—which, 
because of the properties of the paper sheet, is automatically 
matched by a valleying of the other side—or is analogous on the 
contrary to the staining of one side—which, again because of the 
properties of the paper sheet, is not automatically matched by 
any change on the other side. 

In short, the supposition that body and mind are two “as¬ 
pects” of one same thing is wholly metaphorical; and unless and 
until the metaphor has been translated into literal terms identify¬ 
ing for us the entity or substance itself, of which brain and mind 
are supposed to be two “aspects,” nothing can be inferred as to 
whether the material change—death of the brain—is or is not au¬ 
tomatically matched by death of the mind. 

But no substance or thing having body and mind as two 
aspects has ever yet been exhibited, both aspects of which could 
be so experimented upon that one might discover what kinds of 



changes, if any, and of which aspect, are or are not automatically 
paralleled by changes of the other aspect. 

Moreover, if it were suggested, as occasionally it is, that the 
body itself or the brain is that substance, and that mental activity 
is brain activity, but “viewed from within”—from the inside in¬ 
stead of the outside—then the appropriate comment would ob¬ 
viously be that the word “inside” as so used really means nothing 
at all. For, if one wishes to observe what goes on literally inside 
the brain, what one must do is simply to open it up and look. 
Such an operation might, in a then facetiously etymological sense 
of the word, be termed “Introspection,” but would anyway be 
something radically different from what in fact is denominated 

Thus, although the “double-aspen” description of the con¬ 
nection between mind and brain or mind and body has found 
favor with a number of biologists and psychologists, it turns out 
on examination to be nothing but a vacuous metaphor, from 
which nothing at all follows as to whether or not mental life can 
continue after death. 

4. Mental activity as a function of cerebral activity. A state¬ 
ment currently much in vogue is that mental activity is a function 
of the activity of the brain and nervous system. 

The word “function,” (from L. fungere, to perform) has a 
variety of meanings, some of which are not wholly distinct from 
certain of the others. Most broadly, when two things, A and B. 
each of which admits of variations, vary concomitantly, i.e., in 
such manner that variation of kind or/and magnitude V (a) of A, 
and variation of kind or/and magnitude V (b) of B, occur regu¬ 
larly together, then the two sets of variations are said to be 
functionally related; and either can be said to be a function of 
the other. 

If, however, the variations gi\en, or instituted, are, say, those 
of A, and the variations then observed those of B, then B is termed 
the dependent variable and A the independent variable. 

If the variations of one of the two functionally related vari¬ 
ables, say, those of B, occur after the variations of A of which they 
are functions, then ordinarily the dependence of the variations 



of B upon those of A is causal dependence, direct or indirect. 
This, apparently, is the meaning which “dependent upon” is in¬ 
tended to have in Webster’s definition of one of the senses of 
“function of” as: “any quality, trait or fact so related to another 
that it is dependent upon and varies with that other.” This sense 
is usually the one in which thought, or mental activity, is said to 
be a function of brain activity; and in which it is said that the 
specific function of the brain is to “perform” the various mental 
activities—thinking, perceiving, remembering, etc. 

In the light of these remarks, it is evident that to speak of 
mental activity as a function of brain activity is not to offer a new 
description of the connection between the two, different from 
all those already mentioned; for each of these asserts that brain 
states and mental states are functionally related: If the functional 
dependence is causal, and of mental activity on brain activity, then 
this is the type of connection, i.e., of function, which epiphe- 
nomenalism describes. If the dependence is causal, but is of brain 
activity on mental activity, then this type of functional relation 
would be describable as hypophenomenalism— the exact converse 
of epiphenomenalism. If the functional dependence is causal, 
but not exclusively either of mental upon cerebral states, or of 
cerebral upon mental states, then what we have is psycho-physical 
interactionism. Lastly, if the functional dependence is not causal, 
then it constitutes parallelism of one or another of the types 
described in what precedes, from which, as we have seen, nothing 
can be inferred as to whether survival of the mind after death is or 
is not possible. 

We shall now consider in turn epiphenomenalism, hypophe¬ 
nomenalism, and interactionism. 

Chapter X 


When a person who has leaned to the purely physicalistic 
conception of mind sees that it presupposes the absurdity that 
certain of our words do not denote what we do denote by them, 
he is likely to adopt in its place the less radically materialistic 
conception which the late Professor G. S. Fullerton picturesquely 
termed the “halo over the saint” theory of the mind’s relation to 
the body. 

1. Epiphenomenalism. That theory asserts that mental events 
have to brain events much the same sort of relation which the 
saint’s traditional halo supposedly has to him: th; halo is an 
automatic effect of his saintliness, but does not itself cause or con¬ 
tribute at all to it. This is the relation which, as between brain 
events and mental events, is technically termed epiphenomenalism 
(from the Greek epi =z beside, above + phainomai to appear): 
the mental events are conceived to be an epiphenouienon of, i.e., 
a phenomenon beside or above certain of the physical events 
occurring in the brain; and to be a by product, and hence an 
automatic accompaniment, of cerebral activity; but never them¬ 
selves to cause or affect the latter. 

This conception is not, like the radically physicalistic one, 
open to the charge of absurdity since, unlike the latter, it admits 
that the term “mental events” denotes events that are other than 
those denominated “physical” and more specifically “cerebral.” 
Epiphenomenalism is thus not strictly a physicalistic monism. But 
virtually, i.e., for all practical purposes, it is both a monism and 
a physicalistic one, for it holds that the only occurences that 
ultimately count in determining behavior are bodily ones and 
therefore physical. And this means that if it were possible to do 




away altogether with a person s mental states without in any way 
altering his brain and nervous system, he would go on behaving 
exactly as usual, and nobody could tell that he no longer had a 

Now, obviously, if it is true as epiphenomcnalism asserts that 
all mental states actually are effects of cerebral states, and also that 
no mental states could be caused otherwise than directly by cere¬ 
bral states, then it follows that mental states and activities cannot 
possibly continue after the life of the brain has ceased. 

2. Metaphorical character of the epiphenomenalistic thesis. 
Let us, however, now examine critically the epiphenomenalistic 
conception of the body-mind relation. 

It is associated chiefly with the names of T. H. Huxley and 
of Shadworth Hodgson. As defined by the latter, it is the doctrine 
that ‘‘the states of consciousness, the feelings, are effects of the 
nature, sequence, and combination, of the nerve states, without 
being themselves causes either of one another or of changes in the 
nerve states which support them.” 1 Huxley, similarly, writes: ‘‘It 
seems to me that in men, as in brutes, there is no proof that any 
state of consciousness is the cause of change in the motion of the 

matter of the organism.our mental conditions are simply 

the symbols in consciousness of the changes which take place 

automatically in the organism; and that.the feeling we 

call volition is not the cause of a voluntary act, but the symbol 
of that state of the brain which is the immediate cause of that act.” 2 

In so stating, however, Huxley ignores the fact that symboliz¬ 
ing is not a physical but a psychological relation: That S is a 
symbol of something T means that consciousness of S in a mind 
M that is in a state of kind K, regularly causes M to think of T. 3 
Other metaphors used by epiphenomenalists to characterize the 
relation between brain states and states of consciousness are that 
consciousness is but ‘‘a spark thrown off by an engine,” or (by 
Hodgson) ‘‘the foam thrown up by and floating on a wave .... a 

1 Theory of Practice, London, Longmans, Green, 1870 Vol. 1:336. 

*Collected Essays, Appleton, New York, 1893, Vol. 1:244. 

a Cf the writer’s Symbols. Signs, and Signals, Jl. of Symbolic Logic, Vol. 4:41-43, 
No. 2. June 1939. 



mere foam, aura, or melody arising from the brain, but without 
reaction upon it.” 4 

The spark and the foam in these metaphors are indeed by¬ 
products in the sense that they do not react—or more strictly, only 
to a negligibly minute extent—upon their producers. But—and 
this is the crucial point—they are themselves, like their producers; 
purely physical; whereas states of consciousness, as we have seen 
and indeed as maintained by epiphenomenalists, are non physical 
events, irreducible to terms of matter and motion The analogy 
those metaphors postulate is therefore lacking in the very respect 
that is essential: If states of consciousness are effects of brain 
activity, they are not so in the sense in which occurrence of the 
spark or the foam is an effect of the activity of the machine or of 
the water under the then existing conditions; for the spark and 
the foam are fragments of the machine and of the wave, but states 
of consciousness are not fragments of cerebral tissue. 

Hence, if mental events are effects of cerebral events, they are 
so in the quite different sense that changes in the slate of the brain 
cause changes — modifications, modulations, alterations — in the 
state of the mind; the mind thus being conceived in as substantive 
a manner as is the brain itself, i.e., as something likewise capable 
of a variety of states, and of changes from one to another in re¬ 
sponse to the action of certain causes. 

3. Arbitrariness of the epiphenomenalistic contention as to 
causality between cerebral and mental events. This brings us to 
another respect in which the epiphenomenalistic account of the 
mind-body relation is indefensible, namely, its arbitrariness in as¬ 
serting that although cerebral events cause mental events, mental 
events on the contrary never cause cerebral events nor even other 
mental events. 

That assertion is arbitrary because if, as epiphenomenalism 

*Time and Space, London, Longmans Green, 1865, p 279. The wave and-foam 
metaphor is used by Hodgson in this book to characterize a theory of the mind 
body relation which he there attacks. But in his Theory of Practice, published five 
years later, he embraces the (epiphenomenalistic) theory he had attacked in the 
earlier book, and declares entirely erroneous the "double aspect” theory he had 
opposed to it there (p. 283). The "wave-and-foam” metaphor is therefore true to 
the radically epiphenomenalistic conception of the mind-body relation formulated 
in the passage quoted previously from the later book. 



contends, causation can occur between events as radically different 
in kind as, on the one hand, motions of molecules or of other 
physical particles in the brain and, on the other, mental events, 
then no theoretical reason remains at all why causation should not 
be equally possible and should not actually occur in the converse 
direction; that is, causation of brain events by mental events. 

The paradoxical character of the contention that states of 
consciousness never determine or in the least direct the activities 
of the body is perhaps most glaring when, as Ruyer points out, 
one considers on the one hand painful states of consciousness and 
desire to prevent them and, on the other, man’s invention and 
employment of anaesthetics: "The invention of anaesthetics by 
man supposes that disagreeable states of consciousness have incited 
man to seek means to suppress such states of consciousness. If, ac¬ 
cording to the (epiphenomenalistic) hypothesis, disagreeable con¬ 
sciousness is inefficacious, how, on the one hand, can it originate 
an action? On the other hand, how can a chain of pure causality 
(as between brain events) so manage as not to ‘become’ such as to 
get accompanied by disagreeable consciousness?” 5 

As a matter of fact, the empirical evidence one has for con¬ 
cluding that occurrence, for example, of the mental event con¬ 
sisting of decision to raise one’s arm causes the physical rising of 
the arm, is of exactly the same form as the empirical evidence one 
has for concluding—as the epiphenomenalist so readily does—that 
the physical event consisting of burning the skin,—or, more di¬ 
rectly, the brain event thereby induced —causes the mental event 
called pain. If either the conception of causality which the so- 
called "method” of Single Difference defines, or the regularity-of- 
sequence conception of causality, warrants the latter conclusion, 
then, since the one or the other is likewise the conception of 
causality through which the former conclusion is reached, that 
conclusion is equally warranted. 

On the other hand, if the supposition that a volition or idea 
or other mental event can push or pull or somehow otherwise 
move a physical molecule were rejected, either on the ground of 
its being absurd or on the ground that it would constitute a vio- 

“Raymond Ruyer: Neofinalisme, Presses Universitaires de France. Paris 1952, 
p. 24. 



lation of the principle of the conservation of energy, then the sup¬ 
position that motion of a physical molecule in the brain can cause 
a mental, i.e., a nonphysical event, would have to be rejected also, 
since it would involve the converse absurdity or would involve 
violation of that same principle. 

Again, if it is argued that mutilations of the brain, whether 
experimental or accidental, are known to cause alterations of 
specific kinds in the mental states and activities connected with 
that brain, it must then be pointed out that, as psychosomatic 
medicine now recognizes, mental states of certain kinds generate 
corresponding somatic defects; so that here too causation is some¬ 
times from mind to body, as well as sometimes from body to mind. 

The preceding considerations, then, make amply evident that 
the epiphenomenalistic theory of the relation between body and 
mind is altogether arbitrary in holding that causation as between 
brain and mind is always from brain to mind and never from 
mind to brain. 

Furthermore, it is arbitrary also in holding that all mental 
states are effects of brain states; for this is not known, but only 
that some mental states—of which sensations are the most obvious 
examples—are so. Moreover, observation, as distinguished from 
epiphenomenalistic dogma, testifies that, in any case of associa¬ 
tion of ideas, occurrence of the first is what causes occurrence of 
the second. Nor do we know that mental states of certain kinds, 
which normally have physical causes, might not- although perhaps 
with more or less different specific content—be caused otherwise 
than physically. This possibility is suggested by the occurrence of 
visions, apparitions, dreams, and other forms of hallucination; for 
in all such cases mental states indistinguishable at the time from 
sensations are caused somehow otherwise than, as normally, by 
stimulation of the sense organs. 8 That even then those states are 
always and ivholly effects of cerebral states is not a matter of 
knowledge but only of faithfully epiphenomenalistic speculative 

Moreover, if the capacity of mescalin or of lysergic acid 
diethylamide to induce hallucinations by physical means should 

•See, for instance, the remarkable case of a waking hallucination reported in 
Vol. XVIII of the Proc. of the Society for Psychial Research pp. 308-52?. 



be cited, the comment would then have to be that what needs to 
be accounted for is not only that hallucinations then occur, but 
also what specifically their content—which in fact varies greatly— 
happens to be. That is, do these drugs cause what they cause one 
to see in a sense comparable to that in which a painter’s action 
causes the picture he paints and sees; or, on the contrary, do they 
cause one only to see what one then sees, in a manner analogous 
to that in which the raising of the blind of a window on a train 
causes a passenger in the train to see the landscape which happens 
to be outside at the time? 

These remarks are not offered as an argument that, since we 
do not know that the specific content of hallucinations has cere¬ 
bral causes, therefore probably its causes are non-cerebral; for so 
to argue would be to become guilty of the fallacy argumentum ad 
ignorantiam. They are offered only to underline that this very 
fallacy infects the contention that, if, as in fact is the case we do 
not know that only some mental states are cerebrally caused, then 
probably all of them are so caused. 

That all mental states have exclusively cerebral causes is 
thus only postulated; and—notwithstanding the contrary empirical 
evidence we cited—postulated only out of pious wish to have an 
at least virtual physicalistic monism, since a strict physicalistic 
one is ruled out by the absurdity pointed out in Ch. VIII, which 
it involves. What the epiphenomenalist does is to erect tacitly 
into a creed as to the nature of all reality what in fact is only the 
program of the sciences dedicated to the study of the material 
world—the program, namely, of explaining in terms of physical 
causes everything that happens to be capable of being so explained. 

The upshot is then that the epiphenomenalistic conception 
of the relation between brain and mind not only is not known to 
be true, but even arbitrarily disregards positive empirical facts 
which appear to invalidate it. Hence the consequence that would 
follow if that conception were true—namely that no mental ac¬ 
tivities or experiences can occur after the brain has died—is itself 
not known to be true. That is, so far as goes anything that 
epiphenomenalists have shown to the contrary, after-death mental 
life—at least of certain kinds—remains both a theoretical and an 
empirical possibility. 

Chapter XI 


There is a conception of the relation between mind and 
body which is in a certain respect the converse of the epiphenom- 
enalistic and which might therefore be termed Hvpophenom- 
enalism (Gr. hypo = under + phainomai = to appear.) It is, in 
brief, that the living body is a hypophenomenon of the soul or 
mind or of some constituent of it—an effect or product or depend¬ 
ent of it, instead of the converse of this as epipheomenalism 

Conceptions of this type have appeared several times in the 
history of thought, but they have been presented as parts or 
corollaries of certain cosmological speculations rather than as con¬ 
clusions suggested by the results of observation. 

1. Two hypophenomenalistic conceptions. In Plotinus, for 
example, who conceived the universe as arising from the inef¬ 
fable One, God, by a series of emanations, the soul is the penulti¬ 
mate of these, two degrees below God; and the lowest is matter. 
Thus, the soul is not in the body, but the body is in, and de¬ 
pendent upon, the soul, which both precedes and survives it, and 
whcse forces give form and organization to the matter of which 
the body is composed. 

Schopenhauer’s conception of the relation between body and 
“soul” is somewhat similar to this, but he does not speak here of 
soul or of mind but more specifically of ‘‘will,” which he does 
not regard as a part of the psyche. Except in cases where the 
will has kindled to itself the light we call intellect, that imper¬ 
sonal will is blind as to what specifically it craves but nonethe 
less creates. Schopenhauer accordingly conceives the body, or 
more exactly the body’s organization, as objectification of the 
will-to-live; the hand, for example, being an objectification of the 




unconscious will to be able to grasp. He writes that “what ob¬ 
jectively is matter is subjectively will. . . .our body is just the 
visibility, objectivity of our will, and so also every body is the 
objectivity of the will at some one of its grades." 1 And elsewhere 
he speaks of a certain part of the body, to wit, the brain, as “the 
objectified will to know.” 2 

2. Biological hypophenomenalism distinguished from cos¬ 
mological. In philosophical discussions of the mind-body rela¬ 
tion, the type of theory of which two classical examples have just 
been cited, and for which the name Hypophenomenalism is here 
proposed, has received relatively little attention as compared with 
epiphenomenalism, materialism, idealism, parallelism, or inter- 
actionism. We shall therefore have to provide here ourselves the 
formulation of it that would seem most defensible. It will un¬ 
avoidably have to be fuller than in the case of the familiar other 
theories of the mind-body relation. 

The first thing we must do is to distinguish between what 
may be termed, respectively, cosmological and biological hy¬ 
pophenomenalism. Cosmological hypophenomenalism would con¬ 
tend that not only the living body, but also all other material ob¬ 
jects are hypophenomena of minds, i.e., are products or objecti¬ 
fications of psychical activity or, as Schopenhauer had it, of Will. 

Biological hypophenomenalism, on the other hand, concerns 
itself only with the material objects we term “living,” and con¬ 
tends only that the life, which differentiates living things from 
dead or inorganic things, is a product, effect, or manifestation of 
psychic activity and more particularly of conation. This is the 
hypophenomenalism which alone we shall have in view, for it is 
the one directly relevant to the central problem of the present 
work, namely, that of the relation between the individual’s mind 
and the life and the death of his body. This relation is different 
both from the ontological relation between mind and matter in 
general and from the epistemological relation between them, 
which constitutes mind’s knowledge of matter. 

l The World as Will and Idea, Supplements to Bk II, Ch. XXIV p. 52. Haldane 
and Kemp Transl. Vol. 3. Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co. London 1906. 

*The Will in Nature, tr. Mrae. Karl Hillebrand, London, George Bell and 
Sons, 1897. p. 237. 


Biological hypophenomenalism does not occupy itself with 
the question whether matter in general, or in particular the mat¬ 
ter of the body as distinguished from its life, is a product or ob¬ 
jectification of mind. It has to do only with the relation between 
the life of the body and its mind; but whereas epiphenomenalism 
maintains that both the occurrence at all of consciousness and 
the particular states of it at particular times are products of the 
living brain’s activity, biological hypophenomenalism on the con¬ 
trary maintains that the life of the body and of its brain is an 
effect or manifestation of psychic activities and in particular of 
conations— these being what “animate living organisms. 

3. The life processes apparently purposive. The fact from 
which hypophenomenalism starts is that not only the distinctively 
human life activities and the life activities typical of animals, but 
even the vegetative activities—where life is at its minimum—seem 
to be definitely purposive. And hypophenomenalism, on the basis 
of an analysis of the notion of purposiveness more careful than 
the common ones, contends that the life activities, even at the 
vegetative level, do not just seem to be purposive but really are so. 

Most biologists, however, are averse to employment of the 
notion of purpose on the ground that it is a subjective, phycho- 
logical one, inadmissible in a biology that strives to be as wholly 
objective as are physics and chemistry. They therefore speak in¬ 
stead of the “directiveness,” or of the “equifinality” of biological 
processes or, as does Driesch in the formulation of his Vitalism, 
of an “entelechy” which, however, is not psychic but only “psy- 
choid.” But the question is whether, if these terms are not just 
would-be-respectable-sounding aliases for purposiveness, what they 
then designate is ultimately capable of accounting for the facts it 
is invoked to explain. For the sake of concreteness, let us there¬ 
fore advert to some examples of those facts. 

The peculiarities that differentiate living things from in¬ 
animate objects include not only the fairly obvious characteristics 
—metabolism, growth, reproduction, adaptability to environment 
—by which we ordinarily identify the things we term “living”; 
but also various more recondite facts. An example would be that 
“when. . .one of the first two cells of a tiny salamander embryo 
is destroyed, the remaining one grows into a whole individual not 



a half, as one might expect.” Again, that “two fertilized eggs in¬ 
duced to fuse by artificial means were found to produce one 
animal instead of two.” The facts of regeneration similarly chal¬ 
lenge explanation: “The leg of a tadpole, snipped off, may be 
restored, or the eye of a crustacean”; and so on. In sum, “if the 
organism is prevented from reaching its norm of ‘goal’ in the ordi¬ 
nary way, it is resourceful and will attain it by a different 
method.” 8 

Facts such as these strongly suggest that the life processes are 
purposive. But that a process or activity is “purposive” is com¬ 
monly taken to mean that it is incited and shaped by the presence 
together of three factors in the agent: (a) the idea of an as yet 
non-existent state of affairs; (b) a desire that that state of affairs 
should eventually come to exist; and (c) knowledge of diverse 
modes of action respectively adequate in different circumstances 
to bring about the desiderated state of affairs. And, obviously, 
such an explanation of the biological occurrences in view is open 
to several prima facie serious objections. These, even when they 
have been merely felt rather than explicitly formulated, have been 
responsible for the reluctance of biologists and physicists to ac¬ 
cept a teleological explanation of the facts cited, notwithstanding 
the difficulty, which they have also felt, of doing altogether with¬ 
out it. Let us now state and examine each of those objections. 

4. Objections to a teleological explanation of life processes, 
(a) The first objection is that it is scientifically illegitimate to 
ascribe processes which, like those in view, are material, to the 
operation of factors which, like thought, desire, and intelligence, 
are mental. 

The sufficient reply to this objection, however, is that, as 
David Hume made clear long ago, only experience can tell us 
what in fact is or is not capable of causing what. The Causality 
relation presupposes nothing at all as to the ontological nature— 
whether material, mental, or other—of the events that function as 
its terms. That a material event can be caused only by an event 
also itself material is not a known fact but merely a metaphysical 
dogma. To look for a material explanation of every material 

a E. W. Sinnott: Cell and Psyche, the Biology of Purpose, Univ. of North Caro¬ 
lina Press, 1950, pp. 6, 29, 33. 


event is of course a legitimate research program and one which 
has yielded many valuable fruits; but to assume that, even when 
the search yields no material explanation of a given material 
event, nevertheless the explanation of it cannot be other than a 
material one is, illegitimately, to erect that legitimate research 
program into a metaphysical creed—the creed, namely, of pious 
ontological materialism. 

(b) The second objection is that a teleological explanation 
of biological processes is superfluous because all their peculiarities 
can be adequately accounted for by ascribing them to the existence 
and operation, in the organism we call ‘living,” of various servo¬ 
mechanisms; that is, of mechanisms whose attainment and main¬ 
tenance of certain results (to wit, growth of the organism to a 
normal form, restoration of it when it gets damaged, preservation 
of a normal equilibrium between its internal processes and the 
changes in its environment, etc.) is due to guidance of the mecha¬ 
nism’s activity at each moment by elaborate feed-back channels 
that are constituents of the mechanism itself. 

The reply to this objection is that, although some servo¬ 
mechanisms are known to exist in the organism, and although 
the existence and operation of additional servo-mechanisms would 
indeed be theoretically capable of accounting for those results, 
nevertheless servo-mechanisms that would be specifically such as 
to insure all those particular results are not in fact independently 
known to exist in organisms. Hence, unless and until their ex¬ 
istence is established by observation of them , or by observational 
verification of predictions deduced from the supposition that they 
exist and are of specifically such and such descriptions, invocation 
of them to account for all biological processes is nothing but in¬ 
vocation of a deus ex machina. 

This means that the possibility of a teleological explanation 
of biological processes is as yet left entirely open; and in turn, this 
underlines the general requirement that, for an explanation to be 
acceptable, the cause it invokes must be of a kind not just post¬ 
ulated ad hoc, but independently known to exist; and further, 
known to be capable in some cases of causing effects similar to 
those which it is invoked to account for in the case of biological 



Moreover, the fact that some servo mechanisms—though not 
ones adequate to explain all the particular facts in view—are 
known to exist in living organisms leaves the existence there of 
these known servo-mechanisms themselves to be accounted for. 
And, to explain their existence as being the end-product of the 
operation of some “more fundamental” servo-mechanism is not 
really to explain it at all unless the existence of the latter is not 
just postulated but is independently known, and itself then some¬ 
how explained. 

(c) The third objection to the ascribing of purposiveness to 
biological processes is that presence of the three factors of pur¬ 
posiveness mentioned—an idea of an as yet non-existent form or 
state of the organism, a desire for its existence, and knowledge of 
what means would, under varying circumstances, bring it into 
existence—is dependent on presence of a highly developed brain 
and nervous system; which, however, is altogether absent at the 
biological level of the processes here in view. 

To this objection, the reply is that conjunction of those three 
factors is characteristic not of all purposive activity, but only of 
certain kinds and levels of it. More specifically, it is character¬ 
istic of purposive activity that is both consciously and skillfully 
heterotelic, but not of purposive activity that is blind, as in the 
case of the vegetative life activities. 

5. The nature, kinds, and levels of purposive activity. But 
the force and the implications of the above reply to the third of 
the objections considered can become fully evident only in the 
light of an analysis of purposive activity and of its various kinds 
and levels. The branch of philosophy which occupies itself thus 
with the theory of purposive activity has no current name but 
might be called Prothesiology (from Gr. r P 60 e<nt = purpose, 
resolve, design.) Kant’s discussion of the teleological judgment, 
in Part II of his Critique of Judgment, would belong to it. In his 
discussion, however, he considers chiefly man’s judgments of pur¬ 
posiveness in Nature rather than the nature, kinds, and levels of 
purposive activity itself. 

Moreover, the “mechanism” he contrasts with purposiveness 
is mechanism conceived in terms only of motion of material ob¬ 
jects or particles, and thus leaves out of consideration such psy- 


chological processes as are not purposive but mechanical, i.e., 
automatic. Also, he erroneously conceives teleology as a different 
kind of causality instead of, properly, as causality in cases where 
the cause-event (not the causality relation) is of a special kind. 
Kant’s discussion of teleology therefore does not furnish us with 
the analysis and conspectus we need at this point. We shall in¬ 
troduce it by considering first a concrete case of purposive activity 
of the type in which the three factors mentioned above operate— 
say, the case of our shaking an apple tree for the purpose of get¬ 
ting one of the apples it bears. In this activity, we discern the 
following five elements: 

1) The idea we have, of our as yet non-existent possession 
of one of the apples. 

2) Our desire that possession of one by us shall come to exist. 

3) Our knowledge, gained from past experience, that shak¬ 
ing the tree would cause apples to fall into our possession. 

4) Causation in us—by the joint presence to our mind of 
that idea, that desire, and that knowledge—of the act of shaking 
the tree. 

5) Causation in turn, by this act, of the imagined and de¬ 
sired eventual fall of apples into our possession. 

This analysis of the example is enough to make evident al¬ 
ready that, contrary to what is sometimes alleged, purposive ac¬ 
tivity involves no such paradox as would be constituted by causa¬ 
tion of a present action by a future state of affairs. For obviously 
what causes the act of shaking the tree is not the as yet non-e\ 
istent possession by us of an apple; but is, together, our present 
thought of our future possession of one, our present desire for 
such future possession, and our present knowledge of how to cause 
it to occur. By the very definition of Causality, the cause, here as 
necessarily everywhere else, is prior in time to its effect. 

6. Conation: “blind” vs. accompanied by awareness of its 
conatum. Let us, however pursue the analysis of purposiveness 
by considering next the various respects in which examples of 
purposiveness may, without ceasing to be such, depart from the 
type of the example analyzed above. 

One possibility is that factor (1) in that analysis—to wit, an 
idea of the state of affairs to be brought about—should be absent. 



In such a case, factor (2) would properly be describable not as a 
desire, but only as a blind conation or craving-blind as to what 
sort of state of affairs would satisfy it. A new-born infant’s crav¬ 
ing for milk would be an example of this. “Desire,” then, is cona¬ 
tion conjoined with an idea of its conatum; whereas “blind cona¬ 
tion” is conation unaccompanied by any idea of its conatum. 

The activity incited by blind conation is even then purposive, 
but not consciously purposive; and it is: (a) relatively random 
and therefore successful, i.e., satisfying, only by chance; or (b) 
regulated automatically (within a certain range of conditions) by 
some somatic of psychosomatic servo-mechanism and therefore 
successful notwithstanding variations that do not go beyond that 
range, as for example web building by spiders; or (c) stereotyped 
irrespective of its appropriateness or inappropriateness to the 
special circumstances that may be present in the particular case— 
as when, for example, the hungry neonate cries, irrespective of 
whether anybody is there to hear him or not. 

7. Desire, and ignorance or knowledge of how to satisfy it. 
When the inciting conation is a desire, i.e., is coupled with aware¬ 
ness of the nature of its conatum—then termed its desideratum- 
knowledge of a form of action that would bring about occurrence 
of the desideratum may either be lacking or be possessed. If it is 
lacking, the purposive activity incited is then of the consciously 
exploratory, “trial-and-error,” type. If on the contrary that knowl¬ 
edge is possessed, the activity it incites is then not only consciously 
purposive but in addition skilled, or informed, according as the 
knowledge shaping it is present in the form of “know-how,” or in 
conceptualized form. 

8. Autotelism and heterotelism. Purposive activity—whether 
induced by a blind conation or by a conation conjoined with 
awareness of the nature of its conatum—may be autotelic, instead 
of heterotelic as in the example analyzed. That is, what satisfies 
the conation may be the very performing of the activity, not some 
ulterior effect caused by the performing of it. Examples of pur¬ 
posive activity that is thus autotelic would be sneezing, coughing, 
yawning, stretching; and, at a more elaborate level, the various 
play activities. In all such cases, what we crave is to do these very 


things. The doing of them of course has effects, but the activities 
are not, like the heterotelic ones, performed for the sake of those 
effects, but for their own sakes. 

9. What ultimately differentiates purposiveness from mech¬ 
anism. The foregoing survey of a number of ways in which telic 
activity may depart from the type illustrated by the example of 
the shaking of the apple tree makes evident that the one factor 
essential, i.e., necessary and sufficient, to purposiveness in an ac¬ 
tivity, is that what directly incites the activity should be either 
wholly or in part a conation. 

It then becomes evident that causation of an activity or of 
any other event is on the contrary “mechanical” if and only if 
the direct cause of it does not consist, either wholly or in part, of 
a conation. Moreover, this analysis of the essence of “mechanical” 
causation applies irrespective of whether the activity or event 
caused be a physical or a psychical one. Much of what goes on in 
our minds occurs not purposively but mechanically; for example, 
occurrence of ideas that had become associated with others by 
contiguity or by similarity; rote recollections; orderly mental ac¬ 
tivities so habitual as to have become automatic, etc. The me¬ 
chanical character of such psychological processes, and similarly 
of some psychosomatic and of some somatic processes, holds if 
what directly incites them is not a conation, and holds even if a 
mechanism being directly caused to function at a given time by 
something that is not a conation, came itself to exist as end- 
product of a purposive activity that aimed to construct it. (One’s 
knowledge of the multiplication table would be an example of a 
psychological mechanism that was so instituted.) 

10. Servo-mechanisms. A servo-mechanism is a mechanism 
so provided with feed-backs that the functioning of its does, not¬ 
withstanding disturbances of certain kinds and magnitudes, auto¬ 
matically insure attainment or maintenance within certain limits 
of a certain effect. A simple instance of a servo-mechanism is an 
oil-burning furnace controlled by a thermostat which maintains 
the house temperature within specific limits. 

The point essential here to bear in mind in connection with 
servo-mechanisms is that although, to an observer struck by the 



similarity of their behavior to that of the behavior of a man ac¬ 
tuated by a purpose, their behavior seems purposive too, never¬ 
theless it is wholly mechanical . The purpose which the observer 
infers from his observation of the servo-mechanism’s behavior is 
not entertained by the servo-mechanism itself, but is the purpose 
which the constructor of the mechanism intended that it should 
be capable of serving, and which the user of the mechanism is 
employing it to serve: the thermostat’s action, which turns the 
furnace burner on or off, is not caused by a craving or desire in 
the thermostat to maintain the room temperature within certain 
limits. Although the existence of the thermostatically controlled 
furnace is artificial, i.e., came about through somebody’s purposive 
constructional activity, nevertheless once the mechanism has come 
to exist, its operation is just as wholly mechanical as is operation 
of the increase or decrease of the quantity of water pouring over 
the natural spillway of a natural mountain lake, in maintaining 
the level of the lake constant within certain limits. 

But although the action of the thermostat in turning the 
burner on or off is not itself purposive, it is nevertheless purpose¬ 
serving —the purpose served being of course the householder’s pur¬ 
pose of maintaining the house temperature approximately con¬ 
stant. On the other hand, as the case of the mountain lake shows, 
an activity, in order to be capable of serving somebody’s purpose, 
does not need either to be the activity of a purposive agent, or 
to be the activity of a purposively constructed mechanism. 

11. Creative vs. only activative conations. In the various 
types of telism considered up to this point, the effect of the cona¬ 
tions involved was to activate some preexisting psychological or 
psychosomatic mechanism; either, autotelically, for the sake of its 
very activity; or, heterotelically, for the sake of an ulterior effect 
which the mechanism’s activity automatically causes. 

What we must notice next is that, instead of or in addition to 
being thus activative, a conation may be both creative, and blind 
as to the determinate nature of that whose creation would satisfy 
the conation. 

An example would be the imaginative creation of the poem, 
drama, or musical or pictorial composition which issues out of the 
composer’s “inspiration,” i.e., which is “breathed into” his con- 



sciousness by the specific conation operating in him at the time. 
The creative process is here usually a step-by-step one, in which 
ideas of portions or features of the composition are spontaneously 
generated by the conation; these ideas, when they turn out to be 
such as to satisfy it, being then embodied by the composer in per¬ 
ceptible material—words, tones, colors, etc., as the case may be. 

Other examples would be those constituted by discovery of 
the solution of some intellectual problem; for instance the prob¬ 
lem of discovering a proof that no cube can be the sum of two 
cubes. The correct solution, if it comes, is—like the incorrect ones 
that come—generated spontaneously by the intense conation to 
solve the problem; which conation, however, is satisfied only by 
advent of the correct solution and awareness that it is correct 

Another category is that of instances where what the conation 
generates is a psychological or psychosomatic servo-mechanism 
such that possession of it constitutes possession of a skill. Instances 
of this are of special interest in the present connection because 
part of what is then created is an elaborate set of connections 
among neurons in the brain and the cerebellum; and the fact that 
the conation to acquire a skill thus has a creative somatic effect 
lends plausibility to the supposition that the somatic phenomena 
of organic growth to a normal form, of regeneration, of adapta¬ 
tion, etc., are similarly manifestations of conations that are so¬ 
matically creative, but are autotelic and blind as to what will 
satisfy them. This would mean that the tadpole’s new leg, re¬ 
stored after the original one had been snipped off—and indeed the 
original one too—is, as Schopenhauer would have put it, an “ob¬ 
jectification” of, i.e., a spontaneous somatic construction by, the 
blind conation for capacity to swim; and the crustacean’s restored 
eye similarly a spontaneous construction by the conation for ca 
pacity to see. 

12. The question as to how conation organizes matter. It 
might perhaps be objected, however, that anyway we do not un 
derstand how a conation manages to organize or to shape matter. 
If so, the pertinent reply would be that the puzzle is a wholly sup¬ 
posititious one. For wherever, as in this case and in many others, 
what is in view is not remote but proximate causation, i.e., causa¬ 
tion of one event by another not through causation of intermedi- 



ary other events but directly and immediately, then the question 
as to the “how” of the causation is strictly absurd. It is absurd 
because in any such case it loses the only meaning it ever has, 
which is: “Through what intermediary causal steps does A cause 
B?” and hence to ask this, i.e., to ask “how,” in cases of direct 
causation, is to ask what the intermediary causal steps are in cases 
where there are none! 

13. Telism ultimately the only type of explanation in sight 
for the life processes. The supposition formulated above—of or¬ 
ganization as direct effect of conation—has the merit that it in¬ 
vokes a kind of cause, to wit, conation, of which—by introspective 
attention to our psychological experience—we know that some 
cases exist; a kind of cause, moreover, which we know to be some¬ 
times creative; and indeed sometimes somatically creative. 

On the other hand, our examination of the objections to 
teleological explanation of the life processes showed that each of 
the three objections is without force. Moreover, no explanation 
of those processes, other than a teleological one, is in sight; for 
to speak (as do E. S. Russell, R. S. Lillie, and others) of the “di¬ 
rectiveness” of the life processes; or (as does Driesch) of an “en- 
telechy” that is not psychic but “psychoid”; or (as does von 
Bertalanffy) of the “equifinality” of the life processes; and so on, 
is either to bring in purposiveness itself, under an alias; or else it 
is to invoke the operation of servo-mechanisms whose existence, 
however, even if it were observed instead of only postulated, 
would itself stand in need of explanation. That the explanation 
could ultimately be only in terms of purposiveness follows from 
two considerations. 

One is that since what differentiates living material, even in 
its most elementary forms, from non-living material is the prima 
facie purposive character of its processes, this character of all liv¬ 
ing material cannot be accounted for by the hypothesis of chance 
variations or mutations in living material, and of survival of those 
fittest to survive. 

The other consideration is that the adequacy of that hy¬ 
pothesis to account even for the differentiation of species within 
already living material is to-day seriously questioned by a num¬ 
ber of biologists for several reasons. One is: (a) that mutations 


are "rare, isolated, occurring in but one out of thousands or tens 
of thousands of individuals, and hence have but infinitesimal 
chances to propagate themselves and to persist, in such a popula¬ 
tion.” Moreover, (b) mutation "does not recur sequentially in 
the same form, and hence cannot be cumulative” and thus can¬ 
not produce the continuous and harmonious change which the 
hypothesis of progressive evolution depicts. Besides, (c) "by the 
very laws, which govern crossings in sexual reproduction, mu¬ 
tants have but infinitesimal chances to survive and to propagate 
their type.” Furthermore, (d) "mutation is almost always a de¬ 
precative, noxious, or pathological phenomenon.” Again, (e) 
"mutation never affects any but relatively minute details, and 
never traverses the limits of the species. ... In brief, mutation 
is at the most a factor of variation within a species ... it certainly 
cannot transform the existing species into novel ones.” 4 

14. Conation in the vegetative, the animal, and the human 
activities. The eminent author from whose chapter on ‘‘Evolu¬ 
tionism: An illusory science” the preceding observations are 
quoted considers in another chapter entitled, “Do cells have a 
soul?”, the neo-finalism of Ruyer, and criticizes it. 

According to Ruyer, the apparent preordination of biological 
processes to specific ends is owing to a dominating, essentially ac¬ 
tive and dynamic “primary organic consciousness,” whose sole 
intent, or ideal, consists of the forms and capacities of the organs 
it constructs. This primary organic consciousness would thus be 
concerned basically with the vegetative processes of living things; 
and the processes of animal and of typically human life would be 
eventual derivatives from it. 

Ruyer contends in addition, however, that a similar con¬ 
sciousness, though at more elementary levels, operates also in in 
dividual molecules and atoms, since they are not mere aggregates 
but are systems. His hypophenomenalism would thus be not bio- 

4 Louis Bounoure: DHerminisme et Finaliti, Flammarion, Paris, 1957, Ch. II, 
pp. 70-72. Note also Raymond Ruyer: Ndofinalisme, Presses IJniversitaires de 
France, Paris, 1952; especially chs. IV, V, XVI, XVI1. Also, H. Graham Cannon: 
The Evolution of Living Things, Thomas, Springfield, Ill. 1958, and Lamarck and 
Modem Genetics, Manchester Univ. P*ess, 1958—See, however, E. Schroedinger: 
Mind and Matter, Cambridge Univ. Press, 1959—Ch. 2. 



logical only but cosmological. But-leaving aside that additional 
contention of his-the “primary organic consciousness” he invokes 
to account for the apparent purposiveness of biological processes 
would seem to be much the same thing in essence if not perhaps 
in its details, as the conations which we found to be the constitu¬ 
ent alone indispensable and therefore essential in the only actions 
whose purposiveness is, not inferred, but directly and intimately 
observable by us. These are, of course, our own purposive actions, 
whose motivation we can scrutinize introspectively; whereas ex¬ 
ternal perception, as we pointed out earlier, has no way to dis¬ 
tinguish between action really purposive, and action automatically 
regulated by servo-mechanisms. 

Bounoure criticizes Ruyer’s hypothesis, by emphasizing that 
the processes that go on in living organisms are triggered at every 
stage by determining conditions—chemical stimuli, mitogenetic 
causes, etc., of which he describes various interesting examples in 
some detail. 

This determinism, however, which is beyond question, does 
not account for the organism’s inherent capacity to respond to 
those determinants and to variations in them in a manner so 
adaptable as to attain a fixed result. Possession of such capacity 
is the characteristic of servo-mechanisms, but it does not account 
for its own existence. Indeed, Bounoure himself points this out 
when he writes that “finality is implicate in organisms, but impli¬ 
cation does not constitute explanation. What needs to be ac¬ 
counted for is not organization already existent, but the activity 
that constructs and organizes life” (p. 216). Immediately after, 
however, he dismisses as futile and anthropomorphic Ruyer’s 
postulated immanent agent-consciousness. 

What then does Bounoure himself ultimately offer us in¬ 
stead? Unfortunately, only a statement that, in the organism, “the 
preordination of phenomena and. . .the vital value of their con¬ 
catenation” are “marvellous characteristics of life;” or a reference 
to the “essential mystery of life;” or an “acknowledgment, in the 
organism’s development of a veritable marvel.” In effect, nothing 
but virtuously emphatic avowals that he has no explanation what¬ 
ever to offer! 

As we shall see in the next chapter, however, some biologists 


no less distinguished, among them H. S. Jennings, whose observa 
tions on the behavior of paramecium Bounoure has occasion to 
cite—have not shared Bounoure’s metaphysical prejudice against 
the possibility of psycho-physical causation. 

15. Hypophenomenalism vs. epiphenomenalism. How now 
do the merits of the hypophenomenalism we have formulated com¬ 
pare with those of epiphenomenalism? 

Epiphenomenalism as we saw, has two defects. One is that 
although it acknowledges that states of consciousness are not ma¬ 
terial events, nevertheless it describes their relation to brain ac¬ 
tivity—which activity it alleges generates them—only in terms of 
the in fact non-analogous relation between an activity of a ma¬ 
terial object and generation by it of another material object. 

The biological hypophenomenalism we have described, on 
the other hand, does not suffer from any corresponding defect, for 
it docs not contend—as would a cosmological hypophenomenalism 
—that purposive mental activity, i.e., conation, generates the mat¬ 
ter of which the body consists, but only that it “animates” or 
“enlivens” this matter, i.e., organizes it purposefully. 

Again, epiphenomenalism is, we pointed our. altogether ar¬ 
bitrary in its dogma that causation as between consciousness and 
brain is always from brain states to states of consciousness, but 
never causation of brain states by states of consciousness. In the 
contentions of hypophenomenalism, on the contrary, there is noth¬ 
ing to preclude causation of particular changes in the stale of the 
living brain by particular changes in the state of consciousness; 
nor is there anything to preclude causation in the converse direc 
tion. The biological hypophenomenalism we have described is 
hospitable equally to both possibilities; for the causality relation 
does not require that both its cause-term and its effect-term be 
material events, nor indeed that either of them be so; and what 
unprejudiced observation reveals is not only instances of physico- 
physical causation, but also instances of psycho-physical, of phys- 
ico-psychical, and of psycho-psychical causation. This, however, 
brings up interactionism, which will be the subject of the next 

16. Hypophenomenalism and experimentation. Each per- 



son whose body is functioning normally is in position to make 
perceptual observations of it and of the bodies of others; to act 
physically upon it and upon them; to observe introspectively in 
his own case the psychological effects of physical stimuli on his 
body, and, in the case of other human bodies, to infer the psycho¬ 
logical effects of such stimuli more or less well from the behavior 
of those bodies. Also, situated as we are, each of us is in position 
as occasion arises to observe human bodies unconscious as well as 
conscious, dead as well as alive, and being born as well as dying. 
It is because we have been in position to make these and related 
observations of human bodies and of other physical objects and 
events, that we have been able to gain such knowledge as we have 
of physicophysical causation in general, and of physico-physical 
causation upon, by, and within the human body. These last facts 
of causation are what in particular has invited, and has been used 
as an empirical and experimental springboard for, the speculative 
leap of epiphenomenalism, which, as we saw, goes far beyond 
those facts. 

For the sake of healthy philosophical perspective, it is neces¬ 
sary now to point out the respects in which our situation would 
need to be different from what it is during life, in order that it 
should provide us with an analogous empirical and experimental 
springboard for the hypophenomenalistic speculative leap. 

In order to have such a springboard for this, we would need 
to be discarnate minds, instead of as now minds possessed of and 
confined to a physical body. We would need, as discarnate minds, 
to be able to communicate with and act upon other discarnate 
minds directly, i.e., without, as now, physical bodies as intermedi¬ 
aries; perhaps also, to some extent and exceptionally, to be able 
to communicate with and act upon some incarnate minds likewise 
directly. We would need to be able to observe the “spirit birth” 
of a mind, i.e., its advent, at bodily death, into the world of dis¬ 
carnate minds; and conceivably also its “spirit death”, if bodily 
birth should happen to consist of incarnation of an already exist¬ 
ing “spirit” or “germ of a mind.” 

The situation of a discarnate mind as just depicted is of 
course more or less what Spiritualists believe to be that of the 
minds of persons whose bodies have died. They speak, however, of 


“spirits” rather than of discarnate minds—apparently meaning by 
a “spirit” a mind or “soul” which although discarnate is clothed 
with a “spiritual,” more subtle kind of body. Spiritualists hold 
that such discarnate minds can on exceptional occasions describe 
to us, in terms of the observations and experiments which minds 
are able to make when discarnate, a mind-body relation which, 
although not labelled by them hypophenomenalistic, is yet essen¬ 
tially this; those occasions being the rare ones on which, pur¬ 
portedly, a discarnate spirit borrows for the moment the body or 
part of the body of an entranced “medium,” and by its means 
communicates with us whether vocally, or by automatic writing, 
or typtologically. Such paranormal incursions by a discarnate 
mind into the world of living bodies would be the analogues of 
the paranormal incursions of incarnate minds into the world of 
spirits, which Swedenborg and some other psychics have claimed 
to have made. 

It is interesting to note in this connection that if, at or after 
death, a then discarnate spirit should lose the memories of the 
incarnate life he left at death, he would then probably be just 
as skeptical of reports as to the existence of an earth world and of 
physical human bodies as now we, who have no memories of a 
spirit world, are skeptical as to the existence of one and as to our 
having had, or being eventually to have, a life in onel 

These remarks are of course not intended to prejudge the 
question of survival after death; but only to make clear why the 
hypophenomenalistic speculative leap cannot, our minds being 
situated as now they are in a physical body, be made from an em¬ 
pirical and experimental springboard analogous to that which, 
situated as they now are, they can use in making the epiphenom 
enalistic leap. 

Attention to beliefs such as those of Spiritualism, which seem 
to us queer or even paradoxical, can have the value of freeing to 
some extent our imagination from the unconscious parochialism 
of its outlook, which naively terms “unrealistic,” or “contrary to 
commonsense,” or perhaps “unscientific,” anything that clashes 
with our existing habits of thought. 

Of course, readiness to consider paradoxical ideas must not 
generate readiness to accept them without adequate evidence; 



but readiness to consider them can well turn out to generate 
awareness that some of the ideas currently orthodox whether in 
science or elsewhere are being accepted without adequate 

Chapter XII 


The contention considered in the preceding chapter was 
that the processes constituting the living body’s minimal, i.e., 
vegetative, life are autotelic objective expressions of blind crav 
ings of mind or minds to organize matter. Such of these blind 
cravings as are present in the human mind might be termed its 
vegetative conations, as distinguished from its distinctively ani 
mal and human ones. 

The hypophenomenalistic contention was of interest to us 
primarily because of the superiority, in the respects we noticed, 
of the alternative it provides to the contention that the life of 
living things is a purely physico-chemical process and that a mind 
and its various conations and states are mere epiphenomena of 
those processes in the living brain. We shall not, however, need 
to occupy ourselves further with hypophenomenalism since the 
question to which it is an answer is different from the question 
central for us in these pages. 

The latter question has to do with ihe nature of the rela 
tion between two terms. One of them is a living human body- 
no matter whether its being “alive” be a physico-chemical epiphe- 
nomenon or be a hypophenomenon of some primitive conations. 
The other term of the relation is constituted by existence and 
exercise of the animal and especially of the typically human 
capacities or “dispositions” in a person’s total mind conceived 
in the manner set forth in Chapter VI. Man’s living material 
body is of course a necessary, even if not a sufficient, factor in 
the development of his mind from the rudimentary state in 
which it is at the birth of his body. But our problem is whether 
on the one hand a person’s living body, and on the other the 




part of that person’s mind consisting of the distinctively human 
capacities peculiar to him, are so related that, once those capaci¬ 
ties have been acquired by him, they, or some of them, can 
continue to exist and to function after that body dies. 

Interactionism, as conceived in these pages, answers that no 
impossibility-either theoretical or empirical—is involved in so 
supposing. Let us, however, first consider the classical account of 
mind-body interaction. 

1. Interaction as conceived by Descartes. The contention 
that the human mind and the living human body can, and to some 
extent do, act each on the other is associated chiefly with the name 
of Descartes. His account of their interaction, however, is bur¬ 
dened with difficulties that are not inherent in interactionism but 
arise only out of some of the peculiarities of his formulation of it. 

The most troublesome of these is that mind and body are con¬ 
ceived by Descartes as each a “substance” in the sense that, aside 
from the dependence of each on God, each is wholly self-sufficient. 
This entails that changes in the state of either cannot without 
inconsistency be supposed to cause changes in the state of the 
other. Descartes, in one of his letters, acknowledges this. 1 Never¬ 
theless he asserts that such causation does occur: “That the spirit, 
which is incorporeal, is able to move the body, no reasoning or 
comparison from other things can teach this to us. Nevertheless, 
we cannot doubt it, for experiments too certain and too evident 
make us clearly aware of it every day; and one must well notice 
that this is one of the things that are known of themselves [une 
des choses qui sont connues par elles memes] and that we obscure 
them every time we would explain them by others.” 2 

Yet, as if to mitigate the illegitimacy which, on Descartes’ 
conception of substance, attaches to interaction, he insists that it 
occurs only at one place. This is at the center of the brain, in 
the pineal gland, which he holds is the principal “seat” of the 
soul. The deflections of it by the “animal spirits,” Descartes says, 
cause perceptions in the soul; and, conversely, the soul’s volitions 

Tetter of June 28, 1645, to Elizabeth. Descartes' Correspondence, ed. Adam Sc 
Milhaud, Vol. 5:324. 

•Letter VI, Vol. 2:31. 


deflect the pineal gland and thereby the “animal spirits,” whose 
course to the muscles causes the body’s voluntary movements. 

But to pack into the meaning of the word “substance” the 
provision that one substance cannot interact with another is— 
here as in the historical precedents—quite arbitrary; for no theo¬ 
retical need exists to postulate any substance as so defined; nor is 
the term, as so defined, applicable to anything actually known to 
exist. As ordinarily used, the term denotes such things as water 
and salt, steel and wood, nitric acid and copper, which can and on 
occasion do interact. Indeed, all the dispositions (except internal 
ones) in terms of which the nature of any substance analyzes con¬ 
sist of capacities of the substance concerned to affect or to be af 
fected by some other substance. 

Thus, the paradox Descartes finds in the interaction which 
he anyway acknowledges occurs between body and mind ; arises 
only out of his gratuitously degrading to the status of “modes’ 
the things ordinarily called “substances”—which do interact—and, 
equally gratuitously, defining “substances” as incapable of in¬ 

2. Interaction and the heterogeneity of mind and body. 
What causes Descartes to find paradoxical the interaction of mind 
and body and yet to find no difficulty in the interaction of sub¬ 
stances such as steel and wood, etc., is that, in the latter cases, the 
two substances concerned, being both of them material, are onto- 
logically homogeneous; whereas body and mind—being one of 
them res extensa and the other res cogitans —are ontologically 

But the supposed paradox of interaction between them evap¬ 
orates as soon as one realizes that the causality relation is wholly 
indifferent to the ontological homogeneity or heterogeneity of 
the events figuring in it as cause and as effect. This indifference or 
neutrality holds no matter whether causality be defined, as later 
by Hume, as consisting in de facto regularity of sequence; or more 
defensibly, as in experimental procedure, in terms of a state of 
affairs within which only two changes occur—one, called “cause.” 
occurring at a given moment, and the other, occurring immedi¬ 
ately thereafter, called “effect.” All that the causality relation 
presupposes as to the nature of its cause-term and its effect term 



is that both be events, i.e., occurrences in time. Hence, as Hume 
eventually pointed out and as we have insisted, an event, of no 
matter what kind, can, without contradiction or incongruity, be 
conceived to cause an event of no matter what other kind. Only 
experience can tell us what in fact can or cannot cause what. 
That, as experiment testifies, volition to raise one’s arm normally 
causes it to rise, and burning the skin normally causes pain, is not 
in the least paradoxical. 

3. H. S. Jennings on interaction between mind and body. 
The interactionist views of the eminent biologist, H. S. Jennings, 
are free from the artificial difficulty present in those of Descartes, 
and are far dearer and more critical than those of most of the 
biologists who have expressed themselves on the subject of the 
relation between body and mind. 

In an address, Some Implications of Emergent Evolution, 
which he delivered in 1926 as retiring chairman of the Zoological 
Section of the American Association for the Advancement of 
Science, and later in a book, The Universe and Life, 3 Jennings 
sharply distinguishes two conceptions of determinism. He calls 
them respectively “radically experimental determinism’’ and 
“mechanistic determinism.’’ The latter is the one commonly 
entertained by scientists, and is to the effect that whatever occurs 
in the universe, whether novel or not, is theoretically explicable 
in terms of the properties and relations of the elementary con¬ 
stituents of matter; and hence that even radical novelties such as 
the advent of life in an until then lifeless world are the inherently 
predictable necessary or probable effects of certain collocations— 
that is, are predictable in principle even if not in fact by us at a 
given time for lack of the required empirical data. This—except 
for the substitution of probabilities for necessities at the sub¬ 
atomic level in consequence of the state of affairs recognized in 
Heisenberg’s principle of indeterminacy—is essentially determin¬ 
ism as conceived in Laplace’s famous statement we have quoted 
earlier, that “an intelligence knowing, at a given instant of time. 

■Yale Univ. Press, New Haven, 1933. The address appeared in Science, Jan. 14, 
1927, and was reprinted with corrections the same year by the Sociological Press, 


all forces acting in nature, as well as the momentary positions of 
all things of which the universe consists, would be able to com¬ 
prehend the motions of the largest bodies of the world and those 
of the smallest atoms in one single formula, provided it [i.e., that 
intelligence] were sufficiently powerful to subject all data to 
analysis; to it, nothing would be uncertain, both future and past 
would be present before its eyes.” 4 

Obviously, however, such a physico-chemical determinism is 
in fact only a metaphysical creed; for it vastly outruns what theo¬ 
retical physics and physical chemistry are actually able to predict. 
What has occurred is that something which in reality was but a 
program—namely to explain in physico-chemical terms whatever 
turns out to be capable of explanation in such terms—has una¬ 
wares been transformed into the a priori creed that whatever does 
occur is ultimately capable of being explained in such terms. 
Doubtless, the enthusiasm resulting from the truly remarkable 
discoveries which have been made under that program is what has 
brought about the unconscious metamorphosing of the latter into 
a creed, i.e., into a belief piously held without adequate warrant 
both by scientists and by laymen awed by the vast achievements 
of science. 

