Spiritualism in the Evolution of Philosophy  by Ernest Thompson



The first great philosophers were the Greeks, and some of their earliest speculations were notably materialistic in character, regarding the elements, water, air, earth and fire, in turn, as the basis of existence. These materialistic tendencies in thought were each, in turn, contradicted by idealistic philosophical principles such as infinitism, numerology, love and morality. Eventually the Greek school reached its highest level of thought in the idealism of Plato, and the materialism of Aristotle.

Since those early days, and throughout the whole of its subsequent history, philosophy has been divided into two schools of thought; the idealists, who regard ideas as primary and facts as secondary, and the materialists who regard facts as most Important and Ideas as secondary or derivative.

The Renaissance produced the materialism of Bacon, which in the next century was countered by the idealism of Kant. Modern times have produced a similar contrast in Spencer and Bergson, the idealists always tending more to that which is spiritual and abstract, and the materialists emphasising the material and factual. The great contradictions between the Christian outlook, based largely on the spiritual idealism of St. Paul, and the rational viewpoints of the materialists, eventually reached a major crisis in the nineteenth century when Darwin proclaimed his theory of evolution.

Today the extreme materialists, (Rationalists, Free Thinkers, etc.) deny the existence of the Spiritual Universe whilst the extreme idealists, (Mentalists, Christian Scientists, etc.) deny the existence of the Material Universe. Can the great conflict between the idealism of religion and the materialism of science be finally resolved?

The great need of our times is a philosophy, which can harmonise the facts of both the spiritual and material aspects of existence in one grand synthesis of all knowledge.

The ‘Harmonial Philosophy’ of Spiritualism, founded by Dr Andrew Jackson Davis, and elaborated and modernised by subsequent Spiritualist writers, is such a philosophy, for it harmonises the spiritual characteristics of idealism with the scientific facts of materialism and embraces all the phenomena of both the spiritual and material universes in one universal principle.

“There is an omnipotent, purifying, and fraternising principle permeating and pervading the Natural, Spiritual and Celestial departments of God’s Universal Temple - a principle which unites atoms and planets into one stupendous system; which unfolds spirits and angels as immortal flowers; which endows the Divine Mind with eternal power and loveliness; and which is the divinely inherited treasure of the human soul - and this principle is called THE GREAT HARMONIA.” - A J Davis.

The Harmonial Philosophy of Spiritualism is the crowning glory of all philosophy and presents to man a true picture of the material world in which he finds himself, and of the spiritual life which is his inevitable destiny.

It proclaims the highest spiritual ideals, yet rests on the solid material foundation of the scientific facts of natural law. It brings to a climax a whole age of philosophical thought and resolves the conflict between the idealism of religion and the materialism of science, and gives to man an all embracing conception of his spiritual and material existence, past, present


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and future.

With such a philosophy man can enter a New Age, the dominating theme of which will be spiritual progress in love, wisdom, and all other human virtues, in an environment of prosperity and peace. Such is the role of Spiritualism in the history of mankind.

In the following chapters Spiritualism’s place in the evolution and development of philosophy is revealed as the culminating development of a whole age of thought and as a certain guide to man’s future happiness.

Ernest Thompson MSNU Manchester, 1950.

Chapter  1 Ancient Philosophy