Survival and the Idea of ‘Another World’
As you all know, this year is the seventieth anniversary of the foundation of the Society for Psychical Research.1 From the very beginning, the problem of Survival has been one of the main interests of the Society; and that is my excuse, if any excuse is needed, for discussing some aspects of the problem this evening. I shall not, however, talk about the evidence for Survival. In this lecture I am only concerned with the conception of Survival; with the meaning of the Survival Hypothesis, and not with its truth or falsity. When we consider the Survival Hypothesis, whether we believe it or disbelieve it, what is it that we have in mind? Can we form any idea, even a rough and provisional one, of what a disembodied human life might be like? Supposing we cannot, it will follow that what is called the Survival Hypothesis is a mere set of words and not a hypothesis at all. The evidence adduced in favour of it might still be evidence for something, and perhaps for something important, but we should no longer have the right to claim that it is evidence for Survival. There cannot be evidence for something which is completely unintelligible to us.
KeywordsPersonal Identity Physical World Organic Sensation Material Object Mental Image
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- 2.C. J. Ducasse, Nature, Mind and Death, (Open Court Publishing Co., 1951).Google Scholar