On the other hand, the determinism Jennings terms “rad¬ 
ically experimental determinism” does not assume, as physico¬ 
chemical determinism gratuitously does, that only physical or 
chemical events can really cause or explain anything. Rather, 
it holds, as did David Hume, that only experience can reveal to 
us what in fact can or cannot cause what; and holds further as 
does the present writer, that, ultimately, the only sort of expe 
rience that can reveal what can or cannot cause what is experience 
of the outcome of an experiment: “The only test as to whether 
one phenomenon affects another is experiment .... the test is: 
remove severally each preceding condition, and observe whether 
this alters the later phenomena. If it does, this is what we mean 
by saying that one condition affects another; that one determines 
another. Such experimental determinism is not concerned with 
likenesses or differences in kind, as between mental and physical, 

4 Thiorie Analytique des Probability, Paris, Sd. edition, 1820. 



nor with the conceivability or inconceivability of causal relations 
between them; it is purely a matter of experiment.” 5 

Jennings goes on to point out that “if we rely solely upon 
experiment, the production of mental diversities by preceding 
diversities in physical conditions is the commonest experience of 
mankind; a brick dropped on the foot yields other mental results 
than from a feather so dropped.” But ‘‘experimental determinism 
also holds for the production of physical diversities by preceding 
mental diversities; for experimental determinism of the physical 
by the mental. One result follows when a certain mental state 
precedes; another when another mental state precedes .... No 
ground based on experimental analysis can be alleged for the 
assertion that the mental does not affect the physical; this is a 
purely a priori notion. According therefore to radical experimen- 

talism, consciousness does make a difference to what happens. 

the mental determines what happens as does any other determiner 
.... Among the determining factors for the happenings in nature 
are those that we call mental. Thought, purpose, ideals, con¬ 
science, do alter what happens.” 6 

4. What interactionism essentially contends. The interac- 
tionism that seems to the present writer to constitute the true 
account of the relation between the human mind and the living 
human body contends, as does Jennings, that each of the two 
acts at times on the other. Certain brain events, caused by en¬ 
vironmental stimuli upon the external sense organs or by internal 
bodily conditions, cause certain mental events—notably, sensations 
of the various familiar kinds. On the other hand, mental events 
of various kinds (and no matter how themselves caused) cause 
certain brain events—those, namely, which themselves in turn 

B Some Implications of Emergent Evolution, p. 9 of the reprint. Cf. the present 
writer’s own analysis of Causality in his Causation and the Types of Necessity 
Univ. of Washington Press, Seattle, 1924, pp. 55-6, and in his later Nature, Mind, 
and Death Open Court Pub. Co. La Salle, 1951, Ch. 8, Sec. 3, where he insists that 
Causality is the relationship, which an experiment exhibits, between a state of 
affairs, an only change in it at a time T, and an immediately sequent only other 
change in it; and that causal laws are generalizations obtained by attention to the 
similarities that turn out to exist between two or more experiments each of which, 
in its own individual right, revealed a case of causation. 

•Ibid. p. 10. Cf. The Universe and Life, pp. 33-48. 


cause or inhibit contractions of muscles or secretions of glands. 
But that mind and body thus interact does not entail that each 
cannot, or does not at times, function by itself, i.e., without acting 
on the other or being acted upon by it. Certainly, many of man's 
bodily activities—at the least the vegetative activities—can and do 
at times go on in the absence of conscious mental activity or with* 
out being affected by such as may be going on at the time. On 
the other hand, at times during which the mind is engaged in 
reflection, meditation, or reminiscence, and is thus in a state of 
what is properly called “abstraction” (from sensory stimulations 
and from voluntary bodily actions,) the thoughts, desires, images, 
and feelings that occur are directly determined by others of them¬ 
selves together with the acquired dispositions or habits of the 
particular mind concerned. 

5. Which human body is one’s own. In connection with the 
interactionist thesis, it is of particular interest to raise a question 
which at first sight seems silly, but the answer to which turns 
out to be decisive in favor of interactionisin. That question is, 
How do we know which one of the many human bodies we per¬ 
ceive is our own? 

We might answer that it is the only human body whose nose 
we always see if it is illuminated when we see anything else; or 
that we call that human body our own, the back of whose head 
we never can see directly, etc. But this answer would not be 
ultimately adequate; for if a human body, the back of whose head 
we do see directly, were such that when and only when it is 
pricked with a pin or otherwise injured, we feel pain; such that 
when and only when we decide to open the door, it walks to the 
door and opens it; such that when and only when we feel shame, 
it blushes; and so on, invariably; then that body would be the one 
properly called our own! And the body, the back of whose head 
we never see directly—but whose injuries cause us no pain, and 
over whose movements our will has no direct control—would be 
for us the body of someone else, notwithstanding the peculiarity 
that we never manage to see the back of its head directly. 

Thus when, in the question: What is the relation between 
a mind and its body? we substitute for “its body” what we have 



just found to be the meaning of that expression, then the question 
turns out to have implicitly contained its own answer, for it then 
reads: What is the relation between a mind and the only body 
with which its relation is that of direct interaction? That is, that 
the mind-body relation is the particular relation which inter- 
actionism describes is analytically true. 

Let us, however, now examine a consideration that has been 
alleged to rule out the possibility of interaction between mind 
and body. 

6. Interaction and the conservation of energy. It has often 
been contended that the principle of the conservation of energy 
precludes causation of a mental event by a material one, or of a 
material event by a mental one; for such causation would mean 
that, on such occasions, a certain quantity of energy respectively 
vanishes from, or is introduced into, the material world; and this 
would constitute a violation of that conservation principle. 

Prof. C. D. Broad, however, has pointed out that no violation 
of the principle would be involved if, each time energy vanished 
from the material world at one point, an equal quantity of it 
automatically came into it at another point. Also that, even if 
all physico-physical causation involves transfer of energy, no evi¬ 
dence exists that such transfer occurs also in physico-psychical or 
psycho-physical causation. 7 

To this it may be added that if by “energy” is meant some¬ 
thing experimentally measurable, and not just a theoretical con¬ 
struct, then the fact is not that causation is ascertainable only by 
observing that energy has been transferred, but on the contrary 
that “transfer of energy” is ultimately definable only in terms of 
causation as experimentally ascertainable. That is, even if it 
should happen to be true that energy is transferred whenever 
causation occurs, nevertheless transfer of energy is not what we 
notice and mean when we observe and assert that a certain event 
C caused a certain other event E. For, obviously, correct judg¬ 
ments of causation have been made every day for thousands of 
years by millions of persons who not only did not base them on 

7 The Mind and its Place in Nature, Harcourt, Brace & Co. New York, 1929. 
pp. 103, ff. 


measurements of energy, but the immense majority of whom did 
not have the least conception of what physicists mean by “energy.” 
Everyone of the verbs of causation in the common language—to 
kill, to cure, to break, to bend, to irritate, to remind, to crush, 
to displace, etc.—acquired its meaning out of common perceptual 
experiences, not out of laboratory measurements of energy. The 
Toms, Dicks, and Harrys who have witnessed the impact of a 
brick on a bottle and the immediately sequent collapse of the 
bottle judged that the striking brick broke the bottle, i.e., caused 
its collapse. And they so judged because the impact of the brick 
was prima facie the only change that occurred in the immediate 
environment of the bottle immediately before the latter’s collapse. 

Anyway, as Prof. M. T. Keeton has pointed out, the proposi¬ 
tion that energy is conserved in the material world is not known, 
either a priori or empirically, to be true without exception. The 
“principle” of conservation of energy, or of mass-energy, is in fact 
only a postulate —a condition which the material world must sat¬ 
isfy if it is to be a wholly closed, isolated system. And, when in¬ 
teraction between mind and body is asserted to be impossible on 
the ground that it would violate the “principle” of the conserva¬ 
tion of energy, the very point at issue is of course whether the 
material world is in fact a wholly closed, isolated system. 8 

Thus, the ground just considered, on which the interactionist 
conception has been attacked, quite fails to invalidate it. Nor 
does the fact that, up to the time of the brain’s death the shaping 
of the mind has been due in part to interaction between mind 
and brain, entail that the conscious and subconscious mind—such 
as it has become by the time the body dies—cannot after this con¬ 
tinue to exist and to carry on some at least of its processes. 

Interactionism leaves the possibility of this open, but does 
not in itself supply evidence that such survival is a fact. Lamont, 
however, argues at length in the book cited earlier against any 
dualistic conception of the nature of body and mind. Examina¬ 
tion in some detail of the considerations alleged by him to rule 
out dualism must therefore be the subject of our next chapter. 

"Some Ambiguities in the Theory of the Conservation of Energy, Philosophy of 
Science, Vol. 8, No. 3, July 1941. 

Chapter XIII 


Most of the items, which in Chapter III were cited as together 
constituting the essentials of the case against the possibility that 
the mind survives the body’s death, are presented in considerable 
detail by Lamont in his book, The Illusion of Immortality. 1 As he 
proceeds, he points out various difficulties which he regards as 
insuperably standing in the way of a dualistic conception of the 
mind-body relation, and as dictating instead a monistic and nat¬ 
uralistic conception of it. Let us now consider some of the chief 
of his remarks both concerning the dualism he attacks and con¬ 
cerning the monism which he contends constitutes “the verdict 
of science.” 

1. Dualism and supernaturalism. A few words are in order 
to begin with concerning the relation assumed by Lamont to exist 
between dualism and supernaturalism. Again and again in his 
characterization of the other-than-bodily constituent of man, 
which dualism envisages, we find Lamont referring to that con¬ 
stituent as a “supernatural soul” (e.g., p. 116.). He alludes to 
“the notion that a supernatural soul enters the body from on 
high, already endowed with a pure and beautiful conscience . . .” 
(p. 95); also to the idea that “a transcendental self or a super¬ 
natural soul holds sway behind the empirical curtain;” again, 
to the supposition that “some kind of supernatural soul or 
spirit is doing our thinking for us . . .” (p. 117); to the notion 
of “an agent soul or mind somehow attached to the body and 
somehow doing man’s thinking for him” (p. 124); and to the idea 
that “the personalities of human beings .... enter ready made 
into this world” (p. 93). In the same vein, he speaks of dualism 
as paying homage to the human faculty of reason “by elevating it 

Philosophical Library New York, 1950. 




to a superhuman and supernatural plane” (p. 100); and by con¬ 
ceiving ideas as “existing independently in some separate realm” 

(p. 100). 

All that need be said concerning the use of such expressions 
in characterizing dualism is that—whether or not they be faithful 
to certain of the speculations which some theologians or theol¬ 
ogizing philosophers have put fonvard on the subject of the con¬ 
stitution of man—those expressions of Lamont’s are nothing but 
smear words if alleged to apply to dualism as such. For they then 
gratuitously load upon it vagaries that are as foreign to its essence 
as they are to Lamont’s would-be monism. 

They can, of course, be inserted into dualism, but they do 
not constitute an intrinsic part of its conception of mind, any 
more than, for instance, do atoms as conceived by Democritus 
constitute an intrinsic part of materialism’s conception of matter. 

Nor does the hypothesis of survival after death—whatever 
merits it may otherwise have or lack—have to be formulated in 
terms of Lamont’s “supernatural soul.” To attack dualism as 
painted by him in the expressions quoted is to attack but the freak 
offspring of an irresponsible affair between dualism and theology 

2. Naturalism and materialism. Lamont’s belief that psycho¬ 
physical dualism is inherently supernaturalistic is only a corollaiy 
of his wholly arbitrary equating of naturalism and materialistic 

The fact is that a dualism can be just as naturalistic as a 
monism unless by “naturalism” one tacitly means ontological ma¬ 
terialism (or, of course, ontological idealism;) for Nature is simply 
the realm of events that are effects of other events and that in 
turn cause further events; and a responsible dualism insists that 
mental events and processes are nowise “supernatural” but exactly 
as natural in the sense just stated as are the material events and 
processes of the human body. 

Lamont writes that “ideas .... are not apart from but are 
a part of Nature” (p. 101); and the responsible dualist too, of 
course, contends exactly this, but does not, like Lamont, base the 
contention on the tacit and quite arbitrary equation of Nature 
and the material world, and hence of Naturalism with ontological 



materialism. The dualist bases it on the fact that the events de¬ 
nominated “mental” or “psychological” and more specifically “oc¬ 
currences of ideas” are not anarchistic any more than are those 
denominated “material” and more specifically “physiological.” 
Both alike are causally determined by some anterior events and 
in turn causally determine posterior ones—which means that both 
alike are wholly natural. 

3. The senses in which ideas respectively are, and are not, 
ultimately private. At this point, something must be said con¬ 
cerning Lamont’s comments on the connection between dualism 
and the privacy of ideas, as contrasted with the public character 
of material events. He writes that although “for the individual 
who is thinking to himself ideas are private and to that extent 
subjective . . . ideas are also objective in that human beings can 
communicate them to one another . . .” And he goes on to say 
that “the objectivity and non-materiality of ideas has been a strong 
factor in impelling philosophers of a dualist bent to set up a 
realm of ideas or mind apart from and above Nature” (p. 101). 

As regards the last words of this statement, we have pointed 
out in what precedes that ideas are not “apart from and above 
Nature” unless one arbitrarily equates Nature with the material 
world as Lamont tacitly does; and does inconsistently with the 
fact that occurrence of an idea is an event, which has causes and 
effects, and yet which according to Lamont’s own declaration is 
not a material event. For he tells us that “ideas, which are non 
material meanings expressing the relations between things and 
events, occur in human thought” (p. 100). 

Concerning, however, Lamont’s assertion that ideas can be 
communicated and hence are not inherently private, it is obvious 
that his assertion altogether ignores the differences between an 
idea’s being published and its being public. The analysis of it we 
supplied in Sec. 1 of Ch. V need not be repeated here. But it is 
worth while to notice that Lamont’s failure to distinguish between 
the sense in which “ideas” are, and that in which they are not, 
inherently private arises out of the ambiguity of the blessed word, 
“meanings,” in his definition of ideas as “non-material meanings 
expressing [in a sense he does not specify] the relations between 
things and events.” 



The point is that the word “meanings” may designate occur¬ 
rences of the meaning activity, or may designate the objects meant. 
This is the distinction between the idea itself and what the idea 
is of; or, to put it in still other terms, the distinction is between 
the psychological act of objective reference and the object referred 
to by it. The former is the idea itself, is a psychological event, 
and is inherently private. The object meant, on the other hand, 
is the ideas referent, and can be anything whether material or 
mental. Two persons may each have an idea of the same object, 
but the idea of it one of them is having is not only existentially 
distinct from the idea of it the other is having—which is the case 
likewise with their bodily movements; but, unlike their move¬ 
ments, which are public, their ideas, being psychological events, 
remain unalterably private; i.e., accessible only to the introspec¬ 
tion of each. What is communicated, when anything is, is what 
object is meant, not the idea itself, which has it as objc t And 
the communicating of what object is meant consists, the one 
hand, in the communicator’s “coding” the object’s nature into 
public symbols, usually words, i.e., in his “describing ’ it; and. 
on the auditor’s part, in then “decoding” the symbols, i.e., under 
standing” what object they designate. 2 

4. Lamont’s position actually an ontological dualism. Let 
us, however, return to the monism which Lamont tells us is the 
verdict of science concerning the nature of the mind-body relation 

On examination this monism turns out to be of a very queer 
sort indeed; for Lamont expressly states, as we have seen, that 
ideas “are non-material meanings,” and endorses the “non mate¬ 
riality of ideas” (pp. 100/1). In so doing he is, of course, auto¬ 
matically — although seemingly unawares — declaring himself an 
ontological dualist, since those words of his expressly acknowledge, 
in addition to the material world, a non-material realm of being 
that comprises ideas at least, to say nothing of other mental stares 
and processes. 

Moreover the ontological dualism automatically embraced 

■The privacy of mental events has been attacked also by Gilbert Ryle in his 
book, The Concept of Mind. For a pointed criticism of his attack, see a paper by 
Arthur Pap, Semantic Analysis and Psycho-physical Dualism, in Mind, Vo). LXI: 
209-221, No. 242, April, 1952. 



when one declares that not only material events but also non- 
material ideas occur is not in the least done away with or im¬ 
paired by the particular manner in which mental activities on the 
one hand, and on the other bodily or more specifically cortical 
activities, may turn out to be related—for instance by the extent, 
if any, to which the two may happen to be, or not to be, inde¬ 
pendent or separable. For the point here crucial is that, unless 
the relation between them be strict identity , not just “connection” 
or “conjunction” of some sort, what one then has is not an on¬ 
tological monism but an ontological dualism. Thus, Lamont’s 
statement that “the experience of thinking or having ideas is dis¬ 
tinguishable from man's other actvities, but not existentially sep¬ 
arable” (p. 101) does not save the monism for which he is arguing. 
That ideas may be so connected with certain bodily processes as to 
be existentially inseparable from them is a possibility nowise in¬ 
consistent with ontological dualism. Only if the existential in¬ 
separability consisted not in connection but in strict identity 
would dualism be excluded. 

More generally, if two things, activities, or experiences are 
distinct from each other in the sense that neither of them is a 
constituent part of the other, (as on the contrary an angle is a 
constituent part of a triangle or a motor a constituent part of an 
automobile,) then the two are not only distinguishable but also 
theoretically separable. That is, they are separable in the sense 
that to suppose either to exist without the other implies no con¬ 
tradiction. Then the question arises as to whether, or how far, 
they are in addition separable existentially, i.e., separable in fact 
not only in theory. But this question cannot be settled, as in 
Lamont’s quoted statement concerning thinking and bodily ac¬ 
tivities, by dogmatic negation; nor by declaring, as in the state¬ 
ments quoted from his chapter, that the connection between mind 
and body is “so exceedingly intimate that it becomes inconceiv¬ 
able how one could function properly without the other,” or that 
“man is a unified whole of mind-body or personality-body so 
closely and completely integrated that dividing him up into two 
separate and more or less independent parts becomes impermis¬ 
sible and unintelligible” (pp. 89, 113). 

Rather, the only way to settle the question as to the existen- 



dal separability, in whole or in part, of body and inind is—aside 
from the experimental way which would consist in shooting one 
self in order to observe whether one’s mental activity survives that 
drastic laboratory procedure—the only way, I repeat, is to consider, 
as we have done in the preceding chapters of Part ITT, what vari¬ 
ous types of connection or union between the two are conceivable; 
and what grounds there may be for concluding that the union of 
body and mind is of a type that entails or permits, or of one that 
precludes, their partial or perhaps total existential separability. 

In the absence of such an inquiry as basis for the quoted as¬ 
sertions of inseparability, those assertions are merely pseudo¬ 
scientific dogmatism. 

5. The mind as a “productive function” of the body. Hut, 
as we shall now see, the strangeness of the monism Lamont pro¬ 
fesses in the name of science is not exhausted by the fact that it 
describes the mind-body relation in dualistic terms. 

Lamont contends that the mind is a “productive function” 
of the body; declaring, for example, that “when ideas, which are 
non-material meanings expressing the relations between things 
and events, occur in human thought, they always do so as func¬ 
tions or accompaniments of action patterns in the cerebral cortex 
of a thoroughly material brain” (pp. 100/101). Again, he tells 
us that the findings of the sciences that deal with man “have 
inexorably led to the proposition that mind or personality is a 
function of the body; and that this function is . . . productive and 
not merely transmissive” (p. 113). 

To make clear that what he means by a “productive” function 
is a function in whose case one of the variables stands to the other 
as effect stands to cause, Lamont offers as example that “steam is 
a productive function of the tea-kettle and light of the electric 
circuit, because the kettle and the circuit actually create these 
effects” (p. 102). 

According to these explicit statements, therefore, when La¬ 
mont asserts unqualifiedly that the mental and emotional life of 
man is always a productive function of “action patterns in the 
cerebral cortex of a thoroughly material brain” (p. 101), what 
he means is that the latter stand to the former as creative came 
stands to created effect . 



The facts Lamont refers to as basis for this contention are: 

(a) That “the power and versatility of living things increase 
concomitantly with the development and complexity of their 
bodies in general and their nervous systems in particular.” 

(b) That the genes or other factors from the germ cells of 
the parents determine the individual’s inherent physical character¬ 
istic and inherent mental capacities.” 

(c) That, during the course of life, “the mind and person 
ality grow and change, always in conjunction with environmental 
influences, as the body grows and changes.” 

(d) “That specific alterations in the physical structure and 
condition of the body, especially in the brain and cerebral cortex, 
bring about specific alterations in the mental and emotional life 
of a man.” 

(e) And, “conversely that specific alterations in his mental 
and emotional life result in specific alterations in his bodily con¬ 
dition” (p. 114). 

Taken by themselves, the facts under the (a), (b), (c), and 
(d) headings would support the unqualified contention that man’s 
mental and emotional life is a productive function in the sense 
stated above, of the activities of his body. But the facts which 
come under the (e) heading, and on which Lamont dwells at some 
length, clearly testify that, contrary to that unqualified contention, 
the causal relationship in their case is in the opposite direction; 
i.e., that, in their case, it is the bodily state which is a productive 
function of the mental and emotional state! 

Indeed, Lamont writes that his “citation of facts showing how 
physical states affect the personality and its mental life does not 
in the least imply that mental states do not affect physical” (p. 87). 
As examples of the latter, he mentions that we are “constantly 
altering our bodily motions according to the dictates of mental 
decisions.” Also, he cites “the far-reaching results that optimism 
or worry, happiness or sadness, good humor or anger, may have 
on the condition of the body;” also the remarkable bodily effects 
which can be caused by auto suggestion or by suggestion under 
hypnosis; and, most striking, the fact that in the case of St. Francis 
and of a number of other saints or mystics, long meditation by 



them on the wounds of the crucified Jesus causes corresponding 
wounds to appear on their own bodies. 

It is interesting to note in this connection that Lamont feels 
called upon to add that “modem psychologists believe that the 
phenomenon of the stigmata can be explained in entirely natu¬ 
ralistic terms and that it is due to as yet undiscovered mechanisms 
of the subconscious or unconscious” (p. 89). But what does he 
mean here by explanation in naturalistic terms? Does he mean 
in terms of material causes? Or does he mean that stigmatization, 
like every other event in Nature, is caused by some anterior event 
—here by the mental event he himself has mentioned, namely, 
“prolonged meditation upon the passion and crucifixion of Jesus”? 

When Lamont considers the stigmata of St. Francis and the 
other facts he mentions in the same connection, he apparently 
realizes that they render indefensible the unqualified statement 
that man’s mental and emotional life is a productive function, 
i.e., a creation, of his bodily states. Accordingly, his then much 
less radical contention is only that those facts point “to a connec¬ 
tion between the two so exceedingly intimate that n becomes 
inconceivable how the one could function properly without the 
other” (p. 89). Or again that “as between the body and person¬ 
ality, the body seems to be the prior and more constant entity”; 
and hence that “it has been customary to regard the body as pri¬ 
mary and to call the personality its function rather than the 
converse” (pp. 113/4). (Italics mine.) 

But, as if to mitigate departure even to this extent from his 
would-be monistic naturalism, Lamont—like the murderer who 
sought to diminish the heinousness of his deed by observing that 
the man he had killed was only a small one—Lamont observes 
at one place that anyway “many of the mental states that exercise 
an influence on the condition of the body are set up in the first 
place by phenomena primarily physical” (p. 89). 

This is true enough. But it is equally true, as shown by the 
facts he himself cites, that many of the bodily states that exercise 
an influence on the condition of the mind are set up in the first 
place by phenomena primarily mental. For example, among other 
facts now recognized by psychosomatic medicine, that the painful 
physical phenomenon of stomach ulcers is in some cases set up in 



the first place by such mental states as anxiety, tension, and worry. 
Anyway, just how would Lamont propose to decide in any given 
case which place constitutes “the first place ? 

The upshot of the comments in the present section is that 
when Lamont attends not only to the facts which come under the 
(a) to (d) headings of his list, but also to those which come under 
the (e) heading, the purported monistic psychology of science 
turns out actually to be an interactionistic dualism! An inter - 
actionistic dualism , it is true, that involves no “supernatural soul” 
but only, besides processes in a material body, various non-mate¬ 
rial ideas and other mental occurrences. The “supernatural soul” 
however, which functions as the Devil in Lamont’s would-be 
monistic creed, may well be left to such employment; for a respon¬ 
sible interactionism has no need of it. 

6. A supposititious puzzle. As we have just seen, Lamont is 
definitely committed to psycho-physical interactionism by such 
statements as that on the one hand “physical states affect the 
personality and its mental life” (p. 87), and on the other that, 
conversely, “specific alterations in [man’s] mental and emotional 
life result in specific alterations in his bodily condition” (p. 114). 
It is therefore surprising that, when considering “certain funda¬ 
mental difficulties that have always characterized the dualistic 
psychology,” he should assert, as constituting one of them, that 
“it is impossible to understand how an immaterial soul can act 
upon and control a material body” (p. 102). To the same effect, 
he speaks of “the insoluble riddle of how the immaterial can be 
associated with and work together with the material . . (p. 104). 

Two comments on this supposititious riddle immediately 
suggest themselves. The first is that, as we pointed out in an 
earlier chapter, the Causality relation is wholly neutral as regards 
the ontological nature of the events that enter into it. Hence no 
paradox is involved in the supposition that a mental, i.e., non 
material, event causes a material event in the brain cortex; any 
more than is involved (or apparently found by Lamont) in the 
fact, which he asserts, that bodily events produce or affect mental 

The second comment is that to understand “how” an event 
C causes another event E never has any other meaning than to 



know what the intermediary causal steps are , through which C 
eventually causes E. Hence, where, as in the case of a mental and 
of the corresponding cortical event, proximate not remote causa¬ 
tion is what one has in view, the question as to the “how” of 
causation loses the only meaning it ever has. That is, the question 
becomes literally nonsensical, and to ask it is absurd because of 
this, not because mental and material events are ontologically 
heterogeneous; for the absurdity of asking for the "how” of 
proximate causation remains the same no matter whether the two 
events in view be one of them mental and the other material, or 
both of them mental, or both of them material. 8 

7. "Verdict of Science?” or "Turning aversions into dis¬ 
proofs?” We have now examined in some detail Lamont’s attack 
on psychophysical dualism, and have seen, (a) that he tacitly *r.d 
gratuitously equates naturalism and materialistic monism, and 
hence, (b) gratuitously assumes dualism to be inherently super- 
naturalistic; (c) that he misconstrues the communicability of the 
referents of ideas as entailing that ideas themselves are com 
municable and hence not inherently private; (d) that, besides 
material objects and events, he acknowledges also the occurrence 
of ideas, which he explicitly declares to be non-material; (e) hence 
that, notwithstanding the monism he proclaims, what he actually 
sets forth is a dualism; (f) that, having declared without qualifica 
tion that the mental life of man is a product of his bodily activi¬ 
ties, he nevertheless contends—citing facts in support- that not 
only do bodily states affect mental, but mental states too affect 

*Lamont is of course not alone in overlooking the absurdity just pointed our 
Prof. Ryle too among others, docs so. He assumes that if mind and matter should 
be two species of existents instead of merely ‘'existing’* in two different senses (as 
the behaviorism he espouses requires him dogmatically to assert), then interaction 
between mind and matter would be “completely mysterious;’’ for one would then 
have to ask: “How can a mental process, such as willing, cause spatial movements 
like the movements of the tongue? How can a physical change in the optic nerve 
have among its effects a mind’s perception of a flash of light?” (The Concept of 
Mind , pp. 23, 52, 19.) As we have just seen, however, the “how” of causation is 
capable either of being mysterious or of being known only where remote not proxi 
mate causation is concerned. Hence, to ask “how?” concerning the latter is to be 
guilty of a “category mistake.” But there is no room here to consider the various 
strange assertions concerning mind, dictated in that book by the caricaturing of 
contentions attacked, which is employed there as a method. 



physical; (g) that this entails that actually, what he contends for 
under the misnomer of “monistic psychology” is an interaction- 
istic dualism; (h) and this notwithstanding that the action of 
mind on body, which he explicitly declares occurs, is with equal 
explicitness declared by him to be an insoluble riddle, impossible 
to understand, that rules out dualism! 

What then is to be said concerning the chapter of Lamont’s 
The Illusion of Immortality in which the above mass of incon¬ 
sistencies and non-sequitur is to be found? Suggestion for an 
appropriate characterization of it may be found in the title which, 
in a later chapter, he gives to a section where he cites pointed ex¬ 
amples of a procedure to which protagonists of immortality are 
addicted. The title of that section is: “Turning wishes into 
proofs.” I submit that, correspondingly, the appropriate title for 
the chapter Lamont entitles “The verdict of science” would have 
been: “Turning aversions into disproofs!” 


Discarnate Life After Death and the Ostensibly 
Relevant Empirical Evidence For It 


Chapter XIV 


Does the human personality survive bodily death? This 
question, phrased thus in the terms F. W. H. Myers used in the 
title of his famous work, 1 seems to most of the persons who asK 
it simple and direct enough to admit of a “Yes" or "No” answer— 
the only difficulty being to find out which of the two it should be. 

As will become evident in what follows, however, the ques 
tion is in fact highly ambiguous. Hence, in order to be in posi¬ 
tion to judge intelligently what bearing on it given items of prima 
facie evidence of survival may really have, the first step must be 
to distinguish clearly the several senses which the expression “sur¬ 
vival of the personality after death,” can have. 

1. The bodily component of a personality. When we reflect 
on what makes up a human personality, we find first a physical 
or more specifically a biological component. It comprises the par¬ 
ticular facial features, the build and marks of the body, its weight, 
gait, carriage, voice, and so on. The body’s dissolution following 
death automatically destroys all this. That the physical part of 
the personality does not survive is definitely known. A closely 
similar body might conceivably some time miraculously arise 
again, as the doctrine of the “resurrection of the flesh” contem¬ 
plates; and this would not require that it should be composed 
of identically the same material particles which constituted the 
body at death, for the materials of it anyway change from day to 
day to some extent, and more or less completely over a period of 
some years, without the body’s ceasing to be recognizably the 
same. But, aside from the occasional reports—many of them 

1 Human Personality and its Survival of Bodily Death , 190S. 




dubious-of materializations for a few minutes of a replica of the 
body of some deceased person, no evidence at all exists that a 
person survives after death in the sense that his body gets reas¬ 
sembled and revived, and continues then to live a life somewhere, 
in the sense in which his now decayed body lived a life on earth 
between its birth and its death. 

2. Survival—of just what parts of the psychological com¬ 
ponent. As pointed out already in Chapt. 1, what the question of 
survival essentially concerns is not the physical but the psycho¬ 
logical component of the human personality. We saw in Chapt. 
VI that it consists of various “dispositions, i.e., capacities or abili¬ 
ties—some of them psycho-psychical, some psycho-physical, and 
some physico-psychical. 

Now, some of these might survive and others not. For ex¬ 
ample, the capacity to remember past experiences might survive, 
being then perhaps more extensive, or less so, than it was during 
incarnate life; and yet the capacity for intellectual initiative, criti¬ 
cal judgment, or inventiveness might perish. Or again, what sur¬ 
vived might be only a person’s aptitudes; that is, the capacities he 
has, to acquire under suitable circumstances various kinds of 
more determinate capacities such as skills, habits, or knowledge 

But certain of the capacities of a person are organized in 
particular groups relevant each to one of the chief roles which 
life calls upon him to play. Each of these groups constitutes what 
may be called a particular “role-self,” which has interests, pur¬ 
poses, beliefs, and impulses more or less different from those of 
the others. Examples would be the “father” role, the “husband” 
role, the vocational roles of, for instance, “physician,” or “teacher,” 
or “policeman,” or “inventor,” or “bookkeeper,” or “business 
executive.” Any of these roles is in turn different from that of 
“religious devotee,” of “sex hunter,” of “bully,” of “predator,” 
and so on. A man is thus a society of various “role-selves” all using 
the same body, and getting along with one another harmoniously 
or not in various degrees, much as do men in social groups. At 
certain times, some one of these role-selves is in charge of the 
body’s behavior. Sometimes, two or more of them compete for, 
or cooperate in, command of it—the predator perhaps competing 



with the would-be saint; or the latter cooperating perhaps with 
the father in repressing the would-be Casanova or the thief which 
the circumstances of the moment would tempt out. 

Normally, these various role-selves function together some¬ 
what as a committee, whose eventual action represents the balance 
of the claims, weak or strong, of the various parties having in¬ 
terests affected by the committee’s decisions. But under abnormal 
circumstances, some one of these role-selves may get strong enough 
to get temporary dictatorial command uncensorable by the others. 
This is what occurs in the cases of split personalities, of which 
the Beauchamp case described by Dr. Morton Prince, the Doris 
Fischer case described by Dr. W. F. Prince, and recently chat of 
“The Three Faces of Eve,’’ described by Drs. C H. Thigpen and 
H. M. Cleckley, are examples. 

These cases bring up the interesting question as to which 
ones of the role-selves, which together make up the total per 
sonality of the living man, might or might not survive the death 
of his body; and also the question as to the nature and the strength 
or weakness of the connection that could remain between such 
of them as did survive, once the bond constituted by their joint 
association with the one body had been destroyed by the latter's 
death. Survival of the “father” role-self, or as the case might be, 
of the “mother,” or “daughter,” or “son,” or “friend,” etc., role 
self would be what the relatives or personal friends of the deceased 
would automatically look for; but evidences of survival of it would 
be far from being evidence that the whole or a major part of the 
psychological component of the personality of the deceased hadr 

Aside from this, the kind of evidence one happens to have, 
in support of the hypothesis that a particular part of the psycho¬ 
logical component of the personality of a deceased person sur¬ 
vives, could itself impose limits, minimal or maximal, on the 
content of the hypothesis. If, for example, the evidence consisted 
of identificatory facts communicated purportedly by the surviving 
spirit of the deceased directly “possessing” temporarily the vocal 
organs or the hand of an entranced medium and expressing itself 
through them, then this would require survival of the psycho¬ 
physical capacity which the mind of the deceased had, to cause 



speech or writing movements in a living body with which it was 
suitably related. But this would not be a required part of the 
hypothesis if the identifying facts were communicated not thus 
through direct possession of the entranced medium’s organs of 
expression, but indirectly, through telepathic “rapport” between 
the medium’s subconscious mind and the surviving part of the 
mind of the deceased. In this case, on the other hand, capacity 
for such telepathic rapport would be part of the equipment 
required to be possessed by the hypothetically surviving part of 
the personality of the deceased. 

3. Survival—for how long. Were survival to be for only an 
hour, or a week, or even a year, then empirical evidence that such 
survival is a fact would have relatively little interest for most per¬ 
sons. If on the other hand the evidence were that survival is nor¬ 
mally for a much longer period—at least for one similar in length 
to that of a person’s normal life on earth—then it would be of con¬ 
siderable interest to most men, and the prospect of its eventual 
ending at such a distant time would now probably not trouble 
them much. 

But anyway the question, “survival for how long?” necessarily 
raises the prior one of how length of time after death is to be 
measured if, as the survival hypothesis usually contemplates, the 
surviving personality does not have a physical body—the body one 
revolution of which around the axis of the earth defines “one 
day”; and around the sun, “one year.” 

The answer would have to be in terms of hypothetically pos¬ 
sible communication by us with that discarnate personality: If 
(assuming availability of a medium) communication with that 
personality remained possible during, say, one year, or n years, 
of earth time after the death of that personality’s body, then 
specifically this would be what it would mean to say that that 
personality had survived one year, or n years, after death. Of 
survival forever, which is what “eternal” life is usually taken to 
mean, there could of course be no empirical test. 

4. “Sameness” in what sense, of a mind at two times. The 
personality of each of us changes gradually as the months and the 
years pass; but, notwithstanding our acquisition of new capacities 



and loss of some we possessed earlier, each of us is to himself and 
to others, in some sense admitting of more and less, the "same*' 
person at different ages. The question now before us is, in what 
sense or senses of “sameness” or “personal identity” this is true. 

We noted earlier that the human personality includes various 
bodily traits as well as psychological ones and that, since death 
destroys the body, the psychological components are the ones di 
rectly relevant to the possibility of survival. But the question as 
to what it means, to say of something existing at a certain time 
that it is, or is not, “the same” as something existing at another 
time, will perhaps be easier to answer if we ask it first concerning 
human bodies—say, one young in 1900, and one old in 1950. 

One sense, which the assertion that they are "the same” 
human body can have is that the relation of the first to the second 
is the relation ” having become.” If this relation does obtain be 
tween the 1900 body and the 1950 body, then they are “the same” 
body even if no likeness, other than that each is a human body, is 
discoverable between them—not even, let us suppose, likeness of 
pattern of finger prints because the old man anyway happens to 
have lost his hands. 

If, on the other hand, it is not true that the body in view in 
1900 has become the one we view in 1950, then they are not “the 
same” human body even if the likeness between them is so exten¬ 
sive and evident as to make the first clearly recognizable in the 
second; for it may be that the once young man who has become 
the old man we now behold is not the young man we knew in 1900 
but, perhaps, is his identical-twin brother. 

Thus likeness, no matter how great, does not constitute proof 
of identity unless the characteristic in respect of which it obtains 
is, and is known to be, idiosyncratic , and hence identificatory. Yet 
the more nearly idiosyncratic, i.e., the rarer , is the characteristic 
(or the combination of characteristics) in respect of which the like¬ 
ness obtains, and the more minute is the likeness in respect of it, 
the more probable it is empirically that the relation between the 
human body in view in 1900 and that in view in 1950 is that of 
"having become,” and hence that they are “the same” body. 

These remarks concerning the meaning of “the same,” and 



of “not the same,” when one or the other of these two relations 
is asserted to hold between a body at a given time and a body at a 
different time, apply also in all essentials where minds instead of 
bodies are concerned: a mind at a given time is “the same mind” 
as one at an earlier time if and only if the mind in view at the 
earlier time has become the mind in view at the later time. 

5. Conceivable forms of discarnate “life”. Regarding the 
question, in what sense of “living” could such part of the per¬ 
sonality as persisted after death be said to continue living, the 
following several senses suggest themselves. 

(i) The particular set of dispositions one had specified as 
those in the survival of which one is interested might continue to 
“live” only in the sense in which a machine—here a psychological 
robot—continues to exist without losing the capacities for its dis¬ 
tinctive functions, during periods when it is not called upon 
to perform them but lies idle, inactive. Even in the case of the 
body, it is still alive when in deep sleep or in a faint, but is more 
alive, or alive in a somewhat different sense or in ways more typ¬ 
ically human, when it is awake and responding to visual, auditory, 
and other stimuli from its environment, and acting upon it. 

Similarly, in the case of the psychological part of the per¬ 
sonality, it might when discarnate be “alive” only in a minimal 
sense analogous to that in which the comatose or anaesthetized 
body is nevertheless alive. At any given time of a person’s life, 
much the larger number of his capabilites exist only in such 
dormant condition. Probably, at the time the reader was reading 
the beginning of the present paragraph, the capability he does and 
did have to remember, say, his own name, was wholly latent. 
Even the enduring of a personality’s dispositions in a dormant 
state, however, would constitute the basis of the possibility of 
sporadic brief exercise of some of them if and when direct or 
indirect contact happened to occur between that otherwise wholly 
dormant personality and the organism of a medium. Temporary 
exercise of the dispositions constituting the automatic, mechanical 
constituents of a mind—to wit, associations of ideas, memories, 
etc.—is the most which the majority of mediumistic communica¬ 
tions appear to testify to. 


(ii) A second possibility is that some of the 
tal dispositions of the person concerned, i.e., sonu 
psychical dispositions, should not only persist 
exercised, though without critical control. T1 
mental “life" in the sense in which dreaming or 
species of mental life. 

(iii) Or, thirdly, mental life of a more a( 
consist in a reviewing of the incidents of one’s a 
with an attempt as one does so to discern causa 
tween one’s experiences, one’s reactions to them 
experiences or activities. Especially if, as psychos 
experiments with hypnosis appear to testify, mei 
ordinarily able to revive are nevertheless preserve 
accessible in one’s discarnate state; then much 
latent in them, but which one had at the time 1 
ately engrossed to harvest, might in that discari 
tilled out of them by reflection. 

(iv) Or again, one’s capacity for intelligent 
posive direction of creative thought might be < 
would then mean, for example, such creative { 
tivity as a mathematician, or a musical compose 
philosopher, etc., can, even in the present life, 1 
times of bodily idleness and of abstraction fre 

(v) Or, fifthly, “life" could mean also re: 
pathic or clairvoyant—to stimuli from a then 
vironment; and voluntary, “psychokinetic," r< 
excarnate personalities, or the possibly imperson 
that non-physical environment. 

This would be discarnate post mortem “li 
sense. It is the “life" to the reality of which, a? 
so-called Cross-correspondences appear to testi 
than do any of the other kinds of prima facie evi 
As C. D. Broad has rightly remarked, “if the < 
of a man’s personality should persist after his 
reason why it should have the same fate in a 
cases one, and in others another of the various 
might be realized. It seems reasonable to thinl 
development of the personality at the time c 



circumstances under which death takes place, might be relevant 
factors in determining which alternative would be realized.” 2 

6. H. H. Price’s depiction of a post mortem life in a world 
of images. One of the objections most commonly advanced by 
educated and critical persons against the survival hypothesis is 
that it is unintelligible —that no conception of discarnate life that 
is not patently preposterous is imaginable. Our discussion of the 
meaning of the hypothesis that the human personality survives 
after the death of its body may therefore turn next to the descrip¬ 
tion Professor Price has given of a clearly imaginable and plausi¬ 
ble “Next World” and of what the content of life in it would 
be—thus effectively disposing of that objection. His description 
is contained in a lecture entitled “Survival and the Idea of ‘An¬ 
other World’.” 3 

The “Next World” he depicts would be of the same kind 
as the world we experience during our dreams. When we dream, 
we perceive things, persons, and events more or less similar to 
those which we perceive normally as a result of stimulations of 
our sense organs by the physical world. In dreams, however, this 
is not the cause of our perceptions of objects, for no physical ob¬ 
jects such as perceived are then stimulating our senses. Yet what 
we perceive engages at the time our thoughts and emotions. The 
behavior of the dream objects, of course, is often very different 
from that of the physical objects they resemble, but the anomaly 
is not realized until we wake up. So long as the dream lasts, we 
are not aware that it is a dream but take it to be reality, just as 
we do the objects and events we perceive while awake. 

The “Next World,” then would, like our nightly dream 
world, be a world of mental images. It would, as Price puts it, be 
an " imagy ” world, not one which, like Utopia or Erewhon, is 
imaginary in the sense of imaged but not believed to exist. 

Personal Identity and Survival, The Thirteenth F. W. H. Myers Lecture, 
1958. London, Soc. for Psychical Research, p. 31. This lecture provides an ad¬ 
mirably systematic, analytical discussion of the various aspects of its topic. The 
reader is also referred to Ch. 21, “Some Theoretically Possible Forms of Survival” 
of the present author’s Nature, Mind, and Death, Open Court Pub. Co. La Salle, 
HI. 1951, pp. 484-502. 

*Proc. Soc. for Psychical Research, Vol. LX: 1-25, January 1953. 



In the experience of a discarnate human personality in that 
world, imaging would replace the perceiving normally caused by 
stimulation of the sense organs. It would replace it “in the sense 
that imaging would perform much the same function as sense- 
perception performs now, by providing us with objects about 
which we could have thoughts, emotions and wishes. There is no 
reason why we should not be ‘as much alive,’ or at any rate feel 
as much alive, in an image-world as we do now in this present 
material world, which we perceive by means of our sense-organs 
and nervous system. And so the use of the word ‘survival’ (‘life 
after death’) would be perfectly justifiable” (p. 6). 

Moreover that image-world would for us be just as real as 
the physical world is for us now, or as the objects seen in our 
dreams are real so long as we do not wake up. What one can 
say of the dream objects is that, although they resemble physical 
objects, they are not really physical; but one cannot say that they 
are not real in the sense of not existing. The laws of their be¬ 
havior are different from those of the behavior of the physical 
objects they resemble, and this is what makes the dream world 
an “other” world. But its being other does not make it delusive 
unless one believes it to be the same world—i.e,, unless one be 
lieves that the laws of behavior of its objects are those of the 
behavior of physical objects. And such belief is not a necessary 
nor a usual part of the dream state. 

Moreover, if telepathy should be part of the equipment of 
the discarnate personality, then that personality’s image-world 
would not be entirely subjective. It would, to some extent, “be 
the joint product of a group of telepathically interacting minds 
and public to all of them” (p. 16). Yet each mind would, to a 
considerable extent, build his own dream world—his memories 
providing the “material” for it; and his desires, whether con¬ 
scious or unconscious, determining the “forms” the memory ma¬ 
terial would be given (p. 17). Thus there would be not just one 
Next World, but many—some, overlapping to some extent, and 
others “impenetrable to one another, corresponding to the dif¬ 
ferent desires which different groups of personalities have” (p. 19). 

This description of a Next World as a wish-fulfilment world 
may seem wishfully rosy; but Price makes very clear that it would 



be so only to the extent that one’s wishes happened to be them¬ 
selves beautiful ones rather than, some of them, disgraceful. And 
most of us have some of each kind even if we repress and hide the 
latter from other persons and largely from ourselves too. 

7. The architect of a person’s heaven or hell. But the words 
“desires,” “wishes,” and “aversions,” which Price uses to designate 
the psychological generators of our dream images, are perhaps not 
the best after all by which to describe the subjective architect of 
a person's post mortem image world. For the architect we can 
observe at work in ourselves even now, building up every day for 
us imaginal and conceptual contents of belief, is rather attitude, 
emotion and disposition. Suspiciousness, for example, paints as 
devious the persons it meets. Jealousy paints its object as un¬ 
faithful; hatred, as hostile; contempt, as despicable. Trustfulness, 
on the other hand, sees others as honest; magnanimity, as worthy; 
love, as lovable; friendliness, as well-disposed; considerateness, as 
respectable; and so on. 

It is not so much the “wish,” then, that is “father to the 
thought,” as it is the attitude or disposition one brings to one’s 
contacts with others. It determines what one imagines and be¬ 
lieves them to be, as distinguished from what one strictly observes 
and finds them to be. Moreover, what a person imagines and 
believes another to be affects his own behavior; which in turn 
tempts the other to play up, or down, to the role thus handed to 
him! What kind of world each person noiu lives in therefore de¬ 
pends to some extent on what kind of psychological spectacles he 
wears, through which he looks at the empirical, truly objective 
facts. To that extent each of us, here and now, is living in a hell, 
purgatory, or heaven he himself constructs. How much more, 
then, is this fatally bound to be the case when he lives wholly in 
a dream-world—whether an ante or a post mortem one: that is, 
in a world from which the objective, stubborn facts perception 
supplies are absent, and absent therefore also their sobering effect 
on one’s subjective imaginings! 

8. Life after death conceived as physical reembodiment. 
There remains to mention, besides the possible forms of discar- 
nate life considered in Sec. 5 above, also the conception of life 



after death according to which such life consists of reembodiment 
of the “essential 1 ' part of the personality in a neonate human or 
possibly animal body; and whether immediately at death, or after 
an interval during which consciousness possibly persists in one or 
another of those discarnate forms. This is the hypothesis of 
metempsychosis, palingenesis, or reincarnation, which has com¬ 
mended itself to numerous eminent thinkers, Professor Broad 
among them. Nothing more will be said about it in this chapter, 
however, since Part V is to be devoted to a detailed discussion 
of it. 

What has been said in the present chapter will have made 
evident that any answer based on empirical facts—no matter of 
what kinds these might be—to the question whether the human 
personality survives the death of its body, will automatically be 
as ambiguous, or as unambiguous, as the question itself happens 
to be as asked by a given inquirer. Whether the answer, when 
unambiguous, turns out to be that survival—in whatever specific 
sense is then in view—is certainly or probably a fact, or certainly 
or probably not a fact, will of course depend on what the empirical 
evidence on which it is based happens to be. But to have purged 
of ambiguity the expression “survival after death” will at all 
events entail that, when one asks whether “survival” is a fact, 
one will then know just what it is that one wants to know. 

Chapter XV 


In chapter II, we examined the chief of the arguments alleged 
to prove the reality of a life after death, and we found that, be¬ 
cause of one or another defect, each failed to prove it or even to 
establish that it is probably a fact. On the other hand, we sur¬ 
veyed in Chapter III both the current empirical and the theo¬ 
retical arguments that purport to show that survival of conscious¬ 
ness after death is impossible; and, after clarifying in Part II the 
key concepts employed in those arguments, we found in Part III 
that the arguments quite fail to prove the alleged impossibility. 
The positive upshot, then of Parts I, II, and III is that persistence 
of consciousness in some form after death is both theoretically 
and empirically possible: theoretically possible since analysis of 
the supposition of such persistence finds no contradition implicit 
in it; and empirically possible since that supposition is not incon¬ 
sistent with any definitely known empirical facts. 

The task before us is now to inquire whether there are any 
empirical facts at all that would establish the reality of survival or, 
failing this, would show it to be more probable than not. 

1. Where empirical evidence of survival might be found. 
Obviously, neither any commonly known facts nor any of the 
recondite facts of the natural sciences provide evidence of sur¬ 
vival; for otherwise survival would hardly be in doubt. Hence, if 
any empirical evidence at all is to be found that consciousness 
continues after death, that evidence must be sought among para¬ 
doxical occurrences of the kinds termed “supernatural” by naive 
persons, but to-day designated simply as “paranormal” by persons 
too critical to assume tacitly as do the former that Nature can 
comprise only what is known and understood as of now. 




The term “paranormal’' has—in addition to its freedom from 
the religious or superstitious connotations of “supernatural”—the 
virtue of being free also from the special assumptions that are 
packed into such terms as “parapsychological,” “paraphysical,” or 
“parabiological.” For “paranormal” means only that the kinds of 
of (.urrences so labelled are contrary to what is “normal,” i.e., con¬ 
trary to what “the common sense of the epoch” regards as possible. 
As Dr. W. F. G. Swann has pointed out, each theory—whether of 
the nature of the world or of man—that meets with enough success 
in accounting for the facts it concerns to gain wide acceptance, 
“grows around itself an aura of common sense, the common sense 
of its epoch.” But knowledge and understanding increase as a 
result of man’s taking novel or neglected facts into account, and 
in time new or improved theories supersede the old. “And so 
the center of gravity of common sense changes with the epoch, 
and the nonsense of the past becomes the common sense of the 
future.” 1 

Since occurrences ostensibly paranormal thus necessarily 
constitute the sort of evidence we shall have to examine in our 
presentation of the case for the reality of survival, we need first 
to sharpen our concept of paranormality by considering in more 
detail the nature of the criterion we tacitly employ when we class 
a given occurrence as paranormal. The most painstaking attempts 
to formulate it the present writer knows are those of Prof. J. B. 
Rhine and of Prof. C. D. Broad. Let us examine each in turn. 

2. Critique of Rhine’s account of what marks an event as 
paranormal. Paranormal occurrences have also been designated 
“metapsychical,” “parapsychological,” or simply “psi” phenomena. 
Prof. Rhine ordinarily employs one or the other of the last two 
of these terms. According to him, what marks certain phenomena 
as parapsychological is their non-physical character: they “defy 
physical explanation and require a psychological one. They al¬ 
ways happen to people (or animals) or involve some associated 
or at least suspected personal agency or experience; .... they 

'Nature and the Mind of Man, Lecture, delivered at the Stated Meeting of the 
Franklin Institute, Wednesday February 15, 1956. Pub. in Jl. of the Franklin Insti¬ 
tute, Vol. 261 No. 6. June, 1956. The passages quoted above are from p. 593. 



definitely appear to challenge explanation by physical princi¬ 
ples/’ * 2 * 

The required psychological explanation, however, is not sup¬ 
plied by Rhine, who does not even formally supply criteria of 
what he means by "physical” or by "psychological.” Moreover, 
the character of being incapable of explanation in physical terms, 
or more exactly, in terms of the "the physics of today” 8 is not 
peculiar to parapsychological phenomena for, as made clear in 
our chapter VIII, this same inexplicability in purely physical 
terms attaches also to normal states of consciousness, i.e., to the 
contents of introspection: however dependent on physical proc 
esses in the brain these may be, they are not identically those 
physical processes themselves. Indeed, even the purposiveness 
which seems to characterize all life processes down to those of 
unicellular organisms is still to be accounted for adequately in 
terms purely of physics, notwithstanding the attempts to do so 
made by Schroedinger and others. 4 And of course, that there is 
in the personality of man "a world of distinctively mental reality” 5 
is no new discovery made for us by parapsychology. For, as 
C. W. K. Mundle pointedly noted in his review of New World 
of the Mind, "surely one’s best evidence for [the existence of a 
"world of the mind”] is still the introspective awareness one has 
of what goes on in one’s own mind.” 6 * 

That telepathy and clairvoyance are non-physical phenomena 
is shown, Rhine contends, by the fact that "they defy any appli¬ 
cation of the inverse square law of decline of effect with distance.” 

The trouble with this contention, however, is that telepathy 
and clairvoyance have not been shown to be independent of dis- 

*New World of the Mind. Wm. Sloane Associates, N. Y. 1953, p. 150. 

• Parapsychology, Frontier Science of the Mind, pub. Charles C Thomas, Spring 

field, Ill. 1957, p. 7. 

4 E. Schroedinger: What is Life? 1946. Concerning the purposive character of 

biological processes, see for instance E. W. Sinnott: Cell and Psyche, the Biology of 
Purpose, 1950; H. S. Jennings: Some Implications of Emergent Evolution, in Scienct 
Jan. 14, 1927; E. Rignano: The Concept of Purpose in Biology, Mind, Vol. XL, no. 
159 July 1931; and The Nature of Life, 1930. 

®Rhine, New World of the Mind, p. IX. 

®J/. of the Am. Soc. for Psychical Research, Vol. XLVIII:165, No. 4, Ocotbei. 




tance. What has been shown is only that distances of a few hun¬ 
dred or even a few thousand miles do not affect the excess of cor¬ 
rect guesses over chance expectation, which has characterized the 
results of telepathy and clairvoyance experiments. For these ex¬ 
periments are not quantitative in the sense this term ordinarily 
has in science, namely, that the cause and the effect are each 
measured, and that a certain magnitude of the effect regularly 
corresponds to a certain magnitude of the cause. The magnitude 
of the “sender’s” telepathic action is not measured, nor is the 
magnitude of the “receiver’s” impression. But it is the magnitude 
of his impression—not the degree of correctness of the information 
received—which, if the energy involved is physical, would be 
expected to decrease according to the inverse square law when 
the distance increases. That is, the receiver’s impression would 
be of a telepathic “shout” when the distance is short, and of a 
telepathic “whisper” when the distance is long. And the question 
whether this is or is not actually the case is not decided at all by 
the fact that the degree of correctness of the telepathic informa¬ 
tion was the same at great as at small distances: this fact is irrele¬ 
vant because the information conveyed in a whisper can be 
exactly the same information as that conveyed in a shout. 

Nor, again, have the “sending” and the “receiving” been 
timed with the extreme precision which would be necessary to 
vindicate the supposition that no more time is taken by telepathy 
over relatively long distances than over short; for the speed of 
telepathy might happen to be of the same order of magnitude as 
the speed of light—which is a purely physical phenomenon—and, 
in order to prove that the speed of light is finite, timings vastly 
more precise than any ever made of telepathy were necessary. 

What the “quantitative” experiments with telepathy and 
clairvoyance have quantified is merely the probability that there is 
a causal connection between the fact to be guessed and the guess 
made of it. To have shown that the magnitude of this probability 
was significantly higher than chance is, of course, an epoch-making 
achievement; but it does not constitute quantification of the cause 
or the effect, and hence does not show that telepathy and clair¬ 
voyance are independent of distance even over the few thousand 
miles available on the surface of the earth for experimentation 



The criticisms made in what precedes of Rhine’s attempt to 
state what marks an event as parapsychological do not, of course, 
in any way reflect on the value or the originality of his experi¬ 
mental work. The importance of that work and of the similar 
work it has inspired others to do is outstanding, for it has defi¬ 
nitely shown, by methods similar to those used in certain of the 
other fields of scientific research, that telepathy, clairvoyance, and 
precognition really occur and do not depend on the use of the 
known sense organs. 

Nor, on the other hand, were those criticisms intended as an 
argument that the processes at work in paranormal phenomena 
are somehow ultimately physical; for what is important in those 
phenomena is that their occurrence points to the existence of 
forces and of facts which, whether or not themselves somehow 
physical, are anyway novel to contemporary science and therefore 
compel it to revise its conception of the limits of the really 

Those criticisms were intended only to make evident on the 
one hand that Rhine has not proved that the phenomena in view 
are non-physical; and on the other that some positive criterion of 
non-physicality would be required if the “parapsychological” char¬ 
acter of an occurrence were to be applicably defined as con¬ 
sisting in the “non-physicality” of the occurrence. For it is one 
thing to say of certain occurrences that we do not know them to 
be physical; and it is quite another thing to say that they are 
non physical. The burden of proof squarely rests on the person 
who, as Rhine does, asserts the latter. He does not, however, 
supply the proof, but leaves us with only the fact that the phe¬ 
nomena in view are ones for which we have at present neither 
a physical nor a psychological explanation. As we pointed out, 
however, this is true also of some occurrences not termed para¬ 
normal, and therefore does not mark off the former from the 

The importance Rhine attaches to the “non-physicality” he 
claims for paranormal phenomena appears to derive from the 
philosophical implications as regards freedom of the will, moral 
responsibility, and the validity of human values, which he believes 



such non-physicality would have—but which in fact it would not 
have at all. 7 

3. Broad’s analytical account of the marks of paranormality. 
The clearest, most adequate and most useful analysis of the notion 
of paranormality to be found in the literature of the subject is 
probably that formulated by C. D. Broad in an essay entitled 
“The relevance of psychical research to philosophy.” 8 He writes 
that “there are certain limiting principles which we unhesitatingly 
take for granted as the framework within which all our practical 
activities and our scientific theories are confined. Some of these 
seem to be self evident. Others are so overwhelmingly supported 
by all the empirical facts which fall within the range of ordinary 
experience and the scientific elaborations of it . . . that it hardly 
enters our heads to question them. Let us call these Basic Limit¬ 
ing Principles .” 9 

A “paranormal” event would then be one whose occurrence 
violates one or more of those principles and therefore proves that, 
although they have very wide validity, nevertheless it is not as 
commonly assumed strictly unlimited. 

