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Poincare, Henri - The process of illumination



Type of Spiritual Experience


The 'subliminal ego' is the Higher spirit

Taken from Poincaré's famous lectures before the Société de Psychologie in Paris - published as Science and Hypothesis;The Value of Science, and Science and Method.

A description of the experience

Science and Method, Chapter 3, Mathematical Discovery, 1914 - Poincare

It is certain that the combinations which present themselves to the mind in a kind of sudden illumination after a somewhat prolonged period of unconscious work are generally useful and fruitful combinations... all the combinations are formed as a result of the automatic action of the subliminal ego, but those only which are interesting find their way into the field of consciousness...

A few only are harmonious, and consequently at once useful and beautiful, and they will be capable of affecting the geometrician's special sensibility I have been speaking of; which, once aroused, will direct our attention upon them, and will thus give them the opportunity of becoming conscious... In the subliminal ego, on the contrary, there reigns what I would call liberty, if one could give this name to the mere absence of discipline and to disorder born of chance.

The source of the experience

Poincare, Henri

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps