THEOSOPHY, Vol. 38, No. 7, May, 1950
(Pages 303-304; Size: 8K)
(Number 5 of an 11-part series)

EXTENSIONS OF EVIDENCE(1)

PHILOSOPHY AND PSYCHICAL RESEARCH

DR. C. E. M. Joad, University Reader in Philosophy, London, has been urging the need for the correlation of those "abnormal" physical and psychological phenomena studied by psychical researchers. (Enquiry, London, No. 3, 1948.) He believes that the accumulation of evidence in favour of some phenomena (he cites telepathy as an example) has established them as facts, "of which the academic world was bound to take notice." He complains, however, that these phenomena have for too long been studied in a vacuum. He gives three main reasons for this: (i) the dubious past of these subjects; (ii) the growing specialisation of science, with nobody responsible for establishing correlations; and (iii) the strongly entrenched preconceptions of most scientists. In discussing the special relevance of psychical research to philosophy, Dr. Joad writes:

Is it not obvious that, if precognitive telepathy is accepted as a fact, its existence entails a radical reconsideration of the nature of time? But philosophical questions are constantly cropping up. Take, for example, G. N. M. Tyrrell's interesting theory of "apparitions," which he regards as self-induced or, more precisely, self-projected by their perceivers. Influences reaching us from without impinge upon the subliminal self and cause us unwittingly to project into the outside world figures, shapes, and scenes corresponding with, and even representing, the sources from which the influences emanate. Possibly, possibly not; but if the mind possesses the power of creating the objects which it perceives, how do we know that it does not exercise this power in cases of normal perception? It may well be that a thorough-going idealism is the philosophy most congenial to psychic phenomena; but, if so, what is the distinctive ontological status of the "ghost"?
Similarly, in physics and psychology, Dr. Joad invites us to consider, from the standpoint of physics, the nature and field of operation of those forces that are associated with the movement of small objects in the séance room. (He reminds us that "even the appropriate language to describe these occurrences is in doubt.") And he suggests that psychology is bound to be concerned with precognitive telepathy, and with the phenomena of the mediumistic trance. "The condition of psychical research today," he remarks, "corresponds in one respect to that of science before the Renaissance, in that the accumulation of facts considerably outruns the hypotheses available for their accommodation." He would like to see "the establishment of a single perspective which includes not only physics and psychology, but extends to philosophy, and it may be, even to theology."

Dr. Joad is no pioneer in this field of thought. He and those academic philosophers who may be so bold as to share his views, are some seventy years late in arguing the justice of this type of research. It is worth recording here, in face of a slightly more enlightened public, and for historical comparison as the need is met in the years to come, the following reproachful words from Isis Unveiled (I, 124):

What psychology has long lacked to make its mysterious laws better understood and applied to the ordinary as well as extraordinary affairs of life, is not facts. These it has had in abundance. The need has been for their recording and classification -- for trained observers and competent analysts. From the scientific body these ought to have been supplied. If error has prevailed and superstition run riot these many centuries throughout Christendom, it is the misfortune of the common people, the reproach of science.
And, we may commend to all who may be inspired by Dr. Joad to proceed with the dual task of unprejudiced investigation and correlation, the admonition of the author of Isis Unveiled:
The whole question of phenomena rests on the correct comprehension of old philosophies. Whither, then, should we turn, in our perplexity, but to the ancient sages, since, on the pretext of superstition, we are refused an explanation by the modern? Let us ask them what they know of genuine science and religion; not in the matter of mere details, but in all the broad conception of these twin truths -- so strong in their unity, so weak when divided. Besides, we may find our profit in comparing this boasted modern science with ancient ignorance; this improved modern theology with the "Secret doctrines" of the ancient universal religion. Perhaps we may thus discover a neutral ground whence we can reach and profit by both. (I, xi.)

Next article:
EXTENSIONS OF EVIDENCE
SELF UNDERSTANDING AND CONTROL
(Part 6 of an 11-part series)

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ONE (1) FOOTNOTE LISTED BELOW:

(1) NOTE.--H. P. Blavatsky took pains to extend the "theosophical view" as far into the literature, the culture, the science, and the scholarship of the time as impartial investigations in the various fields would permit. Students of Theosophy are therefore on the lookout for other corroborative testimony on the philosophy, as new avenues of thought open up among modern thinkers. "Extensions of Evidence" aims to scan common grounds whereon the theosophist may meet the mind of the race. The series began in the January, 1950, issue. --Editors THEOSOPHY.
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