Broad formulates nine of those principles but makes no 
claim that the list is exhaustive. They fall into four groups. 
Those of the first group relate to Causation in general; those of 
the second, to the action of mind on matter; those of the third 
to the dependence of mind on brain; and those of the fourth to 
the ways of acquiring knowledge. The following sketchy account 
of them will be adequate for our present purpose of making clear 
the distinction between normality, which they define, and para¬ 
normality, which consists of exceptions to one or another of them. 

T See on this point, in Jl. of Philosophy Vol. LI, No. 25, December 9, 1954, an 
article by Rhine on The Science of Nonphysical Nature, especially p. 809; and the 
present writer’s comments upon it entitled The Philosophical Importance of 
'Psychic Phenomena’, especially pp. 816-17. Rhine’s conception of “non-physicality' 
is devastatingly criticized by the physicist, R. A. McConnell, in his review of Rhine 
and Pratt’s recent book, Parapsychology, Frontier Science of the Mind, in Jl. of 
the Amer. Soc. for Psychical Research, Vol. LII: 117-20, July, 1958, No. 3. 

•It originally appeared in the Journal, Philosophy, and is reprinted in Prof. 
Broad’s book. Religion, Philosophy and Psychical Research, Harcourt, Brace and 
Co., New York 1953, pp. 7-26. 

B Op. cit. p. 7. 



(I) An event cannot have effects before it has itself occurred. 
(Hence “precognition,” which would be causation, by an as yet 
future event, of a present perception of it, would contravene 
this principle and would therefore be paranormal.) 

Then come two other principles regarding causation, which 
in substance are that causation at a distance in space or in time 
is impossible without some intermediary chain of causes and 

(II) Next is the principle that it is impossible for an event 
in a person’s mind to cause directly any material event other than 
one in his own brain. (This would preclude psychokinesis or 
telekinesis, e.g., the influencing of the fall of dice by mere voli¬ 
tion; and occurrence of it would therefore be paranormal.) 

(III) Then comes the principle that some event in a person’s 
living brain is a necessary condition of any event in his mind. 
(Continuation of consciousness after the body’s death, which this 
principle would preclude, would therefore be paranormal.) 

(IV) Lastly, four principles concerning the acquisition of 
knowledge: (a) that physical events or things can be perceived 
only by means of sensations caused by them in a percipient’s mind. 
(Clairvoyance, i.e., extrasensory perception of physical events or 
things, would be ruled out by this principle; and occurrence of 
it would therefore be paranormal.) 

(b) That it is impossible for a person A to know what ex¬ 
periences another person B is having or has had, except by per¬ 
ceiving and interpreting sensory signs of them made by B then 
or earlier. (Telepathy, which would be extrasensory cognition 
of another person’s experiences, would conflict with this principle, 
and would therefore be paranormal.) 

(c) That it is impossible for a person to know the future, 
except by inference from data and rules of inference relevant to 
them, known to him personally or through testimony; or by non- 
inferential expectations resulting from associations formed in the 
past and presently stimulated. (Precognition, which would vio¬ 
late this principle, would then be paranormal.) 

(d) That a person can know the past only from memory, or 
from testimony as to memories, or from records of perceptions or 
of memories, or by inference from present data and relevant rules 



of sequence. (A violation of this principle would constitute “ret- 
recognition,” which would therefore be paranormal.) 

4. The chief kinds of ostensibly paranormal occurrences. 
Some kinds of paranormal occurrences have no obvious bearing 
on the question of survival after death; yet almost any of them 
can have, indirectly if not directly. Hence brief description of the 
chief kinds of which cases have at times been reported is appro¬ 
priate at this point. 

In many of them some person, referred to variously as a 
"psychic,” “sensitive,” “automatist,” or “medium,” apparently 
plays some role. The term “medium” was originally used to mean 
that the person so described functioned as an intermediary 
through whom communication takes place between the deceased 
and the living. The term, however, and those other terms too, 
will here be employed in the broader sense usual to-day, of a 
person in whose presence paranormal phenomena occur at times, 
and on whose presence their occurrence is somehow dependent. 

Paranormal occurrences are commonly divided into two 
classes—the physical and the mental; and within each, two sub¬ 
classes may be distinguished. As will appear, however, the four 
resulting sub-classes are not as sharply separate as could be wished, 
and the placing of a given paranormal occurrence in one rather 
than in another of them is sometimes rather arbitrary. Also, some 
phenomena have both physical and mental features. Nevertheless, 
the following classification is convenient. 

(1) The first of its four classes is that of occurrences that are 
physical and in addition extrasomatic; that is, external to the 
bodies of all the persons present. Examples would be paranormal 
raps on tables, walls, or other objects; motions of objects without 
their being touched, or moved by any other normal cause; para¬ 
normal sharp decreases of temperature in some part of a room; 
materialization apparently out of nothing, or dematerialization, 
of flowers, of hands or other parts of human bodies, or of other 
objects. Apparitions of the dead or the living would come under 
this heading if perception of them is due to a somehow physical 
stimulus. Usually, however, they are more plausibly classed as 
hallucinations and therefore as mental. 

(2) The second category is that of physical phenomena that 



are somatic in the sense of taking place in or occurring to the 
body of the medium or of some other person present. Examples 
would be the levitation of the body-that is, the rising of it in the 
air and floating or moving there unsupported; or again, temporary 
paranormal immunity of parts of the body to fire; or paranormally 
sudden healing of wounds or diseases; or extrusion from the body 
of the entranced medium of a mysterious substance which has 
been termed ectoplasm, which varies in consistency, and which 
is capable of taking on various shapes and of exerting or convey¬ 
ing force. 

Paranormal occurrences classed as mental, on the other hand, 
consist in a person’s acquisition of information somehow other¬ 
wise than, as normally, through the employment of his sense 
organs. Here again, we may distinguish two sub-classes. 

(3) One comprises paranormal mental experiences of the 
kinds termed extrasensory perceptions, whether occurring spon¬ 
taneously or under laboratory conditions. Examples would be 
Precognition, that is, not discursive inference but detailed and 
correct virtual perception, perhaps in a dream or in a waking hal¬ 
lucination, of events that have not yet occurred; or the guessing, 
correctly to an extent significantly above chance in a large number 
of trials, of the order the cards will have in a pack after it will 
have been shuffled. Also, Retrocognition, which is quasi percep¬ 
tion similarly detailed and correct of past events one has never 
perceived or perhaps even known anything of. Again Telepathy, 
that is, communication between minds independently of the chan¬ 
nels of sense and notwithstanding distance and intervening ma¬ 
terial obstacles; Clairvoyance, that is, virtual perception of ob¬ 
jective events or things that are not at the time accessible to the 
organs of sense. A special case of this would be Object-reading 
(sometimes inappropriately called Psychometry,) namely, correct 
virtual perception of facts and events in the life of a person with 
whom a given object has been closely associated, but who, or 
whose identity, is unknown to the percipient. 

Again, hallucinations, whether waking or oneiric, that are 
veridical in the sense that their content includes, or their occur¬ 
rence correctly signifies, particular facts not otherwise known 
to the percipient. Apparitions of the dead or of the living would 



often be instances of this; also what are termed heautoscopic 
hallucinations (or “out-of-the-body,” or “projection,” experi¬ 
ences.) namely, experiences in which a person observes his own 
body and its surroundings from a point in space external to it, 
as we all do the bodies of other persons. 

(4) Lastly, there are the communications that come through 
the automatic speech or writing of a medium; or according to 
some agreed code, through paranormal raps or paranormal mo¬ 
tions of an object in the presence of a medium; and that convey 
information that turns out to be veridical but was not obtained 
by the medium in any of the normal ways. The communications, 
usually but not always, purport to emanate from the surviving 
spirits of persons who have died, who claim to be temporarily 
occupying or indirectly using the body of the medium, or to be 
causing the raps or motions of objects that answer questions and 
spell sentences according to a code. 

Another classification of ostensibly paranormal occurrences— 
which cuts across that just presented—divides them into the spon¬ 
taneous, the experimental, and the mediumistic ones. Evidently, 
the class of mediumistic occurrences may overlap to some extent 
the other two of these. 

The existing evidence that phenomena occur that are para¬ 
normal in the sense defined is much stronger for some of the kinds 
mentioned than for some of the others. It is strongest and prac¬ 
tically conclusive in the case of extrasensory perception—especially 
of precognition, clairvoyance, and telepathy since, for the testing 
of these, certain experimental methods, and statistical procedures 
for the treatment of the results obtained by those methods, have 
been devised and employed; and in this way demonstration of the 
reality of these paranormal perceptions has to some extent been 
made repeatable. 

5. Questions relevant to reports of paranormal occurrences. 
If one’s interest in reports of ostensibly paranormal occurrences or 
in observations of them one may personally have made is, as in 
these pages, the scientific and philosophical rather than the reli¬ 
gious or sentimental, then certain questions present themselves 
which it is important to distinguish and to keep in mind. 

They fall into four groups according as they concern (a) the 



genuineness or spuriousness of a given ostensibly paranormal oc¬ 
currence; or (b) the testimony available for the occurrence of a 
putative instance of a paranormal kind of phenomenon; or (c) the 
observation made by the witness of the particular occurrence con¬ 
cerned; or (d) what the occurrence, if genuinely paranormal and 
if correctly observed and reported, signifies. 

Let us examine each of these more particularly. 

(a) That a given apparently paranormal occurrence is gen¬ 
uinely so means that the manner of its production really consti¬ 
tutes an exception to some one of the “basic limiting principles” 
stated by Broad. On the other hand, that it is spurious means 
that the manner of its production is really normal, or perhaps 
merely abnormal in the sense of unusual; but is not paranormal, 
i.e., does not, but only seems to, violate one of those limiting 

If it is spurious, it may be so because of deliberate fraud 
on the part of the purported medium or of some other person; 
or because of unconscious fraud by a medium or by someone else 
present. Unconscious fraud in the case of a physical phenomenon 
could mean for example, that the medium, in a trance state akin 
to somnambulism, is using his hands or some other normal means 
of moving objects without realizing that, for the purposes of the 
occasion, this is illegitimate though it is quite natural from the 
standpoint of the dreamed situation that constitutes the content 
of his consciousness at the moment. 

Deliberate fraud in the matter of communications allegedly 
from spirits would mean that, in so far as the content of the 
communication corresponds to true facts relating to the deceased 
and peculiar enough to identify him, those facts had previously 
been ascertained in some normal manner by the supposed medium. 

(b) Concerning now the reports that are made of particular 
supposedly paranormal occurrences, the questions to be answered 
are those relevant to the validity and the value of testimony in 
general. They are (1) whether the witness is truthful, i.e., not 
deliberately mendacious; (2) whether he is objective, i.e., impar¬ 
tial not biased by wishful belief in the occurrence or non-occur¬ 
rence of phenomena of the kind he testifies he perceived or failed 
to perceive; (3) whether the report is precise, detailed, and full, 



rather than vague, superficial, or inclusive only of the more strik¬ 
ing features of what occurred or of the conditions under which it 
was observed; and (4) whether the report is, or is based on, a 
record made at the time the occurrence was being witnessed; or 
if not, made then how soon after; or on no record but only on 
what is remembered at the time the report is written. 

(c) As regards the observer as such, rather than as reporter, 
the main question would be whether he has, and used, the pos¬ 
sibly special critical powers necessary for competence to perceive 
correctly what occurred, under the conditions that existed at the 
time. Such critical powers would include familiarity with the 
psychology of hypnosis and of hallucinations; also, familiarity with 
the devices or accessories employed in conjuring tricks; and, more 
generally, with the psychology of illusions of perception. The 
latter has to do with the practical difficulty under some circum¬ 
stances of distinguishing, in what one believes oneself to be per¬ 
ceiving, between what is strictly being observed and what is 
automatically and unconsciously being added to it—i.e., supplied 
by one’s past experience of what did occur in various past cases 
to which the present one is similar in obvious but perhaps un¬ 
essential respects. The performances of illusionists make one 
perceive things that are really not occurring; and thus bring 
acutely home the extent of what, in perception, is supplied by 
interpretation based on habit and on the expectations it generates, 
as distinguished from what is strictly and literally observed. This 
additive activity, however, occurs not only when one witnesses 
conjuring tricks, but constantly. But, in most though not in 
all ordinary instances of it, what it supplies is correct instead 

It should be mentioned in this general connection that ex¬ 
perimenting parapsychologists, and the research officers or research 
committees of the societies for psychical research, are in general 
familiar with and fairly expert at guarding against the various 
sources of possible error that were considered in what precedes. 
The purported paranormal phenomena brought to their attention 
are investigated usually with care and competence. Hence al 
though the accounts of them published in the proceedings and 
journals of those societies are not necessarily beyond question; 



nevertheless they cannot as a rule be just shrugged off as probably 
naive. To do so is what would be naive. 

(d) Finally comes the question as to what a given occur¬ 
rence, if genuinely paranormal and correctly observed and re¬ 
ported, signifies; i.e.. what the true explanation of it is. For 
example, in the case of precognition, what does it signify as to 
the relation between causality and time. Or, in that of “out-of- 
the body” experiences, do they signify that man’s mind is de¬ 
tachable from and capable of existing and of functioning inde¬ 
pendently of his body. Again, in the case of telekinesis, of levita¬ 
tion, or of so-called “poltergeist” phenomena, is the occurrence 
due to paranormal psychokinetic action by excarnate “spirits” 
whether human or other; or to such action by some dissociated 
part of the medium’s personality. Or, in the case of communica¬ 
tions purportedly from spirits of the dead, is what they really 
signify only that the medium has paranormal capacities of telep¬ 
athy, clairvoyance, or retrocognition which—rather than com¬ 
munication from the deceased—supply him with the recondite 
correct information the communications contain. Or, on the 
other hand, do these really emanate from some part of the per¬ 
sonality of the deceased that has survived the death of his body; 
and if so what specific part, and in just what sense can it be said 
to be still “living.” 

Chapter XVI 


In the next two chapters, some well-attested concrete ex¬ 
amples of the kinds of paranormal occurrences that appear to 
constitute empirical evidence of survival will be cited and dis¬ 
cussed. But the occurrences the reports describe are so shocking 
to the scientific commonsense of the present epoch that some re¬ 
marks are called for at this point concerning the relation of para¬ 
normal occurrences to science, and concerning the attitude preva¬ 
lent among scientists towards reports of them. 

1. Reports of paranormal occurrences commonly dismissed 
offhand by scientists. During the last seventy-five years, many 
facts which there is strong reason to regard as paranormal have 
been recorded as a result of painstaking investigations made by 
some highly capable individuals, by the societies for psychical re¬ 
search, and more recently by the parapsychology laboratories. 
The majority of scientists, however, still do not bother to ac¬ 
quaint themselves with those facts, or at most only superficially; 
and yet are in general ready to dismiss on a priori grounds any 
reports of them, much as Faraday did reports of levitation when 
he wrote: “Before we proceed to consider any question involving 
physical principles, we should set out with clear ideas of the 
naturally possible and impossible.” Premising then that creation 
or destruction of force is impossible, Faraday went on to declare 
that since levitation of an object “without effort” would con¬ 
stitute creation of force, it therefore “cannot be.” 1 As the late 
Professor James H. Hyslop, founder of the American Society for 
Psychical Research, wrote some forty years ago, “Science, content, 
without thorough inquiry, to confine its investigations to the 

1 Experimental Researches in Chemistry and Physics, London 1859, pp. 478-9. 




physical world in which it has achieved so much, will not open 
its eyes to anomalies in the realm of mind and nature and so 
degenerates into a dogmatism exactly like that of theology.’’ 2 

The following recent statement by an eminent biologist may 
be cited as a quaint example of such ingenuous dogmatism: 
“Bordering all branches of science there is of course a ‘lunatic 
fringe’ of wishful thinkers to be found defending some bogus 
cancer cure, mysterious radiation effect, or species of dualism. 
Among the latter should be classed postulates of cellular intelli¬ 
gence or memory, vital force, perfecting principle, cosmic pur¬ 
pose, extrasensory perception (“ESP”), telepathy, telekinesis, 
clairvoyance.. .” s 

These words, of course, automatically relegate offhand to 
the “lunatic fringe” of science such naturalists and biologists as 
Alfred Russel Wallace, Charles Richet, Hans Driesch, H. S. Jen¬ 
nings: such physicists as Sir William Crookes, Lord Rayleigh, Sir 
Oliver Lodge: the astronomer Camille Flammarion; and phi¬ 
losophers like Henry Sidgwick, William James, and Henri Berg- 
son-to mention only a few of the eminent men who have thought 
that some of the things listed by Prof. Muller deserve serious 
consideration. If because of this these men belong to the lunatic 
fringe of science, then many of us would be proud to find our¬ 
selves included in it on the same grounds. 4 

2. What accounts for the dogmatism of scientists on the 
subject of paranormal events. Statements by scientists, such as 
that of Prof. Muller quoted above, compel us to ask what ac¬ 
counts for the dogmatism they exemplify: for the truly scientific 
attitude is not dogmatic but open-minded. It is free alike from 
adverse and from favorable prejudice. It welcomes facts as such, 
no matter whether they confirm or invalidate the assumptions or 
theories on which they have bearing. Its first commandment is 

»Contact with the other world. The Century Co. New York, 1919, p. 425. 

“Science Fiction as an Escape, an article by Hermann J. Muller, Nobel prize in 
biology, President of the American Humanist Association; in The Humanist, Vol 
XVII:338. No. 6, Nov.-Dee. 1957. 

‘The remarks in the remainder of this chapter were originally presented by 
the writer as one of the addresses at the Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration of the 
American Society for Psychical Research, held on March 2, 1956. The addresses 
were published in the Journal of the Society, Vol. L, No. 4. October, 1956. 


to investigate and observe. In short, disinterested curiosity—the 
passion to know the truth—is the one scientific passion. It is a 
stern censor, which rules out of scientific judgments factors such 
as arrogance, dogmatism, hopes or fears, and wishful belief or 
ilisbelief—factors which so often vitiate the judgments of ordinary 
men. Such is the scientific attitude. It is altogether admirable, 
and the command over the forces of nature, which adherence to 
it and to the methods it dictates has put into the hands of man, 
testifies to the fruitfulness of that attitude. 

But the fact that, in so far as it has actually been the atti¬ 
tude of scientists, they have accomplished wonders; and that these 
wonders have given magical prestige to the very words, Science, 
and Scientist—this fact does not at all guarantee that when a 
man who is by profession a scientist speaks, what he says always 
represents one of the fruits of scientific investigation. For scien¬ 
tists are men and usually have their share of the typical human 
frailties. They do park some of these outside the doors of their 
laboratories, for inside, of course, they either live up to the de¬ 
mands of the scientific attitude as characterized above, or they 
achieve little. But outside they are as prone as other men to 
pride of profession and of position; and the prestige with which 
the name, Scientist, has come to endow them in the public eye 
easily provides for many of them an irresistible temptation to 
pontificate concerning various questions which fall outside their 
professional competence, but about which naive outsiders never¬ 
theless respectfully ask them to speak because they are known as 
Scientists, and Scientists, by definition, are persons who know! 
The oracular role which this flattering deference invites them 
to play leads them almost fatally to assume on such occasions that 
their utterances have authority; for the idea a person harbors of 
himself is largely determined by the picture of him which others 
hold out to him. 

Now, that pleasing though mainly subconscious picture of 
himself as an oracle is what is affronted when outsiders venture to 
rail to the attention of a scientist certain facts, such as those 
psychical research investigates, which seem to clash with certain 
assumptions of the science of his time. It is on such occasions 
iat the admirable scientific attitude described above easily de- 



sens him and that, as the late Dr. W. F. Prince charged, proved, 
and illustrated by quoting the words of some twenty scientists 
from Faraday, Tyndall and Huxley to less eminent ones-it is 
on such occasions that the outraged scientist is prone to become 
unscientifically emotional, obscurantistic, inaccurate, illogical, 
evasive, dogmatic, and even personally abusive. 5 

3. Why the paranormal phenomena are regarded as im¬ 
possible. The remarks made up to this point about scientists 
have concerned only the psychological or more specifically the 
emotional factors that account for the abandonment of the scien¬ 
tific attitude by so many scientists when their attention is invited 
to the existing evidence, experimental and other, that paranor¬ 
mal phenomena of various kinds really occur. But something 
must now be said also as to the source of the quite dispassionate 
firm conviction of many of them that, in the light of modern 
scientific knowledge, those phenomena cannot possibly be real 
and can only be semblances, delusions, or frauds. 

Let us note first that, when a scientist declares that some¬ 
thing, which belongs to the field of his scientific competence, is 
possible, there is no mystery as to the basis of his assertion. It 
rests either on the fact that he or some other scientist has actually 
done or observed the thing concerned; or else that it is anyway 
not incompatible with anything which science has so far estab¬ 

Again, when a scientist declares something to be impossible 
by certain means under certain conditions, then the basis of his 
assertion is likewise not mysterious. It is that he or some other 
scientist has actually tried to cause that thing in that manner 
under those conditions, but that it did not in fact then occur. 

On the other hand, when a scientist declares something to 
be impossible, period; that is, impossible without qualification, 
then it is a mystery indeed how he could possibly know this. 
In such cases, the ground of his assertion is only that occurrence 
of the thing concerned would clash with some principle which 
the science of his time has somehow come to accept and which 

“The Enchanted Boundary, Boston Soc. for Psychic Research, 1930; see espe 
dally pp. 19-133. 


is thus part of “the scientific commonsense of the epoch”, but 
which has not in fact been established by science. Such a “prin- 
ciple”—however plausible and however wide its utility as a work¬ 
ing assumption—becomes a sheer dogma if the scientist’s faith in 
it is so boundless that it causes him to deny a priori or to ignore 
facts actually observed, that constitute exceptions to it. Assertion 
that they are impossible because they would clash with it then is 
pure dogmatism, even if unawares. 

The clash of the facts observed may be either with the over¬ 
all metaphysical creed of the science of the time or, more nar¬ 
rowly, with one or another of the specific articles of it. These 
are certain of the ‘‘basic limiting principles” of the then current 
scientific thought, to which reference was made in Sec. 3 of 
Chapt. XIV, and which the scientist uncritically assumes to have 
unlimited validity, whereas what scientific experience would 
really warrant him in concluding would be only that it has 
very wide validity. 

4. Clash of a reported occurrence with the metaphysical 
creed of the natural sciences. The reference made above to “the 
over all metaphysical creed of the science of the time” calls for 
some words of explanation; for a scientist is likely to deny em¬ 
phatically that science has any truck with that vain and vaporous 
thing called Metaphysics, which he is more than glad to leave 
to philosophers or other unscientific thinkers. 

As Prof. Ch. Perelman has pointedly remarked somewhere, 
however, a person’s repudiation and scorn of metaphysics is no 
guarantee*that he does not himself harbor unawares some meta¬ 
physical creed—in which case he is the more helplessly captive 
in that mental prison because he does not suspect its existence or 
perceive its walls. 

How this is possible becomes evident as soon as one realizes 
what constitutes a metaphysical creed. It is something which, if 
put into words, takes the form: “To be real is to have character¬ 
istic C.” The word “real,” as occurring in it, is essentially a 
value term , which specifically means “supremely or alone exist¬ 
ent, important or significant.” Hence, to have a metaphysical 
creed is to proceeed in all one’s activities and judgments, and 
whether consciously or unawares, under the assumption that only 



what has characteristic C exists, or at least is worth taking into 
consideration. This is what “to be real” means in, for example, 
the metaphysical creed that to be real is to be some material 
event, process, or thing, (whether at the macroscopic, directly 
perceivable level, or at the atomic or sub-atomic levels explored 
by theoretical physics.) 6 And just this materialistic metaphysical 
creed is, in fact, that of most of the practitioners of the natural 
sciences—physics, chemistry, astronomy, biology, physiological and 
behavioristic psychology, and the rest. 

It is harbored by them, however, without recognition of the 
fact that it simply consists of their personal inclination and com¬ 
mitment to dedicate their efforts to the investigation of only the 
material part of the world, and hence to ignore or deny mental 
events as such, or at least deny them any efficacy. 

The material world, of course, is highly important to us, and 
study of it by scientific methods has yielded a vast amount of valu¬ 
able knowledge. The scientists who have elected the material 
world as their field of exploration can justly be proud of what 
they have achieved; and one can readily understand that their 
prolonged attention to it should have brought them to the point 
of being psychologically unable to notice or even conceive of any 
facts, events, or processes other than material ones; and hence 
should have made them unable to suppose that any material 
event should have a cause or an effect other than one itself 

This psychological incapacity, however, is only an occupa¬ 
tional disease, which does not at all guarantee that there are not 
“really” such things as thoughts, feelings, mental images, voli¬ 
tions, and other psychological states. It only compels the scien¬ 
tists who are captives within the invisible walls of the material¬ 
istic metaphysical creed to assign at any cost a purely material 
meaning to the words which denote those psychological states. 
For if one proceeds from the start and all along on the arbitrary 
metaphysical assumption that nothing is real unless it is some 
process or part of the material world, i.e., of the perceptually 

«For more detailed discussion of what “real” means as employed in the formu¬ 
lation of a metaphysical creed, see the writer’s Nature, Mind, and Death, chapt. 6. 
and in particular Sec. 8 thereof. 


public world, then necessarily thoughts, feelings, and the other 
states accessible only to introspection are conceived either as 
unreal, i.e., as inefficacious mere appearances; or else as them¬ 
selves somehow material events. 

It is, of course, perfectly legitimate and proper to push as 
far as it is successful the attempt to account in purely material 
terms for all material events, including all the activities of human 
bodies. But at the many points in, for example, human willed 
acts, where no material event can be observed that would account 
for those acts, there is no rational justification for insisting 
wilfully that their causes must, somehow, anyhow, be material 
events; so that when, for example, 1 wrote the present words, my 
thoughts and my desire to formulate them in writing cannot 
possibly have been what caused the writing of these words. What 
accounts for but does not justify that insistence is only the quite 
arbitrary metaphysical creed, harbored and uncritically cherished 
by most natural scientists, that only what is material is real and 
ian have efficacy; and therefore that not only the vast majority 
of material events, but all—absolutely all without exception- 
must have purely material causes. 

Nothing but Prof. Muller’s pious adhesion to that particular 
metaphysical creed dictated his naive relegation of dualism, of 
extrasensory perception, and of any but material explanations, 
to the “lunatic fringe” of science. For of course to ascribe some 
material event to a mental cause is cheating at the game in which 
he like other natural scientists are engaged, to wit, that of seek¬ 
ing material explanations for all material events; just as, while 
playing chess, moving the king two steps at a time would be 
cheating. Yet the fact that it would be cheating at chess is not 
evidence at all that the king is inherently incapable of being 
moved more than one step at a time! Similarly, that to ascribe 
to a mental cause a material event not in fact otherwise explained 
is cheating at the materialscience game, is no evidence at all 
that causation of that material event by a mental event is in¬ 
herently impossible. 

The substance of the following remarks may be put both 
summarily and picturesquely in the apt words used by Professor 
C. D. Broad in tbe preface to his Tamer Lectures at Cambridge 



University in 1923. What he said there was that the scien 
who regard the phenomena investigated by psychical researc 
as impossible seem to him to confuse the Author of Nature i 
the Editor of the scientific periodical, Nature; or at any rate s 
to suppose that there can be no productions of the former 
would not be accepted for publication by the latter! 

Chapter XVII 


1. Apparitions and hauntings. Apparitions, some precogni¬ 
tions or retrocognitions, and also the so-called “projections” or 
out-of-the-body” experiences, all putatively come under the tech¬ 
nical psychological category of hallucinations, that is, of “ab¬ 
normal misinterpretations of ideational experiences as perceptions 

.in hallucination the error of perception goes so far as to 

suppose facts present to a sense which is actually receiving no 
relevant stimulation.” 1 

More explicitly, a hallucination is essentially a mental image 
—visual, auditory, tactual, or/and other—that has the vividness of 
a sensation and that, as usual in the case of sensations, is auto¬ 
matically taken to be perception of a physical object or event, 
although none such as perceived is actually stimulating the rele¬ 
vant sense organ (s). Ordinary dreams are the most common 
hallucinations: in them, physical objects seem to be perceived 
and, until one awakens, are not realized to have been physically 
non-existent. Hallucinations thus are not inherently pathological 
but only sometimes so (as, for example, in delirium tremens.) 

To say that an experience is, or is only, a hallucination is, 
of course, not at all to account for its content or for its occur¬ 
rence, but is merely to say, as made clear above, that the expe¬ 
rience is not due to stimulation of the relevant sense organ (s) 
at the time by a physical object of the kind seemingly perceived. 
Nor does an experience’s being a hallucination in the least dis¬ 
pose of the question whether the experience is veridical in the 
sense of being a true sign of some fact it appears to signify, e.g., 
of some crisis being faced by the person whose apparition is 
perceived: or of some future or past occurrence, as in precogni- 

*H. C. Warren: Dictionary of Psychology. Houghton Mifflin Co. Boston, 1934. 




tion or retrocognition; or, as in “out-of-the-body" experiences, 
of actual observation of one’s own body and of other things— 
extrasensorily but accurately-from a point distant in space from 
the body. 

This is important to remember when a particular hallucina¬ 
tion is more specifically characterized, perhaps, as oneiric, 01 as 
hypnagogic, or hypnopompic; or (as in the case of out-of-the- 
body” experiences) as heautoscopic, etc.; for these adjectives are 
names only of sub-classes of hallucinations, not at all of causes 
or of processes that would account for the particular content of 
the hallucination, or dispose of the possibility of its being veridi¬ 
cal in the sense stated above. 

With these words of caution in mind we may now consider 
first some concrete instances of the putatively hallucinatory ex¬ 
periences commonly termed apparitions of the dead. I say “puta 
tively” because the possibility must not be ruled out a priori 
that apparitions are material even if only tenuously so as com¬ 
pared with the “materializations” we shall consider later. 

In Chapter II we had occasion to cite an exceptionally well 
attested case of the kind of paranormal occurrence generally 
regarded by those who witness it as most evidential of survival 
of the human personality, namely, ‘ ghosts, or apparitions of 
the dead.” 

The case was that of the numerous apparitions at the begin¬ 
ning of the 19th century of the form of the deceased Mrs. Butler 
in a Maine village, to which the Rev. Abraham Cummings 
(A. M. Brown University 1776) had proceeded in order to expose 
what he had assumed must be a hoax. He, however, was then 
himself met in a field by what he terms “the Spectre.” His state¬ 
ment of this meeting reads: “Sometime in July 1806, in the 
evening I was informed by two persons that they had just seen 
the Spectre in the field. About ten minutes after, I went out, 
not to see a miracle, for I believed that they had been mistaken. 
Looking toward an eminence, twelve rods distance from the 
house, I saw there, as I supposed, one of the white rocks. This 
confirmed my opinion of their spectre, and I paid no more atten¬ 
tion to it. Three minutes after, I accidentally looked in the same 
direction, and the white rock was in the air, its form a complete 


15 *) 

Globe, white with a tincture of red, like the damask rose, and 
its diameter about two feet. Fully satisfied that this was nothing 
ordinary, I went toward it for more accurate examination. While 
my eye was constantly upon it, I went on four or five steps, when 
it came to me from the distance of eleven rods, as quick as light¬ 
ning, and instantly assumed a personal form with a female dress, 
but did not appear taller than a girl seven years old. While I 
looked upon her, I said in my mind, ‘you are not tall enough 
lor the woman who has so frequently appeared among us!’ Im¬ 
mediately she grew up as large and as tall as I considered that 
woman to be. Now she appeared glorious. On her head was the 
representation of the sun diffusing the luminous, rectilinear rays 
every way to the ground. Through the rays I saw the personal 
form and the woman’s dress.” 2 

In the pamphlet the Rev. Mr. Cummings reproduces some 
thirty affidavits which he had obtained at the time from persons 
who had seen or/and heard the Spectre; for the apparition spoke, 
and delivered discourses sometimes over an hour long. Some of 
the witnesses believed the apparition was from Satan, others from 
God. It presented itself sometimes “to one alone .... sometimes 
she appeared to two or three; then to five or six; then to ten 
or twelve; again to twenty; and once to more than forty wit¬ 
nesses. She appeared in several apartments of Mr. Blaisdel’s 
house, and several times in the open field . . . There, white as 
the light, she moved like a cloud above the ground in personal 
form and magnitude, and in the presence of more than forty 
people. She tarried with them till after daylight, and vanished” 
(p. 29). On one occasion, one of the men present, Capt. Butler, 
'put his hand upon it and it passed down through the apparition 
as through a body of light, in the view of six or seven witnesses’ 
(p. 30). Several of the witnesses report, as does the Rev. Mr. 
Cummings, that the apparition begins as a formless small lumin¬ 
ous cloud, which then grows and in a moment takes the form of 
the deceased Mrs. Butler. (This incidentally, was what occurred 
when; over fifty years ago in New York, the present writer wit- 

’Pp. 35-6 of the pamphlet, Immortality proved by the Testimony of Sense, 
Bath. Me. IS26. 



nessed in red light but not under test conditions a purported 
gradual materialization of a man’s body.) 

The prima facie evidence of survival provided by an appari¬ 
tion is greatest when it supplies information that was unknown 
to the percipent. Among a number of well attested reports of 
just this, two, which are so clear-cut that they have become classics 
in this field, may be cited briefly. 

One is of the case of a travelling salesman, whose sister had 
died in 1867, and who in 1876 was in his hotel room at noon in 
St. Joseph, Mo. smoking a cigar and writing up the orders he had 
obtained: “I suddenly became conscious that some one was sit¬ 
ting on my left, with one arm resting on the table. Quick as a 
flash I turned and distinctly saw the form of my dead sister, 
and for a brief second or so looked her squarely in the face; and 
so sure was I that it was she, that I sprang forward in delight 
calling her by name, and, as 1 did so, the apparition instantly 
vanished ... I was near enough to touch her . . . and noted her 
features, expression, and details of dress, etc. She appeared as 

He was so moved by the experience that he cut his trip 
short and returned to his home in St. Louis, where he related the 
occurrence to his parents, mentioning among other details of the 
apparition that on the right side of the girl’s nose he had noticed 
a bright red scratch about three fourths of an inch long. “When 
I mentioned this,” he states, “my mother rose trembling to her 
feet and nearly fainted away, and .... with tears streaming down 
her face, she exclaimed that I had indeed seen my sister, as no 
living mortal but herself was aware of that scratch, which she 
had accidentally made while doing some little act of kindness 
after my sister’s death. She said she well remembered how pained 
she was to think she should have, unintentionally, marred the 
features of her dead daughter, and that unknown to all, she had 
carefully obliterated all traces of the slight scratch with the aid 
of powder, etc., and that she had never mentioned it to a human 
being from that day to this.” 8 

•A full account of the case appears in Vol. VI: 17-20, S.P.R. Proceedings, 1889- 
90. It is reproduced in F. W. H. Myer’s Human Personality and its Survival of 
Bodily Death, Vol. 11:27-30. 



The other famous case—the Chaffin will case—concerns not a 
similarly waking vision, but one occurring as either a vivid 
dream, or in a state between waking and dreaming. The essential 
facts are as follows. On November 16, 1905, James L. Chaffin, 
a North Carolina farmer, made a will attested by two witnesses, 
in which he left his farm to his son Marshall, the third of his four 
sons; and nothing to the other three or to his wife. On January 
16; 1919, however, he made a new will, not witnessed but legally 
valid because wholly in his own handwriting. In it, he stated 
first that it was being made after his reading of the 27th chapter 
of Genesis; and then that he wanted his property divided equally 
between his four children, and that they must take care of their 
mother. He then placed this holograph will at the 27th chapter 
of Genesis in a Bible that had belonged to his father, folding 
over the pages to enclose the will. 

He died on September 7, 1921, without, so far as ascertain¬ 
able, ever having mentioned to anybody the existence of the 
second will. The first will was not contested and was probated 
on the 24th of the same month by its beneficiary, Marshall 

Some four years later, in June, 1925, the second son, James 
Pinkney Chaffin began to have very vivid dreams that his father 
appeared to him at his bedside, without speaking. Later that 
month, however, the father again appeared at the bedside, wear¬ 
ing a familiar black overcoat, and then spoke, saying “you will 
find my will in my overcoat pocket.” In the morning, James 
looked for the overcoat, but was told by his mother that it had 
been given to his brother John, who lived twenty miles away. 
Some days later, James went to his brother’s house, found the 
coat, and examined it. The inside lining of the inside pocket 
had been stitched together. On cutting the stitches, he found a 
little roll of paper on which, in his father’s handwriting, were 
written only the words: “Read the 27th chapter of Genesis in 
my Daddie’s old Bible.” He then returned to his mother’s house, 
accompanied by his daughter, by a neighbor, and by the neigh¬ 
bor’s daughter. They had some trouble finding the old Bible, 
but when they finally did, and the neighbor opened it at the 
27th chapter of Genesis, they found the second will. The tes- 



tator’s wife and James P. Chaffin’s wife were also present at the 
time. The second will was admitted to probate in December of 
the same year. 4 

Hauntings are apparitions that recur and that seem to be 
connected with a place rather than intended for a particular 
witness. A famous, well-attested case is that of the Morton ghost. 
It is described by Miss R. C. Morton (pseudonym) in Vol. VIII, 
1892, of the S.P.R. Proceedings, pp. 311/332, who at that time 
was a medical student and apparently viewed the occurrences 
without fear or nervousness but only with scientific curiosity. 
The case dates back to 1882. 

Miss Morton states that, having one evening gone up to her 
room, she heard someone at the door, opened it, and saw in the 
passage the figure of a tall lady, dressed in black, whose face was 
hidden by a handkerchief held in her right hand. She descended 
the stairs and Miss Morton followed; but the small piece of 
candle she carried went out, and she returned to her room. The 
figure was seen again half a dozen times during the next two 
years by Miss Morton, once by her sister Mrs. K, once by the 
housemaid, and once by Miss Morton’s brother and by a boy. 
After the first apparition, Miss Morton made it a practice to fol¬ 
low the figure downstairs into the drawing room. She spoke to 
the apparition but never got any reply; she cornered it several 
times in order to touch it, but it then simply disappeared. Its 
footsteps were audible and characteristic, and were heard by Miss 
Morton s three sisters and by the cook. Miss Morton stretched 
some threads across the stairs, but the figure passed right through 
them without detaching them. The figure was seen in the orchard 
by a neighbor as well as in the house by Miss Morton’s sisters 
E. and M., by the cook, by the charwoman, and by a parlormaid, 
and by the gardener. But Miss Morton’s father could not see it 
even when he was shown where it stood. The apparition was 
seen during the day as well as at night. In all about twenty peo¬ 
ple saw it, some of them many times; and some of them not hav¬ 
ing previously heard of the apparition or of the sounds. The 
figure was described in the same way by all. The apparitions con- 

*Proc. of S.P.R ., Vol. 36:517-24. 1927. 



tinued to occur until 1889. The figure wore widow’s cuffs, and 
< orresponded to the description of a former tenant of the house, 
Mrs. S., whose life there had been unhappy. 

The weight of apparitions as evidence of survival is decreased 
by the fact that there are numerous cases on record of apparitions 
of the living. Many of them are cited in Gurney, Myers, and 
Podmore’s Phantasms of the Living . 5 Like apparitions in general, 
they are most impressive when more than one of the percipient’s 
senses is affected—for instance, touch and hearing, or touch and 
sight. Several such cases are described on pp. 446 ff. of the book 
just cited. One is that of a girl, reading at night in her room, 
who suddenly “felt” (heard?) some one come into the room but, 
looking, could see no one. Then, she writes, “I felt a kiss on my 
forehead—a lingering, loving pressure. I looked up without the 
least sensation of fear, and saw my lover standing behind my 
chair, stooping as if to kiss me again. His face was very white and 
inexpressibly sad. As I rose from my chair in great surprise, be¬ 
fore I could speak, he had gone, how I do not know; I only know 
that, one moment I saw him, saw distinctly every feature of his 
face, saw the tall figure and broad shoulders as clearly as I ever 
saw them in my life, and the next moment there was no sign of 
him” (p. 447). A few days later, she heard that her lover had 
at the time been riding a vicious horse which, in order to unseat 
him, reared perfectly straight and pressed its back against a wall, 
with him between, making him lose consciousness — his last 
thought having been that he was dying and that he wanted to 
see his fiancee again before he died. It turned out, however, 
that only his hand had been severely injured, so that, for some 
days, he could not write to tell her what had occurred. 

Such cases of apparitions of the living, veridical in the sense 
stated earlier, are most plausibly accounted for as telepathically 
caused hallucinations since they cannot really be apparitions of 
the dead. If, however, they are considered together with the 
cases of “out-of-the-body” experience — so-called "projection of 
the double”—of which instances are cited in Sec. 2 of the present 

"In two vols. 1886. Abridged edition prepared by Mrs. Henry Sidgwick One 
vol. 1918, Kegan Paul. Trench. Trubner and Co. London: E. P. Dutton and Co., 
New York. 



chapter, then what suggests itself is that what is seen in cases 
of apparitions — whether of the living or of the dead — is the 
“projected,” i.e., externalized, “double” assumed to be possessed 
by man but to be normally collocated with the body. It is con¬ 
jectured that at death the dislocation of it from the body is com¬ 
plete and permanent, whereas in apparitions of the living, the 
dislocation is temporary and incomplete in that a connection— 
the reported “silver thread”—remains between the externalized 
“double” and the body. If this should actually be the state of 
affairs, then apparitions would not really be visual hallucinations, 
but rather sights, fleeting but genuine, of something very tenu¬ 
ous though objectively present at the place where it is perceived. 

In the way of this supposition, however, stands a fact to 
which we shall have occasion to return; namely that, since appari¬ 
tions are seldom if ever naked, then their clothes too would 
have to be supposed to have an externalizable “double.” 

But even when telepathy is admitted to be a fact and is 
invoked, apparitions veridical in the sense stated remain very 
difficult to explain plausibly. How difficult will be appreciated 
by readers who may be interested to look up the seemingly far¬ 
fetched explanations to which able thinkers have found them¬ 
selves forced to have recourse when they have insisted on taking 
scrupulously into consideration all the facts on record. 6 

2. “Out-of-the-body” experiences. Let us turn next to the 
“out-of-the-body,” experiences alluded to in the latter part of 
the preceding section, of which many cases have been reported. 
Those who have undergone the experience generally consider it 
impressive evidence that the human consciousness is separable in 
space from the human body and, it would therefore seem, can 
exist independently of the latter. That experience has variously 

* Apparitions, by G. N. M. Tyrrell, with a preface by H. H. Price; Gerald Duck¬ 
worth and Co. Ltd., revised edition, 1953; A Theory of apparitions, by W. F. Bar¬ 
rett. E. Gurney, and F. Podmore, Proc. S.P.R. Vol. 11:109-36; 1884. Six theories about 
appartions, by Homell Hart, Proc. S.P.R ., 1955-56 pp. 153-239. For additional 
references on the subject of apparitions, see G. Zorab’s Bibliography of Parapsy¬ 
chology, Parapsychology Found’n. Inc. New York 1957, pp. 27-8. Concerning Haunt¬ 
ing, see H. H. Price’s presidential address to the S.P.R.; Proc. Sf.R. Vol. XLV:307- 
343. 1938-39. 



been termed projection of “the double,” “ESP projection,” projec¬ 
tion of the astral body,” “out-of-the-body” experience, and “bi¬ 
location.” In the most striking form of it, the person concerned, 
having gone to sleep or being under anaesthesia, wakens to see 
his body inert on the bed and is able to observe it from the same 
variety of angles as he could the body of another. He is also able 
to observe the various objects in the room, and in some cases 
he perceives and is later able to describe persons who came into 
the room and went out before his body awoke. The thus tem¬ 
porarily excarnate observer may or may not find himself able to 
travel away from the vicinity of his sleeping body. In some of 
the cases when he does so and visits a distant place, he is reported 
to have been seen at that place at the time. These are the cases 
of “bilocation.” A famous one is that of Alfonso de Liguori 
who in 1774 was at Arezzo, in prison, fasting. On awakening 
one morning, he stated that he had been at the bedside of the 
then dying Pope, Clement XIV; where, it turned out, he had 
been seen by those present. 

For the sake of concreteness, a few of the many reports of 
out-of-the-body experience will now be cited. 

Dr. E. Osty, in the May-June issue of the Revue Meta- 
psychique for 1930, quotes a letter addressed by a gentleman 
named L. L. Hymans to Charles Richet, dated June 7, 1928, in 
which the former relates two such experiences: “The first time 
it was while in a dentist’s chair. Under anaesthesia, I had the 
sensation of awaking and of finding myself floating in the upper 
part of the room, from where, with great astonishment, I watched 
the dentist working on my body, and the anaesthetist at his side. 
I saw my inanimate body as distinctly as any other object in the 
room . . . The second time I was in a hotel in London. I awoke 
in the morning feeling unwell (I have a weak heart) and shortly 
thereafter I fainted. Greatly to my astonishment, I found myself 
in the upper part of the room, from where, with fear, I beheld 
my body inanimate in the bed with its eyes closed. I tried without 
success to reenter my body and concluded that I had died . . . 
Certainly I had not lost either memory or self-consciousness. I 
could see my inanimate body like a separate object: I was able 
to look at my face. I was, however, unable to leave the room: I 



felt myself as it were chained, immobilized in the corner where 
I was. After an hour or two I heard a knock on the locked door 
several times, without being able to answer. Soon after, the 
hotel porter appeared on the fire escape. 1 saw him get into the 
room, look anxiously at my face, and open the door. The hotel 
manager and others then entered. A physician came in. I saw 
him shake his head after listening to my heart, and then insert a 
spoon between my lips. I then lost consciousness and awoke in 
the bed." In the same article, Dr. Osty cites the similar experi¬ 
ences of two other persons. 

Dr. Ernesto Bozzano cites the case of a friend of his, the 
engineer Giuseppe Costa who, while asleep, so disturbed the 
kerosene lamp on his bedside table that it filled the room with 
dense, choking smoke. Signor Costa writes: "I had the clear and 
precise sensation of finding myself with only my thinking per¬ 
sonality, in the middle of the room, completely separated from my 
body , which continued to lie on the bed ... I was seized with an 
inexpressible anguish from which I felt intuitively that I could 
only free myself by freeing my material body from that oppressive 
situation. I wanted therefore to pick up the lamp and open the 
window, but it was a material act that I could not accomplish . . . 
Then I thought of my mother, who was sleeping in the next 
room ... It seemed to me that no effort of any kind was needed 
to cause her to approach my body. I saw her get hurriedly out 
of bed, run to her window and open it . . . then leave her room, 
walk along the corridor, enter my room and approach my body 
gropingly and with staring eyes.” He then awoke. He writes 
further: “My mother, questioned by me soon after the event, 
confirmed the fact that she had first opened her window as if 
she felt herself suffocating, before coming to my aid. Now the 
fact of my having seen this act of hers through the xvall, while 
lying inanimate on the bed, entirely excludes the hypothesis of 
hallucination and nightmare ... I thus had the most evident 
proof that my soul had detached itself from my body during its 
material existence. I had, in fact, received proof of the existence 
of the soul and also of its immortality, since it was true that it had 
freed itself . . from the material envelope of the body, acting 



and thinking outside it.” 7 In order to explain this case, however, 
telepathy plus clairvoyance would be enough. 

In some persons, out-of-the-body experience becomes volun¬ 
tary. The best known account of the process involved is that of 
the late Sylvan Muldoon, 8 whose description of his own expe¬ 
riences brought him numerous communications from strangers 
who had themselves had out-of-the-body experiences. Many of 
these are quoted by him in a later book, 9 including one which, 
some years before that book appeared, was related to the present 
writer by the person concerned, Miss Mary Ellen Frallic. Her 
projection” experience occurred not during sleep or under an¬ 
aesthesia, but while walking on the street. She gradually became 
conscious of rising higher and higher, up to the height of the 
second floor of the surrounding buildings, and then felt an urge 
to look back; whereupon she saw her body walking about one 
block behind. That body was apparently able to see “her” for 
she noticed the look of bewilderment on its face. Her con¬ 
sciousness of location then shifted a few times from that of the 
“double” to that of the body, and back, each being able to 
perceive the other. She then felt afraid, and immediately reen¬ 
tered her body. 10 

Besides Muldoon’s account of voluntary “projections,” one 
of the most interesting is by a Frenchman who, under the pseu¬ 
donym, Yram, wrote in 1926 a book entitled “The Physician of 
the Soul,” which has since been translated under the title Prac¬ 
tical Astral Projection . In it he describes twelve years of his own 
experimentation in conscious out-of-the-body experience. An¬ 
other writer, Oliver Fox, in a book entitled Astral Projection, 
related his own experiences. 11 

7 Quoted in Bozzano’s Discarnate Influence in Human Life, pp. 112-15. from 
Giuseppe Costa’s Di la della Vita, p. 18. 

8 The Projection of the Astral Body, David McKay Co. Philadelphia, 1929. 

9 The Phenomena of Astral Projection, by Sylvan Muldoon and Hereward Car 
rington, Rider and Co., London, 1951. 

10 Cf. op. cit. pp. 189-90. 

u Ridcr and Co. London (no date) A number of interesting cases are quoted 
in some detail on pp. 220-29 of Dr. Raynor C. Johnson’s The Imprisoned Splendour, 
Harper and Bros. New York, 1953. A bibliography of the subject is furnished on 
pp. 221-22 of Muldoon and Carrington’s The Phenomena of Astral Projection. 



In a number of cases, the projected “double” is reported to 
remain connected with the sleeping body by a ‘‘silver cord” which 
is extensible in various degrees. Persons who have had the out- 
of-the-body experience have usually assumed, as did the engineer 
Giuseppe Costa quoted above, that the spatial separation in it of 
the observing and thinking consciousness from the body on the 
bed means that the former is capable of existing and of function¬ 
ing independently of the latter not only thus temporarily during 
"projection,” but enduringly at death, which is then simply per¬ 
manent, definitive projection when the ‘‘silver cord” snaps. 

This conclusion, however, does not necessarily follow, for 
it tacitly assumes that the conscious ‘‘double” is what animates 
the body—normally in being collocated with it, but also, when 
dislocated from it, through connection with it by the “silver 
cord.” The fact, however, could equally be that the animation 
is in the converse direction, i.e., that death of the body entails 
death of the conscious “double” whether the latter be at the time 
dislocated from or collocated with the former. 

Hence, out-of-the-body experience, however impressive to 
those who have it, and however it may tempt them to conclude 
that they then know that consciousness is not dependent on the 
living material body, does not really warrant this conclusion; but 
only the more modest one, which, of course, is arresting enough, 
that correct visual perception of physical events and objects, 
including perception of one’s own body from a point distant in 
space from it, can occur, exceptionally, at times when the eyes 
are shut and the body asleep—this fact, of course, not being at 
all explained by labelling the occurrences of it “heautoscopic 
hallucinations” since, as pointed out earlier, what is paranormal, 
instead of merely abnormal, in certain hallucinations is that they 
are veridical in the same sense in which perceptions are so, even 
if not through the same mechanism. 

3. Materializations and other paranormal physical phe¬ 
nomena. Among paranormal phenomena, certain physical ones 
—especially materializations and the so-called “direct voice”—are 
easily accepted by persons who witness them as evidence of sur¬ 
vival. There are numerous reports, some of them circumstantial 
and made by careful and experienced observers, of the material- 



ization of portions of human bodies—of hands, for example, 
which move and grasp and carry things; or of faces or even of 
entire bodies which act, speak, and breathe like ordinary living 
human bodies; and after a while dematerialize, suddenly or 


Sir William Crookes, for instance, in an article he published 
in the Quarterly Journal of Science 12 writes: “A beautifully 
formed small hand rose up from an opening in a dining table 
and gave me a flower; it appeared and then disappeared three 
times at intervals, affording me ample opportunity of satisfying 
myself that it was as real in appearance as my own. This occurred 
in the light in my own room, whilst I was holding the medium’s 
hands and feet. On another occasion a small hand and arm, 
like a baby’s, appeared playing about a lady who was sitting next 
to me. It then passed to me and patted my arm and pulled my 
coat several times. At another time a finger and thumb were 
seen to pick the petals from a flower in Mr. Home’s button-hole 
and lay them in front of several persons who were sitting near 
him ... I have more than once seen, first an object move, then 
a luminous cloud appear to form about it, and lastly, the cloud 
condense into shape and become a perfectly-formed hand . . . 
At the wrist, or arm, it becomes hazy, and fades off into a lumi¬ 
nous cloud. To the touch the hand sometimes appears icy cold 
and dead, at other times warm and life-like, grasping my own 
with the firm pressure of an old friend. I have retained one of 
these hands in my own, firmly resolved not to let it escape. There 
was no struggle or effort made to get loose, but it gradually 
seemed to resolve itself into vapour and faded in that manner 
from my grasp.” 

Among the materializations of entire bodies that have been 
reported, those of “Katie King,” repeatedly observed by Sir 
William Crookes under his own conditions as well as by others, 
and measured, auscultated, tested and photographed by him— 

“Notes of an Enquiry into the Phenomena called Spiritual during the years 
1870-73. Reprinted with other articles by Crookes under the title Researches in 
the Phenomena of Spiritualism, Two Worlds Pub’g. Co. 1926. The quotation is 
from pp. 102-3. 



Florence Cook being the medium—are probably the most famous 
and most carefully described. 13 

The apparent materialization, in whole or in part, of human 
bodies and of their clothing and accoutrements, is supposed to 
depend on and to consist at least in part of a mysterious sub¬ 
stance that emanates from the medium’s body, and to which the 
name of “ectoplasm” has therefore been given. It seems able to 
exert or to conduct force. It is said to have various consistencies 
—sometimes vaporous, sometimes filmy like a veil, sometimes 
gelatinous, sometimes pasty like thick dough. 

The latter was its consistency on the one occasion when in 
the house of a friend of mine I personally had an opportunity 
to see in good red light, to touch, and take ten flash light photo¬ 
graphs of a substance emanating from the mouth of an entranced 
non-professional medium; which substance, whether or not it was 
“ectoplasm,” did not behave, feel, or look as any other substance 
known to me could, I think, have done under the conditions that 
existed. It was coldish, about like steel. This made it seem 
moist, but it was dry and slightly rough like dough the surface 
of which had dried. Its consistency and weight were also dough- 
like. It was a string, of about pencil thickness, varying in length 
from some six to twelve feet. On other photographs, not taken 
by me, of the same medium, it has veil-like and rope-like forms. 

Professor Charles Richet, who had many occasions to observe 
what appeared to be materializations, discusses at one point in 
his Thirty Years of Psychical Research 14 the possibilities of fraud 
in purported materializations and the precautions necessary to 
preclude it; and he concludes that, in the case of the best of the 
available reports of the phenomenon—a number of which he men¬ 
tions—neither fraud nor illusion is a possible explanation: “When 
I recall the precautions that all of us have taken, not once, but 
twenty, a hundred, or even a thousand times, it is inconceivable 
that we should have been deceived on all these occasions.” 

Concerning occurrences he personally observed under espe¬ 
cially favorable conditions, he writes: “Sometimes these ecto- 

w Loc. cit. pp. 115-28. 

“Collins and Sons, London, 1923. p. 460. English translation by Stanley De 
Brath, p. 467. 



plasms can be seen in process of organization; I have seen an 
almost rectilinear prolongation emerge from Eusapia’s body, its 
termination acting like a living hand .... I have . . . been able 
to see the first lineaments of materializations as they were formed. 
A kind of liquid or pasty jelly emerges from the mouth or the 
breast of Marthe which organizes itself by degrees, acquiring the 
shape of a face or a limb. Under very good conditions of visi¬ 
bility, I have seen this paste spread on my knee, and slowly take 
form so as to show the rudiment of the radius, the cubitus, or 
metacarpal bone whose increasing pressure I could feel on my 
knee.” 1R 

The prima facie most impressive evidence there could be of 
the survival of a deceased friend or relative would be to see and 
touch his materialized, recognizable bodily form, which then 
speaks in his or her characteristic manner. This is what appeared 
to occur in my presence on an occasion three or four years ago 
when, during some two hours and in very good red light through 
out, some eighteen fully material forms—some male, some female, 
some tall and some short, and sometimes two together—came out 
of and returned to the curtained cabinet I had inspected before 
hand, in which a medium sat, and to which I had found no 
avenue of surreptitious access. 

