The Subjective Mind incapable of Inductive Reaching. - 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.