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Observations placeholder

De Morgan, Augustus - From Matter to Spirit - 01 Preface on the experiences of Mr De Morgan



Type of Spiritual Experience


There are three parts to this description that need to be read through

A description of the experience

From Matter to Spirit -   Preface written by Augustus De Morgan

I began this preface by stating that certain phenomena, which I myself witnessed, had satisfied me of the existence of a real somewhat in the things called spiritual manifestations.

My reader may desire to hear something about my own experience of these phenomena; and the more, as neither they, nor hundreds of others of the same force but different kinds, have produced either acceptance or rejection of the spirit-hypothesis.

With the following preliminary explanation, I will state some things which have happened to myself in general terms.

When a person relates a wonder which he has seen, to another person whom he desires to convince, but whose mind is well barricaded by fourth-court principles against the reception of the explanation which the narrator - perhaps on principles of the same kind - desires to advocate, both parties very often proceed in a way which may be well illustrated by difficulties of frequent occurrence in money transactions.

The narrator forgets that the things which he has seen and heard are not made visible to the sight and hearing of the receiver of his testimony; the evidence he offers is of a secondary character, though the evidence he received was primary.

He tenders a cheque upon a most respectable firm, Messrs. Fact & Co., to an immense amount: and might properly be answered by,-'My dear friend, I know that your credit is good, as things in general go, but I really must make inquiry before I take so large a cheque as this for value.'

On the other hand, the receiver of the testimony brings a few positions out of his stock of laws of nature, notions of possibility and impossibility, dictates of common sense, &c. &e., on which he desires the giver to conclude that the evidence of his own senses is good for nothing, because it would prove that what cannot be can be, which is absurd, Q. E. D. He tenders a cheque upon his house, Messr. First Principles & Co., and might, with equal propriety, be answered by,-‘My good fellow, I know your credit in that quarter is unlimited; but the truth is, they give unlimited credit to so many, that I doubt their lasting through any twenty-four hours in the year.'

Each of these parties deals unreasonably with the other.

Now my reader will understand that I do not make any demand upon him: he will give me credit, if not himself a goose, for seeing that the tender of an anonymous cheque would be of equal effect, whether drawn on the Bank of England or on Aldgate Pump.

My thesis is that he has asked of me a specimen of what makes me believe in the reality of some of the things called spirit-manifestations.  Whether or no he shall allow me to have had the ground I say I had, is to me indifferent, and, to the question irrelevant.

I confess that for a little while I thought I had thrown salt on the tail of an impossibility. I felt what the French call desoriente but fortunately not au bout de mon Latin, though the phrases are of the same family. So I went back to the old quiddity-mongers, and fortified myself with ab actu ad posse valet consequential. 

My state required so much relief that I had recourse to Aristotle ….My reader will not require the strong medicine I prescribed for myself; he has but to set me down afor a liar, a dupe, or a hoaxer and he gets off cheaper than I did

The source of the experience

De Morgan, Augustus

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps