REASONING POWERS OF THE TWO MINDS DIFFERENTIATED

The Subjective Mind incapable of Inductive Reasoning.–Its
Processes always Deductive or Syllogistic.–Its Premises the Result
of Suggestion.–Illustrations by Hypnotism.–Hypnotic Interview
with Socrates.–Reasons from an Assumed Major Premise.–Interview
with a Philosophic Pig.–The Pig affirms the Doctrine of
Reincarnation.–Dogmatism of Subjective Intelligence.–Incapable of
Controversial Argument.–Persistency in following a Suggested Line
of Thought.

One of the most important distinctions between the objective and
subjective minds pertains to the function of reason. That there is
a radical difference in their powers and methods of reasoning is a
fact which has not been noted by any psychologist who has written on
the subject. It is, nevertheless, a proposition which will be readily
conceded to be essentially true by every observer when his attention is
once called to it. The propositions may be briefly stated as follows:–

1. The objective mind is capable of reasoning by all
methods,–inductive and deductive, analytic and synthetic.

2. The subjective mind is incapable of inductive reasoning.

Let it here be understood that this proposition refers to the powers
and functions of the purely subjective mind, as exhibited in the mental
operations of persons in a state of profound hypnotism, or trance. The
prodigious intellectual feats of persons in that condition have been a
source of amazement in all the ages; but the striking peculiarity noted
above appears to have been lost sight of in admiration of the other
qualities exhibited. In other words, it has never been noted that their
reasoning is always deductive, or syllogistic. The subjective mind
never classifies a series of known facts, and reasons from them up to
general principles; but, given a general principle to start with, it
will reason deductively from that down to all legitimate inferences,
with a marvellous cogency and power. Place a man of intelligence and
cultivation in the hypnotic state, and give him a premise, say in
the form of a statement of a general principle of philosophy, and no
matter what may have been his opinions in his normal condition, he
will unhesitatingly, in obedience to the power of suggestion, assume
the correctness of the proposition; and if given an opportunity to
discuss the question, will proceed to deduce therefrom the details of
a whole system of philosophy. Every conclusion will be so clearly and
logically deducible from the major premise, and withal so plausible and
consistent, that the listener will almost forget that the premise was
assumed. To illustrate:–

The writer once saw Professor Carpenter, of Boston, place a young
gentleman in the hypnotic state at a private gathering in the city
of Washington. The company was composed of highly cultivated ladies
and gentlemen of all shades of religious belief; and the young man
himself–who will be designated as C–was a cultured gentleman,
possessed a decided taste for philosophical studies, and was a graduate
of a leading college. In his normal condition he was liberal in his
views on religious subjects, and, though always unprejudiced and open
to conviction, was a decided unbeliever in modern spiritism. Knowing
his love of the classics and his familiarity with the works of the
Greek philosophers, the professor asked him how he should like to have
a personal interview with Socrates.

“I should esteem it a great privilege, if Socrates were alive,”
answered C.

“It is true that Socrates is dead,” replied the professor; “but I can
invoke his spirit and introduce you to him. There he stands now,”
exclaimed the professor, pointing towards a corner of the room.

C looked in the direction indicated, and at once arose, with a look of
the most reverential awe depicted on his countenance. The professor
went through the ceremonial of a formal presentation, and C, almost
speechless with embarrassment, bowed with the most profound reverence,
and offered the supposed spirit a chair. Upon being assured by the
professor that Socrates was willing and anxious to answer any question
that might be put to him, C at once began a series of questions,
hesitatingly and with evident embarrassment at first; but, gathering
courage as he proceeded, he catechised the Greek philosopher for over
two hours, interpreting the answers to the professor as he received
them. His questions embraced the whole cosmogony of the universe and
a wide range of spiritual philosophy. They were remarkable for their
pertinency, and the answers were no less remarkable for their clear-cut
and sententious character, and were couched in the most elegant and
lofty diction, such as Socrates himself might be supposed to employ.
But the most remarkable of all was the wonderful system of spiritual
philosophy evolved. It was so clear, so plausible, and so perfectly
consistent with itself and the known laws of Nature that the company
sat spell-bound through it all, each one almost persuaded, for the time
being, that he was listening to a voice from the other world. Indeed,
so profound was the impression that some of them–not spiritists,
but members of the Christian Church–then and there announced their
conviction that C was actually conversing either with the spirit of
Socrates or with some equally high intelligence.

At subsequent gatherings other pretended spirits were called up,
among them some of the more modern philosophers, and one or two who
could not be dignified with that title. When a modern spirit was
invoked, the whole manner of C changed. He was more at his ease, and
the conversation on both sides assumed a purely nineteenth-century
tone. But the philosophy was the same; there was never a lapse or
an inconsistency. With the introduction of every new spirit there
was a decided change of diction and character and general style of
conversation, and each one was always the same, whenever reintroduced.
If the persons themselves had been present, their distinctive
peculiarities could not have been more marked; but if all that was said
could have been printed in a book _verbatim_, it would have formed one
of the grandest and most coherent systems of spiritual philosophy ever
conceived by the brain of man, and its only blemish would have been the
frequent change of the style of diction.

It must not be forgotten that C was not a spiritist, and that the whole
bent of his mind inclined to materialism. He frequently expressed
the most profound astonishment at the replies he received. This was
held to be an evidence that the replies were not evolved from his own
inner consciousness. Indeed, it was strenuously urged by some of the
company present that he must have been talking with an independent
intelligence, else his answers would have coincided with his own
belief while in his normal condition. The conclusive answer to that
proposition is this: He was in the subjective state. He had been told
that he was talking face to face with a disembodied spirit of superior
intelligence. He believed the statement implicitly, in obedience to the
law of suggestion. He saw, or thought he saw, a disembodied spirit.
The inference, for him, was irresistible that this was a demonstration
of the truth of spiritism; that being assumed, the rest followed as a
natural inference. He was, then, simply reasoning deductively from an
assumed major premise, thrust upon him, as it were, by the irresistible
force of a positive suggestion. His reasoning was perfect of its kind,
there was not a flaw in it; but it was purely syllogistic, from general
principles to particular facts.

