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forget any important fact that may have been thus received. But suppose the percipient does not happen, at the time of the subjective reception of the message, to be in that peculiar mental condition required to enable him to elevate his subjective impressions above the threshold of his normal, or objective, consciousness. Is the message any the less a part of his subjective mental equipment? In other words, does a failure to become objectively conscious of the reception of the message delivered to the sub-conscious intelligence cause the latter instantly to forget the subject-matter of the message? No one who is acquainted with the alient characteristics of the subjective intelligence, as developed in experimental psychology, will claim that it does. Suppose, then, that the recipient of the message does not belong to that class of sensitives who are able to elevate their subjective impressions above the threshold of consciousness. Then, suppose that a week later the recipient happens to be in the presence of a mind-reader, and they hold a séance for the purpose of making experiments in telepathy. Is there any a priori reason why the telepathist should not be able to read that message as it exists, latent, in the mind of the recipient? If not, why not? If he can do so, the assumption that "telepathy deals only with occurrences taking place at the time" must be revised; and with its revision the whole fabric which has been so industriously built upon that foundation must fall. The only possible resource is to deny the proposition that a message received telepathically from one source can also be delivered by the same means to a third person.
It will be necessary for us to discuss this point briefly, for it will eventually be seen that the whole fabric of spiritism, scientifically and logically considered, rests upon a tacit denial of this proposition. My proposition is this:
If A can communicate a fact telepathically to B, it follows that B can communicate the same fact telepathically to C.
This seems to be a self-evident proposition; and no one, to my knowledge, has ventured specifically to deny its truth. Yet, as before intimated, if it is true, all of those difficulties vanish which Messrs. Savage and Myers experience in finding a telepathic explanation for their phenomena.
"I have had," says Mr. Savage, "communication while sitting in my study concerning things that were taking place two hundred miles away." And he declares that it seems to him to be "stretching the theory of telepathy and of clairvoyance beyond probability to call them in to explain " the fact. Why he thinks the explanation is outside the domain of clairvoyance, he does not tell us. It seems to me that if there is such a power as independent clairvoyance, the clairvoyant explanation is easy and perfect. But as I do not yet admit the genuineness of that power, I will try to help Mr. Savage to a telepathic explanation. He does not give us an account of the circumstances of his case; but as it is generic, I will furnish a specimen that covers the ground. The following case was related to me by a lady now living in Washington, for whose veracity and exalted character I can vouch.
Some years ago she was residing in the interior of Pennsylvania. On one occasion she visited friends in Philadelphia, and during her stay she was induced to call on a then celebrated "medium." Amongst other things the medium told her that one of the children of the lady's family had just fallen from a tree and was apparently badly hurt. The statement did not make much impression on her, for she was rather sceptical on the subject of spirit communication; but when she went home she learned that it was literally true, and the hour corresponded very nearly to the time when she was at the séance. It transpired that the child was not badly hurt, although it was insensible when picked up.
Mr. Savage would hold that it would be "stretching the
theory of telepathy" to the breaking point to call it in to explain this case. Why? Is it not probable that the lady was in telepathic rapport with her family at home? And would it be stretching the theory of telepathy too far to suppose that she would be informed by that means of the disaster happening to one of her family? I think not. But the lady was not a psychic, and the message, consequently, remained below the threshold of her normal consciousness. The "medium," however, was able to read her mind, and he found the fact recorded there as stated.
In a work comprising two large volumes, entitled "Phantasms of the Living," of which Mr. Myers is one of the authors, there are hundreds of cases recorded where telepathic messages were received informing the percipient of danger or disaster to loved ones at a distance. Mr. Myers and Mr. Savage will both agree that it would be in perfect accordance with the experience of mankind to suppose that the lady was telepathically informed of the accident. They will both agree that the message might have been received subjectively, and yet not brought within the domain of her normal consciousness; for that is also in strict accordance with the known facts of telepathy. Thus far we all travel along together very comfortably and harmoniously. But when the psychic imparts the information to the lady, the crucial question at once arises, "How did he obtain it?" Here are the two hypotheses:
Mine is that he read the mind of the lady; in other words, he obtained telepathically the information that Messrs. Savage and Myers will both admit was, or might be, legitimately in her possession through telepathic agency. Their theory is that the spirit of some dead man was watching the child when it fell, and that he hastened to Philadelphia to hunt up a "medium of communication between himself and the lady, so that he could tell her all about it. By a happy coincidence he found the lady and a
suitable "medium" already in consultation, looking for a test case upon which to postulate a theory of immortality. And it was forthcoming. According to Messrs. Savage and Myers, it was the crucial test, - demonstrative of spirit intercourse.
If my hypothesis "stretches the theory of telepathy" too far, and if evidence of immortal life consists in the adoption of their theory of explanation, well may we exclaim,
"On what a slender thread
Hang everlasting things!"
I ask the intelligent, unprejudiced reader to judge for himself which of the two explanations is more likely to be correct. To this end he must ask himself whether it is more rational to suppose that the lady obtained a telepathic message from home and transmitted the same to the psychic, than it is to suppose that it required the intervention of a supermundane agency to convey the information.
In answering this question the logical and scientific axiom. must not be lost sight of, that we have neither occasion nor logical right to seek a supermundane explanation of a phenomenon, when it is explicable by reference to natural laws with which the world is acquainted.
On this point the truly scientific reader will doubtless prefer to stand with Mr. Podmore, one of the Secretaries of the Society for Psychical Research, who says: "When the choice of explanation seems to lie between telepathy and some faculty even more dubious and more remote from ordinary analogies, it is right that the hypothesis of telepathy should be strained-if necessary, to the breaking point before we invoke a stage-deity to cut the knot."1
1 Apparitions and Thought-Transference, pp. 369, 370.
SPIRITISTIC PHENOMENA (continued).
Experimental Telepathy.- Deferred Percipience.-Cases in Point. - Planchette. — Latency of Telepathic Impressions. - Nebuchad nezzar's Dream. - Daniel's Telepathic Power. - Final Explanation of Mr. Savage's Test Case. - The Mother's Message to her Son. The Son's Message to the Psychic. - The Last Resource of Spiritism. Mr. Savage's Crucial Question. - The Unscien tific Attitude of Spiritists. - Thunder considered as the Voice of an Angry God. - The Simplicity of Nature's Laws. — The Alleged Simplicity "of the Spiritistic Hypothesis. It saves Thinking. Reasoning in a Circle.- Why cannot Spirits communicate with the Living? - Not a Pertinent Question. - The Real Question is, Do they so Communicate? — The Evidence is against the Spiritistic Hypothesis.-"Spirits of Health and Goblins Damned."
HAVE thus far examined Mr. Savage's test case from a theoretical standpoint. My theories, however, have all been based upon the well-known facts of experimental psychology, except where I have argued from a provisional assumption of the reality of the power of independent clairvoyance. I now approach the domain of ascertained facts. My text is still his declaration that "telepathy deals only with occurrences taking place at the time."1 If it had been stated that "telepathy deals only with occurrences taking place at the time of the delivery of a message concerning them to the subjective mind of the party for whom it is intended," it would have been much nearer the truth, but would still have been far from accurate, as will be seen hereafter. Thus limited, however, it could not have been
1 M. J. Savage in "Psychics: Facts and Theories."