These material forms were apparently recognized as those 
of a deceased father, mother, or other relative by one or another 
of the fourteen or fifteen persons present; and some touching 
scenes occurred, in which the form of the deceased spoke with 
and caressed the living. 

One of those forms called my name and. when I went up 
to her and asked who she was, she answered “Mother.” She did 
not, however, speak, act, or in the least resemble mv mother 
This was no disappointment to me since I had gone there for 
purposes not of consolation but of observation. I would have felt 
fully rewarded if the conditions of observation had been such 
that T could have been quite sure that the material form T saw, 
that spoke to me and patted me on the head, was genuinely a 
materialization, no matter of whom or of what. Indeed, mate- 

w Thirty Years of Psychical Research, Collins and Sons. London, 1925. p. 469 



rialization of half a human body would, for my purpose, have 
been even more significant than materialization of an entire one. 

I should add, however, that the friend who had taken me to 
that circle, who is a careful and critical observer, and who had 
been there a number of times before, told me that on the occa¬ 
sions when a material form that purported to be a materializa¬ 
tion of his mother had come out of the cabinet and spoken to 
him, the form was sometimes recognizably like her, and some 
times not. 

Apparitions and genuine materializations (if any) are alike 
in being visible, and usually in reproducing the appearance of a 
human body or of parts of one; and, in cases where at least the 
face is reproduced, sometimes in being recognizably like that of 
one particular person known to someone present. On the other 
hand, materializations are tangible whereas apparitions are not so. 

The question then arises whether apparitions are incom¬ 
plete materializations (a mist or haze is visible but not tangible, 
and yet is material,) or whether materializations are “complete” 
hallucinations, i.e., hallucinations not only of sight and of sound 
of voice or of footsteps, but also of the sense of touch and the 
others. As regards the second alternative, I can say only that if 
the form I saw which said it was my mother and which patted me 
on the head, was a hallucination—a hallucination “complete” in 
the sense just stated—then no difference remains between a com¬ 
plete hallucination on the one hand and, on the other, ordinary 
veridical perception of a physical object; for every further test 
of the physicality of the form seen and touched could then be 
alleged to be itself hallucinatory and the allegation of complete 
hallucination then automatically becomes completely vacuous. 

On the other hand, cases are on record of apparitions of the 
living but, so far as I know, no good cases have been reported 
of materializations of the living in the sense that a living person 
was not merely seen and perhaps heard, but also tangibly present 
at a place distant from that of his body. In such cases of “biloca¬ 
tion” as that of Alphonse of Liguori, who, while in prison at 
Arezzo, was seen among the persons in attendance at the bedside 
of the then dying Pope Clement XIV in Rome, the testimony 



does not, I believe, include any statement that he was touched , 
while there, as well as seen. 

But no matter whether we say that apparitions are incom¬ 
plete materializations, or that materializations are complete hal 
lucinations, a fact remains concerning both, that has bearing 
on the question whether they constitute evidence of survival 
after death. It is that both apparitions and materializations wear 
clothing of some sort; so that, as someone has put the point, “if 
ghosts have clothes, then clothes have ghosts.” That is, if one 
says that the apparition or materialization is the deceased's sur¬ 
viving “spirit,” temporarily become perceptible, then does not 
consistency require one to say that the familiar dress or coat or 
other accoutrement it wears had a spirit too, that has also sur¬ 
vived? On the other hand, if one assumes that the clothing the 
apparition or materialization wears is materialization only of a 
memory image of the deceased’s clothing, then would not con¬ 
sistency dictate the conclusion that the now temporarily per¬ 
ceptible parts of the deceased’s body are materializations like¬ 
wise only of a memory image of his appearance and behavior? 

If one is fortunate enough to witness an apparition, or even 
better, a materialization where the materialized form duplicates 
the appearance of a deceased friend or relative, speaks and be¬ 
haves as the latter did, and mentions facts of an intimate nature 
which few if any but the deceased and oneself knew, then the 
temptation may well be psychologically irresistible to believe that 
the deceased himself is with us again in temporarily materialized 
form, and therefore that he does indeed survive the death of the 
body that was his. The remarks made above, however, show that 
this interpretation of the experience, no matter how hard psy¬ 
chologically it then is to resist, is not the only one of which the 
experience admits, and is not necessarily the one most probably 

On this point, some words of Richet—who as we have seen 
became certain that materializations do really occur—are worth 
quoting. Comparing the evidence for survival from mediumistic 
communications with that which materializations are thought to 
furnish, he writes: “The case of George Pelham [one of Mrs. 
Piper’s best communicators], though there was no materializa 



tion, is vastly more evidential for survival than all the materializa¬ 
tions yet known . . . materializations, however perfect, cannot 
prove survival; the evidence that they sometimes seem to give is 
much less striking than that given by subjective metapsychics,” 
i.e., chiefly, by mediumistic communications (p. 490). It is worth 
bearing in mind in this connection that in the star case of “Katie 
King,” who claimed to have in life been Annie Owen Morgan, 
daughter of the buccaneer Sir Henry Owen Morgan, no evidence 
exists that such a woman did actually live. But unless she actu¬ 
ally did, and died, the question whether “her” spirit survived 
death, and materialized as Katie King, becomes vacuous. 

As regards the evidence for survival supposedly constituted 
by physical paranormal phenomena such as “poltergeist” occur¬ 
rences, telekinesis, raps, levitation, “direct” voice, etc., H. F. Salt- 
marsh writes that “in order that events of this kind should have 
any value as evidence of survival they must possess some charac¬ 
teristic which will connect them with some deceased person. The 
bare fact that a material object is moved in a way we cannot 
account for by normal means does not afford any clue to the 
identity of the agent. All we could say in the most favourable 
circumstances would be that some unknown agency is involved 
and that that agency exhibits intelligence; we could not argue 
that it was, or even had been, human, still less that it was con¬ 
nected with some one particular person. Thus when any special 
characteristics which might connect them with a deceased person 
are absent, we can rule out physical phenomena as completely 
unevidential of survival. Where, however, the phenomena show 
some special characteristics which connect with some definite 
deceased person, any evidential value for survival rests entirely 
on those characteristics.” 10 

4. “Possessions.” Another sort of paranormal occurrence, 
some cases of which invite interpretation as evidence of survival, 
is that popularly known as “possession,” i.e., prima facie possession 
of a person’s body by a personality—whether devilish, divine, or 
merely human—radically different from his or her own. The most 
probably correct interpretation of the great majority of such cases 

lfl “Is Proof of Survival Possible?” Proc. S.P.R. Vol. XL: 106-7, Jan. 1932. 



is that the “possessing” personality is only a dissociated, normally 
repressed portion or aspect of the total personality of the in¬ 
dividual concerned. 

The case of the Rev. Ansel Bourne, of Greene, R.I., 17 the 
still more famous cases of the alternating personalities of Miss 
Beauchamp, reported by Dr. Morton Prince, and the Doris 
Fischer case described by Dr. Walter F. Prince, 18 would be ex¬ 
amples of such temporary “possession.” The survival interpreta 
tion has little or no plausibility as regards most such cases, but 
is less easy to dismiss in a few others, different from these in that 
the intruding personality gives more or less clear and abundant 
evidence of being that of one particular individual who had died 
some time before. 

About as impressive a case of this as any on record is that 
of the so-called Watseka Wonder. An account of it was first pub¬ 
lished in 1879 in the Religio-Philosophical Journal, and, in 
1887, republished as a pamphlet, The Watseka Wonder, by the 
Religio-Philosophical Publishing House, Chicago. The sub-title 
is “A narrative of startling phenomena occurring in the case of 
Mary Lurancy Vennum.” The author of the narrative was a med¬ 
ical man, Dr. E. Winchester Stevens (1822-1885), who had been 
consulted at the time in the case. 

Two girls were concerned. One, Mary Roff, had died on 
July 5, 1865 at the age of 18. From an early age, she had had 
frequent “fits” becoming more violent with the years; she had 
complained of a “lump of pain in the head” (p. 10), to relieve 
which she had repeatedly bled herself; and she is stated to have 
been able, while “heavily blindfolded by critical intelligent, in¬ 
vestigating gentlemen” to read readily books even when closed 
and letters even in envelopes, and to do other tasks normally 
requiring the use of the eyes (p. 11). 

The other girl, Lurancy Vennum, was born on April 16, 

ll Proc., Soc. for Psychical Research, Vol. VII, 1891-2: A Case of Double Con¬ 
sciousness, by Richard Hodgson, M. D. Pp. 221-57. It is commented upon by 
William James in Ch. X of his Principles of Psychology, 1905, pp. 390*3, who also 
cites a number of others. 

19 Morton Prince: The Dissociation of a Personality, London, Longmans Green, 
1906; W. F. Prince: The Doris Case of Multiple Personality, Proc A.S.PR Vols. 
IX and X, 1915, 1916; and in Vol. XI. discussed by J. H. Hyslop. 



1864 and was therefore a little over one year old at the time Mary 
Roff died. At the age of 13 in July 1877, Lurancy, who until 
then “had never been sick, save a light run of measles” (p. 3), 
complained of feeling queer, went into a fit including a cataleptic 
state lasting five hours. On subsequent similar occasions, while 
in trance, she conversed and described “angels” or “spirits” of 
persons who had died. She was believed insane and was examined 
by two local physicians. On January 31, 1878, Mr. Roff, who 
had heard of Lurancy’s case and become interested in it, was 
allowed by her father to bring Dr. E. W. Stevens to observe her. 
On that occasion, she became apparently “possessed” by two 
alien personalities in turn—one a sullen, crabbed old hag, and 
the second a young man who said he had run away from home, 
got into trouble, and lost his life (pp. 5,6). Dr. Stevens then 
“magnetized” her and “was soon in full and free communication 
with the sane and happy mind of Lurancy Vennum herself” 
(p. 7). She described the “angels” about her and said that one of 
them wanted to come to her instead of the evil spirits men¬ 
tioned above.” On being asked if she knew who it was, she said: 
“Her name is Mary Roff” (p. 7). The next day, “Mr. Vennum 
called at the office of Mr. Roff and informed him that the girl 
claimed to be Mary Roff and wanted to go home .... ‘She seems 
like a child real homesick, wanting to see her pa and ma and 
her brothers’ ” (p. 9). 

Some days later, she was allowed to go and live with the 
Roffs. There, she “seemed perfectly happy and content, knowing 
every person and everything that Mary knew in her original 
body, twelve to twenty-five years ago, recognizing and calling by 
name those who were friends and neighbors of the family from 
1852 to 1865, [i.e., during the 12 years preceding Lurancy’s 
birth,] calling attention to scores, yes, hundreds of incidents that 
transpired during [Mary’s] natural life” (p. 14). She recognized 
a head dress Mary used to wear; pointed to a collar, saying she 
had tatted it; remembered details of the journey of the family to 
Texas in 1857 [i.e., 7 years before Lurancy’s birth]. On the other 
hand, she did not recognize any of the Vennum family nor their 
friends and neighbors, nor knew anything that had until then 
been known by Lurancy. 



Lurancy’s new life as Mary Roff lasted 3 months and 10 
days. Then Lurancy’s own personality returned to her body, 
and she went back to the Vennums, who reported her well in 
mind and body from then on. She eventually married and had 
children. Occasionally then, when Lurancy was visiting the Roffs, 
the Mary personality would come back for some little time. 

What distinguishes this case from the more common ones of 
alternating personalities is, of course, that the personality that 
displaced Lurancy’s was, by every test that could be applied, not 
a dissociated part of her own, but the personality and all the 
memories that had belonged to a particular 18 year old girl who 
had died at a time when Lurancy was but 14 months old; and 
that no way, consistent with Dr. Stevens’ record of the facts, has 
been suggested in which Lurancy, during the 13 years of her life 
before her sojourn with the Roffs, could have obtained the ex¬ 
tensive and detailed knowledge Mary had possessed, which Lur¬ 
ancy manifested during the sojourn. For the Vennums were away 
from Wateska for the first 7 years of Lurancy’s life; and when 
they returned to Watseka, their acquaintance with the Roffs con¬ 
sisted only of one brief call of a few minutes by Mrs. Roff on 
Mrs. Vennum, and of a formal speaking acquaintance between 
the two men, until the time when Mr. Roff brought Dr. Stevens 
to the Vennums on account of Lurancy’s insane behavior. 

In commenting on various cases of seeming "possession” of 
a person’s organism by a personality altogether different, William 
James notes that "many persons have found evidence conclusive 
to their minds that in some cases the control is really the de¬ 
parted spirit whom it pretends to be,” but that "the phenomena 
shade off so gradually into cases where this is obviously absurd, 
that the presumption (quite apart from a priori ‘scientific’ preju¬ 
dice) is great against its being true.” 19 He then turns to the 
Watseka case just described, introducing it by the statement that 
it is "perhaps as extreme a case of ‘possession’ of the modern sort 
as one can find,” but he makes no attempt to explain it. 

The only way that suggests itself, to avoid the conclusion 
that the Mary Roff personality which for fourteen weeks "pos 

10 Principles of Psychology, New York, Henry Holt and Co., 1905, p. 396. 



sessed” Lurancy’s organism was “really the departed spirit whom 
it pretended to be,” is to have recourse to the method of ortho¬ 
doxy, whose maxim is: “When you cannot explain all the facts 
according to accepted principles, then explain those you can and 
ignore the rest; or else deny them, distort them, or invent some 
that would help.” 

This procrustean method, of course, has a measure of va¬ 
lidity, since errors of observation or of reporting do occur. Yet 
some facts turn out to be too stubborn to be disposed of plausibly 
by that method; and the present one would appear to be one of 
them, especially if the conclusion reached in Part III is accepted, 
that no impossibility either theoretical or empirical attaches to 
the supposition of survival of a human personality after death. 

5. Memories, seemingly of earlier lives. Brief mention may 
be made at this point of another kind of occurrence, of which 
only a few cases at all impressive have been reported, but which, 
like those of the other kinds considered in the preceding sections, 
constitute prima facie evidence of survival. I refer to the cases 
where a person has definite apparent memories relating to a life 
he lived on earth before his present one, and where the facts and 
events he believes he remembers turn out to be capable of veri¬ 
fication. If these should indeed be memories in the same literal 
sense as that in which each of us has memories of places he visited 
years before, of persons he met there, of incidents of his school 
days, and so on, then this would constitute proof not strictly 
that he will survive the death of his body but that he has survived 
that of the different body he remembers having had in an earlier 

In Part V, we shall consider in some detail the particular 
form of possible life after death consisting of rebirth of the indi¬ 
vidual on earth. A number of the most circumstantial accounts 
of putative memories of an earlier life will be cited and the al¬ 
ternative interpretations to which they appear open will be 

Chapter XVIII 


Except, perhaps, for a very few cases of “possession” that may 
be as clear-cut as appeared to be that of the “Watseka Wonder” 
described in the preceding chapter, the most impressive sort of 
empirical evidence of survival is that provided by certain of the 
communications which are received through mediums or au 
tomatists, and which purport to emanate from particular deceased 
persons. Such communications, and the alternative interpreta¬ 
tion or interpretations to which they may be open, are what 
we shall consider in the present chapter. 

1. Communications, purportedly from the deceased, 
through automatists. The externally observable facts in the case 
of communications, purportedly from the surviving spirits of 
the deceased, are that a person, either in a state of trance or in 
the waking state, gives out various statements automatically, that 
is, not consciously and intentionally as in ordinary expression. 
Such persons are therefore perhaps best referred to as autom¬ 
atists, but actually more often as mediums . 

The statements may be spelled out letter by letter—a pointer, 
on which the hand of the automatist rests, moving to the appro¬ 
priate letters printed on a board (the "ouija” board) without 
conscious guidance by the automatist, who may the while be 
looking elsewhere and carrying on a conversation with the per¬ 
sons present. Or the letters may be indicated in some other way, 
as by paranormal raps or by movements of a table on which the 
hands rest, when the alphabet is recited and the proper letter 
reached. Or again, the communications may be written auto¬ 
matically by the hand of the automatist while his or her atten¬ 
tion is otherwise engaged; or the statements may be spoken either 




by the vocal organs of the entranced medium, or at times, in 
some mysterious way by a voice that seems not to employ the 
medium’s vocal organs and is then termed the “independent 
voice’’. But whichever one of these various means is used, the 
appearances are that the automatist’s own intelligence and will 
do not participate in the framing of the statements made, and 
that a quite different personality originates them. The hand¬ 
writing or the voice, and the locutions, the tricks of speech, and 
the stock of information manifested, are notably different in the 
best cases from those of the automatist in her normal state. In¬ 
deed, they are often typical of, and usually purport to emanate 
from, some particular deceased friend or relative of the “sitter,’’ 
i.e., of the person who is sitting with the medium at the time. 

The process of communication sometimes appears to be 
direct, and sometimes indirect. In the latter case, the intelligence 
directly in command of the automatist’s organs of expression pur¬ 
ports to be that of some discarnate person more expert than 
others at the difficult task of using them. This intelligence, 
which generally remains the same at many sittings, is known 
as the medium’s “control.’’ Sometimes it utters through the me¬ 
dium’s organs statements which it purportedly hears being made 
by the sitter’s deceased friend. On the other hand, when the 
latter appears to be directly in command of the medium’s organs, 
the “control” appears to function as a helper and supervisor of 
the communicator’s attempt to express himself through those 
organs; for example, by preventing other discarnate spirits that 
also desire to use the medium from interfering with the com¬ 
munication going on. 

That it is sometimes by no means easy to account for the 
content, the language, and the mannerisms of the communica¬ 
tions otherwise than by the supposition that they really emanate 
from the surviving spirits of the deceased will now be made evi¬ 
dent by citation, even if only in summary form, of communica¬ 
tions received by the late Professor J. H. Hyslop, purportedly 
from his deceased father, through the famous Boston medium, 
Mrs. Leonore Piper, who was studied by men of science probably 
for more years, and more systematically and minutely, than any 
other mental medium. 



The first of them to study her was Professor William James. 
He published a first report about her in 1886. In 1887, Dr. Rich¬ 
ard Hodgson, who was secretary of the American Society for 
Psychical Research and was an experienced and highly critical in 
vestigator, undertook and carried on for eighteen years an in¬ 
tensive study of her mediumship. In the course of time, Mrs 
Piper made three trips to England, where she was studied by 
Sir Oliver Lodge, F. W. H. Myers, Henry Sidgwick, and other 
distinguished investigators. 

Professor Hyslop was one of the many persons who had sit¬ 
tings with Mrs. Piper during the years in which Dr. Hodgson 
was supervising the exercise of her mediumship. In 1901, Hyslop 
published a long and lucid, circumspect, and detailed report of 
his sittings with her. 1 For lack of space here, reference will be 
made only to the communications he received that purported to 
establish the identity and survival of his father, who, it should be 
mentioned, had been in no way a public character but had lived 
a very ordinary and retired life on his farm. 

A word must be said first as to the physical manner in which 
the communications were being delivered by Mrs. Piper at that 
period of her mediumship. She sat in a chair before a table on 
which were two pillows. After a few minutes, she would go into 
a trance and lean forward. Her left hand, palm upward, was 
then placed on the pillow, her right cheek resting on the palm, 
so that she was facing left. Her right arm was then placed on 
another table to the right, on which there was a writing pad. 
A pencil was then put in her hand, which then began to write. 

The communications so received purported to come from 
several of Professor Hyslop’s dead relatives, and in particular 
from his father. Their content included a statement of Pro¬ 
fessor Hyslop’s name, James; of his father’s name, and of the 
names of three others of his father’s children. Also, references to 
a number of particular conversations the father had had with 
Professor Hyslop, to many special incidents and facts, and to 
family matters. Examples would be that the father had trouble 
with his left eye, that he had a mark near his left ear, that he 
used to wear a thin coat or dressing gown mornings and that at 

1 Proc . S. P. R., Vol. XVI :1 649, 1901. 



one time he wore a black skull cap at night; that he used to have 
one round and one square bottle on his desk and carried a 
brown-handled penknife with which he used to pare his nails; 
that he had a horse called Tom; that he used to write with quill 
pens which he trimmed himself; and so on. A number of these 
facts were unknown to Professor Hyslop, but were found to be 
true after inquiry. The communications also contained favorite 
pieces of advice, which the father had been in the habit of utter¬ 
ing, and these worded in ways characteristic of his modes of 

The communications that purported to come from other 
dead relatives, and indeed those given by Mrs. Piper to scores 
and scores of other sitters over the years, were similarly of facts 
or incidents too trivial to have become matters of public knowl¬ 
edge, or indeed to have been ascertainable by a stranger without 
elaborate inquiries, if at all. Facts of this kind are therefore all 
the more significant as prima facie evidences of identity. It is 
interesting to note in this connection that if one had a brother 
in another city, with whom one was able to communicate only 
through a third party—and this a person in a rather dopy state— 
and if the brother doubted the identity of the sender of the 
messages, then trivial and intimate facts such as those cited—some 
of them preferably known only to one’s brother and oneself— 
would be the very kind one would naturally mention to establish 
one’s identity. 

The question now arises, however, whether the imparting 
of such facts by a medium is explicable on some other hypothesis 
than that of communication with the deceased. Two other ex¬ 
planations—one normal and the other paranormal—suggest them¬ 
selves. The first is, of course, that the medium obtained ante¬ 
cedently in some perfectly normal manner the information com¬ 
municated. One of the reasons why I chose Mrs. Piper’s me- 
diumship as example is that in her case this explanation is com¬ 
pletely ruled out by the rigorous and elaborate precautions which 
were taken to exclude that possibility. For one thing, Dr. Hodg¬ 
son had both Mrs. Piper and her husband watched for weeks by 
detectives, to find out whether they went about making inquiries 
concerning the relatives and family history of persons they might 



have expected to come for sittings. Nothing in the slightest de¬ 
gree suspicious was ever found. Moreover, sitters were always 
introduced by Dr. Hodgson under assumed names. Sometimes, 
they did not come into the room until after Mrs. Piper was in 
trance, and then remained behind her where she could not have 
seen them even if her eyes had been open. On her trips to 
England, Mrs. Piper stayed in Myer’s house or in that of Sir 
Oliver Lodge, and the few letters she received were examined 
and most of them read, with her permission, by Myers, Lodge, 
or Sidgwick. Many of the facts she gave out could not have been 
learned even by a skilled detective; and to learn such others as 
could have been so learned would have required a vast expend- 
ture of time and money, which Mrs. Piper did not have. William 
James summed up the case against the fraud explanation in the 
statement that “not only has there not been one single suspicious 
circumstance remarked” during the many years in which she and 
her mode of life were under close observation, “but not one sug¬ 
gestion has ever been made from any quarter which might tend 
to explain how the medium, living the apparent life she leads, 
could possibly collect information about so many sitters by 
natural means. 2 Thus, because we do not merely believe but 
positively know that the information she gave was not obtained 
by her in any of the normal manners, there is in her case no 
escape from the fact that it had some paranormal source. 

The paranormal explanation alternative to the spiritistic hy¬ 
pothesis is that, in the trance condition, Mrs. Piper, or her dissoci¬ 
ated, secondary personalities, possess telepathic powers so ex¬ 
tensive as to enable her to obtain the information she gives out 
from the minds of living persons who happen to have it; and this 
even if at the time it is buried in their subconsciousness, and no 
matter whether such persons be at the time with Mrs. Piper or 
anywhere else on earth. Or else that, in trance, Mrs. Piper has 
powers of retrocognitive clairvoyance so extensive as to enable 
her to observe the past life on earth of a deceased person. 

*Cf. the conclusions of Frank Podmore to the same effect on pp. 71-78 of his 
“Discussion of the Trance-phenomena of Mrs. Piper,” Proc. Soc. for Psychical Re¬ 
search, Vol. XIV:50-78, 1898-9, in which he contrasts the rigor of the precautions 
against possibility of fraud taken in Mrs. Piper's case with the possibilities of it 
that existed in certain famous cases of purported clairvoyance. 



But even this supposition is not enough, for besides the 
recondite true items with which the communications abound, 
there remains to be explained the dramatic form—the spontane¬ 
ous give-and-take—of the communications. For this, it is neces¬ 
sary to ascribe to Mrs. Piper’s trance personality the extraordinary 
histrionic ability which would be needed to translate instantly 
the suitable items of telepathically or clairvoyantly acquired in¬ 
formation into the form which expression of a memory, or of an 
association of ideas, or of response to an allusion, etc., would take 
in animated conversation between two persons who had shared 
various experiences—many of them trivial in themselves, but be¬ 
cause of this all the more evidential of identity. How staggering 
a task this would be can be appreciated only in extensive perusal 
of the verbatim records of the conversations between sitter and 
communicator, and often between two communicators. 

Professor Hyslop takes cognizance of the capacity which a 
hypnotized subject does have for dramatic imitation of a person he 
is made to imagine himself to be and about whom he knows 
something; and Hyslop stresses the great difference, evident in the 
concrete, between this and the dramatic interplay between dif¬ 
ferent personalities , of which numerous instances occur in the 
Piper sittings. And he points out also that nothing really par¬ 
allel to the latter is to be found in the relations to one another 
of the several dissociated personalities in cases such as that of 
Morton Prince’s Miss Beauchamp. 8 Hyslop had stressed earlier 
(p. 90) that if normal explanations fail to account for the phe¬ 
nomena he has recorded, then the only alternative to the sup¬ 
position that he has actually been communicating with the inde¬ 
pendent intelligence of his father is ‘‘that we have a most extra¬ 
ordinary impersonation of him, involving a combination of tele¬ 
pathic powers and secondary personality with its dramatic play 
that should as much try our scepticism as the belief in spirits.” 

He concludes: ‘‘When I look over the whole field of the 
phenomena and consider the suppositions that must be made to 
escape spiritism, which not only one aspect of the case but every 
incidental feature of it strengthens, such as the dramatic interplay 
of different personalities, the personal traits of the communicator, 

• Proc. SJPA., Vol. XVL269 ff. 1901. 



the emotional tone that was natural to the same, the proper ap¬ 
preciation of a situation or a question, and the unity of con¬ 
sciousness displayed throughout, I see no reason except the sus¬ 
picions of my neighbours for withholding assent” (p. 293). 

Another of Mrs. Piper’s communicators, who during a period 
of her mediumship was also her chief “control,” was “George 
Pelham.” Early in 1892, a young lawyer, George Pelham, [pseu¬ 
donym for Pellew] died in New York as a result of an accident. 
He was an associate of the American Society for Psychical Re¬ 
search and a friend of Dr. Hodgson’s, to whom he had said that, 
if he died first “and found himself ‘still existing/ he would 'make 
things lively’ in the effort to reveal the fact of his continued 
existence.” 4 

Some four or five weeks after his death, a communicator 
purporting to be George Pelham manifested himself at a sitting 
Mrs. Piper was giving to an old friend of his, John Hart, in 
the subsequent sittings in which G. P. figured, he was specially 
requested to identify such friends of his as might be among the 
sitters; and, out of at least one hundred and fifty persons who 
then had sittings with Mrs. Piper, G. P. truly recognized thirty 
former friends; there was no case of false recognition; and he 
failed in only one case to recognize a person he had known. 
(This was a young woman whom he had known only when she 
was a child eight or nine years before.) In each case, “the recog¬ 
nition was clear and full, and accompanied by an appreciation 
of the relations which subsisted between G. P. living and the 
sitters.” Dr. Hodgson adds: “The continual manifestation of 
this personality,—so different from Phinuit or other communi¬ 
cators,—with its own reservoir of memories, with its swift appre¬ 
ciation of any reference to friends of G. P., with its ‘give-and- 
take’ in little incidental conversations with myself, has helped 
largely in producing a conviction of the actual presence of the 
G. P. personality which it would be quite impossible to impart 
by any mere enumeration of verifiable statements.” 5 

In bringing to a close Section 6 of his report, Hodgson states 
that, although further experiment may lead him to change his 

*Proc. S. P. R. Vol. XIIL295, 1897-8. 
®Op. cit. p. 328. 



view, yet “at the present time I cannot profess to have any 
doubt but that the chief ‘communicators/ to whom I have re¬ 
ferred in the foregoing pages, are veritably the personalities that 
they claim to be, that they have survived the change we call 
death, and that they have directly communicated with us whom 
we call living, through Mrs. Piper’s entranced organism.’’ 6 

The dramatic spontaneity of some of the communications, 
and their impressive faithfulness to the manner, thought, and 
character of the deceased persons from whom they purport to 
emanate, is testified to similarly in the comments of the Rev. 
M. A. Bayfield on a communication which purported to come 
from Dr. A. W. Verrall after his death in 1912. Referring to 
Verrall’s intellectual impatience, Mr. Bayfield writes: “The thing 
I mean does not readily lend itself to definition, but it was em¬ 
inently characteristic/' and, after quoting certain passages typ¬ 
ical of it in the scripts, he goes on: “All this is Verrall’s manner 
to the life in animated conversation. . . . When I first read the 
words quoted above I received a series of little shocks, for the 
turns of speech are Verrall’s, the high-pitched emphasis is his, 
and I could hear the very tones in which he would have spoken 
each sentence.” In commenting on the question whether “these 
life-like touches of character” are inserted perhaps “ by an in¬ 
genious forger (the unprincipled subliminal of some living per¬ 
son) with a purpose, in order to lend convincing vraisemhlance 
to a fictitious impersonation,” Mr. Bayfield writes that “nowhere 
is there any slip which would justify the suspicion that in reality 
we have to do with a cunningly masquerading ‘sub/ Neither the 
impatience, nor the emphatic utterance, nor the playfulness has 
anywhere the appearance of being ‘put on,’—of being separable 
from the matter of the scripts ... to me at least it is incredible 
that even the cleverest could achieve such an unexampled tri¬ 
umph in deceptive impersonation as this would be if the actor 
is not Verrall himself.” 7 

2. Communications through automatists from fictitious and 
from still living persons. Whatever may be the correct explana¬ 
tion of such correct and dramatically verisimilar mediumistic 

•Op. cit. p. 406. 

1 Proc. SJ>.R. Vol. XXVII:246-49, 1914-15. 



communications as those we have just described, the explanation 
must in one way or another leave room for the fact that in some 
instances “communications” have been received from characters 
out of fiction, such as Adam Bede; that, on one occasion, Prof. G. 
Stanley Hall had, through Mrs. Piper, communications from a 
girl, Bessie Beals, who was a purely fictitious niece of his in¬ 
vented by him for the purpose of the experiment; that, in 1853, 
Victor Hugo in exile in Jersey received “communications” from 
“The Lion of Androcles” and “The Ass of Balaam;” that Dr. 
S. G. Soal received, through Mrs. Blanche Cooper, communica¬ 
tions from, on the one hand, a John Ferguson, who turned out 
to be a wholly fictitious person, and on the other from a Gordon 
Davis, whom he had known slightly when both were boys at 
the same school. Soal had since then talked with him only once, 
for about half an hour about service matters when both were 
cadets in the army and met by chance on a railroad platform 
Soal later believed him to have been killed in the war; but he 
was in fact living at the time communications of a number of 
facts about his life history, past and future, were received by 
Soal through Mrs. Cooper. “Some of these facts,” Soal writes, 
“were given in the form of verbal statements describing incidents 
which had happened or which were to happen; other facts such 
as his vocal characteristics were expressed in a purely physical 
way,” for in this case the personality of the (still living) Gordon 
Davis appeared to “control” or “possess” the medium; was dram¬ 
atized and spoke in the first person with the fastidious accent and 
clear articulation peculiar to Gordon Davis; and apparently be¬ 
lieved itself to be a deceased person. 8 

Some five earlier cases of communications purporting to em¬ 
anate from persons who asserted they had died or who were 
believed to have died, but who were actually living, are cited 
by Prof. Th. Flournoy in the third chapter of his Spiritism and 
Psychology . e The words “ ‘Deceiving Spirits/ ” which, in quota¬ 
tion marks, he uses as title of that chapter, refer to the fact that 
Spiritualists are wont to ascribe such spurious communications to 

*Proc. S.P.R. Vol. XXXV:471-594, 1926. A Report of Some Communication! 
Received through Mrs. Blanche Cooper. 

•Transl. by H. Carrington, pub. Harper & Bros. New York, 1911, pp. 72-90. 



mischievous, deceitful spirits. But obviously this explanation 
would be legitimate only if it had first been independently 
established that any discarnate spirits at all exist. 

3. Mrs. Sidgwick’s interpretation of the Piper communica¬ 
tions. In an article entitled “Discussion of the Trance Phe¬ 
nomena of Mrs. Piper,” 10 Mrs. Sidgwick, who was one of the 
keenest minded women of her time in England, takes into con¬ 
sideration what is known both of the pathological dissociations 
of personality, and of the capacity of subjects in deep hypnotic 
trance to impersonate anyone whom they have been induced to 
believe themselves to be. In the light of all this she argues, not 
specifically against the contention that Mrs. Piper’s communica¬ 
tions provide some evidence of survival after death, but against 
the “possession” interpretation of her trance communications; 
that is, against the supposition that on those occasions the dis- 
camate spirits of George Pelham, of Prof. Hyslop’s father, etc., 
“turn out Mrs. Piper’s spirit and themselves take its place in 
her organism,” (p. 35) i.e., possess it for the time being and em¬ 
ploy her organs of expression in the same direct manner as that 
in which each of us normally employs his own vocal organs in 
oral expression or his own hand in writing. 

Mrs. Sidgwick contends that the interpretation most plausi¬ 
ble in the light of all the peculiarities of the communications is 
that the communicating mind is in all cases Mrs. Piper’s own 
(entranced) mind; that in the trance condition, her mind has 
“an unusually developed telepathic faculty” (p. 34); that the 
recondite information her trance mind gives out is obtained by 
it telepathically from the minds of living persons having it, or 
possibly from the dead; and that the dramatic form which the 
presentation of it takes in conversations with the sitter is ac¬ 
counted for most economically, but adequately, if one supposes 
that the entranced, dreaming Mrs. Piper believes herself at the 
time to be the deceased person whose memories and personality 
traits then occupy her mind. 

As tending to support this hypothesis against that of direct 
possession of Mrs. Piper’s organism by the discarnate spirit of 

“Froc. Soc. for Psych. Res’ch. Vol. XV: 16-38, 1900-01. 



G. P. or of some other deceased person, Mrs. Sidgwick points 
out that some sitters are uniformly more successful than others 
in getting communications whose content is attributable only 
Lo some paranormal source—whether this be telepathy from the 
siiter, or from other living persons, or from the deceased. 

This, Mrs. Sidgwick argues, would indicate that the sitter’s 
state of mind, or his particular type of mind, is somehow a factor 
in the “communication” process; for if the process depended only 
on the medium and on temporary possession of her entranced 
organism by a discarnate spirit, there would be no reason why 
the communications from a given spirit—say, G. P.’s—should, as 
in fact is the case, be steadily less evidential of some paranormal 
origin when made to one particular sitter than when made to a 
particular other. 

This conclusion, however, hardly seems to follow: foi the 
supposition that the sitter contributes something—congeniality, 
readiness to believe, interest in paranormal phenomena, perhaps; 
or the opposites—is quite compatible with the communicator's 
being really who he claims to be. It is a matter of common 
experience that different persons with whom one converses affect 
one differently and bring out of him different things—one, trivi 
alities; another, exercise perhaps of such unusual powers, or 
manifestation of such special interests, as he may have. 

Anyway, the question we are at present centrally concerned 
with is whether proof of survival, or at least evidence definitely 
establishing it as probable, is provided by the paranormal occur¬ 
rences cited, and more particularly at this point by mediumistic 
communications, such as Mrs. Piper’s, that contain remote details 
of some particular person’s past life and reproduce with high 
verisimilitude his tone, mannerisms, and distinctive associations 
of ideas. Hence, if these do prove or establish a positive prob 
ability of survival, then the question whether a surviving de¬ 
ceased person communicates with us directly, by taking possession 
of the entranced Mrs. Piper’s organism, or only indirectly by 
telepathy in the manner suggested by Mrs. Sidgwick, is of but 
secondary interest, as having to do merely with the technique 
of the process of communication. 

But the facts cited in Section 2 would by themselves be 



enough to show that the content and form of mediumistic com¬ 
munications, even when as impressive as some of those of Mrs. 
Piper or of Mrs. Blanche Cooper, do not necessarily proceed from 
discarnate spirits. The question thus forces itself upon us whether 
some other explanation is available, that would account at once 
for the communications from fictitious persons; for the correct 
and dramatically verisimilar communications purportedly from 
deceased persons who, however, are in fact still living; and also 
for the similarly impressive communications that likewise pur¬ 
port to emanate from deceased persons, but where those persons 
had in fact died. 

About the only hypothesis in sight that might do all this 
and that would be other than that of communications from ex- 
camate spirits deceitful or truthful, is the hypothesis of telepathy 
from the subconscious minds of living persons who have or have 
had the information manifested in the communications; or/and 
the hypothesis of clairvoyance by the medium, giving her access 
to existing facts or records containing the information. For of 
course the correctness, or not, of the information communicated 
can be testified to, if at all, only by some still living person’s 
memory or by some still existing facts or documents. 

Before inquiring into the adequacy of this hypothesis, how¬ 
ever, we shall have to consider the cases of so-called “Cross-corre¬ 
spondences;” for they are the ones most difficult to account for 
in terms of only that hypothesis. At the same time, they are the 
ones that provide the strongest evidence of “true” survival. 

4. Cross-correspondences. It is unfortunately not possible 
to give an intelligible concrete presentation of any of the cases 
of cross-correspondence in the space available here, nor without 
presupposing special knowledge of Greek and Latin classics by 
the reader; for the scripts of the automatists involved in the cross¬ 
correspondences, and the analyses of them, run to hundreds of 
pages; their significance turns on references or allusions to recon¬ 
dite points in those classics; and their evidential force can be 
fully appreciated only after long and careful study of the scripts 
and of the circumstances under which each individually was 

The best that can be done here is therefore only to state in 



general terms what is meant by the term 1 ‘cross-correspondences,’* 
how the experiment they constitute originated, and who were 
respectively the automatists, the investigators, and the purported 
communicators concerned in it. 

Cross-correspondences are correspondences between the 
scripts of different automatists isolated from one another at least 
to the extent of being kept in ignorance of the contents of one an¬ 
other’s scripts. Sometimes, one of the automatists is ignorant of 
the other’s existence. For example, Mrs. Verrall, on Oct. 25. 1901. 
was asked by Mr. Piddington to try to obtain in her scripts a word 
to be reproduced in the script of another automatist, Mrs. Arch¬ 
dale, of whom Mrs. Verrall had never heard before. She was told 
that the supposed “control” of Mrs. Archdale was the latter's 
deceased son, Stewart. Then Mrs. Verrall remembered that, in a 
script of hers of Sept. 18, 1901, i.e., over a month before she had 
come to know of Mrs. Archdale’s existence, the name Stewart, 
had occurred together with two other names. These turned out 
to be ones closely connected with the deceased boy. Similarly 
definite correspondences were found between some of Mrs. Ver- 
rall’s scripts in England in the summer of 1905 and those of an¬ 
other automatist, at the time in India, Mrs. Holland, of whose 
name Mrs. Verrall was then ignorant, and whose acquaintance she 
did not make until November 1905. 11 Other automatists besides 
Mrs. Verrall (lecturer in Classics at Newnham College and wife 
of Dr. A. W. Verall, Cambridge University classicist) and Mrs. 
Holland (pseudonym of a sister of Rudyard Kipling,) were Miss 
Helen Verrall, Mrs. Thompson, Mrs. Forbes (pseudonym). Mrs. 
Willett (pseudonym), and Mrs. Piper. 

The investigators in the series of cross-correspondences were 
Mr. J. G. Piddington, the Hon. Gerald Wm. Balfour (who later 
became Lord Balfour), Sir Oliver Lodge, Mr. Frank Podmore, 
Mrs. Sidgwick, and Miss Alice Johnson, Secretary of the Society 
for Psychical Research. Dr. Richard Hodgson, in charge of Mrs. 
Piper’s sittings in Boston up to the time of his death in 1905, also 
participated. And, to some extent, Mrs. Verrall functioned not 
only as automatist but also as investigator. 

u Proc. S. P. R. Vol. XX:205-6, 1906. 



The deceased persons from whom purported to come the 
communications characterized by cross-correspondences were 
chiefly F. W. H. Myers, author of the classic Human Personality 
and Its Survival of Bodily Death, who had died in 1901; Edmund 
Gurney (d. 1888), author, with Myers and Podmore’s collabora¬ 
tion, of Phantasms of the Living; Henry Sidgwick (d. 1900), the 
distinguished Cambridge philosopher and first president of the 
S. P. R.; and Dr. Richard Hodgson (d. 1905), Secretary of the 
A. S. P. R. After Dr. Verrall’s death in 1912, communications 
typical of him and of Prof. Butcher were also received. 

The correspondences between the scripts had to do in most 
cases with rather recondite details of the Greek and Latin classics. 
To identify them or to understand the allusions to them made 
in the scripts therefore required considerable knowledge of the 
classics by the investigators. One of these, Mr. J. G. Piddington, 
who had the requisite scholarly equipment and ingenuity, and 
who was much interested in the scripts, found that certain of 
them, besides having a topic in common, complemented one 
another in a manner analogous to that in which the individually 
insignificant pieces of a jigsaw puzzle—or to use his own com¬ 
parison, the cubes of a mosaic—make a meaningful whole when 
correctly combined. This complementariness is the distinctive 
feature of the most evidential of the cross-correspondences. 

An additional point of the greatest interest is that the scripts 
contain numerous statements more or less explicitly to the effect 
that the discamate Myers, Gurney, and Sidgwick were the de¬ 
visers of the scheme of giving out, through automatists isolated 
from one another, communications that would be separately un¬ 
intelligible but that made sense when put together or, in some of 
the cases, when a clue to the sense was supplied in the script of 
yet another automatist. In this way, the possibility of explaining 
simply as due to telepathy or clairvoyance the similarities of topic 
between the scripts of two automatists would be ruled out or 
greatly strained; and in addition proof would automatically be 
supplied that the communicators, in their discarnate state, were 
not mere automata and sets of memories, but retained intellectual 
initiative and ingenuity; that is, that they were still fully living. 

An excellent summary of some of the most evidential cases 



of cross-correspondence, with some extracts from the scripts, is 
presented in a fair and discerning manner by H. F. Saltmarsh in 
his little book, Evidence of Personal Survival from Cross Corre 
spondences. 12 Briefer accounts of the subject—though more ample 
than the present one—may be found in G. N. M. Tyrrell's The 
Personality of Man, chs. 17 and 18, and in his Science and 
Psychical Phenomena, ch. XVII. 13 It is worth mentioning that 
Lord Balfour, in his fine “Study of the Psychological Aspects of 
Mrs. Willett’s Mediumship and of the Statements of the Com¬ 
municators Concerning Process’’ 14 states that “the bulk of Mrs. 
Willett’s automatic output is too private for publication;” hence 
that, in his paper, “there must still remain withheld from pub¬ 
licity a good many passages which [he] would willingly have 
quoted by way of illustration;” and that “it would be impossible 
to do justice to the argument in favour of spirit communication 
on the basis of the Willett phenomena without violating confi¬ 
dences which [he is] bound to respect” (pp. 43, 45V 

In 1932, Mrs. Sidgwick wrote an account of the history and 
work of the Society for Psychical Research during its first fifty 
years of existence. She being at the time President of Honor of 
the Society, her paper was presented by her brother, Lord Bal 
four, at the Jubilee meeting of the Society, July 1, 1932. After 
he had done so, he added that some of the persons present “may 
have felt that the note of caution and reserve has possibly been 
over-emphasized in Mrs. Sidgwick’s paper.” Then he went on- 
“Conclusive proof of survival is notoriously difficult to obtain. 
But the evidence may be such as to produce belief, even though 
it fall short of conclusive proof” Lord Balfour then concluded 
with the words: “I have Mrs. Sidgwick’s assurance—an assurance 
which I am permitted to convey to the meeting—that, upon the 
evidence before her, she herself is a firm believer both in survival 

“G. Bell & Sons, London 1938, pp. viii and 159. At the end is a full list of the 
discussions of the scripts in the Proceedings of the S. P. R. 

“Respectively, Penguin Books, New York, 1946, No. A165; and Harper & Bros., 
New York and London, 1938. 

u Proc. S. P. R. Vol. XLIIL41-318, 1935. 



and in the reality of communication between the living and the 
dead.” 15 This belief, he had himself come to share. 

Certainly, few persons have been both as thoroughly ac¬ 
quainted with the evidence from cross-correspondences for sur¬ 
vival and for communication with the deceased, and at the same 
time as objective and keenly critical, as were Mrs. Sidgwick and 
Lord Balfour. 

u Proc. S. P. R. Vol. XLI:16, 1932-3. 

Chapter XIX 


In Chapts. XVII and XVIII, we considered and to some ex¬ 
tent commented upon the chief kinds of paranormal occurrences 
that appear to constitute empirical evidence of survival. The 
point has now been reached where we must attempt to say, in 
the light of the evidence and of the criticisms to which it may be 
open, how stands today the question whether the human per¬ 
sonality survives the death of its body. 

1. What, if not survival, the facts might signify )nly two 
hypotheses have yet been advanced that seem at all capable of 
accounting for the prima facie evidences of personal survival re 
view r ed. One is that the identifying items do indeed proceed 
from the surviving spirits of the deceased persons concerned The 
other is that the medium obtains by extrasensory perception tne 
facts she communicates; that is, more specifically, obtains them, 
(a) telepathically from the minds of living persons who know 
them or have known them; or (b) by retrocognitive clairvoyant 
observation of the past facts themselves; or (c) by clairvoyant ob¬ 
servation of existing records, or of existing circumstantial evi¬ 
dence, of the past facts. 

To the second of these two hypotheses would have to be 
added in some cases the hypothesis that the medium’s subcon¬ 
scious mind has and exercises a remarkable capacity for veri¬ 
similar impersonation of a deceased individual whom the medium 
has never known but concerning whom she is getting informa¬ 
tion at the time in the telepathic or/and clairvoyant manner 
just referred to. 

In cases where the information is communicated by para¬ 
normal raps or by other paranormal physical phenomena, the 




hypothesis that the capacity to produce such physical phenomena 
is being exercised by the medium’s unconscious but still incarnate 
mind would be more economical than ascription of that capacity 
to discarnate minds; for these—unlike the medium and her mind 
—are not independently known to exist. 

It must be emphasized that no responsible person who is 
fully acquainted with the evidence for the occurrences to be 
explained and with their circumstances has yet offered any ex¬ 
planatory hypothesis distinct from the two stated above. As of 
today, the choice therefore lies between them. The hypothesis 
of fraud, which would by-pass them, is wholly untenable in at 
least some of the cases; notably, for the reasons mentioned earlier, 
in the case of the communications received through Mrs. Piper. 
And, in the case of the cross-correspondences, the hypothesis that 
the whole series was but an elaborate hoax collusively perpetrated 
out of sheer mischief for over ten years by the more than half- 
dozen automatists concerned—and this without its ever being 
detected by the alert investigators who were in constant contact 
with the automatists—is preposterous even if the high personal 
character of the ladies through whom the scripts came is left 
out of account. 

Still more so, of course, would be the suggestion that the 
investigators too participated in the hoax. In this connection the 
following words of Prof. Sidgwick are worth remembering. They 
occur in his presidential address at the first general meeting of 
the Society for Psychical Research in London, July 17, 1882: 

“The highest degree of demonstrative force that we can 
obtain out of any single record of investigation is, of course, 
limited by the trustworthiness of the investigator. We have done 
all that we can when the critic has nothing left to allege except 
that the investigator is in the trick. But when he has nothing 

else left to allege he will allege that.We must drive the 

objector into the position of being forced either to admit the 
phenomena as inexplicable, at least by him, or to accuse the 
investigators either of lying or cheating or of a blindness or 
forgetfulness incompatible with any intellectual condition except 
absolute idiocy.” 1 

l Proc. S.P.R. Vol. 1:12, 1882-3. Cf. in this connection an article, Science and the 



2. The allegation that survival is antecedently improbable. 
The attempt to decide rationally between the two hypotheses 
mentioned above must in any case take into consideration at the 
very 7 start the allegation that survival is antecedently known to be 
improbable or even impossible; or on the contrary is known to be 
necessary. In a paper to which we shall be referring in the next 
two sections, 2 Prof. E. R. Dodds first considers the grounds that 
have been advanced from various quarters for such improbability 
impossibility, or necessity. In view, however, of our own more 
extensive discussion of those grounds in Parts I and III of the 
present work, we need say nothing here concerning Prof. Dodds’ 
brief remarks on the subject. Nothing in them seems to call tor 
any revision of the conclusion to which we came that there is not 
really any antecedent improbability of survival (nor any an 
tecedent probability of it.) For when the denotation of the terms 
“material” and “mental” is made fully explicit instead of, as 
commonly, assumed to be known well enough; and when the 
nature of the existents or occurrents respectively termed “mate 
rial” and “mental” is correctly analyzed; then no internal incon¬ 
sistency, nor any inconsistency with any definitely known em 
pirical fact, is found in the supposition that a mind, such as it 
had become up to the time of death, continues to exist after 
death and to exercise some of its capacities. Nor is there any 
antecedent reason to assume that, if a mind does so continue to 
exist, manifestations of this fact to persons still living would be 
common rather than, as actually seems to be the case, exceptional. 

3. What telepathy or clairvoyance would suffice to account 
for. Prof. Dodds considers and attempts to dispose of ten objec 
tions which have been advanced against the adequacy of the 
telepathy-clairvoyance explanation of the facts. The objections 
in the case of which his attempt seems definitely successful are 
the following. 

(a) The first is that telepathy does not account for the claim 

Supernatural, by G. R. Price, Research Associate in the Dept, of Medicine, Univ. of 
Minnesota. Science, Vol. 122, No. 3165, Aug. 26, 1955 and the comments on it by 
S. G. Soal, J. B. Rhine, P. E. Meehl, M. Scriven, P. W. Bridgman Vol. 123 No 
3184 Jan. 6/56. 

■Why I do not believe in Survival, Proc. SJ*.R. Vol. XLII: 147-72, 1934. 



made in the mediumistic communications, that they emanate 
from the spirits of deceased persons. 

Prof. Dodds replies that some of the communications have in 
fact claimed a different origin; and that anyway the claim is 
explicable as due to the fact that communication with the de¬ 
ceased is usually what is desired from mediums, and that the me¬ 
dium’s own desire to satisfy the sitter’s desire for such communi¬ 
cations operates on the medium’s subconscious—from which they 
directly proceed—as desire commonly operates in the production 
of dreams and in the determination of their content. 

(b) A second objection is that no independent evidence 
exists that mediums belong to the very small group of persons 
who have detectable telepathic powers. 

In reply, Prof. Dodds points to the fact that Dr. Soal had 
in his own mind formed a number of hypotheses about the life 
and circumstances of the—as it eventually turned out—wholly 
fictitious John Ferguson (mentioned in Sec. 2 of Chapt. XVIII,) 
and that in the communications those very hypotheses then 
cropped up as assertions of fact. Prof. Dodds mentions various 
other instances where things actually false, but believed true by 
the sitter, have similarly been asserted in the medium’s com¬ 
munications and thus have provided additional evidence that 
she possessed and was exercising telepathic powers. 

To this we may add that there is some evidence that the 
trance condition—at least the hypnotic trance—is favorable to 
the exercise of ordinarily latent capacities for extrasensory per¬ 
ception. 3 

(c) Another objection is that telepathy does not account for 
“object reading” where the object is a relic of a person unknown 
both to the sitter and to the medium, but where the medium 
nevertheless gives correct detailed information about the object’s 
former or present owner. 

Prof. Dodd’s reply is in substance that these occurrences are 
no less puzzling on the spiritistic than on the telepathic hypothe¬ 
sis. Since much of the information obtained in such cases con- 

8 See for instance ESP card tests of college students with and without hypnosis, 
by J. Fahler and R. J. Cadoret, Jl. of Parapsychology, Vol. 22:125-36, No. 2, June 



cerns occurrences in which the object itself had no part, the 
object can hardly be itself a record of it; rather, it must be a 
means of establishing telepathic rapport between the mind of 
the sensitive and that of the person who has the information. 

And of course the correctness of the information could not 
be verified unless some person has it, or unless the facts testified 
to are objective and thus accessible to clairvoyant observation by 
the sensitive. 

(d) To the objection that no correlation is found between 
the success or failure of a sitting and the conditions respectively 
favorable or unfavorable to telepathy, Prof. Dodds replies that, 
actually, we know almost nothing as to what these are. 

(e) Another objection which has been advanced against the 
telepathy explanation of the communications is that the quantity 
and quality of the communications varies with changes of pur¬ 
ported communicator, but not of sitter as one would expect if 
telepathy were what provides the information communicated. 

The reply here is, for one thing, that, as wc have seen in Sec 
3 of Ch. XVIII, the allegation is not invariably true, but that 
anyway changes of purported communicator imply corresponding 
changes as to the minds that are possible telepathic sources of the 
information communicated. 

(f) Again, it is often asserted that the telepathy explanation 
of the facts is very complicated, whereas the spiritistic explana¬ 
tion is simple. Prof. Dodds’ reply here is that the sense in which 
greater simplicity entails greater probability is that in which 
being “simpler” means “making fewer and narrower unsupported 
assumptions;” and that the telepathy hypothesis, not the spirit¬ 
istic, is the one simpler in this alone evidentially relevant sense. 
For the spiritistic hypothesis postulates telepathy and clairvoyance 
anyway, but ascribes these to “spirits”, which are not independ¬ 
ently known to exist; whereas the telepathy hypothesis ascribes 
them to the medium, who is known to exist and for whose occa¬ 
sional exercise of telepathy or clairvoyance some independent 
evidence exists. 

4. The facts which strain the telepathy-clairvoyance ex¬ 
planation. In the case of the other objections to the telepathy 
explanation commented upon by Prof. Dodds, his replies are 



much less convincing than those we have just presented. Indeed, 
they bring to mind a remark made shortly before by W. H. 
Salter concerning certain features of the cross-correspondences 
communications: “It is possible to frame a theory which will 
explain each of them, more or less, by telepathy, but is it not 
necessary in doing so to invent ad hoc a species of telepathy for 
which there is otherwise practically no evidence?” 4 

The essence of these more stubborn objections is the virtu¬ 
ally unlimited range of the telepathy with which the automatist’s 
or medium’s subconscious mind has to be gifted. It must be such 
as to have access to the minds of any persons who possess the 
recondite items of information communicated, no matter where 
those persons happen to be at the time. Furthermore, the telep¬ 
athy postulated must be assumed somehow capable of selecting, 
out of all the minds to which its immense range gives it access, 
the particular one or ones that contain the specific bits of infor¬ 
mation brought into the communications. But this is not all. 
The immediate understanding of, and apposite response to, allu¬ 
sive remarks in the course of the communicator’s conversation 
with the sitter (or sometimes with another communicator) re¬ 
quires that the above selecting of the person or persons having 
the information, and the establishing and relinquishing of tele¬ 
pathic rapport with the mind of the appropriate one, be virtually 
instantaneous. And then, of course, the information thus tele- 
pathically obtained must, instantly again, be put into the form 
of a dramatic, highly verisimilar impersonation of the deceased 
purported communicator as he would have acted in animated 
conversational give-and-take. This particular feature of some of 
the communications, as we saw, was that on which—as the most 
convincing—both Hyslop and Hodgson laid great stress, as do 
Mr. Drayton Thomas and also Mr. Salter. 

Let us now see how Prof. Dodds proposes to meet these diffi¬ 
culties, which strain the telepathy hypothesis, but of which the 
spiritistic hypothesis would be free. 

For one thing, he points to some of Dr. Osty’s cases, where 
“sensitives who do not profess to be assisted by ‘spirits’ ” never- 

4 Journal, SJ*.R. Vol. 27:331, 1932. The remark occurs towards the end of a 
review of C. S. Bechofer Roberts’ The Truth about Spiritualism. 



theless give out information about absent persons as detailed as 
that given by the supposed spirits. 

Obviously, however, there is no more reason to accept as 
authoritative what a sensitive “professes” or believes as to the 
paranormal source of her information when she denies that it is 
spirits than when she asserts it. Mrs. Eileen Garrett, who in addi 
tion to being one of the best known contemporary mediums, is 
scientifically interested in her own mediumship, freely acknowl¬ 
edges that she does not know, any more than do other persons, 
whether her controls, Abdul Latif and Uvani, are discarnate 
spirits, dissociated parts of her own personality, or something else 

Again, Prof. Dodds argues that recognition of the personality 
of a deceased friend by the sitter has but slight evidential value 
since there is no way of checking how far the will-to-be I leve may 
be responsible for it; but that even if the reproduction is perfect, 
it is anyway no evidence that the personality concerned has sur 
vived after death; for Gordon Davis was still living and yet Mr- 
Blanche Cooper, who did not know him, did reproduce the tone 
of his voice and his peculiar articulation well enough for Dr. Seal 
to recognize them. 

