Phineas Parkhurst Quimby


Lecture Notes 1843–1847




It is a conceded principle that mind does not possess, or rather we fail to detect, the same qualities in mind as in matter.

No sect of philosophers, I believe, have ever pretended that mind is distinguished by extension, divisibility, impenetrability, color, etc.; and therefore, most have agreed to use immateriality, as applied to the soul, in distinction from materiality, as applied to the body; that the soul is destitute of those qualities which appear in matter, having its own peculiar attributes, such as thought, feeling, remembrance and passion.

The mind, as it exists in man and develops itself through the bodily organs, no doubt has a close connection with matter, the physical system, and particularly the brain.

Yet we are not to suppose that mind is dependent for its existence upon the organs of the body; nor is it subject to the control of matter, although influenced and impressed by it.

Mind, rather, exercises a direction to matter, producing certain results.

If mind was any portion of the materiality of the body, a destruction of any portion of this would destroy a portion of that.

But this is not the fact.

Individuals, deprived of some of their limbs, do not exhibit any degree of loss of mind. . . . How often has it appeared far more active and energetic, in the last moments of dissolving nature, than when the physical powers were in full health and vigor!

Men upon the battlefield, mutilated and wounded and suffering the most intense pain have displayed, amid all this disaster of the body, the highest powers of intellectual action.

So that, although mind to us appears at first view to have an inseparable connection with the body; yet for its energies, its full, unqualified powers of action do not rely upon bodily health and vigor.

The works of genius, as displayed in the various branches of science, literature and law, bear the character of a higher order of creation than matter.

Memory and imagination do not appear to have resulted from ponderous substances.

The powers of judgment and reasoning must have originated in something higher and nobler than divisible bodies.

To what cause can you attribute the origin and perfection of the demonstrations of Euclid? What constituted the authorship of the wise laws of Solon and the political institutions of Lycurgus, and those of modern Europe, and the greatest concentration of wisdom ever embodied into one human work — I mean the American Constitution?

What gave almost intellectual inspiration to the Iliad and Odyssey? What gave birth to the wonderful productions of Tasso and Spencer and Milton?

Where shall we look for the origin of the Philippics of the ancients, or in more modern days, for the speeches of a Fox and the orations of a Webster?

Where human genius has wrought its highest triumphs and achieved transcendent greatness, who can say its creative cause, its fountain light, is in powerless and inert matter!

To ascribe the qualities of matter to the soul would erase forever the idea of a future and eternal existence.

But we have no direct evidence of the soul's dissolution and discontinuance at death. The death of the body is only the removal of the soul's sphere of action from our natural view and no doubt gives a larger world of spiritual action in its new destination.

And have we not every reason to suppose that the soul will exist, after the dissolution of the body?

Death, in the language of Dr. Stewart:

"Only lifts the veil, which conceals from our eyes the invisible world. It annihilates the material universe to our senses and prepares our minds for some new and unknown state of being."

We have already stated that belief is a simple state of the mind and, consequently, cannot be made plainer by any process of reasoning.

It is always the same in its nature, although it admits of different degrees, which we express in the language of presumption, probability and certainty, etc.

It is on the principle of belief that the mind is operated upon in the various exhibitions of its power.

For without confidence, what can we accomplish?

Without a belief in our ability to accomplish, what would be the result?

It is a principle which comes into every department of reasoning, and testimony is only so operative upon the mind as it affects our belief.

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