The bodies of people killed for their boots or jackets lay in the gutters. In both cases the boundaries between science, religion and magic were blurred or nonexistent. In this brief, modest-seeming yet profound book he makes his most compelling plea yet for man to come to his senses and stop dreaming of immortality, for himself and for the earth. Victorian seekers after evidence of survival often imagined evolution continuing into the after-world. He looked at humans from a distance, as if he only partly belonged among them.
The core of duty, for Sidgwick, was the renunciation of self. John Gray's superb meditation on our desire for immortality makes for an enthralling read. Though the child would come as a messiah, it would appear in the world through the power of science. Many intellectual lights of the day were attracted to the movement: writers Tennyson and John Ruskin, philosopher William James, Nobel Prize-winning physiologist Charles Richet, prime ministers W. What makes it a pleasure to read is that he also writes cleverly and well. Throughout the period when psychical research flourished British life had an unbroken continuity.
But he was insistent that the unconscious had to be understood in terms of repressed aspects of natural human development. What, if anything, does Gray mean by 'science' here? Some of the many thousands of pages that flowed from the automatists had to do with issues bearing on the question of survival, such as the relations of the mind with the brain. The details are excoriating, but widely covered elsewhere, and are repeated here without any real attempt to frame them within the critique of the modes of thought that he takes issue with. Of course a future life might be just a fact. He raised my estimation of H.
Along with these conceptions of survival there have been different conceptions of the world that people enter when they die. To begin with he was housed in a cell in the Lubyanka gaol, which he shared with common criminals. In arguing for the necessity of theism Sidgwick was not accepting the authority of religion. The child was not to be a virgin birth. But in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, such beliefs came under relentless pressure as new ideas--from psychiatry to evolution to communism--seemed to suggest that our fate was now in our own hands: humans could cease to be animals, defeat death, and become immortal. But for Sidgwick these doubts were not important in themselves.
. It's a very sober and well-written essay, and I don't think I can say anything here that isn't better put in the book. The hope of contacting the dead through spiritualism could 'prove' there was continuance of the personality in the spirit world. Ouspensky, the one-time disciple of of the Russian occultist G. None of these questions can be answered, and in truth Darwinism cannot be reconciled with any idea of a postmortem world.
There can be no moment when a conscious section of humankind seizes control of evolution, only a process of drift with moments of occasional beauty. In the cross-correspondences the aim was even larger. But even if humans lived on after death his hopes might not be realized. In a way, it's the ending that grants our lives with so much of their beauty and their novelty. The coming child would be designed by the deceased Cambridge biologist Francis Maitland Balfour, among others. A world so tempting beckoning, but she ignored it. This book certainly deserves a closer, more thoughtful reading than I was able to give the first time through.
Why should anyone do what morality tells them is their duty? Ouspensky and especially Gorky, a celebrated writer on friendly terms with Chekhov, Tolstoy and Lenin. Instead of an insteresting philosophical argument one would expect after reading the book's preface, what you get is a hodgepodge of historical trivia and random gossip and insinuation. None of these versions of a future life ensures immortality for the person that has died. Unless personality survived death there was no reason why anyone should restrain their desires. Scientific naturalism is the theory that human beliefs are evolutionary adaptations whose survival has nothing to do with their truth. Certainly, he seems to have shown little interest in saving humanity, although he did convert to Roman Catholicism in middle-age and ended his earthly days as a monk at Downside Abbey.
For a while nothing happened - a witness recalled seeing a despairing James with his head in his hands and a blank notebook open on his lap. Yet, like Sidgwick and Myers, he seems never to have doubted that survival would enable the sorrows of earthly life to be transcended. Nothing transpired, and despite support from friends such as the science fiction author Olaf Stapledon Leo went on to a life in which he was persistently afflicted by depression. The Russian God-builders believed death could be defeated using the power of science. The title and particularly the subtitle feels like an attempt after the fact to impose some sort of theme on what is a rather arbitrary set of pieces. The combination always tends to make his works exciting and thrilling, not always in expected ways. Looking back at them over a period of a decade, the interpreters of the scripts concluded that they contained unnoticed cross-correspondences, which referred to the relationship between Mary Lyttelton and Arthur Balfour.