Prof. Dodd’s reply is predicated on the assumption that, a! 
though Dr. Soal was neither expecting nor longing for comm uni 
cation with Gordon Davis, nevertheless the recognition was posi¬ 
tive and definite. This should therefore be similarly granted in 
cases where the person who recognizes the voice or manner of 
a deceased friend is, similarly, an investigator moved by scientific 
interest, not a grieving person moved to believe by his longing 
for reunion with his loved one. 

Aside from this, however, the Gordon Davis case shows only 
that, since he was still living, the process by which the tone of his 
voice and his peculiar articulation were reproduced by Mrs. 
Cooper was not “possession” of her organism by his discarnate 
spirit. Telepathy from Dr. Soal, who believed Davis had died, 
is enough to account for the vocal peculiarities of the communi¬ 
cation, for the memories of boyhood and of the later meeting on 
the railroad platform, and for the purported communicator’s as 
sumption that he had died. But this mere reproduction of voice 
peculiarities and of two memories, in the single brief conver 



sation of Dr. Soal directly with the purported Gordon Davis, is 
a radically different thing from the lively conversational inter¬ 
course Hyslop and Hodgson refer to, with its immediate and 
apposite adaptation of mental or emotional attitude to changes in 
that of the interlocutor, and the making and understanding of 
apt allusions to intimate matters, back and forth between com¬ 
municator and sitter. The Gordon Davis communication is not 
a case of this at all; and of course the precognitive features of 
the communication by Nada (Mrs. Blanche Cooper’s control) at 
the second sitting, which referred to the house Gordon Davis 
eventually occupied, are irrelevant equally to the telepathy and 
to the spiritualist hypotheses. 

Prof. Dodds would account for the appositeness of the facts 
the medium selects, which the particular deceased person con 
cerned would remember and which identify him, by saying that, 
once the medium’s subconscious mind is en rapport with that 
of the telepathic agent, the selection of items of information ap¬ 
propriate at a given moment to the demands of the conversation 
with the sitter can be supposed to take place in the same auto¬ 
matic manner as that in which such selection occurs in a person 
when the conversation requires it. 

The adequacy of this reply is decreased, however, by the 
assumption it makes that the information given out by the me¬ 
dium is derived from one telepathic source, or at least one at a 
time; whereas in the case of Hyslop’s communications purport¬ 
edly from his father, the items of information supplied were 
apparently not all contained in any one person’s memory, but 
scattered among several. Hence, if the medium’s subconscious 
mind was en rapport at the the same time with those of different 
persons, the task of selecting instantly which one of them to draw 
from would remain, and would be very different from the normal 
automatic selection within one mind, of items relevant at a given 
moment in a conversation. 

But anyway the degree of telepathic rapport which Prof. 
Dodds’ reply postulates vastly exceeds any that is independently 
known to occur; for it would involve the medium’s having for 
the time being all the memories and associations of ideas of the 
person who is the telepathic source; and this would amount to 



the medium’s virtually borrowing that person’s mind for the dura¬ 
tion of the conversation; and notwithstanding this, responding in 
the conversation not as that person himself would respond, but 
ns the ostensible communicator—constructed by the medium out 
of that person’s memories of him—would respond. 

Concerning the cross-correspondences, Prof. Dodds admits 
that they manifest pattern, but he is not satisfied that they are the 
result of design. Even if they were designed, however, he agrees 
with the suggestion others had made that Mrs. Verrall's sub¬ 
conscious mind, which had all the knowledge of the Greek and 
Latin classics required, could well be supposed to have designed 
the scheme, rather than the deceased Myers and his associates; 
for, he asserts, “more difficult intellectual feats than the construc¬ 
tion of these puzzles have before now been performed subcon¬ 
sciously” (p. 169). H. F. Saltmarsh, however, suggests “that it 
may be unreasonable to attribute to the same level of conscious¬ 
ness intellectual powers of a very high order and a rather stupid 
spirit of trickery and deception.” 5 

But in any case, more than the construction of the puzzles 
would be involved; namely, in addition, telepathic virtual dicta - 
tion of the appropriate script to the other automatist—whose very 
existence was, in the case of Mrs. Holland in India, quite un¬ 
known at the time to Mrs. Verrall in England. To ascribe the 
script to “telepathic leakage” will hardly do, for, as Lord Balfour 
remarked concerning such a proposal made by Miss F. M. Stawell 
in the Ear of Dionysius case, “it is not at all clear how ’telepathic 
leakage’ could be so thoughtful as to arrange all the topics in such 
an ingenious way. It seems a little like ‘explaining’ the working 
of a motor car by saying that it goes because petrol leaks out of a 
tank into its front end!” 6 

5. What would prove, or make positively probable, that 
survival is a fact. The difficult task of deciding where the various 
kinds of facts now before us, the rival interpretations of them, 
and the criticisms of the interpretations, finally leave the case for 
the reality of survival requires that we first attempt to specify 

“Op. cit. p. 138. 

• Proc. SJ>Jl . Vol. XXIX:270. 



what evidence, if we should have it, we would accept as definitely 
proving survival or, short of this, as definitely establishing a 
positive probability that survival is a fact. 

To this end, let us suppose that a friend of ours, John Doe, 
was a passenger on the transatlantic plane which some months 
ago the newspapers reported crashed shortly after leaving Shan¬ 
non without having radioed that it was in trouble. Since no 
survivors were reported to have been found, we would naturally 
assume that John Doe had died with the rest. 

Let us now, however, consider in turn each of three further 

(I) The first is that some time later we meet on the street 
a man we recognize as John Doe, who recognizes us too, and who 
has John Doe’s voice and mannerisms. Also, that allusions to 
personal matters that were familiar to both of us, made now in 
our conversation with him, are readily understood and suitably 
responded to by each. Then, even before he tells us how he 
chanced to survive the crash, we would of course know that, 
somehow, he has survived it. 

(II) But now let us suppose instead that we do not thus 
meet him, but that one day our telephone rings, and over the 
line comes a voice which we clearly recognize as John Doe’s; and 
that we also recognize certain turns of phrase that were peculiar 
to him. He tells us that he survived the disaster, and we then 
talk with ready mutual understanding about personal and other 
matters that had been familiar to the two of us. We wish, of 
course, that we could see him as well as thus talk with him; yet 
we would feel practically certain that he had survived the crash 
of the plane and is now living. 

(III) Let us, however, now consider instead a third sup¬ 
position, namely, that one day, when our telephone rings, a voice 
not John Doe’s tells us that he did survive the accident and that 
he wants us to know it, but that for some reason he cannot come 
to the phone. He is, however, in need of money and wants us to 
deposit some to his account in the bank. 

Then of course—especially since the person who transmits the 
request over the telephone sounds at times a bit incoherent— 
we would want to make very sure that the person from whom 



the request ultimately emanates is really John Doe. To this end, 
we ask him through the intermediary to name some mutual 
friends; and he names several, giving some particular facts about 
each. We refer, allusively, to various personal matters he would 
be familiar with; and it turns out that he understands the allu¬ 
sions and responds to them appropriately. Also, the intermediary 
quotes him as uttering various statements, in which we recognize 
peculiarities of his thought and phraseology; and the peculiar 
nasal tone of his voice is imitated by the intermediary well enough 
for us to recognize it. 

Would all this convince us that the request for money really 
emanates from John Doe and therefore that he did survive the 
accident and is still living? If we should react rationally rather 
than impulsively, our getting convinced or remaining uncon 
vinced would depend on the following considerations 

First, is it possible at all that our friend somehow did sur¬ 
vive the crash? If, for example, his dead body had been subse¬ 
quently found and identified beyond question, then obviously 
the person whose request for money is being transmitted to us 
could not possibly be John Doe not yet deceased; and hence the 
identifying evidence conveyed to us over the phone would neces¬ 
sarily be worthless, no matter how strongly it would otherwise 
testify to his being still alive. 

But if we have no such antecedent conclusive proof that lie 
did perish, then the degree of our confidence that the telephoned 
request ultimately does emanate from him, and hence that he is 
still living, will depend for us on the following three factors. 

(a) One will be the abundance, or scantiness, of such evi 
dence of his identity as comes to us over the phone. 

(b) A second factor will be the quality of the evidence. 
That is, does it correspond minutely and in peculiar details to 
what we know of the facts or incidents to which it refers; or on 
the contrary does it correspond to them merely in that it gives, 
correctly indeed, the broad features of the events concerned, but 
does not include much detail? 

(c) The third factor will be that of diversity of the kinds of 
evidence the telephone messages supply. Does all the evidence, 
for example, consist only of correct memories of personal matters 



and of matters typical of John Doe’s range of information? Or 
does the evidence include also dramatic faithfulness of the com¬ 
munications to the manner, the attitudes, the tacit assumptions, 
and the idiosyncracies of John Doe as we remember him? And 
again, do the communications manifest in addition something 
which H. F. Saltmarsh has held to be “as clear an indication of 
psychical individuality as finger prints are of physical,” 7 namely 
associations of ideas that were peculiar to John Doe as of the age 
he had reached at the time of the crash? 

If these same associations are still manifest, then persistence 
of them will signify one thing if the communication in which 
they appear is made not too long after the accident, but a dif¬ 
ferent thing if instead it is made, say, twenty-five years after. 
For a person’s associations of ideas alter more or less as a result 
of new experiences, of changes of environment, of acquisition of 
new ranges of information, and of development of new interests. 
Hence, if the associations of ideas are the same a few months or 
a year or two after the crash as they were before, this would 
testify to John Doe’s identity. But if they are the same a quarter 
of a century later, then this would testify rather that although 
some of the capacities he had have apparently persisted, yet he 
has in the meantime not continued really to live; for to live in 
the full sense of the word entails becoming gradually different— 
indeed, markedly different in many ways over such a long term 
of years. 

Now, the point of our introducing the hypothetical case of 
John Doe, and of the three suppositions we made in succession as 
to occurrences that convinced us, of that inclined us in various 
degrees to believe, that he had not after all died in the plane 
accident is that the second and especially the third of those sup¬ 
positions duplicate in all essentials the evidences of survival of 
the human mind which the best of the mediumistic communi¬ 
cations supply. For the medium or automatist is the analogue 
of the telephone and, in cases of apparent possession of the me¬ 
dium's organism by the purported communicator, the latter is 
the analogue of John Doe when himself telephoning. The me- 

7 Evidence of Personal Survival from Cross Correspondences, G. Bell & Sons, 
London 1938, p. 34. 



dium’s “control,” on the other hand, is the analogue of the in¬ 
termediary who at other times transmits John Doe’s statements 
over the telephone. And the fact recalled in Sec. 2 of this chapter 
—that survival has not been proved to be either empirically or 
logically impossible—is the analogue of the supposition that John 
Doe’s body was never found and hence that his having survived 
the crash is not known to be impossible. 

This parallelism between the two situations entails that if 
reason rather than either religious or materialistic faith is to 
decide, then our answer to the question whether the evidence we 
have does or does not establish survival (or at least a positive 
probability of it) must, in the matter of survival after death, be 
based on the very same considerations as in the matter of sur¬ 
vival after the crash of the plane. That is, our answer will have 
to be based similarly on the quantity of evidence we get over 
the mediumistic “telephone;” on the quality of that evidence; 
and on the diversity of kinds of it we get. 

6. The conclusion about survival which at present appears 
warranted. To what conclusion, then, do these three considera¬ 
tions point when brought to bear on the evidence referred to in 
Chapters XVII and XVIII? 

The conclusion they dictate is, I believe, the same as that 
which at the end of Chapter XVIII we cited as finally reached by 
Mrs. Sidgwick and by Lord Balfour—a conclusion which also 
was reached in time by Sir Oliver Lodge, by Prof. Hyslop, by 
Dr. Hodgson, and by a number of other persons who like them 
were thoroughly familiar with the evidence on record; who were 
gifted with keenly critical minds; who had originally been skep¬ 
tical of the reality or even possibility of survival; and who were 
also fully acquainted with the evidence for the reality of telepathy 
and of clairvoyance, and with the claims that had been made for 
the telepathy-clairvoyance interpretation of the evidence, as 
against the survival interpretation of it. 

Their conclusion was essentially that the balance of the evi¬ 
dence so far obtained is on the side of the reality of survival and, 
in the best cases, of survival not merely of memories of the life 
on earth, but of survival also of the most significant capacities of 
the human mind, and of continuing exercise of these. 


Life After Death Conceived As Reincarnation 


Chapter XX 


In Sections 5 to 8 of Chapter XIV, various forms were de¬ 
scribed which a discarnate life after death, if there is such, might 
conceivably take. Another possible form of survival, namely 
life, incarnate again, of the “essential” part of a personality 
through rebirth in a new human or possibly animal body, was 
also mentioned but was not discussed there since Part IV was 
concerned only with the question of discarnate life after death. 
In the present and the subsequent chapters of Part V, we return 
to that very interesting conception of survival, and examine it 
in some detail. 

The content of the belief that the individual “soul” lives in 
a body on earth not once only but several times has been desig¬ 
nated by various names. Metempsychosis, Transmigration, Rein¬ 
carnation, and Rebirth are the most familiar, but Reembodiment, 
Metensomatosis, and Palingenesis have also been used. The doc¬ 
trine has taken a variety of specific forms, some of which will be 
considered farther on; but there is little warrant either in etymol¬ 
ogy or in any firmly established usage for regarding one or an¬ 
other of those names as denoting only some particular form of 
the doctrine that the individual “soul” lives on earth not once 
only but several times. 1 

The conception of survival as metempsychosis seems fantastic 
and unplausible to the great majority of people today in Europe 
and America, notwithstanding that the believers in survival 

'"Rebirth," "Reembodiment," "Reincarnation," and "Transmigration," are 
self-explanatory. "Metempsychosis" is from the Greek meta = after, succes¬ 
sive, -f empsychoo = to animate, from en — in -f psyche = spirit, soul; "Palin¬ 
genesis," from palin = again, anew, -f genesis = birth, gignomai — to be bom; 
"Metensomatosis," from meta — after, successive, -f- en = in, 4 . soma = body.. 




among them conceive life after death in terms either more fan¬ 
tastic or merely nebulous. And implausibility — distinguished 
from grounded improbability—means little else than that the doc¬ 
trine a person characterizes as implausible is one he has not been 
accustomed to see treated seriously. 

The idea of metempsychosis has appealed to vast numbers 
of persons in Asia and, even in the West, has commended itself 
to a number of its most distinguished thinkers from ancient times 
to the present. In this chapter, we shall cite briefly what some of 
them have said on the subject. It has in most cases been phrased 
by them in terms of the words “soul” or “spirit,” which we shall 
retain in presenting their views, instead of using “mind” or “per¬ 
sonality” as in our preceding chapters. 

Then, in subsequent chapters, we shall examine the objec¬ 
tions to which the hypothesis of reincarnation appears open, and 
the ways, if any, in which they might be met. Finally, we shall 
consider the facts, such as they are, which have been alleged to 
constitute evidence of the reality of survival conceived as rein¬ 

1. W. R. Alger, on the importance of the doctrine of me¬ 
tempsychosis. The importance of the doctrine of Metempsychosis 
in the history of mankind may be gathered from the statement 
with which the Rev. W. R. Alger, a learned Unitarian clergyman 
of the last century, opens the discussion of the subject in his 
monumental work, A Critical History of the Doctrine of a Future 
Life . “No other doctrine,” he declares, “has exerted so extensive, 
controlling, and permanent an influence upon mankind as that 
of the metempsychosis,—the notion that when the soul leaves the 
body it is born anew in another body, its rank, character, circum¬ 
stances and experience in each successive existence depending on 
its qualities, deeds, and attainments in its preceding lives.” 2 

Alger cites authority for the fact that at the time of his writ¬ 
ing, the adherents of the transmigration doctrine in one or an¬ 
other of the more specific forms under which it has been con¬ 
ceived numbered some six hundred and fifty million; and, in 
order to account for what he terms “the extent and the tenacious 

% Op. Cit., p. 475, Tenth Edition, Boston 1880; preface dated 1878. 



grasp of this antique and stupendous belief” (p. 475), he men¬ 
tions, among other less potent reasons, the fact that “the theory 
of the transmigration of souls is marvellously adapted to explain 
the seeming chaos of moral inequality, injustice, and manifold 
evil presented in the world of human life .... Once admit the 
theory to be true, and all difficulties in regard to moral justice 
vanish” (p. 481). Moreover, he writes, “the motive furnished 
by the doctrine to self-denial and toil has a peerless sublimity” 
(p. 487). 

Alger’s book was published in 1860 and ran through ten 
editions in the course of the succeeding twenty years. In the early 
editions, notwithstanding the high merits he granted to the rein¬ 
carnation theory, he apparently rejected it, on the ground that, 
“destitute of any substantial evidence, it is unable to face the 
severity of science” (p. 484). But in the fifth of six new chapters 
which in 1878 he adds in the tenth edition, he considers again 
the merits of the theory and offers it—though, he emphasizes, in 
no dogmatic spirit (p. 739)—as probably “the true meaning of 
the dogma of the resurrection” (p. 735); “the true meaning of 
the doctrine of the general resurrection and judgment and eternal 
life, as a natural evolution of history from within” (Preface, p. 
iv); pointing out (p. 735) that “resurrection and transmigration 
agree in the central point of a restoration of the disembodied soul 
to a new bodily existence, only the former represents this as a 
single collective miracle wrought by an arbitrary stroke of God 
at the close of the earthly drama, (whereas) the latter depicts it 
as constantly taking place in the regular fulfillment of the divine 
plan in the creation.” The difference, he goes on, “is certainly, to 

a scientific and philosophical thinker.strongly in favor of 

the Oriental theory” (p. 735). For, he somewhat rhapsodically 
declares, “the thoughts embodied in it are so wonderful, the 
method of it so rational, the region of contemplation into which 
it lifts the mind is so grand, the prospects it opens are of such 
universal reach and import, that the study of it brings us into full 
sympathy with the sublime scope of the idea of immortality and 
of a cosmopolitan vindication of providence uncovered to every¬ 
one” (p. 739). 

One virtue of the reincarnation hypothesis which Alger does 



not actually mention concerns the “origin” of the individual 
human soul if the latter is conceived, as generally by the religious, 
in spiritual not materialistic terms. For reincarnation provides 
an alternative to the shocking supposition common among Chris¬ 
tians that, at the mating of any human pair, be it in wedlock 
or in wanton debauch, an all-wise, almighty, and infinitely loving 
God creates outright from nothing, or extracts from his own 
eternal being, an immortal human soul endowed arbitrarily with 
a particular one out of many possible sets of latent capacities and 
incapacities. In contrast with this the reincarnation theory says 
nothing about absolute origins, for it finds no more difficulty in 
thinking of the “soul” as unoriginated than in thinking of it as 
unending; that is, in conceiving it as evolving from more primi¬ 
tive to more advanced stages, and as extending thus from an 
infinite past into an infinite future. For if it is conceivable that 
anything at all should have no absolute beginning, then it is 
conceivable of a human spirit as easily as of a divine one. 

2. Metempsychosis in Brahmanism and Buddhism. The 
transmigration theory, then, presents to us the idea of a long 
succession of lives on earth for the individual, each of them as 
it were a day in the school of experience, teaching him new les¬ 
sons through which he develops the capacities latent in human 
nature, grows in wisdom, and eventually reaches spiritual ma¬ 

This idea has for many centuries been widely accepted in 
Asia. In Brahmanism, the belief is held that the individual ego 
or spirit, the Atma, has lived in a body on earth many times 
before the birth of its present body, and will do so again and 
again after the death of that body; the bodies in which it in¬ 
carnates being human, or animal, or even vegetable ones accord¬ 
ing to its Karma, that is, according to the destiny it generates for 
itself by its acts, its thoughts, and its attitudes and aspirations; 
this evolutionary process continuing until the individual Atma, 
at last fully developed, attains direct insight into its identity with 
Brahman, the World Spirit, and thereby wins salvation from the 
necessity of further rebirth. 

In Buddhism, which, like Protestantism in Christianity, was 
a reform movement, the belief in reincarnation and Karma car- 



ried over but with a difference which at first seems paradoxical. 
For one of the chief teachings of the Buddha is the Anatta doc¬ 
trine—the doctrine namely, that man has no permanent Atma 
or ego, but that the constituents of his nature are always in 
process of change, more or less rapidly; and that his present being 
is related to the past beings he calls his, only in being continuous 
with them as effect is continuous with cause. In Buddhism, the 
culmination of the long chain of lives, each generating the next, 
is therefore not described as realization of the identity of Atma 
and Brahma, but as extinction of the three “fires”—that is, of 
craving, ill-will, and ignorance—which, as long as they persist, 
bring about re-birth. Their extinction is the extinction which 
the word Nirvana signifies. 

3. Pythagoras and Empedocles. But the idea of preexist¬ 
ence, and of repeated incarnations through which the individual 
progresses has commended itself not only to the minds of men in 
Asia, but also to numerous eminent thinkers in the West, both 
ancient and modern. 

One of the earliest was Pythagoras, who flourished about 455 
B.C. and is believed to have travelled extensively in the East, 
perhaps as far as India. Little is known with certainty concern¬ 
ing his views, but Ueberweg, in the first volume of his History 
of Philosophy, states that “all that can be traced with certainty 
to Pythagoras himself is the doctrine of metempsychosis and the 
institution of certain religious and ethical regulations.” The 
exact nature of his conception of metempsychosis is not known, 
but an anecdote reported by Diogenes Laertius—according to 
which Pythagoras allegedly recognized the soul of a deceased 
friend of his in the body of a dog that was being beaten—suggests 
that Pythagoras believed that the human soul was reborn at least 
sometimes in the bodies of animals. Another Greek philosopher 
of about the same period, namely, Empedocles, also held to some 
form of the doctrine of the transmigration of souls. 8 

4. Plato. But the greatest of the Greek philosophers who 
taught the doctrine of periodical reincarnation of souls is of 

•Ueberweg, op. cit. English Trans. 1, pp. 42-63. Scribner’s, N.Y., 1898. 



course Plato. In the Phaedrus, he writes that the human soul, 
according to the degree of vision of truth to which it has attained, 
is reborn in a correspondingly suitable body: “The soul which 
has seen most of truth shall come to the birth as a philosopher 
or artist, or musician or lover; that which has seen truth in the 
second degree shall be a righteous king or warrior or lord; the 
soul which is of the third class shall be a politician or economist 
or trader; the fourth shall be a lover of gymnastic toils or a physi 
cian . . . and so on, down to the ninth degree, to which birth 
as a tyrant is appropriate—Plato adding that “all these are states 
of probation, in which he who lives righteously improves, and he 
who lives unrighteously deteriorates his lot.” In another passage 
Plato says that the soul of a man “may pass into the life of a 
beast, or from the beast again into the man,” but that a soul 
which has never beheld true being will not pass into the human 
form, since that vision “was the condition of her passing into the 
human form.” 4 In the tenth book of another of the dialogues, The 
Republic, Plato, sets forth similar ideas. He tells of a mythical 
warrior, called Er, who had been left for dead on the field of 
battle but who returned to life ten days afterwards and related 
that he had seen the souls of men awaiting rebirth, beholding a 
great variety of available lives open to them, and drawing lots 
as to who would choose first, who next, and so on. Some chose, 
according to such folly or wisdom as they had, one or another 
sort of human life; but here too Plato holds to the possibility of 
rebirth of a man in animal form, saying that Er saw the soul 
of Orpheus choose the life of a swan, that of Ajax the life of a 
lion, that of Agamemnon that of an eagle, and so on. 5 

5. Plotinus. The next of the great thinkers whose views on 
reincarnation may be mentioned is the Neo-Platonist, Plotinus, 
(204-269 A.D.) who was educated in Alexandria under Ammonius 
Saccas and taught at Rome for some twenty-five years during 
the middle of the third century, A.D.; and whose philosophical 
ideas influenced many of the early shapers of Christian theology. 
In his treatise on The Descent of the Soul, he sets forth a view 

4 Phaedrus , Jowett’s translation, pp. 248-249, Scribner’s, N.Y., 1908. 

*The Republic, Jowett’s translation, pp. 614, 617-20. 



of the education of the soul through repeated births in a material 
body. The soul, he writes, “confers something of itself on a 
sensible nature, from which likewise it receives something in 
return . . . By a “sensible” nature, Plotinus means here a 
nature perceptible to the senses, that is, a body. He goes on to 
say that the soul, . through an abundance of sensible desire 
. . . . becomes profoundly merged into matter and no longer 
totally abides in the universal soul. Yet our souls are able alter¬ 
nately to rise from hence carrying back with them an experience 
of what they have known and suffered in their fallen state; from 
whence they will learn how blessed it is to abide in the intel¬ 
ligible world,” that is, in the world of abstract forms, which can¬ 
not be perceived by the senses but only apprehended by the in¬ 
tellect, and which are the objects of what Plato called the vision 
of truth, or of true being. Plotinus goes on to say that the soul, 
“by a comparison, as it were of contraries, will more plainly per¬ 
ceive the excellence of a superior state. For the experience of evil 
produces a clearer knowledge of good, especially where the power 
of judgment is so imbecil, that it cannot without such experience 
obtain the science of that which is best.” 6 

6. Origen. Among Christian thinkers of approximately the 
same period as Plotinus, who like him believed in repeated earth 
lives for the soul, was Origen (c. 185-c. 254, A.D.) one of the 
Fathers of the Church most influential in the early developments 
of Christian theology. He held not only, like some of the other 
theologians of that period, that the human soul preexisted and 
in some sense lived prior to its entrance into the body, but also 
that after death it eventually reentered a new body, and this 
repeatedly until, fully purified, it was fit to enter heaven. This 
doctrine was later condemned by the second Council of Con¬ 
stantinople, but the following passage, from the Latin translation 
by Rufinus of Origen's Greek text, of which only a fragment of 
the original passage remains, leaves no doubt that Origen pro¬ 
fessed it: “Everyone, therefore, of those who descend to the earth 
is, according to his deserts or to the position that he had there, 
ordained to be born in this world either in a different place, or 

•Five Books of Plotinus, translated by Thos. Taylor, London, 1794, pp. 279-80. 



in a different nation, or in a different occupation, or with differ¬ 
ent infirmities, or to be descended from religious or at least less 
pious parents; so as sometimes to bring about that an Israelite 
descends among the Scythians, and a poor Egyptian is brought 
down to Judaea." 7 

7. The Jews, Egyptians, Celts, and Teutons. Having al¬ 
luded in what precedes to the influence of Neo-Platonism and 
in particular of Plotinus on the early Christian theologians, it 
may not be amiss to mention briefly two or three statements in 
the new Testament, which have often been cited as indicating 
that belief in preexistence and rebirth was not uncommon among 
the persons to whom Jesus spoke, and indeed as suggesting that 
perhaps he himself accepted it or at least regarded it as plausible. 

In the ninth chapter of the Gospel according to St. John, 
we have the story of the man bom blind, whom Jesus saw as he 
passed by. "His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this 
man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus answered, "It 
was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works 
of God might be made manifest in him.” The point is that the 
answer of Jesus does not deny that the man could have sinned 
before birth, but denies only that this actually was the cause of 
his blindness. More explicit and positive is the assertion by Jesus, 
twice reported in the Gospel according to St. Matthew, that John 
the Baptist was Elijah: "And if you are willing to accept it, he 
is Elijah who is to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear." 
And farther on: "But I tell you that Elijah has already come, 
and they did not know him, but did to him whatever they pleased 

7 Origen: De Principiis IV Cap. 3, 10, 26, 23. The Latin of Rufinus* translation 
is given as follows on p. 338 of Vol. 5 of Die Griechischen Christlichen Schriftsteller 
der Ersten Drei Jahrhunderte: Unusquisque ergo descendentium in terrara pro 
mentis vel loco suo, quem ibi habucrat, dispensatur in hoc mundo in diversis vel 
locis vel gentibus vel conversationibus vel infirmitatibus nasci vel a religiosis aut 
certe minus piis parentibus generari, ita ut inveniat aliquando Israheliten in 
Scythas descendere et Aegyptium pauperem deduci ad Iudaeam. 

The fragment, which is all we have of Origen’s own Greek of the passage, reads: 
kai para toisde 2 toisde tois patrasin os dynasthai pote Israeliten pasein eis Schythas 
kai Aigypton eis tin Ioudaian katelthein 



.Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to 

them of John the Baptist” (XVII, 12, 13.). 

At all events, the doctrine of the transmigration of souls was 
a part of the Jewish esoteric mystical philosophy known as the 
Kabbala, the origin of which is very ancient, apparently antedat 
ing even the Christian era. The doctrine is mentioned in the 
later Zoharistic works, but “is never found systematically de 
veloped” there; rather, wherever it occurs, it is tacitly assumed 
as well known, and no explanation is given in detail. 8 The fol¬ 
lowing passage is quoted from the Zohar (ii, 99b) by C. D. Gins- 
burg: “All souls are subject to transmigration, and men do not 
know the ways of the Holy One, blessed be he; they do not know 
that they are brought before the tribunal, both before they enter 
into this world and after they quit it, they are ignorant of the 
many transmigrations and secret probations which they have to 

undergo.But the time is at hand when these mysteries 

will be disclosed.”® The same author, in a footnote (p 125) 
writes: “According to Josephus, the doctrine of the transmigra¬ 
tion of souls into other bodies.was also held by the Pharisees 

.restricting, however, the metempsychosis to the righteous. 

And though the Midrashin and the Talmud are silent about it, 

yet from Saadia’s vituperation against it.there is no doubt 

that this doctrine was held among some Jews in the ninth century 
of the present era. At all events it is perfectly certain that the 
Karaite Jews firmly believed in it ever since the seventh century 

.St. Jerome assures us that it was also propounded among 

the early Christians as an esoteric and traditional doctrine which 

was entrusted to the select few;.and Origen was con 

vinced that it was only by means of this doctrine that certain 
Scriptural narratives, such as the struggle of Jacob with Esau 
before their birth, the reference to Jeremiah when still in his 
mother’s womb, and many others, can possibly be explained.” 

•M. Caster: Hastings Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, Art. Transmigri 
tion, p. 439. Cf. G. Scholem: Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism. Schoken Pub. 
House, Jerusalem, 1947 pp. 281 ff. 

•The Essenes, The Kabbalah, Routledge and Regan Paul, London, 1955, pp 



In the ancient world, the belief in reincarnation was anyway 
widespread. Herodotus, Plato, and other Greek writers report it 
of the Egyptians of their time; Herodotus, for example, writing 
(Bk. II, Sec. 123): “. . . the Egyptians were the first to teach that 
the human soul is immortal, and at the death of the body enters 
into some other living thing then coming to birth; and after 
passing through all creatures, of land, sea, and air (which cycle 
it completes in three thousand years) it enters once more into a 
human body at birth. Some of the Greeks, early and late, have 
used this doctrine as if it were their own . . .” 10 

Both Caesar and Valerius Maximus definitely state that the 
Druids of ancient Gaul held the belief in reincarnation; and 
there is evidence also that it was present among the early Teu¬ 
tonic peoples. 

8. Hume. Let us, however, now turn to more recent times 
and see what some eminent modern philosophers have had to say 
concerning metempsychosis. The first I shall mention is one of 
the greatest in the history of modern thought—the skeptical phi¬ 
losopher, David Hume. In one of his essays, he emphasizes on 
the one hand the weakness of the metaphysical and of the moral 
arguments for the immortality of the soul, and on the other, the 
strength of the physical arguments for its mortality; and he then 
concludes the passage with the statement that “the Metempsy¬ 
chosis is therefore the only system of this kind [that is, the only 
conception of immortality] that philosophy can hearken to.” 11 

9. Kant. Another and no less famous philosopher, who also 

gave some thought to the idea of preexistence and of rebirth, was 
Immanuel Kant. In a passage of his celebrated Critique of Pure 
Reason, he notes that “generation in the human¬ 
pends on ... . many accidents, on occasion.on the views and 

whims of government, nay, even on vice;” and he remarks that 
“it is difficult to believe in the eternal existence of a being whose 
life has first begun under circumstances so trivial, and so entirely 
dependent on our own choice.” Kant then points out that the 

w Bk. III. Sec. 123. Tr. by. A. D. Godley, Putnam’s N. Y. 1921. 
n Essays and Treatises on Various Subjects, Boston, 1881. Second of the two, 
Essays on Suicide, p. 228. 



strangeness, which attaches to the supposition that so important 
an effect arises from such insignificant causes, would disappear 
if we should accept the hypothesis that the life of the human 
spirit is “not subject to the changes of time . . . neither beginning 
in birth, nor ending in death,” and that the life of the body, 
which so begins and so ends, “is phenomenal only;” that is to 
say, if we should accept the hypothesis that “if we could see our¬ 
selves and other objects as they really are, we should see nur- 
selves in a world of spiritual natures, our community with which 
did neither begin at our birth nor will end with the death of 
the body.” 12 Indeed, a more recent philosopher, James Ward, 
who in his Gifford Lectures calls attention to this passage, states 
in a note that Kant, in his lectures on metaphysics shortly before 
the publication of the Critique, dogmatically taught both the pre 
existence and the immortality of the soul. 13 

10. Fichte. Another German philosopher, Fichte, contrasts 
the spiritual part of himself, which he conceives as the will to 
obey the laws of reason, with the sensuous other part, and conjec¬ 
tures that the latter may have the form of a succession of in¬ 
carnate lives. He writes: “These two orders,—the purely spiritual 
and the sensuous, the latter consisting possibly of an innumerable 
series of particular lives,—have existed in me from the first mo 
ment of the development of my active reason .... My sensuous 
existence may, in future, assume other forms, but these are just 
as little the true life, as its present form.” 14 

11. Schopenhauer. Another German philosopher, Schopen¬ 
hauer, had some acquaintance with the thought of India, and a 
good deal of sympathy with certain of its features—in particular 
with its doctrine of repeated births. In the third volume of his 
great work, The World as Will and Idea, he has a chapter on 
“Death and its relation to the indestructibility of our true na¬ 
ture.” This true nature he conceives to be not the intellect, 
which is mortal, but “the character, i.e., the will” which is “the 

”Critique of Pure Reason, M. Mueller’s Transl. MacMillan’s 2nd ed. pp. 625-6. 
“James Ward, The Realm of Ends, p. 404. 

u The Vocation of Man, Bk. Ill, Transl. by Wm. Smith, Pub. London 1848, 
p. 162. 



eternal part” of us and comes again and again to new births. This 
doctrine, he goes on, is “more correctly denoted by the word 
palingenesis [that is, new births] than by metempsychosis” since 
the latter term suggests that what is reborn is the whole psyche, 
whereas not the intellectual part of it, but only the will, is born 
again. 16 

12. Renouvier. One of the most distinguished French phi¬ 
losophers of recent times, Charles Renouvier, also endorses the 
doctrine of reincarnation. In the course of the exposition of his 
elaborate theory of monads, of indestructible germs, and of the 
origin and destiny of personality, he writes: “But it is not once 
only that each person must live again on earth owing to the actu¬ 
alization of one of those seminal potencies; it is a certain number 
of times, we do not know how many . . . And again, speaking 
of the several individuals which are the several lives of one person, 
he writes: “These individuals, whom memory does not tie to¬ 
gether, and who have to one another no earthly genealogical 
relationships, also have no memory of the person whom each of 
them comes to continue on earth. Such forgetting is a condition 
of any theory of preexistence .... the person, reintegrated in the 
world of ends, recovers there the memory of its state in the world 
of origins, and of the diverse lives which it has gone through, in 
the course of which it has received the lessons and undergone 
the trials of the life of pain.” 16 

13. McTaggart. To be mentioned next in our partial list 
of recent and contemporary eminent thinkers who have regarded 
with favor the theory of metempsychosis are three distinguished 
British philosophers. The first is John McTaggart, who in 1906 
published a book entitled Some Dogmas of Religion. The whole 
of its fourth chapter is devoted to a discussion of the idea of 
human preexistence. He states that this “renders the doctrine of 
a plurality of lives more probable.” This doctrine “would, in¬ 
deed, be in any case the most probable form of the doctrine of 
immortality” (p xiii). Farther on, McTaggart points out that 

“Vol. 111:300, Haldane and Kemp’s translation. Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner 
Co. London, 1906. 

“Le Personnalisme, pp. 125-126. Felix Alcan, Paris 1903. 



if both preexistence and immortality are true, then “each man 
would have at least three lives, his present life, one before it, 
and one after it. It seems more probable, however, that this 
would not be all, and that his existence before and after his 
present life would in each case be divided into many lives, each 
hounded by birth and death.” And he adds that there is much 
to be said for the view that [such] a plurality of lives would be 
the most probable alternative, even on a theory of immortality 
which did not include preexistence (p. 116). 17 

14. Ward. James Ward, cited above as having called atten¬ 
tion to what Kant had to say on the subject of the human spirit's 
existence before the birth and after the death of its body, himself 
considers various theories of a future life in the 18th of his 
Gifford lectures. One of these theories is that of metempsychosis 
He examines some of the chief objections to it which have been 
advanced, and he suggests more or less plausible ways n which 
they may be met. He concludes that “we must at leasi insist .... 
that if such life [to wit, a future life] is to have any worth or 
meaning, a certain personal continuity of development is essen 
tial. From this point of view, death becomes indeed a longer 
sleep dividing life from life as sleep divides day from day; and 
as there is progress from day to day so too there may be from life 
to life.” 18 

15. Broad. Lastly, the distinguished Cambridge philoso¬ 
pher, C. D. Broad, at the end of his discussion of the empirical 
arguments which may be advanced in support of the idea of sur¬ 
vival after death, points out that the hypothesis as to what spe¬ 
cifically may survive, which he has himself offered, “has certain 
advantages for those who favor the theory of metempsychosis, as 
Dr. McTaggart does.” 19 And, in a later work where at one point 
he discusses what McTaggart says on the subject, Broad states 
that, to himself, the theory of preexistence and plurality of lives 
seems to be one “which ought to be taken very seriously, both on 

I7 Op. Cit. London, Edw. Arnold, 1906. 

w The Realm of Ends, Cambridge Univ. Press N.Y. 1911, p. 407. 

1B The Mind and its Place in Nature. Harcourt Brace 8c Co. New York, 1929, 
p. 551. 



philosophical grounds and as furnishing a reasonable motive for 
right action .... We shall behave all the better if we act on the 
assumption that we may survive; that actions which tend to 
strengthen and enrich our characters in this life will probably 
have a favorable influence on the dispositions with which we begin 
our next lives; and that actions which tend to disintegrate our 
characters in this life will probably cause us to enter on our next 
life “halt and maimed.” If we suppose that our future lives will 
be of the same general nature as our present lives, this postulate, 
which is in itself intelligible and not unreasonable, gains enor¬ 
mously in concreteness and therefore in practical effect on our 
conduct. 20 

The preceding citations from authors who have expressed 
opinions favorable in various degrees to the idea of reincarnation 
have been limited to philosophers, and even so have not included 
all those who could be listed. But numerous poets also have 
viewed the doctrine sympathetically. Persons interested to know 
what these have had to say, or in citations from various other 
quarters of opinions commendatory of the doctrine of rebirth, 
will find quotations in several fairly accessible books, among 
which may be mentioned E. D. Walker’s Reincarnation, A Study 
of Forgotten Truth, G. de Purucker’s The Esoteric Tradition, 
and Paul Siwek’s La Reincarnation des Esprits. 21 

16. Various forms of the doctrine of reincarnation. Some 
of the statements which have been quoted in what precedes will 
have indicated that believers in reincarnation do not all conceive 
the doctrine in exactly the same manner. Many of them, for 
example, believe that a man may be reborn as an animal, and 
hence that some of the animals are animated by souls which have 
been and probably again will some time be lodged in human 
bodies. Others believe that once a soul has reached the human 
level, it will not thereafter be reborn as an animal. Again, dif¬ 
ferences of opinion exist as to the interval of time between in- 

K Examination of McTaggart’s Philosophy. Cambridge, University Press 1938, 
p. 639 

^Respectively, Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1888; Theosophical University Press, 
Point Loma, Calif., 1935, Vol. II, Chs. XIX, XX, pp. 620-47; Desctee de Brouwer, 
Rio de Janeiro, 1942, Introduction and Part I. 



carnations. For example, L. A. Waddell, who accompanied the 
expedition of Sir Francis Younghusband to Tibet at the begin¬ 
ning of the present century, and who has written extensively on 
the religion of the Tibetan Lamas, mentions that when the 
Dalai Lama dies, the selection of his successor is based on the 
belief that his spirit is immediately reincarnated as a new bom 
infant. 22 Search is then made for a child born at that time, to 
whom certain additional tests are then applied. 

Other believers in reincarnation hold that a long interval 
normally elapses between two incarnations—centuries, or indeed 
sometimes a thousand years or more—and offer accounts of the 
manner in which they think the discarnate soul employs these 
lengthy periods. 

Another interesting form of the belief in reincarnation is 
that held, according to Delafosse, by one of the West African 
tribes, the Mandingos. They do not think of reincarnation as 
universal. They believe that the spirit of a dead man, which they 
call his niama “can reside where it likes—in the corpse, in the 
hut, in a sacred object, or in the body of a living being whose 
niama it absorbs.” The spirit of a man for whom the due rites 
have not been performed may reincarnate itself in a solitary ani¬ 
mal, or in a human being, who goes mad.” 23 This particular 
version of the idea of reincarnation is interesting as being virtu¬ 
ally identical with the familiar ideas of “obsession” or “posses¬ 
sion”; although, in these as traditionally conceived, what in¬ 
carnates temporarily in the “possessed” person, is not, as in the 
Mandingo belief, a discarnate human spirit, but a devil. Some 
West African tribes more easterly than the Mandingos apparently 
do not conceive reincarnation in this manner, but in its ordinary 
sense, according to which the body the discarnate human spirit 
enters is that of a child about to be born, not an adult body with 
a spirit of its own that has to be displaced or is made insane by 
the invasion of another spirit. A conception of reincarnation 
similar to that of the Mandingos appears in some of the com¬ 
munications of automatists emanating purportedly from discar- 

n Lhasa and its Mysteries, Dutton and Co., N. Y. 1905, p. 28. 

“Delafosse, Haut-S6n£gal-Niger, III, 165 quoted in Hastings’ Encyclopedia of 
Religion and Ethics, Art. Transmigration. 



nate spirits. For example, in Ch. XV of a book entitled Thirty 
Years Among the Dead, 2 * the author, Dr. C. A. Wickland, tran¬ 
scribes communications, uttered by his wife while entranced, 
from purported spirits who said that during life they had had 
some acquaintance with the teachings of modern Theosophy and 
[apparently misconceiving these] that they endeavored to rein¬ 
carnate by invading the bodies of several of Dr. Wickland’s pa¬ 
tients. These, as in the Mandingos’ belief, had gone mad, i.e., 
seemingly obsessed or possessed by some personality other than 
their own. 

“Spiritualist Press, London, no date. 

Chapter XXI 


The mere fact that the reincarnation hypothesis, in one form 
or another, has been treated with respect by some thinkers of 
high eminence, and even has been accepted by some of them, does 
not prove that reincarnation is a fact. Moreover, critics of the 
doctrine have advanced various objections to it, purporting to 
show that it can not possibly be true. We must now consider 
them and decide whether they do or do not establish the impos 
sibility. And, if we find that they do not really do so, we shall 
then have to ask whether any empirical evidence at all exists 
that shows or tends to show that reincarnation occurs. 

1. The materialistic objection to any form of life after 
death. The first objection likely to suggest itself to the contem¬ 
porary Western educated mind would be that a mind cannot exist 
without a living body, nor therefore pass from a dying body 
to a living one born later. This objection, if sound, would rule 
out not only metempsychosis, but also the possibility of any form 
of survival. But it need not detain us here since, as we saw in 
Part III, the basis of it consists not of established facts, but only 
of one or another of the materialistic interpretations of the facts. 
And, as we took pains to make clear, these interpretations are in 
no way authoritative but amount only to this: that in them, a 
legitimate program—that of searching for material causes—is ille¬ 
gitimately erected unawares into the metaphysical dogma that 
none but material causes can exist at all. Moreover in Part IV, 
various facts were cited which lend some empirical support to the 
hypothesis that the mind survives the body’s death. 

The question before us in the present chapter is therefore 
only whether, if survival is indeed a fact, any good reasons exist 




for believing that it cannot take the form which the reincarnation 
hypothesis describes; namely, in its most plausible version, that, 
following the body’s death, there is first a period of discarnate 
existence whether short or long; and then rebirth, in an infant 
body, of such of the capacities of the mind of the deceased per¬ 
son as had constituted the basis for acquisition by it of the other 
capacities it did acquire—and indeed also for acquisition of vari¬ 
ous others which it did not in fact acquire because external cir¬ 
cumstances presented no need for them, or no opoprtunity to ac¬ 
quire them. 

2. The objection that we have no memory of having lived 
before. A prima facie plausible objection to the reincarnation 
hypothesis is that we have no memory whatever of having lived 
before our birth. But if this objection has any force at all, then 
it has far too much; for, since we have also no memory of the 
first few years of our present life, it would then follow equally 
that we did not then exist. Indeed, the case is really worse than 
this, for we have also no memories at all of the great majority 
of the days of our life. My own belief, for example that I was 
alive and conscious on say, the third of December, 1930 is not 
based on my memory of that day, for I recall nothing whatever 
in connection with it; and probably nobody else recalls having 
observed me on that particular day. That belief of mine is in 
fact only an inference, based on the vacuous premise that human 
consciousness is continuous—except for periods of unconscious¬ 
ness in dreamless sleep, in anesthesia, in coma, or otherwise! 

It may be said, of course, that although we have no conscious 
memories of our days of early childhood, or of most of our days 
since then, yet memories of them persist subconsciously and can 
be made manifest by automatic writing as induced in her patients 
by, for example, the late Dr. Anita Miihl, or by the techniques of 
psychoanalysis; or by suggestions of age-regression, given under 
hypnosis. But then we naturally find ourselves led to ask how 
far back such revival of memories can be made to go. Memories 
of the intra-uterine experiences of the foetus have apparently 
been obtained; and in some cases, purported memories pertain¬ 
ing to past incarnations. If the latter are dismissed as mere in- 



ventions of the mythopoeic faculty, induced by the suggestions 
of age-regression, then, on the very same ground, it will be neces¬ 
sary to dismiss also alleged memories of intra-uterine experiences, 
and indeed, also abnormally obtained memories of the years of 
infancy and even of subsequent years, except where the reality 
of the events purportedly remembered happens to be in some way 
independently verifiable. But then, what shall we say about the 
few reported cases where it is claimed that verification was made 
also of facts purportedly remembered from an earlier incarna¬ 
tion? We shall return to this claim farther on, when we come 
to ask whether any positive empirical evidence exists in support 
of the reincarnation hypothesis. At this point, however, we are 
concerned only with the allegations that absence of memory of 
earlier lives is empirical evidence that we had no such lives; and 
the outcome of the preceding remarks is that absence of memory 
of an event, and especially of a long past event, never pro es that 
one did not experience the event. Positive m< mories can be evi¬ 
dence concerning one’s past, but absence of memories of it proves 
nothing at all about it. 

3. The objection that memory is indispensable to identity 
of person. Another objection to the transmigration hypothesis is 
that personal identity is wholly dependent on memory; and hence 
that, without memories of earlier lives, there is no difference at 
all between rebirth of “one” person, and death of one person fol¬ 
lowed by birth of a different person. 1 This objection, however, 
would be easily disposed of by the supposition that, although 
memory of earlier lives is absent during any one life, such memory 
is periodically regained at some point during the interval be 
tween consecutive lives; or, possibly, is regained at the end of 
the series of earthly incarnations if the series does have an end. 
The supposition that, at some time, memory of earlier lives is 
recovered suffices to make rebirth of one person mean something 
different from death of one person followed by birth of another 
person. Absence now of such memory entails only that we can¬ 
not tell now which of those two possibilities is the fact. 

'Leibniz; Philosophische Schriften, ed. Gerhardt, IV. 300. 



4. The objection that, without memory of one’s acts, nothing 
is learned from their consequences. An objection which has been 
made to the transmigration hypothesis—or at least to the assump¬ 
tion usually coupled with it that wisdom is gained and moral 
lessons learned gradually from the consequences brought about 
by right and wrong acts—is that, without memory of the act, or 
thought or feeling or attitude, which brought about a given con¬ 
sequence, the relation of cause and effect between them is not 
perceived; and hence that no moral lesson is learned or any wis¬ 
dom gained from such features of our lot in the present life as 
are consequences of right or wrong conduct in preceding lives. 

A sufficient answer to this objection is that perception of the 
consequences of our conduct is one way, but not the only way, 
in which growth in wisdom, virtue, or ability, can be brought 
about by those consequences. An act of which we retain no mem¬ 
ory may nevertheless have the remote effect of placing us eventu¬ 
ally in a situation conducive to the acquiring of the wisdom, 
virtue, or ability, lack of which made us act as we did in the for¬ 
gotten past. If, as the Karma doctrine of the Hindus asserts, our 
conduct in one incarnation automatically tends to have this very 
sort of consequence in one or another of our later lives, then lack 
of memory of those past lives does not prevent our growing 
morally and spiritually, in this indirect manner, owing to the 
nature of our conduct in unremembered earlier lives. Moreover 
if, as already suggested may be the case, memory of preceding 
lives is regained in the discarnate interval between incarnations, 
this would make growth in wisdom possible not only in the man¬ 
ner just described, but also by discernment of some of the con¬ 
sequences of certain of one’s acts in earlier lives. 

5. The objection that wisdom, virtue, knowledge, and skills 
are not innate, but are gradually acquired after birth. It may 
be objected, however, that whatever such growth we achieve in a 
given incarnation, whether in the indirect manner described, or 
directly out of perception of the consequences of acts done in the 
present or in a previous incarnation, that growth anyway does 
not carry over from past lives to the present one. For children 
are not born with knowledge that fire burns, but have to learn 



it again in this life no matter how many times in past lives they 
may have touched fire and got burnt. Similarly, children have 
to be taught not to lie and not to take the property of others; 
they are not born with ready-made mathematical or musical or 
other skills, any more than with a ready-made moral conscience, 
but acquire all these by processes open to observation. No mat¬ 
ter what they may have learned in past lives, their education- 
moral, intellectual, aesthetic, and of other sons—certainly seems 
to have to start from scratch in the present life. 

Reflection, however, makes evident that what has just been 
said is not quite the whole story. Skills, habits, knowledge, and 
other varieties of what psychologists call “conditionings'' indeed 
have to be painstakingly acquired during the years of life. But 
what we come equipped with at birth is not these things; it is 
only certain instincts and certain aptitudes—an aptitude being a 
capacity to acquire, when subjected to the relevant stimuli, cer¬ 
tain more determinate capacities of the kinds mentioned above 
In these native aptitudes, human beings differ considerably one 
from another. One person will learn quickly and easily what 
another, even with great effort, is able to learn but slowly and 

In this connection, it is useful to dwell on the fact that if 
any one of us, had been taken away in early childhood from the 
family where in fact he grew up, and had been placed instead 
among the Pygmies of Africa, or among the Eskimos, or among 
the Chinese; or indeed, in his native country, in a family mark¬ 
edly different in economic, cultural and social respects from that 
in which he was born; then he would, on the basis of his very 
same stock of native aptitudes, certainly have developed a per¬ 
sonality vastly different from his present one. Reflection on this 
indubitable fact is likely to make the personality he now calls his 
Self appear to him analogous rather to some particular one of the 
various roles which a given actor is capable of playing. And this 
reflection is then likely to lead a person to identify his true Self 
with his native set of basic aptitudes, rather than with the acci 
dental particular personality—i.e., the particular memories, skills, 
habits, and so on—generated through the interaction between 



those aptitudes and the particular environment in which his body 
happens to have lived. 

It is true that, when discussing reincarnation, Professor 
James H. Hyslop writes: “It is personality that we want, if sur¬ 
vival is to be in any way interesting to us, and not only per¬ 
sonality, but we want a personal consciousness of this personal 
identity." 2 But in the light of the remarks just made this demand, 
though natural enough, appears rather naively wilful. 

The supposition just considered, that if reincarnation is a 
fact then what a man brings to a new birth is not a developed 
mind or personality but only certain aptitudes, has commended 
itself also to some other writers who, however, have worded it 
somewhat differently. Professor Broad, for example, suggests that 
what transmigrates, if anything does, might not be a mind but 
only something which he calls a “psychogenic factor," the nature 
of which, however, he does not describe beyond saying that, from 
combination of it with a brain, a mind emerges—somewhat as 
common salt emerges out of the combination of sodium and 
chlorine, neither of which by itself has the properties of salt. 3 
Again, Professor Francis Bowen, in an article in the Princeton 
Review for May, 1881, quoted at considerable length by E. D. 
Walker, 4 offered a similar hypothesis, wording it, however, in 
terms of Kant’s distinction between man’s Intelligible Character, 
which is noumenal, and his Empirical Character, which is phe¬ 
nomenal—a distinction only alluded to in the particular passage 
of Kant’s Critique we cited earlier, but which Kant formulates 
explicitly elsewhere in a different connection. 

But if transmigration is to be conceived as a process of 
growth, it is necessary to assume that the activities and experi¬ 
ences of each incarnation result not only in the acquisition of 
particular skills, tastes, habits, knowledge, etc., on the basis of the 
aptitudes (or “psychogenic factor," or “Intelligible Character") 
brought from past lives; but in addition result in some alteration 

*Borderland of Psychial Research, Turner & Co. Boston, 1906, p. 368. 

% The Mind and its Place in Nature, Harcourt Brace & Co. New York, 1929, p. 

‘Reincarnation, A Study of Forgotten Truth, Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1888, 
pp. 102 ff. 



of that stock of aptitudes itself—enhancement of some of them, 
deterioration of others, perhaps acquisition of new ones, and 
possibly loss altogether of certain others. .And Broad indeed postu¬ 
lates for the psychogenic factor capacity to be modified to some 
extent by the experiences and activities of the mind which has 
resulted from the combination of the psychogenic and the bodily 

6. Native aptitudes, heredity, and growth of the self. It 
may be contended, however, that a person’s native aptitudes or 
anyway some of them are a matter of heredity; and that if they 
are derived thus from his ancestors then they are not derived 
from strivings or experiences of his own past lives. But McTag- 
gart, whose favorable opinion of the transmigration hypothesis 
was cited earlier, argues that the facts of heredity are at least not 
incompatible with transmigration. “There is no impossibility,” 
he writes, “in supposing that the characteristics in which we re¬ 
semble the ancestors of our bodies may be to some degree char¬ 
acteristics due to our previous lives.” He points out that “hats 
in general fit their wearers with far greater accuracy than they 
would if each man’s hat were assigned to him by lot. And yet 
there is very seldom any causal connection between the shape of 
the head and the shape of the hat. A man’s head is never made 
to fit his hat, and, in the great majority of cases, his hat is not 
made to fit his head. The adaptation comes about by each man 
selecting, from hats made without any special reference to his 
particular head, the hat which will suit his particular head best.” 
And McTaggart goes on to say: “This may help us to see that it 
would be possible to hold that a man whose nature had certain 
characteristics when he was about to be reborn, would be reborn 
in a body descended from ancestors of a similar character. His 
character when reborn would, in this case, be decided, as far as 
the points in question went, by his character in his previous life, 
and not by the character of the ancestors of his new body. But 

.the character of the ancestors of the new body, and its 

similarity to his character,” would be what “determined the fact 
that he was reborn in that body rather than another.” 6 And in 

*Some Dogmas of Religion, Edward Arnold, London, 1906, p. 125. 



answer to the question as to how each person finds the body most 
appropriate to him, McTaggart refers to the analogy of chemical 

McTaggart, it must be emphasized, is not contending that 
some of the characteristics—or let us say more specifically, apti- 
itudes—which a person possesses were gained in an earlier life 
and brought over to the present one at birth. He is contending 
only that this supposition is not incompatible with the inher¬ 
itance of aptitudes from one’s ancestors. 

But the compatibility of the two, or not, turns on whether 
heredity accounts for every aptitude a person is born with. If it 
does, then the supposition that any aptitudes at all are brought 
from a past incarnation becomes wholly idle. Indeed, no room 
at all is left for it, since if something did have a certain origin, 
then it did not have a different one! 

The assumption, however, that heredity does account for all 
of a person’s native aptitudes is a good deal more sweeping than 
present-day knowledge of heredity warrants. Hence, if a given 
aptitude a man has does not happen to be traceable to his parents 
or known ancestors, his having brought it over from an earlier 
life remains conceivable. 

But just what, in McTaggart’s simile, the “hat” and the 
“head” may respectively consist in literally, can become clear only 
in the light of analysis of the notions of an “aptitude” and of the 
corresponding “skill.” 