It will doubtless be said that this does not prove that he was not in
actual converse with a spirit. True; and if the conversation had been
confined to purely philosophical subjects, its exalted character would
have furnished plausible grounds for a belief that he was actually
in communion with the inhabitants of a world where pure intelligence
reigns supreme. But test questions were put to one of the supposed
spirits, with a view of determining this point. One of them was asked
where he died. His reply was, “In a little town near Boston.” The fact
is that he had lived in a little town near Boston, and the somnambulist
knew it. But he died in a foreign land,–a fact which the somnambulist
did not know. C was subsequently, when in his normal condition,
informed of the failure of this test question, and was told at the same
time what the facts were concerning the circumstances of the death of
the gentleman whose spirit was invoked. He was amused at the failure,
as well as at the credulity of those who had believed that he had been
in conversation with spirits; but at a subsequent sitting he was again
informed that the same spirit was present, and he at once manifested
the most profound indignation because of the deception which had been
practised upon him by the said spirit, and demanded an explanation of
the falsehood which he had told concerning the place of his death.
Then was exhibited one of the most curious phases of subjective
intelligence. The spirit launched out into a philosophical disquisition
on the subject of spirit communion, and defined the limitations of
spiritual intercourse with the inhabitants of this earth in such a
philosophical and plausible manner that not only was the young man
mollified, but the spiritists present felt that they had scored a
triumph, and had at last heard an authoritative explanation of the fact
that spirits are limited in their knowledge of their own antecedents by
that of the medium through whom they communicate.

For the benefit of those who will say that there is, after all,
no proof that C was not in actual communication with a superior
intelligence, it must be stated that at a subsequent séance he was
introduced to a very learned and very philosophical pig, who spoke all
the modern languages with which C was acquainted, and appeared to know
as much about spiritual philosophy as did the ancient Greek. C had been
told that the pig was a reincarnation of a Hindoo priest whose “karma”
had been a little off color, but who retained a perfect recollection
of his former incarnation, and had not forgotten his learning. It is
perhaps unnecessary to say that the pig was able to, and did, give a
very learned and eminently satisfactory exposition of the doctrine of
reincarnation and of Hindoo philosophy in general. As C was then fresh
from his reading of some modern theosophical works, he was apparently
much gratified to find that they were in substantial accord with the
views of the pig.




The inference to be drawn from these facts is obvious and irresistible:
the subjective mind of the young man accepted the suggestion of the
operator as an absolute verity. The deductions from the premises thus
given were evolved from his own inner consciousness. But that he
believed them to have been imparted to him by a spirit, is as certain
as that he believed that he saw a spirit.

It must not be understood from the statement of the general proposition
regarding the subjective processes of reasoning that persons in the
subjective state necessarily go through the forms of syllogistic
reasoning. On the contrary, they seldom, if ever, employ the forms of
the syllogism, and it is rare that their discourses are argumentative.
They are generally, in fact, dogmatic to the last degree. It never
seems to occur to them that what they state to be a fact can possibly
be, in the slightest degree, doubtful. A doubt, expressed or implied,
of their perfect integrity, of the correctness of their statements, or
of the genuineness of the phenomena which is being exhibited through
them, invariably results in confusion and distress of mind. Hence they
are incapable of controversial argument,–a fact which constitutes
another important distinction between the objective and subjective
minds. To traverse openly the statements of a person in the subjective
state, is certain to restore him to the normal condition, often with
a severe nervous shock. The explanation of these facts is easy to
find in the constant amenability of the subjective mind to the power
of suggestion. They are speaking or acting from the standpoint of one
suggestion, and to controvert it is to offer a counter suggestion which
is equally potent with the first. The result is, and must necessarily
be, utter confusion of mind and nervous excitement on the part of the
subject. These facts have an important bearing upon many psychological
phenomena, and will be adverted to more at length in future chapters,
my present purpose being merely to impress upon the reader’s mind the
general principles governing subjective mental phenomena.

It will be seen from the foregoing that when it is stated that the
subjective mind reasons deductively, the results of its reasoning
processes are referred to rather than its forms. That is to say, whilst
it may not employ the forms of the syllogism, its conclusions are
syllogistically correct,–are logically deducible from the premises
imparted to it by suggestion. This peculiarity seems to arise from,
or to be the necessary result of, the persistency with which the
subjective mind will follow every idea suggested. It is well known
to hypnotists that when an idea is suggested to a subject, no matter
of how trivial a character, he will persist in following that idea
to its ultimate conclusion, or until the operator releases him from
the impression. For instance, if a hypnotist suggests to one of his
subjects that his back itches, to another that his nose bleeds, to
another that he is a marble statue, to another that he is an animal,
etc., each one will follow out the line of his particular impression,
regardless of the presence of others, and totally oblivious to all his
surroundings which do not pertain to his idea; and he will persist in
doing so until the impression is removed by the same power by which it
was created. The same principle prevails when a thought is suggested
and the subject is invited to deliver a discourse thereon. He will
accept the suggestion as his major premise; and whatever there is
within the range of his own knowledge or experience, whatever he has
seen, heard, or read, which confirms or illustrates that idea, he has
at his command and effectually uses it, but is apparently totally
oblivious to all facts or ideas which do not confirm, and are not
in accord with, the one central idea. It is obvious that inductive
reasoning, under such conditions, is out of the question.

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