Monday, December 22, 2008

Opinions and Theories; Is that All There is?

We really haven’t any very great amount of data on this subject, and without data how can we reach conclusions? Thomas Edison

How indeed? Another year is set to close and we are nowhere near presenting irrefutable evidence of ghosts and hauntings than we were this time last year or the year before or the year before that. As much as we may like to pretend otherwise, a blinking K-2 meter is not evidence; neither is a triple collar tug, a shadowy figure caught on tape, a psychic’s feelings or electronic voice phenomena…

While we focus on this lack of evidence, let’s also remember that there isn’t any scientific evidence to support the existence of the ego or the unconscious. Is the brain “…nothing more than a wonderful meat mechanism” as Edison said in 1910? Or was Freud closer to the mark with his three part psyche; the id, the ego and the super ego? Are human beings ruled by their primitive instincts and powers? Is our purpose in life simply to overcome these instincts and powers? Are dreams the royal road to the unconscious? Of course, like ghost hunting, and paranormal research; it’s all theory.

But theories are just that and subject to change. Freud’s student, Jung took his teacher’s ideas and expanded on them. Called a mystic philosopher by some and hailed as a scientific researcher by others, Jung saw a collective unconscious (universal mind.) that is a repository of shared human experiences and memories, normally hidden from our conscious. Perhaps some of us are able to tap into the collective unconscious more effectively than others. Is this the reason for Thomas Edison’s inventive mind? Or the Sleeping Prophet Edgar Cayce and the readings he gave while in a trance?

Within Jung’s collective unconscious are four archetypes: the self, the shadow, the anima, and the animus. The Shadow archetype may explain the new phenomena in ghost hunting, demons. As we struggle to come to terms with the Shadow within ourselves we project our unacceptable behaviors—after all it is easier to see the Shadow within others than to see it within ourselves…just look at what the bad demon is doing now…

In his 1917 essay On the Psychology of the Unconscious, Jung described the Shadow as, “the sum total of all those unpleasant qualities we like to hide, together with the insufficiently developed functions and the content of the personal unconscious.”

So those inappropriate emotions we’ve been taught to repress since early childhood, anger, rage etc etc are part and parcel of the Shadow. Dark, dark, dark; rather than look at the evil we are capable of let’s frighten ourselves with the demon and the evil ghost as well.

Opinion, conjecture, theory and whatnot! How much do any of us really know about ghosts and hauntings, and what happens on the other side?
In a November 1926 interview for The Forum, Thomas Edison said, “I do not know that it would help us much if we knew more than we do about what comes to us after this life is ended by death; but there has been advance in other phases of our knowledge and I will not deny the probability of advance in this. At present the Soul’s immortality is one of those things in which man instinctively believes, but about which there is no proof when it is regarded from the strictly practical standpoint. Would proof help us?”

Would proof help us? It’s a damn good question. Would it? How? Further in the interview Edison explains why we don’t have knowledge of what he calls the soul’s immortality. “There are two reasons why we do not possess positive knowledge on the difficult subject of the soul and immortality. Principal of these is the fact that we do not at present know how even to begin investigation of them. Thought in this line has been nebulous and loose. Mathematics, which is the only exact science we possess, cannot be applied to it in any way as yet discovered. The soul apparently is not something to be analyzed by chemists or weigh in scales or photographed, or recorded by any instruments whatever. “

It is interesting to note that the Forum interview took place six years after his interview with Austin Lescarboura entitled Edison’s Views on Life after Death that appeared in the October 30 1920 issue of Scientific American Magazine. It is this earlier interview that people refer to as evidence that Edison was working on a machine to communicate with the dead.

As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being. Carl Gustav Jung

So 2008 is slipping away…And while we have our opinions, our theories and conclusions, we have no evidence…no proof…Perhaps opinions and theories are all we will ever have...

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