An aptitude, it will be recalled, is the capacity to acquire a 
specific capacity under given circumstances; and the specific ca¬ 
pacity concerned is a skill in so far as it is voluntary. Moreover, 
that a given person did possess aptitude for acquisition of a given 
skill is shown by his having in fact acquired it. But the factors on 
which his having acquired it depended are several. 

One was possession by him of such bodily organs of sensa¬ 
tion or of action as may be necessary for exercise of the skill con¬ 
cerned. For example, no matter how musically gifted otherwise 
a man may be, he cannot acquire high skill as a violinist if his 
fingers are short, thick, and stiff. 

A second factor consists in possession of psychological apti- 



tude for acquisition of the skill concerned, in addition to such 
bodily aptitude as the skill may require. 

The third factor consists of the external opportunities or/and 
stimuli which the person in view has had for acquisition of that 
skill. A man’s capacity to acquire ability to swim, for instance, 
would have no opportunity to realize itself if he were to spend 
his whole life in the desert. 

And a fourth factor is interest in acquisition of the skill con¬ 
cerned. Aptitude and opportunity for acquisition of the skill 
might exist, yet interest in acquiring it might be lacking. Or the 
interest might exist but remain latent in the absence of external 
circumstances that would arouse it. Or the interest might exist 
and be patent, but the person might have no aptitude for acquisi¬ 
tion of the particular skill. The interest is therefore a factor addi 
tional to the other three. 

Which of the four factors, we may now ask, would constitute 
the “hat” in McTaggart’s simile, and which of them the “head”? 

The first factor—bodily aptitude—is plausibly a matter of 
biological heredity and would therefore be part of the “hat.” 
Whether or how far the second factor—psychological aptitude— 
is also purely a matter of biological heredity is dubious. So when, 
as often is the case, a given aptitude is not traceable to the par¬ 
ents or the known ancestors, the supposition that it has been 
brought over from an earlier life remains possible. The aptitude 
concerned would then be part of the “head.” 

The third factor — the external circumstances which per 
mitted acquisition of the skill for which aptitude existed—would 
evidently be another part of the “hat.” And the fourth factor- 
existence of latent interest in acquisition of the skill concerned- 
can, like the aptitude for that skill, be supposed to be a carry¬ 
over from an earlier life and thus to be part of the “head.” In¬ 
deed, that interest, which amounts to a craving to acquire that 
skill, can be supposed to operate as the quasi “chemical affinity” 
McTaggart invokes, by which the aptitude to acquire that skill 
is brought to incarnation in a family that provides not only the 
appropriate bodily heredity, but also eventually the kind of ex¬ 
ternal circumstances necessary for development of the particular 
skill concerned. 

Chapter XXII 


In Chapter XXI, we examined a number of difficulties in 
the way of the reincarnation hypothesis, and found them far 
from sufficient to show that it cannot be true, or even (hat it is 
more probably false than true. We now come to the question 
whether any empirical evidence is available that would tend to 
support the hypothesis. In the present chapter, certain facts will 
be considered which have sometimes been offered as evidence of 
reincarnation but which, as we shall see, admit of some different 
and more plausible explanation. And since, in Part IV, we came 
to the conclusion that some positive evidence exists for survival- 
survival discarnate for the time being anyway—of some compo¬ 
nents of the personality of deceased persons, the facts on which 
we shall comment in the present chapter will include the testi¬ 
mony on the subject of reincarnation contained in certain com¬ 
munications which purported to emanate from surviving spirits 
of the deceased. 

1. “D£ja vu” experiences. An experience sometimes thought 
by the persons who have it to be evidence that they have lived 
before their present life is the experience psychologists have 
labelled “d£jd vu,” i.e., “already seen,” “seen before.” It is what 
occurs when a person “recognizes” some situation which in fact he 
never experienced before—for example some street or house in a 
town he is now visiting for the first time, and of which he has 
never seen a picture or description. In such cases, the person 
concerned sometimes interprets the fact that what he is seeing for 
the first time in his life nevertheless feels familiar to him, as being 
evidence that he must have seen it in an earlier life. 

The true explanation, however, is usually that the new sit¬ 
uation is similar in prominent respects to some situation he has 




experienced before in his present life but which he does not at 
the moment recall; and that, although the two situations also have 
dissimilarities, nevertheless the points of likeness between them 
are sufficient to generate the feeling of familiarity which, nor¬ 
mally, is a sign that the object or situation arousing it was ex¬ 
perienced before. A striking example of such spurious recogni¬ 
tion occurs when we “recognize” a person whom we have in fact 
never met before, but who happens to be the twin of an ac¬ 
quaintance we then mistakenly believe ourselves to be facing at 
the moment. 

Another explanation, however, perhaps fits better some in¬ 
stances of “d£jd vu”—those where the person concerned feels that 
he so remembers the conversation he is now hearing, or the house 
he is now entering for the first time, that he can tell what the 
person who speaks next is going to say, or what a given door in 
the house leads into. 

In such cases, what he now feels he already knows may be 
something which he is now paranormally precognizing. Or it 
may be something which he paranormally precognized a short 
time before, but only subconsciously, or perhaps the night before 
in a dream he does not remember—the later parts of the past 
precognition being now brought to consciousness by the present 
perceptual fulfillment of the earlier parts. 

Whether or not this explanation happens to be the correct 
one in a given case, the fact that precognition has been experi¬ 
mentally proved to occur sometimes 1 means that explanation of 
a “d£jd vu” experience in terms of paranormal precognition must 
not be ruled out a priori, and that the normal type of explanation 
must not be made a Procrustean bed, which every fact of this 
kind, no matter how recalcitrant, shall be stretched or tiimmed to 
fit into. 

2. Illusions of Memory. Mnemonic illusions are another 
type of experience capable of causing a person to believe that he 
has lived other lives than his present one. The late Prof. J H. 

'See for instance “Experiments in Precognitive Telepathy” by S. G. Soal and 
K. M. Goldney, Proc. S.P.R. Vol. 47:21-150; 1943; and summary in Modem Experi¬ 
ments in Telepathy, by S. G. Soal and F. Bateman, Yale Univ. Press 1954, pp. 123-31. 



Hyslop mentions an example of such an illusion, which, although 
the experient did not interpret it as memory of an earlier life, 
nevertheless strikingly illustrates the possibility of mnemonic 
illusion. 2 The person concerned was a friend of Dr. Hyslop’s, 
and, in conversation with another, mentioned that he remem¬ 
bered the Harrison presidential campaign and described in con¬ 
siderable detail many of the incidents in it. He, however, had 
been born in 1847, whereas the Harrison campaign had taken 
place in 1840. The explanation of his “memories” of the cam¬ 
paign turned out to be that what he really remembered were 
the vivid images of the campaign which he had formed in child¬ 
hood as a result of the elaborate descriptions of it which uncles 
of his who had taken part in it and with whom he went to live at 
the age of eight, delighted to rehearse, in his hearing, for their 
friends and neighbors. He had remembered the images, but not 
how his mind had come to be furnished with them. 

3. Paranormal retrocognitions. But a person's belief that 
he had an earlier life may be a conclusion he bases on a dream or 
vision which subsequent historical research shows to have cor¬ 
responded in recondite details to some historical event antedating 
his birth—which details he certainly never learned in a normal 
manner. A tempting interpretation of such an experience is that 
he actually witnessed the event in an earlier life, and that the 
vision or dream is a memory image of it, carried over from that 
earlier life to the present one. 

An example of a vision which would lend itself to such an 
interpretation, although in fact it was not so interpreted by the 
two ladies who had the vision, is that of Miss Moberly and Miss 
Jourdain at Versailles, related in their much discussed book en¬ 
titled An Adventure . 3 A more plausible interpretation of the 
facts as reported—which is the interpretation they themselves 
adopted—is that their vision was a case of retrocognitive clair¬ 

4. Testimony, purportedly from discarnate spirits. Another 

* Borderland, of Psychical Research, Turner & Co., Boston, 1906, pp. 371-2. 

•London, Faber & Faber, 1911. By 1947 the book had had four editions and 
many printings. 



kind of empirical evidence alleged by some to substantiate, or 
to invalidate, the belief in reincarnation consists of the declara 
tions on the subject contained in the mediumistic communica 
tions from purported discarnate spirits. 

In 1856, Hypolite Denizard Rivail, better known by his pen 
name of Allan Kardec, published Le Livre des Esprits, consisting 
mainly of communications, dictated through unnamed diverse 
mediums” by various purported discarnate spirits in answer to 
questions asked by Kardec—these questions and answers being 
then published by him in the book at the behest of those spirits. 
One of the central doctrines proclaimed by them is that of i< in¬ 
carnation. The following, which is a translation of Sec 166 of 
the 1947 amplified edition, is a typical passage (from Chapter 
IV pp. 147/8): * 

Q. How can the soul, which has not reached perfection dur¬ 
ing corporeal life, complete its purification? 

A . By undergoing the trials of a new life. 

Q. How does the soul accomplish this new life? Is it by its 
transformation into Spirit? 

A. The soul, by purification, undoubtedly undergoes a trans 
formation, but for this it needs the trials of a new life. 

Q. The soul then has several corporeal lives? 

A. Yes, we all have several lives. Those who assert the con¬ 
trary wish to keep you in the ignorance in which they 
themselves are; it is their desire. 

Q. It seems to follow from this principle that the soul, after 
having left one body, takes on another; in other words, 
that it reincarnates in a new body. Is this what we are to 

A. Evidently. 

Interesting additional information concerning Le Livre des 
Esprits is provided by Alexander Aksakof, one of the early in¬ 
vestigators of psychic phenomena, in an article entitled “Re¬ 
searches on the Historical Origin of the Reincarnation Specula- 

•Ed. Griffon d’Or, Paris, 1947. 



tions of French Spiritualists.” 4 He states that, in 1873 in Paris, 
he heard that a somnambulist, Celina Japhet (real name, Bequet) 
had contributed largely to the work. He called on her, and she 
told him among other things, that she was ‘‘a natural somnam¬ 
bulist from her earliest years;” that, in 1845 she went to Paris, 
made the acquaintance of a magnetizer, M. Roustan, and be¬ 
came a professional somnambulist under his control, giving “med¬ 
ical advice under the spiritual direction of her grandfather, who 
had been a doctor;” and that “in this manner in 1846 the doc¬ 
trine of Reincarnation was given to her by the spirits of her 
grandfather, of St. Theresa, and others.” Aksakof states at this 
point that “as the somnambulic powers of Madame Japhet were 
developed under the mesmeric influence of M. Roustan, it may 
be well to remark in this place that M. Roustan himself believed 
in the plurality of terrestrial existences.” Aksakof’s account of 
what Madame Japhet told him goes on to relate that from 1849 
until 1870, she was a member of a spirit circle in Paris which met 
once or twice a week, and of which Victorien Sardou was a mem¬ 
ber; that, after a while, she became a writing medium and that 
the greater part of her communications were obtained in this 
manner; and that “in 1856 she met M. Denizard Rivail, intro¬ 
duced by M. Victorien Sardou. He [Rivail] correlated the ma¬ 
terials by a number of questions; himself arranged the whole 
in systematic order, and published The Spirits’ Book without 
ever mentioning the name of Madame C. Japhet, although three 
quarters of this book had been given through her mediumship. 
The rest was obtained from communications through Madame 

Bodin, who belonged to another spirit circle.After the 

publication of The Book of Spirits .he quitted the circle 

[Mme. Japhet’s] and arranged another in his own house, M. 
Roze being the medium.” Aksakof’s article ends with the words: 
“All that I have herein stated does not affect the question of Re¬ 
incarnation, considered upon its own merits, but only concerns 
the causes of its origin and of its propagation as Spiritism.” 

Another Frenchman, Alphonse Cahagnet, published in 1848 
a book, Arcanes de la Vie Future Devoiles, translated under the 

4 The Spiritualist, Aug. 13, 1875, pp. 74-5. 



title of The Celestial Telegraph, and containing, like Kardec’s, 
communications purporting to emanate from discarnate human 
spirits, who on the contrary deny that reincarnation occurs. For 

(>. You are convinced that we never more appear on earth, 
to be again materialized? 

A. We are born, and die but once; when we are in heaven, 
it is for eternity. 5 

In England, the famous medium, D. D. Home, denied and 
ridiculed the doctrine; and communications through mediums in 
English speaking countries, when touching at all on reincarna¬ 
tion, have in most cases denied it. For example, Dr. C. A. Wick- 
land, in his book, Thirty Years Among the Dead, already men¬ 
tioned, reports many communications received through his own 
wife as medium, including some purporting to come from de¬ 
ceased persons who while on earth had accepted and taught re¬ 
incarnation, but who in those communications repudiate the 
doctrine. Prominent among these are the purported spirits of 
Ella Wheeler Wilcox (pp. 411-5) and of Mme. Blavatsky (pp 

Their testimony, however, is hardly more impressive than 
that of Allan Kardec’s spirits on the opposite side of the ques¬ 
tion. For instance, what the supposed spirit of Ella Wheeler Wil¬ 
cox says is that she “would not care to come back.would 

not like to come back to this earth plane again to be a little 
baby;” that she does “not see why” she should come back! But 
obviously, if our likes and dislikes as regards our own future fate, 
settled the question of what it actually will be, then few of us 
would die, or become bald or wrinkled, or ever catch cold; for 
few persons indeed like these prospects. 

The utterances of the purported Blavatsky spirit are much 
more categorical: “Reincarnation is not true,” the spirit says, “I 
have tried and tried to come back to be somebody else, but I 
could not. We cannot reincarnate. We progress, we do not come 
back.” 6 But although more downright, these statements are no 

6 Sec. 83, p. Ill of the 1851 First American Edition. 
*Op. cit. Chapt. XV, p. 421. 



more impressive than those of the Wilcox spirit; for it would be 
strange indeed that, as those statements would have it, not only 
the other alleged spirits of former Theosophists quoted in the 
same chapter, but the spirit of the very foundress of the modern 
Theosophical movement, should expect and try to reincarnate 
just a few years after death, notwithstanding her own explicit 
teaching that the interval between incarnations averages from 
1000 to 1500 years; notwithstanding her own definite condem¬ 
nation of the belief of "the Allan Kardec an 

arbitrary and immediate reincarnation;" 7 and notwithstanding 
her own teaching that reincarnation takes place not by trying for 
it, but automatically at the end of many centuries spent in the 
blissful "devachan" dream world. And it would be equally strange 
that reincarnation should now be denied—on the ground of the 
gratuitous assumption that "progressing" and "coming back" are 
mutually exclusive—by the very same Mme. Blavatsky who had 
affirmed reincarnation on the ground that we progress by coming 
back, as does the schoolboy progress by coming back to the same 
school after vacations and learning each time new lessons, which 
the school well can teach him but which he cannot all learn in 
a single term. 

Thus, if the utterances of the purported Blavatsky spirit 
should be considered evidence at all for anything, it would then 
rather be for truth of the Blavatsky teaching that the purported 
spirits who speak or write through a medium are instead only 
what is left of a personality when, some time after death, what 
she calls "the second death" has taken place; that is, when the 
higher active, thinking and judging mind has withdrawn from 
and left behind the lower, passive part, consisting of the habits, 
passions, memory images, and desires. This unthinking shell of 
the personality, she taught, borrows from the medium’s living 
mind and is in this way temporarily able to act the part of a true 

It would seem, then, that the misconceptions of Mme. Blavat- 
sky's teachings evident in the statements of her alleged spirit 
through Mrs. Wickland, and uniformly also in the statements 

7 The Key to Theosophy, 3rd. cd. 1893, pp. 90, 98, 129. 



of the alleged spirits of former disciples of hers, are in fact simply 
the misconceptions of those teachings present in Mrs. Wicklands 
own mind. 

As regards the modes of thought and the style of the com¬ 
munications attributed in Dr. Wickland’s book to the spirit of 
Ella Wheeler Wilcox, the present writer is not in position to 
judge whether they are typical of the thought and style of the 
prototype. But in the case of those attributed to Mme. Blavat- 
sky’s spirit, the intellectual content of most of the utterances in 
the eight pages of its communications is of the feeble quality 
which is rather usual in “spirit” messages; and which, if the 
messages really emanated from the particular spirits claimed to 
be their authors, would cause one to weep for the then degenera¬ 
tion patently undergone after death by the minds of such of 
them as, like Mme. Blavatsky’s, were anywav vigorous 

In this connection, it is interesting to note that the pur¬ 
ported Blavatsky spirit says at one point: “Some may say this is 
not Madam Blavatsky. . . .They may say, she would not say so 
and so, she would not talk so and so,—but it is Madam Blavat 
sky” (p. 424.). This would indicate that the would-be-Blavatsky 
“spirit” was conscious of the incongruity of its own utterances 
to the mind and personality of its claimed prototype. 

Anyway, assuming for the purposes of the argument that the 
communications by mediums do come from discamate human 
spirits, and even that these spirits are the particular ones they say 
they are, the really important point with regard to their denials 
of the reincarnation doctrine is that their lack of memory of lives 
earlier than their recent one on earth proves exactly nothing; 
just as the fact pointed out earlier that we now have no memory 
of the first few years after our birth or of the vast majority of our 
days since then, is no proof at all that we were not alive and 
conscious at those times. And the spirits’ denial, or equally their 
assertion, that they will eventually reincarnate, is not based by 
them on any claim of paranormal capacity to precognize their 
own far remote future; nor is there any evidence that they have 
such capacity. Indeed, A. Campbell Holms, a writer who does 
not himself believe in reincarnation, but who is familiar with 
the records of spirit communications and apparently accepts them 



at their face value, writes: “Spirits long passed over, who appear 
to discuss matters with moderation and caution, if asked about 
reincarnation, will usually say that, although it may be true, they 
have no knowledge of it .” 8 

Such “spirits” thus evince greater intellectual responsibility 
than do either those Spiritualists or Spiritists who naively assume 
that the mere fact of a person’s having died constitutes an answer 
to the question how his surviving spirit knows, or whether it 
knows, that reincarnation is not, or is, a fact. All that a surviving 
discarnate spirit could competently testify to would be (a) that it 
has survived its body’s death; (b) that, as yet, it has not rein¬ 
carnated; and (c) that it does not, or as the case may be does, 
“remember” anterior lives on earth. 

*Thc Facts of Psychic Science and Philosophy, London, Kcgan Paul, 1925, p. 36. 

Chapter XX/// 


The best evidenced and most evidential case of “reincarna¬ 
tion” known to the present writer is that described in Chapter 
XVII, Section 4, which was reported by Dr. E. W. Stevens under 
the title of “The Watseka Wonder.” But what it would illustrate 
is reincarnation only as conceived by the African Mandingos and 
by Dr. Wickland; that is, as invasion by a discarnate spirir of he 
body of a grown person whose own personality is thereby more or 
less completely displaced. Cases of this kind, when they are not 
explicable as simply dissociations of the personality whose body is 
concerned, would ordinarily be described as cases of “possession” 
or “obsession,” rather than of reincarnation. For the term “rein¬ 
carnation” is commonly intended to mean rebirth, in a neonate 
baby body, of a “spirit” or “soul” which has had earlier lives 
on earth. 

Such claim as can be made that the cases which will now be 
cited constitute empirical evidence of reincarnation as conceived 
in the latter way rests not simply on the purported memories of 
the earlier life or lives, but on the allegation that some of the facts 
seemingly remembered have been subsequently verified but could 
not possibly have been learned in a normal manner by the per¬ 
son who has “memories” of them. 

1. The rebirth of Katsugoro. This case is cited by Lafcadio 
Hearn in Chapter X of his Gleanings in Buddha Fields. 1 He 
states at the outset that what he is presenting “is only the trans¬ 
lation of an old Japanese document—or rather series of docu- 

'Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1897. 



ments—very much signed and sealed, and dating back to the early 
part of the present [i.e., the 19th] century/' The documents were 
in the library of Count Sasaki in Tokyo. A copy of them was 
made for Hearn, who made the translation. Reduced to essen¬ 
tials, the facts related in the documents are as follows: 

Katsugoro was a Japanese boy, born on the 10th day of the 
10th month of 1815, son of Genzo, a farmer living in the village 
of Nakano Mura, and his wife Sei. One day, at about the age of 
seven, Katsugoro, while playing with his elder sister Fusa, asked 
her where she came from before her present birth. She thought 
the question foolish and asked him whether he could remember 
things that happened before he was born. He answered that he 
could; that he used to be the son of a man called Kyubei and his 
wife Shidzu, who lived in Hodokubo; and that his name was then 
Tozo. When later questioned by his grandmother, he said that 
until he was four years old he could remember everything, but 
had since forgotten a good deal; but he added that when he had 
been five years old Kyubei had died, and that a man named 
Hanshiro had then taken Kyubei’s place in the household; that 
he himself had died of smallpox at the age of six, when his body 
was put in a jar and buried on a hill; that some old man then 
took him away and after a time brought him to Genzo’s house, 
saying “Now you must be reborn, for it is three years since you 
died. You are to be reborn in this house." After entering the 
house, he stayed for three days in the kitchen; and he concluded: 

“Then I entered mother's honorable womb.I remember 

that I was born without any pain at all." 

After relating all this, Katsugoro asked to be taken to Hodo- 
kudo to visit the tomb of his former father, Kyubei. His grand¬ 
mother Tsuya took him there and when they reached Hodokubo, 
he hurried ahead and, when he reached a certain dwelling, cried 
“This is the house" and ran in. His grandmother followed and, 
on inquiry, was told that the owner of the house was called 
Hanshiro; his wife, Shidzu; that she had had a son, Tozo, who 
had died thirteen years before at the age of six, his father having 
been Kyubei. Katsugoro, who was looking about during the con¬ 
versation, pointed to a tobacco shop across the road, and to a tree, 
saying that they used not to be there. This was true, and con- 



vinced Hanshiro and his wife that Katsugoro had bem Tozo, who 
had been bom in 1805, and had died in 1810. (The year of birth 
of a Japanese child, Hearn states in a footnote, is counted as one 
year of his age.) 

Evidently, Katsugoro’s experience, as testified to in the af¬ 
fidavits translated by Hearn and summarized above, is radically 
different from that of Lurancy Vennum in the Watseka Wonder 
case. Nothing of the nature of obsession or possession appears 
in his case. His Katsugoro personality is at no time displaced or 
interfered with by that of Tozo, any more than is the personality 
of an adult “possessed” by the very different personality that was 
his in childhood, but which he remembers. The account presents 
Katsugoro as a normal boy, whose memories simply reached 
farther back than the time of his birth. Assuming the objective 
facts to have been as related in the affidavits translated b> Hearn, 
the only explanation of them to suggest itself as alternative to 
reincarnation is that of paranormal retrocognition, by Katsugoro, 
of the various events and surroundings of the short life Tozo lived 
in another village some years before Katsugoro’s birth, plus un¬ 
conscious imaginative self-identification by Katsugoro with the 
retrocognized Tozo personality. This kind of explanation would 
require us to postulate in Katsugoro a capacity for retrocognitive 
clairvoyance far exceeding in scope any for the reality of which 
experimental evidence exists. And such postulation, if made at 
all, would undermine the empirical evidence not only for rein¬ 
carnation, but equally of course for discarnate survival of the 
personality after death. 

2. The rebirth of Alexandrina Samona. The next case is 
the well-attested one of the rebirth of Alexandrina Samona, which 
is peculiar in that, according to the accounts of the affair, it in¬ 
volved not only like that of Katsugoro memories of an earlier 
incarnation, but also and prominently the announcement by the 
girl’s discarnate spirit that she was about to be reborn. 

The facts were recorded at the time in the Italian periodical 
Filosofia della Scienza, and discussed subsequently there and in 
the French Journal du Magnetisme. The articles—the Italian 
ones, translated into French—and the attestations of the several 



persons who had first-hand knowledge of the facts, are reproduced 
in extenso together with photographs of the two girls, and dis¬ 
cussed, in Dr. Charles Lancelin’s book, La Vie Posthume 2 

Alexandrina, aged five years, died in Palermo, Sicily, on 
March 15, 1910. She was the daughter of Dr. Carmelo Samona 
and his wife Adela. He recorded the facts and communicated 
them to the editor of the Italian Journal mentioned above. Three 
days after Alexandria's death, her mother dreamed that the 
child appeared to her and said: “Mother, do not cry any more. 
I have not left you; I have only gone a little away. Look: I 
shall become little, like this”—showing her the likeness of a com¬ 
plete little embryo. Then she added: “You are therefore going 
to have to begin to suffer again on account of me.” Three days 
later, the same dream occurred again. 

A friend suggested to Mme. Samona that this meant Alex¬ 
andrina would reincarnate in a baby she would have. The 
mother, however, disbelieved this—the more so because she had 
had an operation which it was thought would make it impossible 
for her to have any more children. 

Some days later, at a moment when Mme. Samona was ex¬ 
pressing bitterest grief to her husband over the loss of Alexan¬ 
drina, three inexplicable sharp knocks were heard. The two of 
them then decided to hold family seances in the hope of obtain¬ 
ing typtological communications from discarnate spirits. From 
the very first seance, two purported such spirits manifested them¬ 
selves: one, that of Alexandrina, and the other, that of an aunt 
of hers who had died years before. In this manner, Alexan¬ 
dria's spirit testified that it was she herself who had appeared to 
her mother in the dream and who had later caused the three loud 
knocks; and she added that she would be reborn to her mother 
before Christmas, and that she would come with a twin sister. 
In the subsequent seances, she insisted again and again that this 
prediction be communicated to various relatives and friends of 
the family. 

2 Pub. Henri Durville, Paris, no date (about 1920) pp. 309-363. See also the 
briefer accounts of the case in Ralph Shirley’s The Problem of Rebirth, Occult 
Book Society London, no date. Ch. V; and A. de Rochas’ Les Vies Successives, 
Chacomac, Paris 1911, pp. 338-45. 



On November 22, 1910, Mme. Samona gave birth to twin 
daughters. One of them closely resembled Alexandria, and was 
so named. The other was of a markedly different physical type 
and eventually proved to have a very different disposition—alert, 
active, restless and gregarious—whereas Alexandrina II, like Alex¬ 
andria I, was calm, neat, and content to play by herself. She 
had, like her namesake, hyperaemia of the left eye, seborrhea of 
the right ear, and noticeable facial asymmetry’; and, also like her. 
was left-handed and enjoyed playing endlessly at folding, tidying, 
and arranging such clothing or linen as were at hand. She in¬ 
sisted, like Alexandrina I, that her hands should be always clean, 
and she shared the first Alexandria's invincible repugnance to 

When, at the age of ten, the twins were told of a projected 
excursion to Monreale where they had never been, Alexandrina 
asserted that her mother, in the company of ‘a lady who had 
horns,” had taken her to Monreale before. She described ’he 
large statue on the roof of the church there and said they had met 
with some little red priests in the town. Then Mme. Samona 
recalled that, some months before the death of the first Alexan¬ 
drina, she had gone to Monreale with the child and with a lady 
who had disfiguring wens (“horns”) on her forehead, and that 
they had seen a group of young Greek priests with blue robes 
ornamented with red. 

Attestations were obtained by Dr. Samona from several ot 
the persons who were personally acquainted with the facts—in 
particular, from his own sister; from his wife’s uncle; from an 
Evangelical Pastor to whom Dr. Samona had related the predic¬ 
tion of the rebirth before it was fulfilled; and from a lady to 
whom, in March 1910, Mme. Samona had described the dream, 
and, in June, the seances announcing twins. 

The comments relevant to this case are essentially the same 
as those made on the preceding one, and therefore need not be 

3. The case of Shanti Devi. In 1936, a pamphlet was 
printed by the Baluja Press in Delhi, India, setting forth the re¬ 
sults of an inquiry into the case of Shanti Devi by Lala Desh- 



bandhu Gupta (Managing Director of the Daily Tej,) Pandit 
Neki Ram Sharma (a leader in the Nationalist movement,) and 
Mr. Tara Chand Mathur (an Advocate.) The chief facts re¬ 
corded in their statements are as follows. 

They concern a girl, Kumari Shanti Devi, born October 12, 
1926 in Delhi, daughter of B. Rang Bahadur Mathur. From the 
age of about four, she began to speak of a former life of hers in 
Muttra—a town about 100 miles from Delhi—saying that she was 
then a Choban by caste, that her husband was a cloth merchant, 
that her house was yellow, etc. Later, she told a grand-uncle of 
hers, Mr. Bishan Chand, that her husband’s name in her previous 
life had been Pt. Kedar Nath Chaubey. The uncle mentioned 
this to Mr. Lala Kishan Chand, M.A., a retired Principal, who 
asked to meet the girl. She then gave him the address of “Kedar 
Nath,’’ to whom he wrote. To his surprise, it turned out that 
Kedar Nath Chaubey actually existed; and, in his reply to the 
letter, he confirmed various of the details Shanti Devi had given 
and suggested that a relative of his in Delhi, Pt. Kanji Mai, in¬ 
terview the girl. When he came to see her, she recognized him as 
a cousin of her former husband and gave convincing replies to 
questions of his concerning intimate details. 

Pt. Kedar Nath Chaubey then, on November 13, 1935, came 
to Delhi with his present wife and his ten year old son by his 
former wife. Shanti Devi recognized Kedar Nath and was greatly 
moved, answering convincingly various questions asked by him 
about private matters of her former life as his wife, and mention¬ 
ing that she had buried Rs. 150. in a certain room of her house in 
Muttra. After they left, she kept asking to be taken to Muttra, 
describing various features of the town. On November 24, 1935, 
she and her parents, and the three inquirers who author the 
pamphlet, went to Muttra. On the railway platform an elderly 
man in the group of people there paused for a moment in front 
of her, and she recognized him, saying that he was her “Jeth,” 
i.e., the elder brother of her former husband. 

The party then took a carriage, whose driver was instructed 
to follow whatever route the girl told him. She mentioned that 
the road to the station had not been asphalted when she lived 
in Muttra, and she pointed out various buildings which had not 



existed then. She led the party to the lane in which was a house 
she had formerly occupied. In the lane, she met and recognized 
an old Brahmin, whom she correctly identified as her father-in- 
law. She identified the old house, now rented to strangers. Two 
gentlemen of Muttra, who then joined the party, asked her where 
the ' Jai-Zarur” of the house was—a local expression which the 
party from Delhi did not understand. She, however, understood 
it and pointed out the privy which, in Muttra, that term is used 
to designate. 

After leaving the old house, and as she led the way to the 
newer one still occupied by Chaubey Kedar Nath, she recogni/ d 
her former brother now twenty-five years old, and her uncle in¬ 
law. At the house, she was asked to point out the well she had 
mentioned in Delhi. There is now no well in the courtyard there, 
but she pointed out the place where it had been. Kedar Nath 
then lifted the stone with which it had since been covered She 
then led the way to the room she said she had formerly occupied, 
where she had buried the money. She pointed to the spot, which 
was then dug up, and, about a foot down, a receptacle for keep¬ 
ing valuables was found, but no money was in it. Kedar Nath 
Chaubey later disclosed that he had removed it after the death 
of his first wife, Lugdi, at the age of 23, on October 4, 1925 
following the birth of her son on September 25 Later, Shanti 
Devi recognized her former father and mother in a crowd of over 
fifty persons. 

The pamphlet reproduces also the confirmatory testimony 
of Kedar Nath’s cousin in Delhi, Choubey Kenji Mai, including a 
statement of the questions he asked Shanti Devi when he inter¬ 
viewed her, and of her replies. 

A number of Indian cases, similar in essentials to those of 
Shanti Devi and of Katsugoro, are described and the relevant at¬ 
testations of witnesses quoted, in a booklet, Reincarnation , Veri¬ 
fied Cases of Rebirth after Death , by Kr. Kekai Nandan Sahay, 
B.A., LL.B., Vakil High Court, Bareilly, India, no date (about 
1927). 3 

•For a photostatic copy of this now rare booklet, the present writer is indebted 
to the kindness of Dr. Ian Stevenson, of the University of Virginia Medical School. 



4. The “Rosemary” case. Another case, and one worth cit¬ 
ing here at some length, is the “Rosemary” case. It is of interest 
for various reasons, but in this chapter in particular because the 
incarnation to which the purported memories would refer is not, 
as in the three described above, one which would have terminated 
only a few years before the beginning of the present life of the 
person concerned, but instead would date back some 5300 years. 
The case is reported by Dr. Frederic H. Wood in several books, 
the essential facts being as follows. 4 

Shortly after the death of his brother in 1912, Dr. Wood’s in¬ 
vestigations of psychic phenomena convinced him that survival of 
the human personality after death is a fact. Eventually, as a 
result of a common interest in music, he became acquainted with 
the girl referred to in his books by the pseudonym, “Rosemary.” 
Late in 1927, she spontaneously began to write automatically. She 
viewed this development with repugnance and distrust and, know¬ 
ing as she did of Dr. Wood’s interest—which she had not shared 
—in psychic phenomena, she turned to him for light on the mat¬ 
ter (ATC 19, 20). 

Her automatic scripts purported to emanate from the sur¬ 
viving spirit of a Quaker girl of Liverpool, who gave her name 
as Muriel. At a sitting in Oct. 1928, Muriel brought a new 
“spirit guide” to take her place, whom she introduced as “the 
Lady Nona” and described as “an Egyptian lady of long ago.” 
Nona, in the course of the many sittings which followed, stated 
that she had been a Babylonian princess who had come to Egypt 
as consort of the Pharaoh Amenhotep III ( ca . 1410-1375BC.); 
that is, some 3300 years ago. 

Dr. Wood mentions that, on June 28, 1930, he had, remain¬ 
ing incognito, a seance with a London medium, Mrs. Mason, 
whose spirit guide, Maisie, described to him both Rosemary and 
Nona, saying that the latter gave the name of “Ona, Mona, or 
Nona.” The description of her which Maisie gave agreed with 
that previously given by a “spirit guide” other than Nona, which 

4 After Thirty Centuries, Rider & Co. London, 1935; Ancient Egypt Speaks, (in 
collaboration with A. J. Howard Hulme) Rider, London, 1937; This Egyptian 
Miracle, McKay Co. Philadelphia, 1940; 2nd. ed. revised, J. M. Watkins, London, 
1955 (Titles abbreviated respectively ATC, AES, TEM.) 



occasionally manifested through Rosemary. Maisie also stated 
that Rosemary had been with Nona in Egypt, and that Nona s 
name there had been Telika. 

On July 3, 1930, Nona confirmed both of these assertions 
through Rosemary’s automatic writing. On December 5, 1931, 
Nona introduced the word “Ventiu,” and later (June 6, 1935) 
explained that her name had been Telika-Ventiu, which means 
“The wise woman of an Asiatic race;” “Telika’ having been her 
Babylonian name, and “Ventiu” a name given by the Egyptians 
to the Asiatic races generally. Dr. Wood surmises that she had 
first given the pseudonym “Nona” because at that time she wished 
to be “nameless”; and this because in those early days of her 
communications she could not be sure that her real name would 
come through correctly (TEM p. 46). 

Dr. Wood mentions that a clay tablet found at Tell el- 
Amarna in 1887 is generally accepted as evidence that Amenhotep 
III had married a Babylonian princess. 5 Her name, however, ap¬ 
pears nowhere; so that, should a papyrus eventually be found 
giving it as Telika Ventiu, this would be strongly confirmatory 
evidence. Nona, when she added the “Ventiu” insisted that it 
was or would be important as evidence (TEM 19-51 AES 37). 

Nona states that she expresses herself by impressing her 
thoughts on Rosemary’s mind, which then spontaneously formu¬ 
lates them in English either orally or in writing. But Nona, in 
the course of the many years’ sittings, has given out orally some 
5000 phrases and short sentences in old Egyptian language. In 
the case of these, Rosemary states that she “hears” the Egyptian 
words clairaudientlv and repeats them aloud—this having first 
occurred on August 18, 1931 (TEM 171). As she utters them, Dr. 
Wood records them phonetically as well as he can in terms of the 
English alphabet. It is unfortunate that he was not then familiar 
with, and therefore did not use, the more adequate alphabet of 
the International Phonetic Association; but his recording was any¬ 
way good enough to enable an Egyptologist, Mr. Hulme, to iden¬ 
tify with but a correction here and there, and to translate the 

B Dr. Wood states in a letter that his authority for this was the late Alan 
Shorter Assistant Keeper of the Egyptian Antiquities at the British Museum 



first eight hundred of these thousands of Egyptian utterances, 
which constitute coherent communications manifesting purpose, 
intelligence, and responsiveness to the conversational situation 
of the moment. Dr. Wood, in order to qualify himself to meet 
certain criticisms by Prof. Battiscombe Gunn of Oxford Univer¬ 
sity, then (1937) took up the study of scholastic Egyptian and 
eventually became able to translate himself the word sounds, 
which previously he could only record without understanding 

In the course of the many years of sittings with Dr. Wood, 
Rosemary has developed ostensible memories, extensive and de¬ 
tailed, of a life of hers in Egypt as “Vola,” a Syrian girl brought 
captive to Egypt, whom Nona befriended (AES Chs. VIII, IX.). 

So much being now clear about the ostensible situation and 
process of communication in the Rosemary case, attention must 
next be directed to the fact in it which is of central interest in 
connection with the topic of the present chapter. That fact is 
Nona’s assertion that Rosemary was with her in Egypt, her name 
then having been Vola; so that Rosemary would be a reincarna¬ 
tion of Vola. Nona states further—although this is not essential 
to the point—that Vola was the daughter of a Syrian king killed 
in battle with the Egyptians; that she was brought to Egypt as a 
captive and given to Nona who liked and adopted her, and had 
her appointed a temple maiden in the temple of Amen Ra; and 
that the enemies of Amenhotep III, who were plotting to wrest 
the power from him and were afraid of Nona’s influence on him, 
contrived an accident in which she and Vola drowned together. 

In this complex affair the most arresting fact, which has to be 
somehow explained, is the utterance by Rosemary’s lips of those 
thousands of phrases in a language of which she normally knows 
nothing, but concerning which Mr. Hulme, an Egyptologist, 
states that, in the eight hundred of them he had examined, the 
grammar and the consonants substantially and consistently con¬ 
formed to what Egyptologists know today of the ancient Egyptian 

The phrases as uttered supply vowel sounds, which are other¬ 
wise still unknown since the hieroglyphs represent only the con- 



sonants. 0 There is today no way of either proving or disproving 
that these vowel sounds are really those of the ancient speech, 
although a presumption in favor of it arises from the consistency 
of their use throughout those thousands of phrases, and from the 
substantial correctness of the xenoglossy as regards grammar and 
consonants. But in any case, the Rosemary affair remains the 
most puzzling and yet the best attested instance of xenoglossy on 

The present chapter, however, is concerned not with xeno¬ 
glossy as such, but with verifications of ostensible memories of 
earlier lives. The questions relevant to this in the Rosemary case 
are therefore two. The first is whether Rosemary’s ostensible 
memories of an earlier life in Egypt as Vola have been verified 
and are truly memories. And the second is whether the xeno 
glossy is explicable only, or most plausibly, on the supposition 
that Rosemary is a reincarnation of a girl, Vola. wfn supposedly 
lived in Egypt 3300 years ago. 

The first question subdivides into: (a) whether the osten 
sible memories have been found to correspond to objective facts 
—as were the ostensible memories of Katsugoro, ot Alexandnna, 
and of Shanti Devi; and if so, (b) whether there are sufficient 
reasons to believe that Rosemary cannot have come to know or 
guess those objective facts in some normal manner but have for¬ 
gotten having done so. 

As regards (a), a great deal of the detail supplied is not 
claimed to have been verified or to be verifiable, and hence, al¬ 
though dramatically impressive, is not evidence at all. This 
would apply for example, to a large part of the ostensible memory 
of sights seen on the market place at Thebes (AES 128); for in¬ 
stance, that of “a man with some dear little black and white 
baby goats to sell.** Indeed, another of the putatively remem¬ 
bered sights there—that of camels with tents on their backs in 
which people travelled—constitutes a difficulty in the way of the 
memory hypothesis rather than a support of it. For, on the one 
hand, if scholars are right in maintaining that domesticated cam¬ 
els (as distinguished from camels as food animals) were not used 

•Two exceptions to this are claimed by Dr. Wood; see TEM iat. ed. p. 93. 
2nd. p. 95. 



in Egypt prior to the Persian conquest in 525 B.C., 7 then that sight 
of domesticated camels in the market place at Thebes during the 
reign of Amenhotep III would be anachronistic by some 900 
years. And if, on the other hand, another statement by Rosemary, 
in rebuttal of the opinion of the scholars on this point, is ac¬ 
cepted as correct, then her memory of camels being used as con¬ 
veyances for persons in Thebes at that time must be incorrect, 
since her rebutting statement is that although there were camels 
in Egypt, “the Egyptians. . . .would not use them in their cities" 
because of their unpleasant habits and smells, but used them in 
the desert (TEM 177, italics mine). 

Another ostensible memory—recorded on Oct. 7, 1932—con¬ 
tains descriptions of buildings, of steps, of a river in the distance, 
of boats, and of a temple with carved figures in front. Dr. Wood 
takes this to refer to Karnak, and—relevantly to sub-question (b) 
—states that, at the time that memory was recorded, “the normal 
Rosemary had taken no special interest either in Thebes or Kar¬ 
nak. She had always refused to discuss or read about them” (AES 
129). On an earlier page of AES, however, he described Rose¬ 
mary as “a well-educated girl” (p. 25); and, as such, it is un¬ 
likely that she had never seen any of the numerous pictures or 
photographs of Egypt in history books and magazines. 

Relevantly to sub-question (a), Dr. Wood further states that 
neither he nor Rosemary have visited Egypt, but intimates that 
the content of her memories is consistent with what he subse¬ 
quently found in guide books and in a certain book of photo¬ 
graphs. This, of course, is much less of a verification than was 
obtained in the three cases described in the earlier sections of this 
chapter. And, concerning the memories relating to Vola as a 
maiden serving in the Temple, which have to do with music and 
ritual and are of course very interesting in themselves, no ob¬ 
jective verifications are offered. 

It would seem, then, that much the larger part or perhaps 
all of the ostensible memories either lack clear-cut objective veri- 

Their opinion apparently being based on the fact that camels are not men¬ 
tioned in the hieroglyphic records until Persian times. 



fication, or are susceptible of explanation otherwise than as genu 
ine memories of an earlier life in Egypt. 

Let us turn next to the second main quesrion and ask what 
various explanations of the xenoglossy, of its vast extent, and of 
its substantial correctness of grammar and consonants, are con¬ 
ceivable; how plausible or the reverse each of them is; and what, 
if anything, the most plausible imply as to whether Rosemary 
is a reincarnation of Vola. 

(1) What may be called the standard explanation of xeno¬ 
glossy is that the person manifesting the phenomenon did at one 
time associate with someone who was in the habit of reciting 
aloud words and sentences in the foreign tongue concerned; that 
these sounds, although not understood by the hearer, registered 
on her subconscious mind as they would on the tape of a recorder; 
and that later, under the circumstances of the sitting, she repro¬ 
duces some of them automatically. This explanation, mutatis 
mutandis, would apply to the xenography of the Argentine me¬ 
dium, Sra. Adela Alberteili, as reported b\ Sr. Jose Martin to the 
present writer in correspondence, and through articles in the 
periodical, La Conciencia. 

Such an explanation, however, does not apply to the case of 
Rosemary, both because she never associated with or knew any 
scholar addicted to such recitations, and because the Egyptian 
phrases uttered by Rosemary—whether as being Nona’s or Vola’s— 
are not random ones but are shaped by the purpose of conveying 
specific information, and in many cases directly relate to ques¬ 
tions or incidents occurring at the moment (TEM Chs. IX, X, 
XI. Summary, p. 179). 

(2) Concerning the hypothesis that ail such correct facts 
about Egypt as Rosemary—whether as Nona or as Vola-rclates, 
are obtained by her through present exercise of retrccognitive 
clairvoyance, all that need be said is that, even if this should be 
regarded as plausible so far as knowledge of those facts goes, it 
would anyway altogether fail to account for the conversational 
appositeness and responsiveness of the xenoglossy. 

(3) A third possible explanation is that which Spiritualists 
would regard as the obvious one; namely, that Nona is indeed 
the surviving spirit of Telika, which uses Rosemary as medium. 



This, however, would not entail that Rosemary is a rein¬ 
carnation of Vola, but would leave the matter open. For the 
mere fact that something is asserted by a discarnate spirit does 
not automatically guarantee that it is a fact not a mere opinion. 
That is, the question how Nona knows that Rosemary is a rein¬ 
carnation of a girl whom she knew in Egypt 3300 years ago is just 
as legitimate but unanswered as would be the question how 1 
know, if I were to assert that the eighteen year old daughter of a 
friend of mine is a reincarnation of a woman I knew in New York 
55 years ago, who died shortly thereafter. That Nona is dis¬ 
carnate at the time she makes the assertion, whereas I would be 
incarnate at the time I made mine, is irrelevant unless one as¬ 
sumes—gratuitously in the absence of independent evidence—that 
an ad hoc cognitive capacity is automatically conferred on a per¬ 
son’s spirit by the mere fact of his body’s dying. 

Anyway, the hypothesis that Nona is the surviving spirit of 
Telika leaves with us the problem of accounting for such of Rose¬ 
mary’s ostensible memories of herself as Vola as perhaps corre¬ 
spond to objective facts known. That she is a reincarnation of 
Vola would be a possible explanation of this; but another, which 
Spiritualists generally would probably regard as more plausible, 
would be that the alleged memories are dramatic imaginations 
subconsciously constructed by Rosemary partly out of her years of 
acquaintance with the contents of her automatic speech and writ¬ 
ing, partly out of what any well-educated person knows about 
Egypt, and partly out of telepathic borrowing from Nona’s mind 
of appropriate items of information or of Egyptian words which 
the conversational situation at particular times calls for. 

(4) Still another possibility would be that Nona is a disso¬ 
ciated part of Rosemary’s personality. The fact Dr. Wood stresses 
(AES 103-5), that the Nona personality is of a type radically dif¬ 
ferent from that of Rosemary, does not invalidate this hypothesis; 
for such marked difference is almost a normal feature of cases 
of dissociated personality. In the Beauchamp case reported by 
Dr. Morton Prince, for example, the contrast was sharp between 
the “Sally” personality and that of Miss Beauchamp; and so was 
that between the Eve Black and Eve White personalities in the 



recent case of The Three Faces of Eve, described by Drs. Thigpen 
and Cleckley. 8 

But if Nona is a dissociated part of the personality of Rose¬ 
mary, the xenoglossy remains to be accounted for; and the only 
supposition in sight which would seem capable of doing so is that 
of Rosemary’s being a reincarnation of some person who lived in 
Egypt in ancient times, and of whom Nona, or Vela, or both were 
perhaps even then dissociations. 

(5) Finally, of course, there is the possibility that the facts 
of the case really are just what they purport to be: That Nona 
is the spirit of Telika surviving discarnate; that Rosemarv is a 
reincarnation of Vola; and that her ostensible Vola memories are 
—like the ordinary memories of all of us—in the main veridical 
though occasionally erroneous. This explanation is bound to ap¬ 
pear the most likely to Dr. Wood and to Rosemary for the same 
reason which, when in the theater we watch a well-acted, vividly 
dramatic presentation of a scene in a play, makes us forget for 
the time being that it is a play. Dramatic verisimilitude tends 
to generate belief, and can make fiction more credible than truth. 
Yet the strange things which this pisteogenic power of dramatic 
verisimilitude may make credible are not therefore necessarily 
fiction. Even at the play, the fact may turn out to be that the 
villain’s sword, by a fluke, really does pierce the hero’s chest, that 
the latter is really dying, and that the play is after all not alto¬ 
gether a play! 

What now, in the light of the whole preceding discussion, 
can we conclude as to the evidentiality of the Rosemary case for 
reincarnation? The answer would seem to be that, granting sub¬ 
stantial accuracy to the identification and translation of anyway 
most of the thousands of Egyptian phrases of the Nona and the 
Vola personalities, then the fact that those phrases were uttered 
by Rosemary’s vocal organs is explicable at all only on the as¬ 
sumption either that Nona is the surviving spirit of an Egyptian 
of an ancient period who now uses Rosemary as medium for ex¬ 
pression, or that Rosemary is the reincarnation of the spirit of 

•Pub. Seeker & Warburg. London, 1957. And, the Beauchamp case, The Dis¬ 
sociation of a Personality, New York, Longmans Green, 1906. 



such a person, or both. But, in the absence of clear-cut verifica¬ 
tions of the ostensible Vola memories by objective facts that Rose¬ 
mary certainly could not have at some time learned or inferred 
in a normal manner, the account we have of the case does not 
provide strong evidence that Rosemary is a reincarnation of Vola, 
but only suggests and permits the supposition of it. The xeno- 
glossy, however, does provide strong evidence that the capacity 
once possessed by some person to converse extensively, purpose¬ 
fully, intelligently, and intelligibly in the Egyptian language of 
three thousand years ago, or anyway in a language closely re¬ 
lated to it, has survived by many centuries the death of that per¬ 
son’s body. 9 

•A considerable number of other cases of purported memories of anterior in¬ 
carnations are cited and critically examined by Dr. Ian Stevenson in a paper 
which, at the date of the present writing, has not yet been published, but is sched¬ 
uled to appear in two parts in the April and the June 1960 issues of the Journal 
of the American Society for Psychical Research. 

Chapter XXIV 


A few of the available cases of spontaneous apparent memory 
of an earlier life were cited in the preceding chapter. But various 
attempts also have been made to regress by appropriate com 
mands the consciousness of a hypnotized subject to a time earlier 
than the birth or conception of his body. We shall now consider 
some of them. 

1. An experiment in New York in 1906. In February 19U6, 
in New York, the writer was present at two experiments in re 
gression to the past through hypnosis. The subjec t was a young 
woman whose name he does not now remember, and he long 
ago has lost touch with the young physician, Dr Morris Stark, 
who conducted the experiments. But the writer recorded in shoi t 
hand at the time the whole of both experiments and still has 
the typescript of his notes. The girl was familiar with the idea 
of reincarnation and understood that the experiment was to be 
an attempt to regress her consciousness to a time anterior to that 
of the birth or conception of her body. Besides the two sessions 
the writer recorded, there had been another at which he had not 
been present, but the seeming success of which had suggested the 
desirability of a shorthand record. The name, "Zoe,” mentioned 
in the session of Feb. 25, had been obtained at that earlier ses¬ 
sion. The difference between the tone and the manner of the 
Zoe personality and those of either the Roman or the Egyptian 
personality was most impressive. 

In the record of the two sessions there are hardly any items 
that would lend themselves to verification by objective facts and 
that yet could not plausibly be supposed to have been learned 
by the subject in a normal manner at some time and subse- 




quently forgotten. Hence such correspondence as may obtain 
between the statements of the entranced subject and historical 
facts is hardly evidence of reincarnation or even of paranormal 
cognition. And the dramatic form and the contents of the sub¬ 
ject’s statements can most economically be credited to the myth- 
opoeic faculty—stimulated on that occasion by the commands 
given under hypnosis—which at other times normally gives birth 
to novels and other works of fiction. The most economical inter¬ 
pretation, of course, is not necessarily the correct one; but, when 
no item of evidence rules it out, it is methodologically the safest. 
Accordingly, the record of those two sessions—which antedates 
not only the recent “Bridey Murphy” experiment but also the 
publication (in 1911) of De Rochas’ Les Vies Successives in which 
he relates his own experiments in regression through hypnosis— 
is presented here essentially as an interesting concrete sample of 
the sort of material sometimes obtainable under deep hypnosis 
when the subject is instructed to go back in time to a life anterior 
to his present one. 

The notes of those two sessions are as follows: 

Q. Tell us what you see; where are you now? 

A. It is very warm. I am walking out somewhere, the sun 
is hot, I don’t know where I am. It is all growing dark. 

Q. The picture will clear up in a minute. 

A. The sky is very blue and the sun is very warm, it shines 
through my sleep. I am walking along the water. The water is 
very blue and the ships are in the water. I don’t know what I 
am doing here. 

Q. What is your name? 

A. My name, I don’t know. It is very beautiful, not a cloud 
in the air, there are beautiful trees and plants and a great many 

Q. How are they dressed? 

A. They wear loose, beautiful gowns, not like others I have 
seen. Their arms are bare, they are talking. 

Q. What language?. 

A. Who are you? 

Q. I am a friend of yours. 



A. The city is on hills, it hurts my eyes. I live over there. 
It is getting so warm. Had I not better go home? It is by the 

Q. What is the name of the water? 

A . It is some bay, 1 don't know the name. The city is in the 
distance. It might be a river, but I think it is too large for a river. 
There is a large building here, all open. There are a great many 
flowers and inside the floors are marble in blocks, some of them 
are of different colors. 

Q. What year? 

A. I don’t know, I shall have to go and ask some one. There 
are little statues around. There are wings to the building, people 
sitting there are looking over the water. Steps lead from the 
wings to the ground. Back of the building there is some more 
water. There is a little bridge and you pass over the bridge to 
go home. It is an arch. I think there must he something very 
beautiful here; so many of the people have flowers in their hair 
It is some feast. They are playing games. One side there is a 
sandy court. Men are running and jumping over a barrier. The 
others are looking and cheering. No women out there. I don’t 
find any one I know. 

Q. How are you dressed? 

A. Just like the others. I have a white robe of some kind, 
it is clasped on the arm by a gold clasp, a bracelet. My hair is 
tied up some way. Why did you not speak to me about that be 
fore? My hair is all puffed up some way behind. My arms are 

Q. What sort of material is your dress made of? 

A. It is soft wool of some kind. It looks a little bit coarse, 

but is very soft.It is not a feast, just a place where people 

come for pleasure. The men are doing something else now, jump¬ 
ing and running; they take off their robe when they run. 

Q. Who is the emperor, what is his name? 

A . I don’t believe I know. 

Q. Ask some one. 

A. I shall see if I can find some one in the building. Is it 
not curious I don’t know? 

Q. What is your father’s name? 



A. He is dead. 

Q. What was his name when he lived? 

A. It sounds like a silly name, I only know one of his names, 
Prato, that was the name we called him in the house. 

Q. How long has he been dead? 

A . About 7 years. 

Q. How old are you now? 

A. Why, I think I am about 29, I must be because I live 
in the house over there, and it is my own house. 

Q. Are you married? 

A. Yes. 

Q. What is your husband’s name? 

A. I will think of it in a minute. They are waiting for me 
over the bridge. There is a man in the house; he is one of the 
slaves, I should not speak to him. 

Q. What sort of a looking man is he? 

A. An ordinary looking man from the mountains, they 
bring a great many. My husband brings several home every year. 

Q. Is he black or white? 

A. Oh, white. 

Q. What is the name of the country from which he comes? 

A. I don’t know. It is east somewhere from here. He does 
not come from the west. Of course he is darker than we are. The 
east, that is where the war is. My husband is a general, he is 
away from home. 

Q. Do you know your husband’s name now? 

A. I can’t think of his name. 

Q. What is the reason you don’t remember things? 

A .You stay with me won’t you? Some time you 

seem to go away from me and then all grows dark. 

Q. Who am I. 

A. I don’t know, just a voice. They are waiting for me, my 
litter is over the bridge. Don’t you think it is beautiful on the 
bridge? It seems to be a road, a beautiful highway. Oh, I know 
the reason I could not tell you the emperor’s name, we don't 
have one, we have ten. 

Q. What are they called? Consuls? 

A. They do not call them by that name. The people are 



very dissatisfied. Of course that is a secret, you must not tell 
that, you are just a voice. They are talking of a war against die 
Government. There is one of the most wicked ones, his name 
is Appius, there is a great deal of talk about his crimes, he does 
as he pleases. He overrides die authority of the generals over 
the army. 

Q. Do you know who Christ was? 

A. No, who was he? 

Q. What is your religion? 

A. We have many Gods. 

Q. Have you temples or churches? 

A. Each God has a temple, shrines in the houses. We have 
household Gods. The road is paved up, then we go into the city; 
there are four slaves. I like black slaves. We go through the 
streets. You are coming with me are you not? I know all the 
streets, there are shops and temples and houses. We go through 
the principal part of the city and come to some beautiful houses. 
Many of my friends live there. I have one of these houses. Will 
you come in? The house is very beautiful. You cannot go with 
me now, because I am going up to my rooms, and you will have 
to stay here. 

Q. Where do you get the black slaves from? 

A. From across the sea to the south, we pay more for them 
than for the others. 

Q. How much do you pay? 

A. I never buy the slaves. I think my husband said he paid 
for those who carry my litter 1000. 

Q. 1000 what? What is the name of the money? 

A. Sesterces. I am tired. I am going to have my hair dressed 
My husband is away to the war, I have not thought of his name 

Q. What day of the week is this? 

A. About the 5th day. 

Q. What is the name of that day? 

A. I don’t know. I can’t tell, I have forgotten so many 
things. That poet is coming in, Marcus, with his silly flowers in 
his hair. He is coming to bore me now. I want to talk to you. He 



comes afternoons and reads odes to me. He is harmless. I think 
he is very lazy. I don’t care for his poetry. 

Q. Getting suspicious of you, knowing the name of the 
poet and not that of your husband. 

A. He is away so much ... I am going to have my hair 
dressed. Wait for me. (She shakes and moves her head) . . . 
Here I am; I had to wait, I have so much hair; it is blue black, it 
comes almost to my knees. The girls dress it. 

Q. White girls? 

A. Yes, I would not have those Nubians dress my hair. My 
hair dresser is a very pretty girl. My husband bought her for me. 
I like her very much. 

Q. What is her name? 

A. I think it is Ena. I have four girls; one has the care of my 
jewels, another has my robes and Ena dresses my hair. She is the 
only one that does not pull it. She puts the filets (?) in it. I think 
four is a nice number. You can get on with four very comfortably. 
Now that I am dressed, we will go out where the flowers are. We 
will sit out there, there is a fountain. Everything is very pretty 
I take so much pleasure sitting here, except when Marcus comes. 
The sun is very warm, let us sit a little out of the sun. I have 
never been ill. 

Q. How long have you been married? 

A. About five years. (A pillow is put behind her.) Why did 
you not let one of the girls do that? It does not seem as though I 
was married very much. I have no children. I have a very good 
time in every way. Life is a very beautiful thing. 

Q. Do you remember your husband’s name now? 

A. I don’t seem to be very much interested in my husband. 
I don’t want to ask any one my husband’s name. 

Q. Ask Marcus whether he has ever written any ode to your 

A. He says that he does not write odes to Flavius. 

Q. Do you ever hear from him, do you get letters? 

A. One of the soldiers comes, from Sextilius; that is my name 
that is his name too. What do you care about names? . . . Just 
look at him, look at him, look at his lovelorn facel Who takes 
Marcus seriously? 



Q. What does your diet consist of? What do you have when 
you arise in the morning? 

A. We have fruit, pomegranates and honey and cakes of 
barley. We eat fish. We have different meats. A great deal of 
some kinds of fowls. 

Q. What is the name of those fowls? 

A. I don’t believe I know. At the feast we have, oh, sn many 
things. Flavius never gives a feast; he does not like to attend. He 
only goes because he must go. I love to go; there is music, flowers, 
wine, fragrant wine, very sweet. They have grapes in this country 
and the wines are sweet and very good. We have fowls of different 
kinds. They serve them with all the plumage on. They put them 
inside the skin after they are cooked. The table looks beautiful. 
Flavius is much older than I am. 

Q. What are these birds served on? 

A. Gold and silver dishes of differeri workmanship . 
One of the ten is Appius Claudius. The Government was not al¬ 
ways with these ten, formerly we had one ruler; now there are ten. 

Q. How do the ten dress? 

A. In purple. 

Q. What do they carry? 

A . They have a sign of their office, it is a short . . . with a 
.... tip. Appius rides through the streets in his litter. He con¬ 
trols the others. You must not tell any one what I say, my 
husband would be very angry. 

Q. What is the name of your country? Italy? 

A. They don’t call it that way, the name is something else 
... I had better send Marcus home, he can go and sing odes to 
some one else. Put the pillows around me. I will go to sleep; you 
will not mind if I go to sleep? I am so tired. I don’t know why. 
There are clouds; where are you . . . You have taken me some¬ 
where else. You are taking me across the water, we are going 
south (she laughs) I did not know I could come so quickly. (She 
looks sideways and laughs.) 

Q. What is the matter? 

A. I am not dressed well, that is why I laugh. You should 
not be here. 

Q. What is your name? 



A . IamUla. 

Q. Ula what? 

A . I forget what name . . . Ula Desthenes. You should not 
be in here. I should not talk to you, where are you? 

Q. I am simply a voice. 

A. No one is allowed there but we of the temple. 

Q. What is the name of the temple? 

A. I don’t know. 

Q. What does it look like? 

A. It is not white, it is a different color, red and blue and 
different colors, and the main color is a sort of a yellowish. It is 
higher than the other parts of the city. We never go outside. You 
should not be here. 

Q. How old are you? 

A. Eighteen. 

Q. What is your religion? 

A. We worship our mother. She is the mother of everything, 
everything in the world, the Great Mother. We attend to the 

Q. Tell me your duties. 

A. We must deck the altars with flowers, we serve at the 

Q. Describe the ceremonies. 

A. There are priests who officiate at those ceremonies, but 
we never see them at other times. They wear beautiful robes, in- 
crusted with jewels. On the back is the sun in jewels. We all wear 
a gold circlet on the head. My robe is white. The priests wear 
circlets, but not like ours, more like the sun. I don’t know every¬ 
thing. The priests come here at the ceremonies and we help them, 
and we have flowers and something that we burn. It must be 
some kind of incense. There is chanting and the people are out¬ 
side, they cannot come where we are. They look on from the dis¬ 
tance at the ceremonies. While I have been here a long time, I 
have not tended the temple long. My father and mother are dead. 
I have always been here . . . We must never ask questions, we 
are told. 

Q. Who teaches? 

A. One of the older ones, an old priestess. 



Q. What name is given to you, what are you called? 

A. I don’t know, the other ones are called priestesses, but 
we are not, we are just maidens, we serve. 

Q. Are you married? 

A. Oh no, never. How can you speak of such a thing. I am 
afraid to speak of such a thing in the temple. They tell us that 
we would incur the wrath of our Mother, we might die. 

Q. What becomes of you when you die? 

A. We go to the underworld, and we go through so many 
places in the underworld! There seem to be dangers; it is not 
pleasant, but we have to go there, everybody Then we are told 
that we go somewhere else after the underworld. 

Q. How long do you stay in the underworld? 

A. There are two places, we don’t stay very long in the first 
underworld, only so long that we are not [raid any more. There 
seem to be seven grades of dangers that we must pass; it is more 
like trials, something you must pass through. You go down to the 
underworld, and then you are taken by some God who leads you. 
If you pass through them all with brave courage in your heart 
. . . You have something to take with you to help you, something 
you are given, either a word you can repeat, or something, and if 
you remember that, you can pass. When you reach the seventh 
gate, according to the way you passed, you are very happy and you 
dream in happiness, or else you are very miserable, it depends 
upon the seven gates and how you passed. 

Q. What do they give you when you die? 

A . I know what it is, something to hang around your neck, 
some sort of a charm and they make it in the temple, a word or 
some words in a case, written in a little piece of parchment and 
hung around the neck of the dead, and no one dies without that, 
so that they may pass the gates of the underworld. There is a 
name for the first underworld, it is Amenta. 

Q. After you pass through the underworld and the other 
place, what becomes of you? 

A. You may come back. They tell me that one must be very 
good or one comes back as a very evil person. 

Q. Do you come back in the forms of animals? 

A . I think they tell me one does if one is wicked. 



Q. What animals are there? 

A. There are cats. Some are painted in the temple. They 
do not mean cats, it is some God. There are tall birds with long 
red bills. They stand motionless all day in the reeds. I am not 
so tired here. 

Q. What do the buildings look like? 

A. Flat, with soft colors. There are a great many people in 
the streets. I can see them all from the windows here. I can see 
the river. 

Q. What is the name of the river? Is it Nile? 

A. That sounds like it. It is a sacred river, a beautiful river. 

Q. How long ago is this, what year? 

A. I don’t know how to say what year. 

Q. What day of the month? 

A. I don’t know what you mean. 

Q. How do you designate time? 

A. Why, there are men who count time from the stars, but 
I don’t understand about it; from the stars and the moon. It is 
very warm. 

Q. Have you change of seasons? 

A. Summer all the year round. Are you not afraid they will 
find you? 

Q. They cannot see me. Is it not strange to you to hear a 

A. Strange things happen in the temple, the gods speak, we 
are forbidden to tell. They can make the dead speak. 

Q. By what means? 

A. They have a good deal of magic. I never see those things, 
there are some secret ceremonies where the priests are and there is 
that by which the dead can be made to speak, or they say so, I 
don’t know. 

Q. Do you believe it? 

A. Yes, I have seen some very wonderful things. They bring 
the dead to the temple, a dead king or some great person. There 
is a place, not where our Mother is. This is a great place di¬ 
vided into a separate temple. The temple of our Mother is con 
nected with the other by an underground passage. They bring 
the dead man there and lay him so that he is very near the gods 



in the inner shrine. They lay him there by the gods, and in the 
night they come, the priests, and they walk around in a circle and 
sing something, a chant that it is forbidden to hear. One of the 
older priestesses told me this, that is strange, something that no 
man may hear. They draw a circle with a sacred wand; the temple 
is very dark, there are no lights in it. They go inside the circle so 
that those outside may not hurt them, the dead, or something 
that might hurt them. Then they chant. I am told that upon the 
dead man comes a flame, a tongue of flame, from the gods, and 
then they may ask the dead man if he has a burden on his mind 
to prevent him from passing on. This is only when people die 
suddenly, when the people are not old but die suddenly in battle 
before they have had time to say parting words. After this flame 
comes, the dead man speaks, they say he does, and they remember 
what he says, and after they have recorded it so tiiat they can give 
his message, they say “be gone” and he goes They must remain 
a long time in the circle, because those outside will hurt them. 
The next day the dead man may be embalmed. Before that, he 
cannot go, he would remain chained. That is why they have this 
ceremony. This is never told outside the temple, those in the 
street don’t know. It is a secret. Something dreadful would hap¬ 
pen; I don’t know of any secret ceremony, one of the priestesses 
told me.There are big flat boats when the kings go out. 

Q. What is the name of your King? 

A . Why, we call him Ra. They are building his temple in 
the desert over there, the slaves work there all the time. I am ver/ 

Q. How do the people travel? 

A. They almost always walk; they wear different colored 
robes, drapery. They don’t wear very much. They have carts in 
the streets with bullocks. The soldiers ride horses. 

Q. Do they have any locomotives? 

A. They don’t have any locomotives (shakes her head) 
what are those things? You seem to be always behind me ... . 
Ra is the sun. Potas is a God of the underworld. 

Q. How are you dressed? 

A. I have a white robe, very rich. We have different robes, 



jewels on our arms, anklets. We have something on our feet and 
sometimes walk barefooted. 

Q. Is your King’s name Rameses? 

A. Yes, that is why I said Ra. 

Q. Has he any other name? 

A. There was a Rameses before this one, he has a great many 
names, ceremonial names, I cannot remember now. 

Q. Do you ever see the Mother? 

A . (She motions yes) 

Q. What is her name? 

A. Isis . . . I am very tired . . . (She awakes) 

FEBRUARY 25, 1906. 

Q. Zoe, Zoe, how do you do? Good morning, how are you? 

A. I can’t see, who called me by that name? It is long since 
any one called me that, it was Zoe. Where do you come from? 
You speak a dead tongue, . . . something ... it is confused. 
Those were happy days in the streets. I have been called nothing 
for so long. 

Q. What country is this? 

A. A warm country. Zoe, it is good to hear the name again. 
The wife of Dedro. 

Q. How old are you now? 

A. That I forget. I am too old to be alive. Everything is 
gone, nothing remains but sorrow and hunger; I have had a hard 
life. Do you remember Metha, years ago, she used to tell me tales. 
She was a good old crone. Did you know me when I was young? 
Do you see my wrinkles? Oh, what a change (she shakes her 
head). I was not bad to look at, was I? My eyes were bright, and 
I laughed in the street. I was often hungry. 

Q. How old were you when you were married? 

A. I was very young. Dedro is dead, my children are all 
gone; I had twelve children, all gone. An old woman sits alone 
in the sun and thinks, thinks. It is very little profit. 

Q. What religion do you follow? 

A. Oh, there is a religion, but I know very little about it. 
The lords govern this realm, the highest one represents the God 



. . . . You gave me something, you gave me a gold coin, the only 
one I ever had. 

Q. Was I alone? 

A . No, you rode in some sort of a cart, and there were 
horses, you drove through the streets. I kept it, I never spent it, 
though many a day I went hungry, and then Dcdro came, and he 
had something, some little saved, he had some business. I had 
better take Dedro, so they said, so I married Dedro. 

Q. Do you remember the marriage ceremony? 

A. We have none, what do they care about us? He comes, 
he takes us and that is all. He often beat me, yes. There is noth¬ 
ing to tell, just a hard, bitter life. ... It is very warm, the build¬ 
ings have flat roofs. Mountains way off. You can see the snow 
in the distance. The plain stretches in sand for miles. 

Q. What is the name of the city you live in? 

A. It begins with S. I think I can tel) you in a few minutes. 
It is like Saraban, but that is not it. Som great man built the 
city, I don’t know his name. 

Q. What is the color of the skin of the people? 

A. Pale, no color, rather yellow, but clear. Their eyes are 
set like mine, slantwise. Our hair is dark. My curls, that was 
something unusual. 

Q. Have you heard of Shinto? What is your god? 

A. The god is the sun. We have a temple built up high in 
the city, the city is built tier after tier. In the temple dwells rhc 
Lord, and in the higher temple dwell the priests of the sun. There 
are many other gods, but the sun is the Lord of all. 

Q. What is his name? 

A . The Sun God. We know nothing of the temple, they 
rule the country with a rule of iron, they are oppressors. 

Q. What becomes of you when you die? 

A. We go to an underworld, we meet our ancestors. If we 
have revered them, if we have fulfilled our duties, we are passed 
through happily, if we have not, some fate overtakes us, some 
punishment. If we fulfill our duties we go to some happy place 
after the underworld, where we meet them again. I know nothing 

Q. Do you ever come back to this earth? 



A. No, not that I know. 

Q. What animals do you use? 

A. The camels carry things. There are also little shaggy 
horses. They don’t look like any horses . . . Who are you? Why 
do you ask me this question? 

Q. What is your age, 70, 80? 

A. As old as that, 86 I think. 

Q. Can you tell the names of some of your children? 

A. There were eight girls and four boys. Two boys died. 
Sina is the youngest, a girl; how hard it is to remember. And 
Boro, he was my eldest. 

Q. Go to sleep; clouds, back, back, back, back. The clouds 
are going up, what do you see? 

A. I don’t know where I am. It is dark. The sun is shining 


Q. What are you, a man or a woman? 

(She looks herself over several times.) 

A. Why of course, I am a woman. 

Q. What do you see? 

A. A room I am sitting in, on the floor. 

Q. Are there any chairs around? Do you know what chairs 


A. Whatever they are, there are not any here. I am sitting 
on a rug. There are cushions. 

Q. How are you dressed? 

(She looks herself over) 

A. Why, I am not very much dressed. (She looks inside her 
hand, at her arm, etc.) How did I come to be brown? My hand 
is brown. My arm is bare and covered with bands of some de¬ 
scription and a sort of a gauzy shirt and anklets, and that is all. 
Q. What is your name? 

A. My name is Rella. 

Q. Is it a Turkish rug you are sitting on? 

A . I don’t know what a Turkish rug is. It is very warm. My 
features are oval, dark eyes, dark brown hair. I dance, there are 
some others here. 

Q. How old are you? 

A . Iam very young, 16, Rella the dancer. 



Q. Are you married? 

A. No. I live at a court. There is some monarch, hut riot 
a very great monarch, there are others as great as he, and 1 live 
here at the Court of Naobas. 

Q. Ever heard of Turkey, Persia, China, Japan, Hindustan, 
Arabia, India? 

A. No, India is more like it. We live in the North of our 

Q. What is your religion? 

A. We have a God, the Lord Ganga; he is in the other world. 

Q. What becomes of you when you die? 

A. We go on to other worlds, there are many .... There 
is a palace and a great pleasure garden, the pleasure garden slopes 
down to the river. 

She awakes. 

2. De Rochas* hypnotic attempts to bring back conscious¬ 
ness of earlier lives. In a book, Les Vies Successives, (Paris, 1911,) 
Colonel Albert de Rochas (1837-1914) describes experiments, most 
of them made by himself, with some nineteen persons in whom 
what he calls “magnetic’' sleep was induced, and whose con¬ 
sciousness was then apparently regressed to various ages down 
to the time of birth, then to intra-uterine life, then purportedly 
to life as discarnate spirit, and then, still farther back, to one or 
more earlier lives. Also, prima facie progressions of consciousness 
to ages future to the hypnotized subject’s age, and even to future 

In these experiments, age regressions were induced by means 
of longitudinal passes, and age progressions by means of trans¬ 
verse passes. But an incident in one of the experiments led De 
Rochas to remark that, “apparently the mode of magnetization, 
that is, the direction of the passes, has no great importance” (p. 
80, note). He does, however, hold to the idea of a magnetic fluid 
and of the efficacy upon it of the passes; also to the existence on 
the subject's body of areas, e. g., the wrists, on which pressure has 
conjugate hypnogenic and hypnopompic effects; and of a point 
(the forehead at the root of the nose,) the pressing upon which 
has mnemonic effects. He seems to overlook or underestimate (he 



fact that such pressings and passes constitute modes of suggestion, 
and appears to assume that only verbal suggestion is suggestion 
at all. 

In the sixth experiment with the first of the subjects on his 
list, Laurent, in 1893, De Rochas hit accidentally upon the possi¬ 
bility of regressing the subject’s personality to earlier life (p. 57); 
but it was not until eleven years later (1904) that, having re¬ 
gressed an 18 year old girl, Josephine, to the time of her birth, the 
idea occurred to him to continue the longitudinal passes (p. 67). 
This brought forth purported consciousness of the intra-uterine 
period and of a discarnate period preceding conception. De 
Rochas says that further deepening of the trance then resulted in 
manifestation of a personality whose nature at first puzzled him— 
that of a man who “would not say who he was, nor where he was. 
He replied in gruff tones, with a man’s voice” (p. 68). Eventually, 
however, this personality declared himself to be Jean-Claude 
Bourdon, born in 1812 in the village of Champvent, district of 
Polliat, where he died at 70. He gave various details of his life, 
but subsequent inquiry turned up no evidence that such a man 
had lived in Polliat at the time stated. 

This experiment was what led De Rochas to subsequent at¬ 
tempts to regress the consciousness of his subjects to earlier lives. 
Deepening Josephine’s trance while the Bourdon personality was 
manifest brought out the personality of a wicked old woman, 
who said that she was bom Philomene Charpigny in 1702, that 
she had married a man named Carteron in 1732 at Chevroux; 
and that her grandfather, Pierre Machon, lived at Ozan. De 
Rochas states in a footnote that families by the names of Char¬ 
pigny and Carteron did exist at Ozan and at Chevroux, but that 
he found no positive trace of Philomene herself (p. 74 n.). Ad¬ 
ditional deepening of the trance brought out that, in anterior 
lives, she had been a girl who had died in infancy; before that a 
bandit who robbed and killed. Then came the shamefaced avowal 
that, in a life anterior to that bandit incarnation, she had been a 
big apel 

The attempts to progress Josephine to later ages in her pres¬ 
ent life brought out various episodes. Those relating to dates near 
enough to admit of verification—for example, foreseen employ- 



ment as a salesgirl in the Galeries Modernes at Grenoble—did not 
come to pass. When progressed to the age of 32, i.e., to 1918, she 
sees herself back at Manziat where her mother lives. There she 
is seduced by a young farmer, and has a child who eventually 
dies. De Rochas then progresses her to the age of nearly seventy 
when she dies; purportedly then reincarnating first as a girl, Elise, 
who dies when three years old; and then as Marie, daughter of a 
man by the name of Edmond Baudin, who runs a shoe store at 
Saint-Germain-du-Mont-d’ Or, and whose wife s name is Rosalie. 
When progressed to the age of sixteen in that life she says the 
year is 1970. This means that her birth as Marie would have 
occurred in 1954. 

It would of course be interesting to inquire now at that 
place whether such a child was in fact born there in or about 
1954 to parents of that name and occupation; also, of course 
whether in her life as Josephine she was indeed seduced in 1918 
at Manziat and had a child there. De Rochas gives the seducer’s 
name only as Eugene F., stating in a footnote (p. 78) that he had 
made inquiries which revealed that a man of that name, born in 
1885, son of well-to-do farmers who were neighbors of Josephine’s 
mother, was actually living there in 1911, and that he and Jose¬ 
phine, being of the same age had made their first communion 

The non-fulfillment of the “Galeries Modernes” episode, 
however, makes all the more improbable that the later ones of 
the Josephine life, and of the reincarnation as Marie, have turned 
out to be veridical. But if hypnotic progression in 1904 to rebirth 
as Marie Baudin in 1954 should turn out to be corroborated by 
existence now of such a girl at the place named, this, so far as it 
went, would lend some weight to the hypothesis that the pur¬ 
ported regressions to earlier lives are really this. 

De Rochas declares that, by means of passes, one certainly 
can regress the subject to earlier ages of his present life: “It is 
not memories that one awakens; what one evokes are the successive 
stages of the personality” (p. 497). He also declares certain “that 
in continuing these magnetic operations beyond birth and with¬ 
out need of recourse to suggestions, one makes the subject go 
through analogous stages corresponding to preceding incarnations 



and to intervals between them” (p. 497). He adds, however, that 
“these revelations, when it has been possible to test their veridi- 
cality, have not in general corresponded to the facts” (p. 498). 
In case No. 8, where ten earlier lives are described by the en¬ 
tranced subject, numerous anachronisms occur. And in cases nos. 
10, 11, 13, where details susceptible to verification were men¬ 
tioned, the attempt subsequently made to corroborate them failed 
to do so. Thus, although the idea of reincarnation evidently ap¬ 
peals to De Rochas—and certain peculiar features of some of his 
experiments, to which he points, suggest it—he is on the whole 
far from fully convinced that the regressions under hypnosis which 
he relates really are regressions to earlier lives of the persons 

In the absence of definite verification of the details they re¬ 
late, the most plausible explanation of the facts appears to be that 
they are effects of suggestion and/or of stimulation of the myth- 
opoeic imagination in the trance state. One feature of De Rochas’ 
cases, which also points to this explanation, is that in almost all 
of them the purported earlier lives of those French subjects are 
likewise lives as French men or women; which, of course, es¬ 
pecially for persons of simple minds, and who had never read 
much or travelled abroad, would be the psychologically easiest and 
most natural kinds of earlier lives to imagine. 

3. The “life readings” of Edgar Cayce. A few words may 
be added concerning the accounts, purportedly of earlier incarna¬ 
tions of many persons, given by the late Edgar Cayce while in a 
state of trance. Cayce, who died in 1945, was a farm boy, born 
in Kentucky in 1877, who had only a grade school education and 
was a persistent Bible reader. He did not care for farm work 
and eventually became a photographer’s apprentice. It was ac¬ 
cidentally discovered that, while in hypnotic trance, he had the 
capacity to diagnose, and to prescribe often successful treatment 
for, the illnesses of persons who desired him to do this; and to do 
it even when the person was far away, provided the latter’s name 
and the place where he was at the moment were given to Cayce. 
In the course of time Cayce, who had become able to put himself 
into the state of trance, gave many thousands of such “health” 
readings. After some years, however, it was found, again acci- 



dentally, that while in the trance he could also give what came to 
be know as “life readings." These purported to report one or 
more earlier lives on earth of the person concerned, the name he 
or she had borne then, and the actions or experiences in those 
past lives which had as remote consequences in the present life 
certain features of body, mind, or character, and certain special 
abilities. Although in these readings the persons concerned were 
generally entire strangers to Cayce and far away at the time, his 
delineations of their present personality and vocational capacities 
was often surprisingly accurate. Dr. Gina Cerminara, a psycholo¬ 
gist who made a study of the records of these readings, states that 
obscure historical details mentioned in the accounts of earlier lives 
of some of the persons who had "life readings”—including “the 

names of obscure former the locality”— 

have been verified by looking up historical records. 1 But, in 
the absence of citation of specific cases where details of an earlier 
life were given—as in the cases of KatsugoTo, of Alexandrina 
Samona, and of Shanti Devi—and where careful verification of 
those details was made and is on record, the mere statement that 
such verification has been made does not constitute for us em¬ 
pirical evidence that the Cayce “life readings” really describe past 
incarnations of the persons concerned. And, although correct 
delineation of the present character and abilities of strangers at 
a distance would require clairvoyance of a high order, such de¬ 
lineation in itself has no relevance to the matter of rebirth 

Under these circumstances, the chief importance of the Cayce 
“life readings” in connection with the question as to the reality 
of reincarnation is the suggestion it affords that the hypnotic 
trance may be a means of bringing back in certain persons memo 
ries of presently verifiable details of earlier lives of their own; 
and possibly a means of arousing in exceptional individuals retro- 
cognition of the lives of deceased persons, such as Cayce’s “life 
readings” purportedly constituted, but with presently verifiable 
details. 2 

1 Many Mansions, New York, Wm. Sloane Associates, 1950, p 301. 

a In 1943, the present writer had a “life reading” of himself done by Cayce. 
According to it, in his preceding incarnation, his name had been Jean de I.arquen, 
and he had come to America from France as an intelligence officer associated with 
Lafayette. Such inquiries as he has been able to make have brought no evidence 
either in the United States or in France that any one ever bore that name. 

Chapter XXV 


The widely discussed recent book, The Search for Bridey 
Murphy, 1 sets forth the six attempts made by its author, Mr. 
Morey Bernstein, between November 29, 1952 and August 29, 
1953, to regress the consciousness of a deeply hypnotized subject, 
“Ruth Mills Simmons” (pseudonym for Virginia Burns Tighe) 
to a life earlier than her present one; and to obtain from her 
concerning that life details that would be verifiable but that could 
not have become known to her in any normal manner. 

The experiment appeared to be notably successful, and veri¬ 
fication was obtained of a number of the obscure details about 
Ireland which the entranced subject furnished. This, and the 
conversational form—reproduced verbatim in the book—in which 
those intrinsically drab details were supplied by her gave to the 
idea of reincarnation a concreteness which made it more plausible 
to many of the readers of the book than had such references to it 
as they had met with before. And this in turn opened their eyes 
to the fact that reincarnation, if true, could furnish a rational 
explanation for the great disparities—otherwise so shocking to the 
human sense of justice—which obtain from birth between the en 
dowments and the fortunes of different individuals. 

In consequence, the book became a best seller almost imme¬ 
diately after publication. The idea of reincarnation, however, 
runs counter both to the religious beliefs prevalent today in the 
West, and to certain assumptions which, although really gratui¬ 
tous, are at present commonly made in Western scientific circles. 

’Doubleday & Co. Garden City, N.Y. January 1956; Pocket Books, Inc. edition, 
with a new chapter by Wm. J. Barker, New York, June 1956. 




Hence the sudden emergence of the reincarnation hypothesis into 
public attention quickly moved the protagonists both of religious 
and of scientific orthodoxy to impassioned attacks on the book. 

These sociological aspects of the Bridey Murphy case give it 
exceptional interest even aside from such evidence for reincarna¬ 
tion as it may be thought to provide. They furnish eloquent foot¬ 
notes to what was said in earlier chapters concerning the psy¬ 
chology of belief and of disbelief both in scientists who approach 
the “enchanted boundary’' of the paranormal, and in custodians 
of institutionally vested religious dogmas. For these reasons, and 
because the case is still fresh in the minds of many today, it will 
be worth while to devote the whole of the present chapter to a 
review and discussion of the Bridey Murphy affair. 

1. The hypnotist and author, and his subject. The author 
of the book, Morey Bernstein, is a Colorado businessman who re¬ 
ceived his bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania. 
His studies there apparently did not include a course in abnormal 
psychology, for it was not until later that—after unexpectedly wit¬ 
nessing a private demonstration of hypnotism—his prior disbelief 
in the reality of hypnosis gave way. He then proceeded to study 
the literature of the subject and to experiment with hypnotism. 
At the time of the first of the “Bridey Murphy” sessions in 1952, 
he had had some ten years of experience with hypnotism, had 
hypnotized hundreds of persons and, in many of these experiments 
had regressed his subjects to various ages of their childhood. Thus, 
although the later attacks on the book have insistently termed 
Bernstein an “amateur” hypnotist, he is so in the sense that he has 
made no charges for services he has rendered as a hypnotist; not 
in the sense of lacking practical experience or of being but casu¬ 
ally acquainted with the standard literature of the field. For as 
regards these two desiderata, he is doubtless better equipped than 
were a number of the dentists and physicians in the seminars he 
attended, who because of their professional degrees, received at 
the end a certificate of competence to use hypnotism in their 

An acquaintance of Bernstein’s, familiar with the idea of 
reincarnation, eventually brought it to his attention; and he then 



learned that attempts, prima facie successful, had been made by 
some hypnotists to regress their entranced subjects to times earlier 
than their birth or conception. This led him to undertake a simi¬ 
lar experiment on one of his subjects, Virginia Tighe—the “Ruth 
Simmons” of his eventual book. 

Virginia is a young married woman, born April 27, 1925, 
daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George Burns, who lived in Madison, 
Wis. Their marriage did not endure and, shortly after Virginia’s 
third birthday, her father’s sister, Mrs. Myrtle Grung, took her to 
Chicago to live with her and her Norwegian husband. There 
Virginia grew up a normal girl, went through grade and high 
schools, and eventually attended Northwestern University for a 
year and a half. At the age of 20, she married a young Army Air 
Corps man who died in the war a year later. Some time after, in 
Denver, she married her present husband, businessman Hugh 
Brian Tighe. They have three children. In Pueblo, Colorado, 
where they have lived for some years, she and her husband be¬ 
came casually acquainted with Mr. and Mrs. Bernstein. 

When Bernstein decided to attempt regressing the conscious¬ 
ness of a hypnotized subject to an earlier life, it occurred to him 
that the chances of success would be greatest in a subject capable 
of the state of deep, somnambulistic hypnosis. He then remem¬ 
bered that, some time before he had had any idea that regression 
to an earlier life might be possible, he had hypnotized Mrs. Tighe 
twice and that she had readily attained that deep hypnotic state. 
This, and the fact that she knew nothing of his then recent inter¬ 
est in reincarnation, led him to wish to have her as subject for the 
regression experiments. Although such leisure as she and her 
husband had was much occupied with other interests, they eventu¬ 
ally consented. The six sessions which are the basis of the book 
were then held at intervals during the course of the next few 
months, and were tape-recorded. 

2. Emergence of “Bridey Murphy” during Virginia’s trance. 
Although neither Virginia nor Bernstein had ever visited Ireland, 
as soon as she had in deep hypnosis been regressed first to the years 
of her childhood, and then instructed to go farther back to times 
anterior to her present life, and to report what scenes she per- 


ceived, she began to describe episodes of a life in which she was 
Bridey (Bridget) Kathleen Murphy, an Irish girl born in Cork 
in 1798, daughter of a Protestant Cork barrister, Duncan Murphy, 
and his wife Kathleen. She said she had attended a school run by 
a Mrs. Strayne and had a brother named Duncan Blaine Murphy, 
who eventually married Mrs. Strayne’s daughter Aimee. She had 
had another brother who had died while still a baby. At the age 
of 20, Bridey was married in a Protestant ceremony to a Catholic, 
Brian Joseph McCarthy, son of a Cork barrister. Brian and 
Bridey moved to Belfast where he had attended school and where, 
Bridey said, he eventually taught law at the Queen s University. 
A second marriage ceremony was performed in Belfast by a Catho¬ 
lic priest, Father John Joseph Gorman, of St. Theresa’s church. 
They had no children. She lived to the age oi sixty-six and was— 
to use her own expression—“ditched", i.e., buried, in Belfast in 
1864. Many of her other statements referred to things which it 
seemed highly improbable that Virginia could have come to know 
in any normal manner, but which might possibly be verified or 
disproved. And the “search" for Bridey Murphy is the search that 
was made for facts or records that would do one or the other. 

3. The chief documents of the Bridey Murphy controversy. 
No attempt will be made in what follows to review all the special 
points on which debate has focused in the Bridey Murphy contro¬ 
versy. But the chief of the documents which together constitute 
the history of the case, and on which are based the conclusions 
that will be offered, must be listed. For convenience of reference, 
a symbol will be assigned to each, made up from initials in the 
title of the corresponding document. 

SSBM. The first published account of the Bridey Murphy 
regression experiments appeared Sept. 12, 19, and 26, 1954 in 
Empire— the Sunday magazine section of the Denver Post— in three 
articles entitled “The Strange Search for Bridey Murphy’ written 
by Wm. J. Barker, of the Denver Post staff. 

MAB. This was followed by “More About Bridey," in Em¬ 
pire for Dec. 5, 1954. 

TSBM. The next document is the book itself, The Search for 
Bridey Murphy, by Bernstein, published in January 1956 by 



Doubleday & Co. The last chapter of it gives an account of the 
results up to that time of the search which the book’s editor had 
instituted through an Irish law firm and various librarians and 
investigators. Then the Chicago Daily News, which was publish¬ 
ing a syndicated version of the book, instructed its London man, 
Ernie Hill, to go to Ireland for three days and look for additional 
verifications from Cork to Belfast. In view, however, of the ex¬ 
tent of territory to be covered and of the brief time allowed, this 
assignment could hardly turn out other than, as it actually did, 
virtually fruitless. 

TABM. Next, the editor of the Denver Post sent Wm. J. 
Barker to Ireland for three weeks on a similar assignment. What 
he found and failed to find was objectively reported in a twelve 
page supplement to the Denver Post for March 11, 1956, entitled 
“The Truth about Bridey Murphy.” 

FABL Then Life for March 19, 1956, published an article 
in two parts, one of which was entitled “Here are facts about 
Bridey that reporters found in Ireland.” This part was stated to 
have been compiled from the reports of W. J. Barker, Ernie Hill, 
and Life's own correspondent Ruth Lynam. 

OSAB. The second part of the Life article was entitled “Here 
are opinions of scientists about Bridey’s ‘reincarnation.’ ” It gave 
an account of views of two psychiatrists, Drs. J. Schneck and L. 
Wolberg, concerning the case. 

SAC A. The next document consists of a series of articles pub¬ 
lished in May and June 1956 by the Chicago American and re¬ 
produced in other Hearst papers (the San Francisco Examiner , 
the New York Journal American) purporting to show that Vir¬ 
ginia’s supposed memories of a life as Bridey Murphy in Ireland 
really were subconsciously preserved memories of her childhood 
in Madison, Wis. and in Chicago, and of stories about Ireland with 
which, one of the articles claimed, she had been “regaled” by an 
aunt of hers who was “Irish as the lakes of Killarney.” Another of 
the Chicago American articles had it that the real Bridey Murphy 
had been found and was a Mrs. Bridie Murphy Corkell, whose 
house in Chicago was across the street from one of those in which 
Virginia had lived. 

CNCU. Then the Denver Post, on June 17, 1956, published 



an article by a member of its staff, Robert Byers, capticned “Chi¬ 
cago Newspaper Charges Unproved,*’ and commenting critically 
on the allegations of the Chicago American series of articles. 

BSE. Next, on June 25. 1956, Life published a short article, 
“Bridie Search Ends at Last,” summarizing the Chicago Amen 
can's contentions and printing a photograph of Mrs. Corkell with 
her grandchildren. 

CFBI. Also in June 1956, Pocket Books, Inc. published the 
paper back edition of The Search for Bridey Murphy , in which 
a new chapter, “The Case for Bridey in Ireland,” by Wm. J. 
Barker, was added. In it, he gives an effective presentation of the 
chief conclusions which, notwithstanding various allegations, ap 
pear valid in the light of the results of the investigations made 
by himself and others; and he adds that “Bridey’s ‘autobiography’ 
stands up fantastically well in the light of such hard-to-obtain facts 
as I did accumulate” (p. 271). 

SRSBM. In the spring of 1956 a book, A Scientific Report 
on (< The Search for Bridey Murphy” edited by Dr. M. V. Kline 
and containing a chapter each by him and by Drs. Bowers, Mar¬ 
cuse, Raginsky, and Shapiro, and an Introduction by Dr. Rosen, 
was published in New York by the Julian Press. 

HBCL. In October 1956, the Denver Post published in six 
instalments an interview of Virginia in Pueblo by W. J. Barker, 
entitled “How Bridey Changed my Life,” in which she comments 
on various of the allegations about her that had been published. 

In addition to the articles cited above, numerous others con¬ 
cerning the case, by psychiatrists, psychoanalysts, and other mem¬ 
bers of the professions appeared in a number of periodicals. 

TM. For example, the summer 1956 issue of Tomorrow mag¬ 
azine contained several. 

A W. The case furnished occasion also for a series of articles 
in the March to December 1956 issues of the monthly theosophical 
periodical, Ancient Wisdom— some dealing with reincarnation it¬ 
self, and others pointing out the weak spots in the Chicago 
American series. 

RIS. In a review of SRSBM in the January 1957 issue of the 
Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, Dr. Ian 
Stevenson, Head of the Department of Neurology and Psychiatry, 



University of Virginia School of Medicine, expresses disappoint¬ 
ment with the book and states a number of reasons for this. 

4. The Bridey statements that have not so far been verified. 
No verification has yet been obtained that a barrister named Dun¬ 
can Murphy and his wife Kathleen lived in Cork in 1798 and in 
that year had a daughter, Bridget Kathleen; nor that a Bridget 
Kathleen Murphy married in Cork a Catholic called Sean Brian 
McCarthy; nor that she died in 1864 in Belfast; nor that there was 
in Belfast in her days a St. Theresa’s church; nor that it had a 
priest named John Joseph Gorman who, as Bridey states, per¬ 
formed a second marriage ceremony there. 

That no traces of her birth, marriage, or death have been 
found, however, is not surprising since, aside from some church 
records, vital statistics in Ireland do not go back beyond 1864. 
Indeed, that any traces of her or of her people should be found 
would be the more surprising if an impression is correct, which 
Bernstein gained early and which the reader may test for himself 
from the recorded conversations between Bridey and Bernstein— 
the impression, namely, that her references to her father and to 
her husband as “barristers” were partly attempts to upgrade her 
family socially, and partly stemmed from the fact that she had 
only a vague idea of what their occupations actually were outside 
the home, or of what a Barrister really was. She states at one 
place that her father was a “cropper,” i.e., a farmer; and she names 
correctly what crops were raised there at the time. He may well 
have had also a part-time clerical job, perhaps in a law office. And 
as regards her husband, Barker, at the end of his chapter in the 
paper back edition of the book, declares his conviction that Sean 
(John) Brian M’Carthy was not a barrister but a bookkeeper, who 
kept books for several of the business houses in Belfast and per¬ 
haps also for Queens’ College. This would be supported by the 
fact that, in the 1858-9 Belfast Directory, one John M’Carthy, 
clerk, is listed; and that, in the 1861-2 Directory, he is listed as a 
bookkeeper. (CFBI p. 287-8) 

5. Examples of the Bridey statements that have been veri¬ 
fied. The statements of the Bridey personality, on the other hand, 
that have been verified notwithstanding (in the case of some of 



them) expert opinion that they could not be correct, are effectively 
presented with references to the verificatory findings in the chap¬ 
ter Wm. Barker contributed to the paper-back edition of the book 
They constitute, as the title of his chapter indicates, The Case for 
Bridey in Ireland. In order to invalidate it, what would be neces¬ 
sary would be to show that Virginia learned those recondite facts 
about Ireland of a century ago in a normal manner in the United 
States. The attempts of the Chicago American to show this have 
patently failed. The most they could be held to have shown would 
be that some of Virginia’s statements, not those which constitute 
the case for Bridey in Ireland, are perhaps traceable to experiences 
of Virginia’s childhood in Chicago. 

In order to outline all the essential facts, the allegations that 
they have been explained in an orthodox manner, and the refuta¬ 
tions of those allegations, far more space would be required than 
is available here. But a few samples will make evident the lack 
of real basis for the belief—now widespread as a result of the wish¬ 
ful attacks of orthodoxy on Bernstein s book—that every puzzling 
feature of the case for Bridey Murphy in Ireland has now been 
explained away in a satisfying orthodox manner. 

Bridey mentions the names of two Belfast grocers from whom 
she bought foodstuffs—Farr’s and John Carrigan. After consider¬ 
able search by the Belfast Chief Librarian, John Bebbington. and 
his staff, these two grocers were found listed in a Belfast city di¬ 
rectory for 1865-66 which had been in preparation at the time 
Bridey died in 1864. Moreover, Barker reports, they were “the 
only individuals of those names engaged in the ‘foodstuffs’ busi¬ 
ness,” there at the time. Bridey stated also that in her days a big 
rope company and a tobacco house were in operation in Belfast; 
and this has been found to be correct. ( CFBI, 271, 284) She also 
mentioned a house that sold “ladies things,” Cadenns, of which 
no trace has been found. Directories, however, listed individuals 
rather than business houses, and the proprietor of Cadenn’s house 
might not have been himself named Cadenn. 

Even more impressive than the verification of Farr’s and of 
John Carrigan, however, is the fact that a number of Bridey s 
statements which according to experts on Ireland were irrecon- 



cilable with known facts were shown by further investigation not 
to be really so. One example would be the following. 

The very first of the utterances ascribed to Bridey on the 
tape of the first session is that (as of age four, i.e., 1802) she had 
scratched the paint off all her bed, that “it was a metal bed,” 
and that she got an awful spanking. Life (in FABI) states that 
“iron bedsteads were not introduced into Ireland until at least 
1850.” Dr. E. J. Dingwall, however, states that “they were being 
advertised by the Hive Iron Works in Cork in January 1830 
.Mallett’s portable iron bedsteads were often used in Ire¬ 
land at about that date, although it is somewhat doubtful whether 
they were at all common about 1802“ (TAf, p. 11). And the En¬ 
cyclopedia Britannica (1950 edition), states that “iron beds appear 
in the 18th century.” So Bridey could, in 1802, have had an iron 
bed in Cork. 

But however this may be, attention must now be called to the 
fact that in the published transcript of the tape recording ( TSBM 
p. 112) Bridey does not speak of an iron bed at all but of a 
metal bed; and to the recently noticed fact that a careful rehear¬ 
ing of the tape seems to show that the word (which like many 
others uttered by Virginia in trance is not clearly articulated) 
was not “metal” but “little,” i.e., “little bed.” 

This is made the more probable by the fact that hardly 
anybody—least of all a child of four—would ordinarily speak of a 
metal bed, but rather—as all commentators on the episode have 
indeed done spontaneously—of an iron bed; or as the case might 
be, of a brass bed. 

One of the Chicago American's articles claims that the aunt 
who brought up Virginia in Chicago remembered such a bed- 
scratching and spanking incident in Chicago when Virginia was 
six or seven; and that Virginia remembered it and laughed about 
it with her aunt when, a dozen years later, she was given a bed¬ 
room suite as a birthday present. 

Virginia, on the other hand, told Robert Byers (CNCU) that 
she recalls no such incident, and most especially that she never re¬ 
called it to a relative when, at the age of eighteen, she was pre¬ 
sented with a new bedroom set. Worth bearing in mind in con¬ 
nection with statements alleged to have been made by relatives 



of hers (unnamed by the newspaper) is Virginias statement to 
Barker ( HBCL, part I) that “both Hugh’s and my relatives in 
Chicago are very much opposed to the whole Bridcy phenomenon 
on religious grounds.’’ This would easily open the door to wish¬ 
ful thinking unawares on their part. 

Aside from this, however, it should be noticed that the state¬ 
ment about the bed-scratching and spanking episode is the very 
first which Virginia, supposedly as Bridcy, makes; and that it 
comes immediately after those which Virginia, is regressed to her 
own childhood, had made. It is therefore possible that the 
memory of the incident did belong to her own childhood, rather 
than to that of the girl who, when asked for her name immediately 
afterwards, gave it as Bridey. 

But in any case, it has not been shown that there were no 
metal beds in Cork in 1802, but at most that they were probably 
not common there at that time. Hence,-even if Bridey said 
“metal,’’ not “little”—it has not been shown that she cannot really 
be remembering a metal bed in Cork in 1802. 

Let us turn next to the fact, of which much has been made, 
that in view of the scarcity of wood in Ireland, Bridey’s house in 
Cork could hardly have been a wooden house. 

According to the published transcript of the first session, 
Bridey, when asked what kind of house she lives in, answers: “it’s 
a nice house. . . . it’s a wood house. . . .white. . . . has two floors.” 
But here again, a careful rehearing of the tape appears to show 
that the word Bridey uttered was not “wood,” but “good”: “. . . 
a nice house. ... a good house. .and this is the more probable 
because one would not ordinarily speak of a “wood” house, but 
—as Life spontaneously does in its comment—of a wooden house 
or, today, of a frame house. 

Again, immediately after quoting the passage quoted above, 
the Life article adds: “and was called ‘The Meadows.’ ” But 
reference to the passage where “the Meadows” are first mentioned 
(in the second tape) shows that Bridey did not say the house was 
called “The Meadows.” The question asked her is “What was 

the address in Cork?” and her answer is: “That was.the 

Meadows.just the Meadows” (TSBM 140; Pocket Books 

ed. 159). Also, in the third tape, she is asked: “What were the 



Meadows in Cork?” and she answers: “There’s. . . .where I lived” 
(TSBM 160; Pocket Books ed. 183). Moreover, the Denver Post 
article (TABM) reproduces on its p. 9 a section of an 1801 map of 
Cork showing an area named Mardike Meadows, where some half- 
dozen houses are indicated. 

So Bridey’s statements about her house in Cork have not been 
shown to clash with known facts. On the contrary, her statements 
turned out to be compatible with what research in Ireland showed 
the facts in Cork really to have been. 

We now pass to Bridey’s statement that her husband taught 
law at the Queen’s University in Belfast some time after 1847. 
Life attacks it, not on the ground suggested by Barker that Brian 
McCarthy was probably not a lawyer after all, but on the ground 
that there was no law school there at the time, no Queen’s College 
until 1849, and no Queen’s University until 1908. 

This, however, is an error; for the facts are that on December 
19, 1845, Queen Victoria ordained that “there shall and may be College for students in Arts, Law, Physic. . . . 

which shall be called Queen’s College, Belfast” (CFBI 278). At 
the same time, she founded colleges at Cork and Galway. Then, 
on August 15, 1850, she founded “the Queen’s University in Ire¬ 
land,” directing “that the said Queen’s Colleges shall be, and 
. . . .are hereby constituted Colleges of our said University” 

(CFBI 279). So here again Bridey’s statement is consistent with 
the facts, and the allegation that it is not rests on an error concern¬ 
ing the facts. 

Again, Bridey spoke of “. . . .tiny little sacks of rice. . .” 
which were snapped on an elastic band on the leg: “It is a sign 
of purity” (TSBM, 199; Pocket Books ed. 231). Life's “Folklore 
Expert” Richard Hayward is quoted as saying: “Nonsense! Rice 
has never been a part of the folk tradition in Ireland. Corn, oats 
or potatoes, yes, for centuries. But rice, never!” 

Rice, however, was imported into Ireland about 1750. Doubt¬ 
less, it took some years for it to become widely known there. And 
it takes some more years for a “tradition” to develop out of ideas 
that happen to arise spontaneously in a number of individuals. 
Rice, being white, would naturally suggest purity to some of its 
early users. How it eventually came to symbolize fertility is less 



obvious. But anyway, what is relevant to the question whether 
Bridey’s statement can represent a genuine memory of an earlier 
life in Ireland is not whether rice has ever been a part of the folk 
tradition in Ireland; but only whether the whiteness of that until 
then unknown grain is likely to have struck some of its early 
consumers and to have caused them to think of it as symbolizing 
purity—as white orange blossoms are today used to signify a bride's 
purity, i.e., virginity. To this question, it is highly probable that 
the answer is Yes. Indeed, rice, as a symbol of purity, may well 
have been imagined to aid a girl in preserving purity if worn by 
her in little bags on the leg, as today medals symbolizing holy 
beings are given children to wear as an aid to them in conducting 
themselves as their religion expects them to do. 

Again, the word Bridey uses to refer to interment of the 
bodies of the dead is not “burying” but “ditching” Life is of 
course right when it states that “ditch” does not correctly mean 
“bury.” Yet Life itself mentions Lhat ‘ ditching” was used to desig¬ 
nate the mass burials of the many who died during the potato 
famine of 1845-47. So there can be little doubt that, as Professor 
Seamus Kavanaugh of University College, Cork, has suggested, a 
good many persons came to use 1 ditch” colloquially to mean 
“bury.” Similarly, “croak” does not correctly mean “die;” yet 
today “to croak” is sometimes slangily used among us to mean 
“to die.” 

Again, Bridey said that “tup” meant a rounder; and she used 
“a linen” to mean a handkerchief. Life states that “Scholar Hay 
ward. . . .laughed at tup, linen .as being any sort of Gae¬ 

lic.” But where Hayward got the idea that Bridey, or Bernstein, 
claimed that “linen” is a Gaelic word is a complete mystery. 
Bridey mentions “a linen” at all only when, having sneezed dur¬ 
ing the fourth session, she said “Could I have a linen?. . . I need 
a linen.” And Professor Kavanaugh endorsed this use of the word 
as, in Bridey’s days, referring to a handkerchief. 

As regards “tup,” it is quite true as a matter of linguistics 
that the word is not Gaelic. It is a Middle English word of un¬ 
known origin, which properly means a male sheep but also has 
slang meanings. Bridey mentions “tup” when asked by Bernstein 
for some Gaelic words. But Bridey is no linguistician, and refer 



ence to p. 156 of TSBM makes evident that, for her, “Gaelic” 
means essentially the language the peasants use . Associating as 
these did with persons who spoke English, some words of this 
language, such as “tup,” doubtless got into the peasants’ vocabu¬ 
lary; and Barker states that Professor Kavanaugh indeed found 
the word in one of his dictionaries in the sense Bridey gave for 
it (CFBI, p. 281). 

Again, Bridey used the word “lough” to designate livers as 
well as lakes (TSBM, pp. 136-7). And Life— apparently on Expert 
Hayward’s authority—states that “Lough simply does not mean 
‘river’ but ‘lake.’ ” Yet Murray's English Dictionary— which pre¬ 
sumably is at least as authoritative as Mr. Hayward—gives “low” as 
an obsolete variant of “lough” and meaning “a lake, loch, river, 
water” (Vol. VI, p. 271). 

Again, Barker states (CFBI p. 280) that, notwithstanding 
Hayward’s statement that “no Irishman would refer to another 
as an Orange but always as Orangeman or Orangewoman,” he 
(Barker) “can recall no one in Ireland questioning the slang term 
Orange as a synonym for ‘Orangewoman.’ ” 

Of Bridey’s mention that she read, or that her mother read 
to her from, a book on the sorrows of Deirdre, Life's would-be 
invalidation consists of a statement that according to The English 
Catalogue— said to be “a complete list of books published between 
1800 and the present”—the first appearance of Deirdre’s name in 
a title is in Synge’s play The Sorrows of Deirdre published in 
1905. But Barker cites to the contrary “a cheap paper-back pub¬ 
lished in 1808 by Bolton, entitled The Song of Deirdre and the 
Death of the Sons of Usnach” (CFBI p. 278.). So here again 
Bridey’s statement turns out to be consistent with the facts not¬ 
withstanding that Virginia Tighe had no normal way of knowing 
that such a paper-back had existed nor any interest in the ques¬ 
tion; whereas Life, which had such an interest, and whose possible 
sources of information were surely as ample as Barker’s, over¬ 
looked that 1808 paper-back. 

An additional statement made by Bridey is that in her days 
one of the coins in use was a tuppence. This is correct; but very 
few persons know that such a coin was in use in Ireland only be¬ 
tween the years 1797 and 1850. 



Barker’s chapter mentions a number of additional obscure 
facts testified to in Bridey’s tape-recorded statements, which some 
persons presumably expert in matters of Irish history disputed, 
but which subsequent investigation turned out likewise to cor¬ 
roborate. Those cited above, however, will suffice to make evident 
not only that reputed experts are not omniscient, but also that the 
allegations of critics of disturbing ideas need to be scrutinized 
with quite as much care as must the assertions of proponents of 
those ideas. For, as repeatedly has been pointed out in earlier 
chapters, the temptations to wishful thinking and to emotionally 
biassed conclusions are even greater on the side of the entrenched 
religious orthodoxy of the time and place concerned, or on the 
side of the vested “scientific commonsense of the epoch,” than on 
the side of the protagonists of prima facie paradoxical views. 

At all events, the items Barker’s investigation brought out, 
about which Bridey was right and the experts were wrong, con¬ 
stitute the central feature of the Bridey Murphy affair so far as 
concerns the question in view in Parts IV and V of the present 
work—the question, namely, whether any empirical evidence is 
available that the human mind survives after death, whether in 
some discarnate state or in the form of reincarnation. For the 
evidence, so far as it goes, which the Bridey Murphy case furnishes 
for survival consists essentially of the fact that those obscure items 
were correctly supplied by the lips of Virginia in trance, and of 
the fact that it is hard even to imagine how she could have come 
to know in a normal manner about the Ireland of over a century 
ago details so numerous and so uninteresting in themselves—de¬ 
tails, moreover, the confirmation of which by researchers in Ire 
land was so laborious that the wonder is not that some of them 
have so far eluded verification, but much rather that it has been 
possible to verify so many of them. 

6. The allegation that the true Bridey statements are trace¬ 
able to forgotten events of Virginia’s childhood. We may now 
consider briefly the allegation that the Chicago American's ar¬ 
ticles brought out facts which explain away Virginia’s utterances 
in the character of Bridey Murphy as being simply revivals and 
dramatizations under hypnosis of buried memories of her own 
childhood and youth in Madison and Chicago. 



Barker’s “The Truth about Bridey Murphy” was an objec¬ 
tive report both of the verifications he obtained and of those he 
did not succeed in getting during his three weeks in Ireland. In 
that report, he did not conclude either for or against the supposi¬ 
tion that Bridey and Virginia are two different incarnations of 
one same individual, but let the reader draw his own conclusions, 
if any. Unlike Barker’s, however, many of the other articles on 
the case in newspapers and periodicals are patently attempts to 
exorcise the demon which, in the shape of Bernstein’s book, was 
then tempting the hundreds of thousands of its readers to belief 
in reincarnation—a doctrine unorthodox both in contemporary 
Christian theology and in contemporary psychology. Indeed, the 
Denver Post's staff writer points out in the article “Chicago News¬ 
paper Charges Unproved” that the Rev. Wally White, whose name 
appears at the head of a number of the Chicago American articles, 
“stated clearly [that] his purpose was to debunk reincarnation 
because of its assault upon established religious doctrines.” 

The American's articles hardly mention most of the facts sum¬ 
marized by Barker in CFBI, on which the case, such as it is— 
for Bridey as an earlier “edition” of Virginia really rests. Rather, 
the American dismisses them wholesale with the allegation that 
Virginia was “regaled” with Irish stories by an aunt of hers who 
was “as Irish as the lakes of Killarney.” 

Virginia, however, states that the aunt so alluded to, Mrs. 
Marie Burns, was born in New York, was of Scotch-Irish descent, 
and spent most of her life in Chicago. Virginia adds ( HBCL , 
part IV): “I didn’t become really well acquainted with her until 
she came to live with us when I was 18. You’d think I would recall 
her having ‘regaled’ me with Irish tales if she had, at that tender 
age, wouldn’t you?” Virginia further states that she does not re¬ 
member anybody telling her anything about Ireland any time, and 
knows about Ireland only the few things everybody has heard. 

But the article appears to regard the mere fact that Aunt 
Marie was living with Virginia at about the time the latter left 
Chicago as warranting the assertion that “it seems likely that some 

of the Irish references used by Bridey.stem from the tales 

of Aunt Marie” (San Francisco Examiner, June 5). The Ameri¬ 
can's articles, thus virtually ignoring the real evidence for Bridey’s 



existence, concentrate their attention instead on “parallels ’—of 
which some samples will presently be cited—between in< idents 
in Virginia’s childhood and in Bridey’s life; incidents, however, 
which, even if truly derived from Virginia’s childhood, would 
leave wholly untouched the real case, based as we have seen on 
verifications of obscure Irish facts, for the contention that the 
Bridey statements represent genuine memories of Ireland. 

As a sample of the American's “success” in tracing back to 
Virginia's childhood various items in Bridey’s statements about 
Ireland, may be mentioned its “discoveries” in Madison relevant 
to the name of Father John Joseph Gorman who married Bridey, 
and to Bridey’s address in Cork, “the Meadows.” What the Amer 
lean's reporter discovered in Madison is that, less than 100 feet 
from the house on Blair St. where Virginia lived in Madison until 
age 3, Blair St. is crossed by Gorham St.; that a block and a halt 
from the house is St. John's Lutheran Church; and that the pasmr 
of the church attended by the parents of that three year old 
child was called John N. Walstedl But the reporter need not 
have gone so far to find persons called John. It is safe to my that 
on the very block of her house, or indeed on virtually an bl xir • 
any city in the United States, half-a-dozen Johns could be found 

As regards “the Meadows,” the Amen 
“less than two blocks from Ruth’s house [ i.e., Virginia’s, in Madi¬ 
son] is a lake front park—a ‘meadow’ where she must have played 
many times.” 

But the American's prize discovery in Madison was that like 

Bridey, “Ruth [i.e., Virginia].did have a little brother 

who died,” October 29, 1927, still-born. The fact, however, is that 
Virginia never had a brother , still-born or other. Indeed refer 
ence to this mythical brother appeared only in the original Jure 
14, 1956 article in Chicago; and was left out of the syndicated 
version of the article. 

Another typical example of the “parallels” which the An^ r ^ 
can's investigations brought to light refers to the fact that, in the 
fourth hypnotic session, Virginia suddenly sneezed hard. A friend 
of hers, referred to in the article merely a' “Ann,” is quoted as 
saying; “if anyone could sneeze hard, it was Ruth.” 

One may well ask, So what? for Bridey was not reporting at 



the time some hard sneezing she might have done in Ireland. It 
was Virginia’s nose that sneezed; just as it was Virginia’s larynx 
and lips that were uttering Bridey’s memories. 

Bridey’s then calling for “a linen” is accounted for in the ar¬ 
ticle by the fact that the same “Ann” always called her white linen 
handkerchiefs “white linen handkerchiefs”!! Comment on these 
various “parallels” would be superfluous. 

The Hearst San Francisco Examiner, which reproduces the 
May 28 article of the Hearst Chicago American by the Rev. Wally 
White, pastor of the Chicago Gospel Tabernacle, states that the 
American's investigation “was launched after it was learned that 
Mrs. Simmons [i.e., Virginia TigheJ had attended Sunday School 
as a girl in Rev. White’s church.” 

The reader would naturally infer from this that the Rev. 
White had known Virginia as a girl in Chicago. It is therefore 
interesting to refer to what Virginia has to say when questioned 
by Barker on the subject. She states (HBCL, part V): I went to 
Sunday School at the Chicago Gospel Tabernacle from the time I 
was about four till I was thirteen or so.” The Rev. Wally White 
“was not there when I was. The first time I met him was this 
summer [1956] when he suddenly appeared at our door here in 
Pueblo.he said he wanted to pray for me.” 

It would seem, then, that the featuring of this clergyman’s 
name at the head of several of the American's articles was just 
psychological window-dressing for the benefit of pious but naive 
readers. For such readers, seeing articles under the by-line of a 
clergyman, and having been told that he is the pastor of the 
church Virginia attended in Chicago, would naturally assume that 
he has first hand knowledge of her childhood and youth; that his 
articles are based on that special knowledge; and therefore that, 
since clergymen are truthful, the articles bearing the Rev. White’s 
by-line must be authoritative. But although the reader is likely 
to infer all this from the articles, they carefully refrain from 
actually asserting any of it. 

The incident of the bed-scratching and the ensuing spanking, 
of which the American makes much, may indeed as we stated in 
our account of it belong to the life of Virginia in Chicago rather 



than to that of Bridey in Cork. But this is less likely in the case 
of Bridey’s “uncle Plazz.” 

The American claims that he really is “a sixty-one year old 
retired city employe,” to find whom its reporters “combed Chi¬ 
cago,” and whose first name is Plezz. But the paper withholds his 
last name and address “in order to protect his privacy/’ It de¬ 
scribes him and his wife, however, as old friends of the aunt who 
brought up Virginia in Chicago; stating that he and his wife 
would visit Virginia and her aunt and uncle two or three times 
a week and that the visits would be returned; and that he and 
two of his daughters would play with Virginia. He is said to re 
member her “very well from the time she was about three or four 
until she was in the eighth grade,” which would be until she was 
thirteen or fourteen. This would mean a close association for 
some ten years. 

But let the reader now ask himself how credible is such an 
“uncle Plezz” in Chicago, in the face of the fact that Virginia, at 
age 33, has “no conscious memory of any such person” nor even 
of the name, as she emphatically declares when questioned about 
it by Barker. ( HBCL , part IV). 

Again, the May 29, 1956 Chicago article states that Virginia 
“took her early lessons in forensics from a Mrs. H.S.M.” Heft 
otherwise unidentified.) Immediately after this, it prints long pas 
sages from stage-Irish dialect pieces, and states that Ruth [i.e., 
Virginia] memorized them. 

This immediate juxtaposition would lead a hasty reader to 
assume that that teacher is the authority for the identification of 
the particular pieces of which passages are quoted, and for the 
statement that Virginia memorized them. Attentive reading, how 
ever, reveals that the article carefully refrains from so asserting. 
It only asserts, nakedly, that Virginia memorized those particular 

What the lady teacher apparently alluded to actually taught 
was elocution, not forensics which has to do with argumentation 
or debate. And what Virginia herself has to say on the subject of 
that lady’s lessons is this: “I took elocution lessons back in 1935 

or 36. . . .there was a well-to-do woman.who offered that 

kind of training for small groups of youngsters. . . .When I was 



12 or 13 I went to her after school on certain days. I’m afraid 
I wasn't much good—I can’t remember anything specifically that 
she taught us” ( HBCL, part VI). 

Robert Byers, of the Denver Post's staff, located that teacher. 
She is Mrs. Harry G. Saulnier. She remembered that “Virginia 
was a pupil for a short time, but she must have been rather 
average or I would remember her better.” Mrs. Saulnier said 
that “she had no recollection specifically of the pieces Mrs. Tighe 
memorized,” and that she has anyway never heard of any en¬ 
titled “Mr. Dooley on Archey Road,” which the American as¬ 
serted Virginia had learned (CNCU). 

So far as concerns the “Irish jigs,” which the paper asserts 
Virginia learned to dance, Virginia identifies them as having been 
The Black Bottom, and the Charleston! 

The climax, however, of the Chicago American series of ar¬ 
ticles was the discovery of a Mrs. Bridie Murphy Corkell in Chi¬ 
cago, who lived across the street from one of the places where 
Virginia and her foster parents had resided; whom Virginia knew; 
and on whose son John, Virginia is asserted to have had “a mad 

Virginia remembers John as “Buddy Corkell;” but as regards 
the alleged “mad crush,” she says: “Heavens, he was 7 or 8 years 
older than I was. He was married by the time I was old enough 
to have any romantic interest in boys.” She also remembers Mrs. 
Corkell, but although the article states that she “was in the Corkell 
home many times,” Virginia never spoke with Mrs. Corkell—nor 
does the article assert that she ever did. 

Further, Virginia never knew that Mrs. Corkell’s first name 
was Bridie, and still less that her maiden name was Murphy, if 
indeed it was. For when the Denver Post tried to verify this, Mrs. 
Corkell was not taking telephone calls. And when its reporter 
Bob Byers inquired from her parish priest in Chicago, he con¬ 
firmed her first name as Bridie, but was unable to verify her 
maiden name as Murphy (HBCL, p. VI); nor could the Rev. 
Wally White do so. 

But the reader will hardly guess who this Mrs. Corkell, whom 
the American “discovered” turns out to be. By one more of the 



strange coincidences in the case, Mrs. Bridie (Murphy?) Corkeli 
happens to be the mother of the editor of the Sunday edition of 
the Chicago American at the time the articles were publishedi 

7. The comments of psychiatrists on the Bridey Murphy 
case. Life's first article (OSAB) states that “the psychiatrists who 
have considered the case have no doubt that if Ruth Simmons 
could completely reveal her life to them, preferably under hyp¬ 
nosis, they could end the search for Bridey Murphy abruptly.” 

What this opinion actually represents, however, is only their 
adhesion to the methodological principle that a phenomenon 
whose cause is not actually observed is to be presumed to arise 
from causes similar to those from which past phenomena more 
or less similar to it were observed to have arisen. This is ^ood 
scientific procedure, of course; but only in so far as, in order to be 
able to follow it, one is not forced to ignore some patent dis¬ 
similarities between the new phenomenon and the old; or forced 
to postulate ad hoc similarities which are not in fact observe d oi 
forced to stretch beyond the breaking point some of those which 
are observed. For were it not for these limits of applicability of 
that methodological principle, no as yet unknown laws of nature 
would ever be discovered; every new fact would be trimmed, 
bent, or stretched to fit into the Procrustean bed of the already 
discovered modes of explanation. 

One would be guilty of doing just this if, for example, one 
were to claim that, in the “Rosemary” xenoglossy case, her ability 
while in trance to converse in ancient Egyptian language is scien¬ 
tifically explicable in a manner similar to that in which is scien¬ 
tifically explained the case of xenoglossy mentioned by Dr Rosen 
in his introduction to the book, A Scientific Report on ‘'The 
Search for Bridey Murphy ” In the latter case, a hypnotized pa 
tient’s ability to recite some ten words in the ancient language, 
Oscan, was scientifically explained by the discovery that once in 
the library while day-dreaming his eyes had rested on a book near 
him which happened to be open at a page where those words in 
Oscan were printed. The “Rosemary” case is similar to this only 
in that both are cases of xenoglossy. For, patently, nothing like 
what accounted for the ability of the patient to recite a certain ten 



words of an ancient language unknown to him would account for 
“Rosemary’s” ability to converse in responsive phrases in an an¬ 
cient language she had never studied. 

Similarly, the emergence—whether spontaneously or under 
hypnosis—of personalities seemingly distinct from that of the in¬ 
dividual concerned, but which actually are dissociated portions 
of his own total personality, is today a well known phenomenon. 
But as we saw in an earlier chapter, some cases of emergent new 
personalities stubbornly resist assimilation to cases of mere dis¬ 
sociation, either because, as in that of the “Watseka Wonder”, the 
new personality is unmistakably identified as that of a particular 
other individual who has died; or because the new personality 
demonstrates knowledge which the individual through whose 
body it expresses itself certainly never had or which it is exceed¬ 
ingly improbable it could ever have had. 

In such a case, to postulate as a number of psychiatrists have 
done in the Bridey Murphy case, that Virginia must some time 
have somehow learned in an ordinary manner the recondite 
Irish facts Bridey mentioned, is not scientific procedure, but is 
just piously conservative wishful thinking. The kind of state¬ 
ments it brings forth from some of the experts are what Dr. Jule 
Eisenbud, a keen and open minded Denver psychiatrist, was al¬ 
luding to when he wrote in commenting on the Bridey Murphy 
case that “psychology and psychiatry experts. . . .were lured into 
talking more gibberish than Bridey at her worst” ( Tomorrow, 
Vol. 4, No. 4, p. 48). And another psychiatrist, likewise gifted 
with a keen and open mind, Dr. Ian Stevenson, in his review 
mentioned earlier (RIS) justly charges the authors of A Scientific 
Report on “The Search for Bridey Murphy” with gratuitously 
assuming ab initio that memories of a past incarnation could not 
possibly be a valid explanation of Virginia’s verified statements; 
with evident ignorance of some of the facts turned up by Barker 
in Ireland; and with resorting to the old trick of explaining away 
the data by “analyzing” Bernstein’s motives. 

Indeed, insistence on turning every puzzling ad rem ques¬ 
tion into a question ad hominem is the occupational disease to 
which psychiatrists are most susceptible! In psychiatrists whom 
it affects, it has a way of generating fantasies even more fantastic 



than those of their patients. Whether or not that self-styled “Scien¬ 
tific Report” reveals hidden motivations in Bernstein and in Vir¬ 
ginia, it affords in any case an edifying exhibit of the emotional 
thinking which Bernstein’s book let loose in the psyches of the 
supposedly coldly scientific experts who authored that report. 

It is important in this general connection to bear in mind 
that psychiatrists are concerned with hypnotism essentially as an 
instrument of therapy; and that, even if the notions to which they 
have come as to what is a “true” hypnotic state or as to the “true” 
nature of the interrelation between subject and hypnotist are 
valid for therapeutic purposes, these notions are on the conuary 
myopic or parochial if supposed to apply automatically to hypno¬ 
tism in general. For the status of those notions then becomes that 
of dogmas of a creed, which function somewhat as do side-blinder^ 
on a horse: they confine the attention and the hypotheses of the 
“wearers” of those dogmas to but one particular segment of the 
total range of the possible capacities of hypnotism, or of the j-os 
sible meanings of some of the things which occur in hypnosis. 

For instance Dr. Raginsky, in the paper on “Medical Hyp 
nosis” which he contributes to that “Scientific Report’ comments 
at one place on the fact that in the sixth of Bernstein’s session^ 
Bridey talks back to Bernstein and even asks him questions. This, 
Dr. Raginsky writes, is “hardly a true hypnotic state;” for she 
ceases to be “the passive receptive typical hypnotic subject” (p. 

Thus, because Dr. Raginsky s horizon is specifically that of 
medical hypnosis, and by a “true” hypnotic state he therefore 
automatically means a hypnotic state suitable for medical pur¬ 
poses, it never occurs to him that the subject’s behavior on that 
occasion perhaps was evidence that hypnosis can sometimes be 
effective for certain purposes foreign to psychiatry—possibly in 
particular for that of awakening latent paranormal capacities in 
the subject, such as would be capacity to remember a life that 
really had preceded birth and conception; or the capacities for 
telepathy or clairvoyance which the early hypnotists did at times 
successfully awaken in their subjects. The success in this, of those 
“mesmerists” or “magnetizers,” as compared with usual failure 
of hypnotists to achieve the same today, may indicate that the pro 



cedure of the former was shaped by dogmas which, even if like the 
present ones somewhat fanciful, were anyway different, and, as it 
happened, effective ones for the purpose of awakening latent 
paranormal capacities. 

The field of hypnotism is peculiar in that, in it, any particular 
belief held by the hypnotists as to the relation of a hypnotized 
subject to his hypnotist—for instance belief that the relation is 
one in which the subject is passive and receptive and the hypnotist 
active and directive—is likely to generate automatically empirical 
proofs of its own correctness! For the hypnotist’s belief as to the 
nature of the relation between subject and hypnotist automatically 
shapes the hypnotist’s own attitude, the tone of his voice, his man¬ 
ner, and his particular procedure in the induction of hypnosis; 
and these characteristics of his behavior constitute powerful sug¬ 
gestions—additional to any which he may explicitly give to his 
subject— as to the particular role the subject is to enact. And the 
subject’s faithful enactment of the role thus automatically handed 
to him, which the hypnotist believes is the subject’s role in the 
“true” relationship between the two, is then taken by the hypno¬ 
tist as evidence confirming the correctness of his conception of 
that relationship! 

Medicine is not a science but a practical art; which, however, 
like other branches of engineering, draws so far as it can on the 
knowledge the sciences have so far won. In the case of medicine, 
the relevant sciences are chiefly physics, chemistry, and biology. 
Psychology, which in its behavioristic and physiological branches 
has recently though barely been admitted to the company of those 
adult sciences, has so far contributed but little to medicine. And 
psychiatry, which is as yet but an infant branch of medicine, has 
still less claim than have most of its older branches to the status 
of a science. The title of the book, A Scientific Report on “The 
Search for Bridey Murphy ,” is therefore naively pretentious. The 
fact is that the more really scientific a psychiatrist is, the less is 
he likely to pontificate in the name of Science, as do at many 
places the authors of that book. 

8. What conclusions are and are not warranted about the 
case. The outcome of our review and discussion of the Bridey 



Murphy case may now be summarily stated. It is, on the one hand, 
that neither the articles in magazines and newspapers which we 
have mentioned and commented upon, nor the comments of the 
authors of the so-called “Scientific Report” and of other psychia¬ 
trists hostile to the reincarnation hypothesis, have succeeded in 
disproving, or even in establishing a strong case against, the pos 
sibility that many of the statements of the Bridey personality are 
genuinely memories of an earlier life of Virginia Tighe over a 
century ago in Ireland. 

On the other hand, for reasons other than those which were 
advanced by those various hostile critics, and which will be set 
forth in the next chapter, the verifications summarized by Barker 
of obscure points in Ireland mentioned in Bridey’s six recorded 
conversations with Bernstein, do not prove that Virginia is ? re¬ 
incarnation of Bridey, nor do they establish a particularly strong 
case for it. They do, on the other hand, constitute fairly strong 
evidence that, in the hypnotic trances, paranormal knowledge of 
one or another of several possible kinds concerning those recondite 
facts of nineteenth century Ireland, became manifest. This \ rings 
us directly to the question of what sort of empirical evidence, il 
we had it, we would regard as constituting definite proof of re 

Chapter XXVI 


The distinctions formulated in Secs. 2, 3, and 4 of Chapt. 
XIV make it possible to give to the expression “survival after 
death” a meaning which is precise but involves no assumption as 
to whether the life-after-death one has in view is life discarnate, 
or life reincarnate. In the present chapter, however, what we are 
concerned with is survival specifically as reincarnation of the 
mind, or of some part of the mind, of a deceased person in another 
human body. The question before us is therefore whether the 
facts we have reviewed, which seem to evidence reincarnation, 
admit of alternative interpretations perhaps more plausible. 

1. Mediumistic communications from minds surviving dis¬ 
carnate, vs. memories in a reincarnated mind. If the possibility 
of life at all after death is assumed, then the most obvious of the 
alternative interpretations of the facts which suggest reincarna¬ 
tion is the one Spiritualists would ordinarily adopt; namely, that 
the person, through whose organs of expression true statements 
are uttered concerning the past life on earth of a deceased person, 
is not a reincarnation of the mind of the deceased, but is a me¬ 
dium through whose temporarily borrowed lips or hand the sur¬ 
viving discarnate mind of the deceased speaks or writes, mention¬ 
ing facts of its past life it remembers, that are adequate to identify 

This hypothesis concerning the source of true communica¬ 
tions of past facts recommends itself especially when, as for in¬ 
stance in the case of Mrs. Piper, the true communications re- 



ceived appear to emanate from several quite different persons who 
were contemporaries of one another. On the other hand, the re¬ 
incarnation hypothesis remains as plausible as the Spiritualistic 
when, as in the Bridey Murphy case, virtually only one personality 
manifests itself through the entranced organism, and does so 
steadily throughout a prolonged series of experiments; or, if sev¬ 
eral personalities appear, they present themselves as a series of 
incarnations of the same entity, memory including experiences of 
discarnate existence during the intervals between the several in¬ 
carnations. In the Bridey Murphy case, there seemed to be 
memory of a brief and painful life as a sick baby in New Amster¬ 
dam at some time before the birth of Bridey; but because of its 
brevity, of the distress attaching to it, and of the unlikelihood that 
it could have contained memories of verifiable details, BeniMein 
did not push the attempt to explore it. There is no evidenn 
then, that this brief life as a sick baby actually occurred, nor th«n 
the scanty account of it Virginia gave represented a memory of 
some episode rather than only an invention to satisfy ihe hypn<> 
tist’s demand for regression to a time before Bridey s birth 

2. Reincarnation as “possession.” The best case on record 
of reincarnation as “possession” is that of the Watseka Wonder 
described in Sec. 4 of Chapt. XVII. In that case, the inind of a 
definitely identified person, Mary Roff deceased at age 18 some 
12 years before, did to all intents and purposes reincarnate in the 
body not of a neonate but of a 13 year old girl, Lurancy Vennum, 
displacing altogether the latter’s personality for a period of some 
14 weeks. 

Reincarnation in the sense this would illustrate is very rare, 
and is anyway not reincarnation as ordinarily conceived, which is 
not thus episodic but lasts through the whole time between the 
birth and death of the body concerned; and in which what is re 
incarnated is not a developed mind and therefore can be opposed 
to be only a set of latent aptitudes brought from one or more 
previous lives. 

It should, however, be noted that aside from this, reincama 
tion in the “possession” sense illustrated by the Watseka Wonder 
case differs from the cases of direct control of a medium s bodv hv 



the surviving mind of a deceased person only in two respects, 
which are a matter of degree rather than of kind. 

One is that, in the mediumistic cases, the "possession," i.e., 
the direct control, is but momentary—usually a matter of minutes 
rather than of even as long as an hour—whereas Mary RofFs pos¬ 
session or "direct control" of Lurancy's body endured for more 
than three months. 

The other difference is that the body Mary Roff "controlled" 
was not in trance like that of a medium used for communication 
by the surviving mind of a deceased person, but was as aware of 
and active upon its physical environment as that of a normal 
person. It is true that some mediums or automatists do not go 
into trance while giving communications purporting to emanate 
from the surviving mind of a deceased person. But in this case 
this means that they remain aware that they are functioning as an 
intermediary, while so functioning. That is, only a part of their 
organism is being "possessed"—only their organs of speech or of 
writing. Their body does not, even for the duration of the seance, 
proceed to behave and to occupy itself as it would if the "possess¬ 
ing" personality were controlling the whole body instead of only 
its organs of speech or its hand. In the Watseka case, on the other 
hand, the Mary Roff personality possessed the whole of Lurancy’s 
body which, during 14 weeks, then did occupy itself and respond 
to its environment as Mary Roff’s own body would have, had it 
been still alive and occupied by the mind of Mary Roff. 

3. Reincarnation and illusion of memory. If the possibility 
of survival after death is not , as in the two preceding sections it 
was, assumed ab initio, then the verified memories that purport to 
be memories of an earlier life on earth of the person who has them 
are likely to be dismissed by the critic as being really illusions of 
memory similar to those cited in Sec. 2 of Chapt. XXII, of a man 
whose memories of incidents in the Harrison presidential cam¬ 
paign really were memories only of the images of those incidents 
he had formed as a child from descriptions of them by his uncles. 

The difference would be only that the experient’s verified 
memories, instead of being referred by him to an early part of 
his life, would be referred to an earlier life he imagined he had 


lived on earth; whereas the truth would be that the facts he really 
remembers are facts he learned in a normal manner during his 
present life and then forgot, but which the subconscious part ul 
his mind retained, and which eventually emerged again into hi$ 
consciousness in dramatized form as content of a so-called “pro- 
gignomatic fantasy;’* that is, of an imagination or day-dream 
which he does not realize to be this, of himself as living on earth 
a life anterior to his present one. The fantasy might be presenting 
itself spontaneously as an effect of repression of strong but un 
acknowledged impulses or cravings. Or it might be created under 
hypnosis, in compliance with the hypnotist’s command to the 
subject to push back his consciousness to a time earlier than the 
birth or conception of his body. 

Evidently, the acceptability or not in a given case, »• us 
explanation of the fact that the incidents remembered and as¬ 
cribed to an earlier life did really occur, though in the present 
life, turns on the probability or improbability a p< haps th< 
certainty or impossibility—in the light of all we know abou the 
person’s contacts, his education, his available sources of informa 
tion, etc.—that he should have learned normally during the course 
of his present life the past facts he now remembers but refers to 
an earlier life. 

The probability that he did so learn them, however, depends 
in part on the “antecedent” improbability that the mind, or anv 
part of the mind, of a deceased person survives after death; for ii 
it does not, it could of course not remember anything. But in 
Part III it was shown that such survival is not antecedently eithev 
improbable or probable—the allegations to the contrary being 
based not on facts known, but only on gratuitous fideistir or scien¬ 
tistic assumptions. 

4. Extrasensory perceptions, vs. memories of an earlier life. 
If one proceeds under the assumption that survival after death 
is not possible, and if it turns out to be highly improbable or im¬ 
possible that some of the memories purportedly of an earlier life 
should really be memories of facts normally learned in the present 
life and then forgotten, then one might attempt to account for 
the correspondence of those purported memories to real facts bv 



supposing that the person concerned ascertained those facts not 
normally but by extrasensory perception— by telepathy, perhaps, 
from the minds of persons who know them, or by clairvoyance or 
retrocognition. The probabilities or improbabilities of this, how¬ 
ever, are the same no matter whether the survival to which this 
supposition would provide an alternative be survival as reincarna¬ 
tion, or survival in a discarnate state. It will be recalled that in 
Chapt. XIX, we examined Prof. E. R. Dodds* contention that the 
identificatory information alleged by believers in survival to 
emanate from the surviving discarnate spirits of deceased persons is 
really obtained through unconscious exercise of telepathy or/and 
clairvoyance by the mediums or automatists who communicate it; 
and we concluded that although some of the prima facie evidence 
for survival may with some plausibility be explained away in this 
manner, nevertheless certain others of the evidential items can¬ 
not be so accounted for without postulating for extrasensory per¬ 
ception a scope far outranging that for which there is independent 
evidences; nor without depending even then on certain additional 
and unplausible postulations. 

These conclusions apply with equal force when the form of 
survival under consideration is not discarnate survival specifically 
but is survival as reincarnation, whether immediately after death 
or after survival in a discarnate state for some time. 

5. What would be the best possible evidence of reincarna¬ 
tion. That the mind of a now living person is the same mind 
as that of a person whose body died some time before means, ac¬ 
cording to the analysis offered in Sec. 4 of Chapt. XIV, that the 
mind of the person who died has become the mind present in 
the now living person. If they are in this sense the same mind, 
then automatically the history of the later one includes the his¬ 
tory of the earlier one. Such knowledge, however, as a mind has 
of its own history consists of such memories as it has of its past 

At this point, we need to distinguish between memories and 
memory. Memory is the capacity of a mind to “remember” past 
events that were its own subjective experiences, and objective 
events or facts that it experienced, i.e., perceived. According to 


the analysis of the notion of “capacity’’-or “ability" or ‘ disposi 
tion” or “power"—given in Sec. 2 of Chapt. VI, a capacity is an 
abiding causal connection between any event of a given kind C 
and some event of a given other kind E, occurring in any state of 
affairs of a given kind S. And exercise of a capacity-e.g., of the 
capacity designated “memory"—is what occurs when an event of 
kind C occurring in a state of affairs of kind S causes in it an event 
of kind E.—e.g., awareness of an event experienced in the past. 

A memory, on the other hand, is the present awareness of an 
event or fact one experienced in the past, which occurs if some¬ 
thing now causes exercise of one’s capacity to remember that 
event or fact. Memory, then, is a capacity, not an occurrence; 
whereas a memory is an occurrence, not a capacity. 

If now we ask how a given mind knows itself to be the same 
mind as one which existed earlier, the answer is as follows. 

If a memory it has is of a subjective experience—e.g., of a 
thought, an emotion, an intention, a desire, etc., which it 
had—and it is a genuine memory of it, then the mind tha has 
this memory is necessarily the same mind as the mind that had 
the subjective experience remembered; for nobody ml oneself 
can remember his own subjective experiences. Another person 
could, at most, only remember such perceptible objective expres¬ 
sions, if any and whether candid or deceitful, as one gave to them; 
and anyway one gives no perceptible expression to many of them 
This, however, brings up the question whether memory of any 
of one’s subjective experiences can be illusory not genuine; and I 
submit that, if one distinguishes clearly between subjective ex¬ 
periences themselves, and such status-e.g., of dream,” or “hallu¬ 
cination,’* or “perception," or “sign of. . .*’ etc.—as one may 
ascribe to them, then it becomes evident that memory of one s 
subjective experiences, like presentness of them, cannot be il¬ 
lusory. For illusion is possible at all only where interpretation 
enters. And pastness of a subjective experience one remembers 
is not inferred but is just as direct an experience as is presen mess 
of a subjective experience. Vacuousness of the supposition that 
one’s memory of a subjective experience can be illusory (e.g., of 
a subjective experience one calls “pain," or “dizziness,” or “fear, ’ 



or “bitter taste,” etc.) follows from the fact that any attempt one 
might make to prove either that it is or is not illusory would 
automatically presuppose that one does remember the subjective 
experience one designates by the particular one of those words 
one employed. 

If, on the other hand, a memory is of some objective fact or 
event, then the only evidence there could be—which, however, 
would be adequate—that a mind whether incarnate or discarnate 
having that memory is the same mind as a certain mind that was 
incarnate at a given earlier time, would consist of the following 
three items together: (a) that the memories of objective facts or 
events the present mind has include memories of them which 
the earlier mind had; (b) that these included memories were 
veridical, i.e., are known to correspond to what those objective 
facts or events were; and (c) that those memories are known to 
be genuinely memories because the person having them is known 
not to have had opportunity to acquire his knowledge of those 
objective facts or events in any way other than personal observa¬ 
tion of them. 

Possession by a given mind of memories of subjective ex¬ 
periences of an earlier mind, or/and possession of memories of 
objective facts or events also remembered by that earlier mind, 
would thus mean that the earlier mind had eventually become 
the given mind and was thus an intrinsic early part of it. 

This relation, however, is precisely the relation which, ac¬ 
cording to the accounts we have of the cases of Katsugoro, of 
Alexandrina Samona, and of Shanti Devi, did obtain between the 
whole of the memories each had, and the portion of these relat¬ 
ing to a period anterior to the birth of their present body. 

These cases, then—if the reports are accurate, which we have 
of them and of other cases where memory likewise spontaneously 
extends to a period earlier than the birth or conception of the 
present body—provide the best conceivable kind of evidence that 
the person having those memories is a reincarnation of one who 
had died earlier. Indeed, the account we have of each of these 
cases, if it is accurate, constitutes an account of what it means, 
to say that the mind of a given deceased person reincarnated in 
the body of a neonate who has now reached a certain age. 


If, however, we wish to speak—as ordinarily—of reincarnation 
also in cases other than these; that is, in cases like that of each of 
the rest of us, where no such spontaneous memories of an earlier 
incarnation are possessed; then that which is supposed to be re¬ 
incarnated in our body cannot be an earlier mind. It can be 
only the “seed” left by an earlier mind—a seed consisting ot the 
set of what Prof. Broad would term its “supreme dispositions.” 
and which we have described as the set of its basic aptitudes; that 
is, of its capacities to acquire under respectively appropriate cir 
cumstances various more determinate kinds of capacities. 

It is conceivable, however, that one of those reincarnated 
basic aptitudes should be aptitude to regain, under appropriate 
stimulus, memories now latent that would satisfy requirement 
(a), (b), and (c) above, and would therefore be memories of an 
earlier incarnation. Moreover, the appropriate stimulus—or a 
sometimes adequate stimulus—for the regaining of them whether 
temporarily or enduringly, might consist of a demand to this i 
feet made on a person under hypnosis by the hypnotist. 

To have regained them in this manner would then mean that 
knowledge of the sameness of the mind of the deceased person and 
of the mind of the person who has been given that stimulus, has 
been temporarily or enduringly achieved , instead of having been 
spontaneous and native as in the cases of Katsugoro and of the 
other children cited. 



Abilities, 52-54 
“connate,” 47 
“internal," 47 

Aksakof, A. on reincarnation in French 
Spiritism 235, 236 
Albertelli, Sra., 253 
Alger, W. R. 

on reincarnation, 208 
on resurrection as reincarnation, 209 
on superiority of reincarnation hypo¬ 
thesis, 209 

Amenhotep III, 248, 250, 252 
“Animal spirits," in Descartes philos¬ 
ophy, 100, 101 

Apparitions, 9, 21, 22, 139, 154, 156, 

clothes of, 160, 169 
of the living, 159 
and materializations, 168-170 
and proof of survival, 169, 170 
Appius Claudius, 263 
Aptitudes, 30, 55, 122 
basic, 306 

and heredity, 229-231 
and acquisition of skills, 230, 231 
Archdale, Mrs., 187 
“Astral projection," 161 
Automatists, 175, 176 
Autotelism, 88 


Balfour, G. W.. 187, 189, 190, 199, 203 
Barker, Wra. J., 276n, 279, 280-283 , 285, 
286, 288-290, 292 
Barrett, W. F., 160n 

“Basic limiting principles," 137-139, 149 
Bateman, F., 233n 

Baudin. Ed., 273 
Bayfield. M. A., 182 
Bebbington, J., 283 
Bechofer Roberts, C. S., 196n 
Becoming, 125 
Belief in survival, 14-17 
arguments for, 18, 23-27 
Bequet, C.. 236 
Bergson, H., 146 

Bernstein, M., 276-278, 287, 296, 297. 

experience as hypnotist, 277 
hidden motivations in, 297 
Benalauffy, L. von, 92 
Bilocation, 161 
Blavatsky. H. P. 237-239 
Bodin, Mme., 236 
Body, fate of after death. 19 
sameness of a, at two times. 125. 126 
Bounoure, L., 93, 94 
Bourdon, J. C., 272 
Bourne, A., 171 
Bowen, F., 228 
Bowers, M. K., 281 
Bozzano, E., 162, 163 
Brahmanism, and reincarnation, 210, 211 
Brain, as objectification of will-to-know, 

"Bridey Murphy," 258, 276ff., 301 
and Virginia’s mythical brother, 291 
and Virginia’s childhood memories, 

conclusions about, 298, 299 
documents of the case. 279ff. 
emergence of, 279 
essentials of the evidence for, 289 
address as “The Meadows," 285, 286 
opinions of some psychiatrists on case, 

and Queens University, 286 




and rice, 286, 287 
and spirit communication, 300 
Unverified statements of, 282 
upgrading of her family, 282 
verified statements of, 282-289 
her wood house, 285 
Bridgman, P. W., 193n 
Broad, C. D., 6, 19, 55, 106, 131, 133, 

137, 142, 151, 306; on reincarnation, 
219, 220, 228, 229 

Buddhism, and reincarnation, 210, 211 
Burns, G., 278 

Burns, Mrs. M., and Irish tales, 290 
Butler, Mrs. G., 21-33, 154 
Butcher, S. H., 188 
Byers, R., 281,284, 294 


Cadenn’s, in “Bridey Murphy” case, 283 

Caesar, Julius, 216 

Cahagnet, A., 236 

Camels, in Egypt, 251, 252 

Cannon, H. G., 93n 

Capacities, 52-54, 60 

Carmichael, L., 29n 

Carrigan, J., grocer, in “Bridey Mur¬ 
phy” case, 283 
Carrington, H., 163n 
Causality, 84 
and events, 101, 102 
revealed in experiments, 104n 
and mind-body interaction, 116 
nature of its terms, 101, 103, 104 
Causation, the "how” of, 91, 92, 116, 

Cayce, E., 274, 275 
Celts, 214 
Cerminara, G., 275 
Chaffin will case, 157, 158 
Chand, B., 246 
Chand, L. K., 246 
Charpigny, Ph., 272 
Chaubey, K. N., 246, 247 
Christianity, 210 
Cleckley, H. M.. 123, 255 
Clement XIV, Pope, 161, 168 
Commonsense, 133 
Communication, automatic, 183 

from the deceased, 175 
mediumistic, 141 
Conation, 83 
blind, 87, 88 

creative vs. activative, 90, 91 
“Connate” accusative, 47 
Connection, distinguished from iden¬ 
tity, 64-67 
Consciousness, 7, 8 
and brain areas, 29 
and behavior, 32 
“content” of, 47 
evidence of, and death, 29, 43 
affected by drugs, 30 
only in living organisms, 29 
and nervous system, 29 
“object” of, 47 

privacy of states of, 45, 46, 48 
as brain processes, 31, 32 
as product of body, 43 
states of, publishable. 45 
states or modes of, 45 
vocabulary for states of, 48, 65, 66 
“Control," 176 

Convincing, vs. proving, 12, 13, 28 
Cook, FI., 166 

Cooper. Mrs. B., 183, 186, 197, 198 
Corkell, Mrs. Bridie (Murphy?), 280, 
281,294, 295 
Corkell, John, 294 
Costa, G., 162, 163n 
Crookes, Wm„ 146, 165 
"Cross-correspondences.” 127, 186-190, 


Cummings, A., 22, 154, 155 


Dalai Lama, 221 
Davis. G., 183, 197, 198 
Death, 8 
biological, 42 
certainty of, 11 

Deceased, communications with the, 9 

“Deceiving spirits,” 183 

Deirdre, 288 

D£jd vu, 232, 233 

Delafosse, M., 221 

Democritus, 109 



Descartes, R., 100, 101 
Desire, vs. blind conation, 88 
Determinism, “radically experimental,” 
102, 103 

Laplace on, 102, 103 
physicochemical, 103 
“Directiveness,” of biological processes, 
83, 92 

Dingwall, E. J., 284 
Diogenes Laertius, 211 
Dispositions, 52-54 
"supreme,” 306 
“Ditching,” 279, 287 
Dodds, E. R., 193-199, 304 
Dogmatism, in the name of science, 146, 

“Double,” projection of the, 9 
Dreams, 7, 9 
Dricsch, H., 83, 92, 146 
Druids, 216 

Dualism, 108, 109, 111, 112, 115 
Duns Scotus, 33n 


Ear of Dionysius case, 199 
Ectoplasm, 140, 166, 167 
Egyptians, 214, 216 
Eisenbud, J., 296 
Elijah, 214 
Empedocles, 211 
Energy, and causality, 107 
conservation of, 106, 107 
Entelechy, 83, 92 
Epiphenomenalism, 74-80 
arbitrariness of, 77-79 
definition of, 76, 77 
and experimentation, 96 
Equanimity, and religion, 17 
“Equifinality,” of biological processes, 
Esau, 215 

Esse est percipi, 47 
“ESP-projection,” 161 
Extrasensory perception, 135, 184, 186, 
188, 191,193-199, 303, 304 
and distance, 135 

and mediumistic communications, 94, 
191, 193, 195-199 

vs. memories of an earlier life, 303, 


Faculties, 52-54 
Faraday, M., 145, 148 
Farr’s grocery, in "Bridey Murph/” case. 

Perm, V., 24n 

Fichte, J. G., on plurality of lives, 2J7 

Flammarion, C., 146 

Flavius Sextilius, 262 

Flournoy. Th., 183 

Forbes, Mrs. (pseud.), 187 

Fox, O., 163 

Frallic, M. E., 163 

Francis. Saint, 114, 115 

Fraud, 142, 192 

Fullerton, G. S., 75 

Function, productive vs. transmissive, 


Garrett, Mrs. E., 197 

Gaster, M., 215n 

Gesell, A., 3In 

Ghosts, 154 

Ginsburg, C. D., 215 

God, 7. 23, 25, 26, 71, 81, 100, 155, 214 

Goldney, K. M., 233n 

Gorman, Fa. John Joseph, 279, 282, 291 

Grung, Mrs. M., 278 

Gunn, B., 250 

Gupta, L. D., 246 

Gurney, Ed., 159, I60n, 188 


Hamilton, W. # 33n 
Hall, G. S., 183 
Hallucinations, 79, 80, 153 
complete, 168 
heautoscopic, 141 
veridical, 140 
Hart, H., 160n 
Hayward, R., 286-288 
Hearn, L., 241,243 
Heisenberg, W., 102 
Heredity, and native aptitudes, 229 



Herodotus, 216 
Heterotelisra, 88 
Hill, E., 280 

Hodgson, R., 17In, 177*182, 187, 188 
196, 198, 203 
Hodgson, Sh., 76 
Holland, Mrs. (pseud.), 187, 199 
Holms, A. C., 239 
Home, D. D., 165, 237 
Hugo, V., 183 

Hulme, A. J. H., 248n, 249, 250 
Human body, “one’s own,” 105, 106 
Hume. D., 84, 101-103, 216 
on reincarnation, 216 
Huxley, T. H., 76, 148 
Hymans, L. L., 161 

Hypnosis, age-regression or progression, 
under, 257, 258, 271, 272, 273, 275- 

potentialities of, 297 

Hypnotism, and memory of earlier lives, 

and relation between hypnotist and 
subject, 298 

Hypophenomenalism, 74, 81-99 
biological vs. cosmological, 82, 83 
and experimentation, 96, 97 
biological, and mind-body interaction, 

interest of its contention, 99 
merits of, 95 
thesis of, 83 

Hyslop, J. H., 145, 176-180, 184, 196, 
198, 203, 228, 233, 234 
on illusions of memory, 233, 234 
on survival as reincarnation, 228 


Idealism, 68, 69 

Ideas, privacy and communicability of, 

Identity, distinguished from connection, 

evidence of personal, 178 
not proved by likeness, 125, 126 
personal, 125 

Illusions, of perception, 143 
of memory, 233, 234 

Immortality, 6 
arguments for, 9 
Impersonation, 191 

Impossibility, sources of belief in, 148, 

Faraday on natural, 145 
“Independent voice,” 176 
Indeterminacy, 102 
Inspection, 46 

Interaction, between brain and mind, 31 
Interactionism, 74 
its contention, 104, 105 
and survival, 100, 107 
Infernal accusative, 47 
Introspection, 45 
Intuition, 46, 47 
Itard, J. M. G., 30n 


Jacob, 215 

James, Wm., 62, 146, 171n, 173, 177, 

Japhet, C. (pseud.), 236 
Jennings, H. S., 95, 102-104, 134n, 146 
Jeremiah, 215 
Jerome, Saint, 215 
Jesus, 18-23, 115,214 
apparitions of, 23 
John the Baptist, 215 
Jews, 214 

“John Doe,” 200-203 
Johnson, Miss A., 187 
Johnson, R. C., 163n 
Johnson, W. E., 56 
Josephus, 215 
Jourdain, Miss E. F., 234 


Kant, I., 228 

on preexistence and immortality, 216, 
217, 219 

purposiveness and mechanism, 86, 87 
Kardec, Allan (pseud.), 235-237 
Karma, 210, 226 
“Katie King,” 165, 170 
Katsugoro, 241-243, 247, 251, 275, 306 
Kavanaugh, S., 287, 288 
Keeton, M. T., 107 



Key concepts, ingenuous vs. analytical 
understanding of, 34, 35 
Kline, M. V., 281 


Lamont, C., 32-34. 51, 67, 107ff. 
his position an interactionistic dual¬ 
ism, 116 

Lancelin, Ch., 244 

Laplace, P. S. de, determinism as con¬ 
ceived by, 102, 103 
"Larquen, J. de," 275n 
Leibniz, G. W., 70, 225 
Levitation, 140, 145 
Life, biological, 5, 42 
dormant, vegetative, active, 126, 127 
a habit, 8 

psychological, 5, 42-44 
its processes purposive, 83 
vegetative, animal, human, 43, 44 
without beginning or end, 6 
Life after death (see also Survival), 

causes of belief or disbelief in, 7, 9, 

11, 12 

and Christianity, 18-21 
desire for, 10 
discarnate, 14, 33, 34 
duration of, 6, 124 

not disproved by epiphenomenalists, 

eternal, 6 

evidence for, 10, 18 
forms of, 10, 11, 126, 127 
impossibility of, 28ff. 
and God, 15 

grounds for belief or disbelief in, 12 


and justice, 24 
material, 5 
personal, 5 

as physical reembodiment, 130 

physiological, 5, 6 

possibility of, 61 

psychological, 5, 6 

four questions concerning, 61 

and religion, 15 

reward and punishment, 16 

Liguori, A. de, 161, 168 

Likeness, not proof of identity, 125, 126 

Lillie, R S., 92 

"Living,” 39, 42 

Living things, how distinguished from 
non-living, 59, 83, 84 
Lobotomy, 30 

Lodge, O., 146, 177, 179, 187, 203 
Loisy, A., 20n 
"Lough,” 288 
Lynam, R., 280 


Machon, P., 272 
Mai, C. K., 247 
Mai, K., 246 
Mandingos, 221, 241 
Marcuse, F. L., 281 
Martin, J., 253 
Mason, Mrs., 248 

"Material," derivatively vs. fundamen¬ 
tally, 41 

meaning of, 59, 193 
which things are called, 40, 41 
Materialism, 109 

as metaphysical creed, 149, 150, 151 
Paulsen’s refutation of, 63, 64 
and apparitions, 168 
Materialization, 164-170 
Material things, distinct from percepts 
of them, 69 

Matter, ultimate constituents of, 40 
‘‘dematerialization” of, 39 
Mathur, B. R. B., 246 
Mathur, T. C., 246 
Matthews, W. R., 5 
McConnell, R. A., 137n 
McCarthy, Sean Brian Joseph, and 
“Bridey Murphy,” 279, 282 
McTaggart, J. E., on heredity, 229-231 
on reincarnation, 218, 219 
"Meadows, The,” address of "Bridey 
Murphy,” 285, 286, 291 
"Meanings," 110, 111 
Mechanism, as conceived by Kant, 86 
and purposiveness, 89 
Mechanisms, mental, physical, 89 



Mediums, 9, 175, 176 
Mediumship, ‘'possession” vs. extrasen¬ 
sory perception, 123, 124 
Meehl, P. E., 193n 
Memories, of earlier lives, 174, 241 
or extrasensory perceptions? 303, 304 
vs. memory, 304, 305 
of objective facts, 305, 306 
of subjective experiences, 305 
Memory, 8 

lack of, and non-existence, 224, 225 
of our acts, 226 
illusions of, 233, 234 
of past lives, lacking, 218, 224 
vs. memories, 304, 305 
and personal identity, 225 
“Mental," 45. 47, 59, 193 
derivatively vs. fundamentally, 49 
Mental activity, as "function of” cer¬ 
ebral, 73 

Metal bedsteads, 284, 285 
Metempsychosis, 7, 131, 207-210, 218 
Metensomatosis, 207 
Mind, 39 

species of capacities of, 51, 54, 56 
existence of a, 55, 60 
history of a, 54, 55, 60 
nature of a, 54, 55, 60 
parts of a, 56 

sameness of a, at two times, 124-126 
and "soul" and "spirit," 56 
unity of a, 56 

Mind-body relation, 34, 62, I12ff. 
alleged absurdity of, 66 
mind as affecting body, 114-116 
double aspect conception of, 71*73 
as epiphenomenalism, 75ff. 
and ontological heterogeneity of its 
terms, 101 
not identity, 64 
nature of its terms, 99 
as pre-established harmony, 70, 71 
mind as product of body, 114 
Mindkins, 56 

Moberly, C. A. E., Miss, 234 
"Modes,” and "substances" in Descartes, 


Monads, 70 

Monism, 11, 112 
Morgan, H. O., 170 
Morton ghost case, 158, 159 
Muhl, A., 224 
Muldoon, S., 163 
Muller, H. J., 146, 151 
Mundle, C. W. K., 134 
Murphy, Duncan, 279, 282 
Murphy, Duncan Blaine, 279 
Mutations, 93 
Myers, C. S., 66 

Myers, F. W. H., 121, 156n, 159. 177, 
179, 188, 199 
Mythopoeic faculty, 258 


Naobas, 271 
Naturalism, 109 
Nature, 109 
Nirvana, 211 

"Nona," 248. 249, 250, 253-255 


Object-reading, 140, 194, 195 
"Obsession," 241 
Occam’s razor, 33n 

Origen, on reincarnation and preexis¬ 
tence, 213,214, 215 

Orthodoxy, attacks by, on "Bridev 
Murphy" case, 283; the method of. 

Osty, E., 161, 162, 196 
"Ouija" board, 175 

"Out-of-the-body" experience, 9, 159-164 
not evidence for life after death, 164 


Palingenesis, 131, 207, 218 
Pap, A., 11 In 
"Parabiological,” 133 
Parallelism, psycho-physical, 70ff., 74 
Paranormal occurrences, chief kinds of, 

physical, 191, 192 

questions relevant to reports of, 141- 

and science, 145 
significance of, 144 



spontaneous, experimental, mediumis- 
tic, 141 

as defined by Broad, 137139 
as defined by Rhine, 133-137 
“Parapsychological,” 133 
Parsimony, law of, 32 
Paulsen, F., 63, 68 
“Pelham, George,” 169, 181, 184 
Pcrclman, Ch., 149 
Personality, 9 

acquired, vs. native aptitudes, 227 
components of, 121 

differences between males and females, 

dissociations of, 123, 296 
effects of environment on, 30 
and heredity, 30 
not simple, 122 

“Physical,” which things are called, 40, 

Piddington, J. G., 187, 188 

Pineal gland, 100, 101 

Piper, Mrs. L., 179-187. 192, 300 

Plato, and reincarnation, 211, 212, 216 

"Plazz,” 293 

Plotinus, 81 

on reincarnation, 212-214 
Podmore, F., 159, 160n, 179n, 187, 188 
Ponce, John, of Cork, 33n 
“Possession,” 170, 171, 184, 185, 197. 241 
Powers, 52-54 
Pratt, J. B., 8, 11, 12 
Precognition, 140 
“Pre-established harmony,” 70, 71 
Price, G. R., 193n 
Price, H. H, 56, 160n 
and a “next world” of images, 128, 
129, 130 

“Primary organic consciousness,” 94 
Prince, M., 123, 171, 180, 254 
Prince, W. F., 123, 148, 171 
Privacy, of consciousness, 45, 46, 48 
“Progignomatic fantasy,” 303 
Projection, 9 
of the “double,” 159-164 
(see also "Out-of-the-body” experi 

Proof, of paranormal occurrences, 192 
Protestantism, 210 

Prothesiology, 86 
Proving, vs. convincing, 12, 13, 28 
Psychiatrists, occupational disease of. 
296, 297 

Psychiatry, an infant branch of medi¬ 
cine, 298 

“Psychical,” 45, 47, 59 
“Psychogenic factor,” 228 
Psychometry, 140 
see also “Object-reading ’ 

Purposive activity, blind, 88 
conscious, 88 

Purposivcness, as most commonly con¬ 
ceived, 84 

a familiar type of, 87 
differentiated from mechanism, 89 
objections to, as explanatory of life 
processes, 84-86 
Purucker, G. dc, 220 
Pythagoras, 211 


“Quantitative ESP experiments, whai 
they quantify, 135 

Queens University, Bridey Murphy's’ 
reference to, 286 

Queer beliefs, value of attention to, 97 


Raginsky, B. B . 281, 297 
Rameses, 268 
Rayleigh, Lord, 146 

Reality, as conceived by the natural 
sciences, 149, 150, 151 
Rebirth. 207 
see also Reincarnation 
Recognition, 233 
Reembodiment, 207 

Regressions, to earlier age under hypno¬ 
sis, 224, 257,258,271-273, 275ff. 
Reincarnation, 131, 207 (see also Me¬ 
tempsychosis, Rebirth, TransmigTa 

in animal form, 212, 220 
in Brahmanism, 210 
what is brought to rebiTth, 224, 226, 

in Buddhism, 210, 211 
of a developed mind, 306 



and Empedocles, 211 

what would best evidence it, 304-306 

Fichte on, 217 

forms of doctrine of, 220, 221 
and growth, 229 
J. H. Hyslop on, 228 
and illusions of memory, 302 
implausibility of, 207, 208 
interpretations of the evidence for, 

interval between incarnations, 221, 

and justice, 276 
in Kabbala, 215 
and materialism, 223 
and absence of memory of past lives, 

merits of the idea of, 208-210 
neutral as to origination of soul, 210 
in New Testament, 214, 215 
as “possession” 301, 302 
and Pythagoras, 211 
as rebirth in a neonate, 241 
as true meaning of resurrection, 209 
and Spiritism, 234-236 
a doctrine unorthodox in West, 276 
Religion, v, vi, 14, 15 
and education of the heart, 17 
personal function of, 17 
social function of, 16 
a psychological instrument, 16 
vagueness of beliefs of, 17, 18 
Renouvier, Ch., on reincarnation, 218 
Resurrection, 18-23, 43, 121, 209 
Retrocognition, 140, 234, 243 
Rhine, J. B., 28, 136, 193n 
paranormality as defined by, 133-137 
Rice, “Bridey Murphy's” mention of, 
286, 287 

Richet, Ch., 146, 166, 169 
Rignano, E., 134n 
Rivail, H. D.. 235, 236 
Rochas, A. de, 244n, 258, 271-274 
Roff, Mary, 171, 173, 301,302 
Role-selves, 122, and survival, 123 
“Rosemary,” 248-256, 295, 296 
Roustan, M., 236 
Rosen, H., 281, 295 
Rufinus, 213, 214n 

Russell, E. S., 92 
Ruyer, R., 78, 93, 94 
Ryle, G., 49, 11 In, 117n 


Sahay, K. N., 247 
Salter, W. H., 196 
Saltmarsh, H. F., 170, 189, 199, 202 
Sameness, of a mind, at two times, 304 
how known by it, 305, 306 
Samona, Alexandrina, 243, 244, 245, 251, 
275, 300 

Samona, C., 244, 245 
Samona, Mme. C., 244, 245 
Sardou, V., 236 
Satan, 155 

Saulnier, Mrs. H. G., 294 
Schneck, J., 280 
Scholem, G., 215n 
Schopenhauer, A., 81, 82, 91 
on reincarnation, 217, 218 
Schroedinger, E., 93n, 134 
Science, v, 12 

and paranormal occurrences, 145 
Scientific attitude, 146, 147 
Scientists, and pontification in the name 
of science, 147, 148 
Striven, M., 193n 
Seed, of a mind, 307 

Sensations, dependent on sense organs, 

Separability, 112, 113 
Servo-mechanisms, 85 
not themselves purposive, 89, 90 
as purpose serving, 90 
Shanti Devi, 245-247, 251, 275, 306 
Shapiro, A., 281 
Sharma, N. R., 246 
Shirley, R., 244n 
Shorter, A., 249n 

Sidgwick, H., 146, 177, 179, 188, 192 
Sidgwick, Mrs. H., 184, 185, 189, 190, 

“Silver thread,” 160, 164 
“Simmons, Ruth” (pseud.), 276, 278, 292, 

Singh, J. A. L., 31n 

Single difference, method of, 78 

Sinnott, E. W., 84, 134n 



“Sitter,” 176, 185 
Siwek, P., 220 

Skill, factors in acquisition of, 230, 231 
Soal, S. G., 183, 193n, 194, 197, 198, 23Sn 
Soul, 14, 108 

and matter in Plotinus, 81 
Spirit, 14 
Spiritism, v, vi 

“Spirits,” testimony of, on reincarnation, 
240, 254 

Spiritualism, v, vi 
and hypophenomenalisra, 96, 97 
Spiritualists, 183, 254, 300 
Squires, P. C., 31 n 
Stark, M., 257 
Stawell, Miss F. M., 199 
Stevens, E. W., 171, 172, 173, 241 
Stevens, W. O., 22n 
Stevenson, I., 247n, 256n, 281,296 
Strayne, Mrs., 279 
Subconscious processes, 49, 50 
Substance, 56 

Descartes’ conception of, 100, 101 
and ordinary language, 101 
Substantive, the mind a, 56 
“Supernatural soul,” 33 
Supernaturalism, 108 
Survival after death, 55 (see also Life 
after death) 

ambiguity of term, 121, 122 
conclusions apparently warranted, 203 
possible sources of evidence for, 132 
premise of arguments for impossibil¬ 
ity of, 61, 62 

antecedent improbability of, 193 
and mediumistic communications, 191 
what would prove or make probable, 

Swann, W. F. G., 133 
Swedenborg, E., 97 
Symbolization, 76 


Telepathy, 140 
Telika Ventiu, 249, 253-255 
Teutons, 214, 216 
Thigpen, C. H., 123, 255 
Thomas, D., 196 
Thompson, Mrs., 187 

Thorbum. W. M., 33n 
Thought, conceived as physical process, 

vs. the word “thought," 67, 68 
Tighe, H. B., 278 

Tighe, Virginia, Mrs H. B.. 276, 278, 

possible childhood memories of, 289 
hidden motivations of, 297 
Time, 7 
Tozo, 242, 243 
Transmigration, 207, 209 
see also Reincarnation 
Trattner, E. R.. 20 
Tuppence, 288 
Tyndall, J., 148 
Tyrrell, G. N. M.. 160n, 189 


Ueberweg, F., 211 

Unconscious psychological processes, 49, 

Unconsciousness. 7, 8 


Valerius Maximus, 216 

Vennum, Lurancy, 171-174, 243, 301, 302 

“Verdict of Science,” 117, 118 

Verrall, A. W. ( 182. 187, 188 

Verrall, Miss H., 187 

Verrall, Mrs. A. W 187, 199 

Vitalism. 83 

“Vola,” 250-256 

Volitions, 49 


Waddell, L. A., 221 
Waksman, S., 42, 43 
Walker. E. D., 220, 228 
Wallace, A. R., 116 
Ward, J., 217 
on reincarnation, 219 
Warren, H. C., 29n, 153 
Watseka Wonder case, 171-174, 241, 243, 

and reincarnation as ‘possession," 301 
White, Rev. Wally, 290, 292, 294 



Wickland, C. A., 222, 237, 241 

Words, in< 

Wickland, Mrs. C. E., 238 

tion ol 

Wilcox, E. W., 237 

Willett. H. L., 20 


Willett, Mrs. (pseud.), 187, 189 
Will-to-live, 81 


Wild boy of Aveyron, 30 


Wishful thinking, vii, 10 


Wish to believe, vii, 23 


Wish to disbelieve, vii 

Wolberg, L., 280 

Yram, (pse 

Wolf children, 30 


Wood, F. H., 248-250. 252, 254, 255 

Zinng, R. \ 

Wood house. "Bridcy Murphy’s,” 285 

Zorab, G., 1 

h 7 /lo'/osfs- 






Wickland. C. A., 222, 237. 241 

Wickland, Mrs. C. E., 238 

Wilcox, E. W.. 237 

Willett. H. L., 20 

Willett, Mrs. (pseud.), 187, 189 

Will-to-live, 81 

W T ild boy of Aveyron, 30 

Wishful thinking, vii, 10 

Wish to believe, vii, 23 

Wish to disbelieve, vii 

Wolberg, L., 280 

Wolf children, 30 

Wood. F. H., 248-250. 252, 254, 255 

Wood house. "Bridcy Murphy’s,” 285 

Words, indicative vs. predicativ 
tion of, 64-67 


Xenoglossy, 251, 253. 255, 295 


Younghusband, F., 221 
Yram, (pseud.), 163 


Zinng, R. M., 31 
Zorab, G„ 160n 


22 4 ? /lo</0 5