Three theories with regard to this subject have divided opinion: 1 . The Theory of Pre-existence.
First, Plato, Philo, and Origen held the view that the in order to explain the soul?s possession of ideas not derived from sense; by the second, to account for its imprisonment in the body; by the third, to justify the disparity of conditions in which men enter the world. We concern ourselves, however, only with the forms, which the view has assumed in modern times. Kant and Julius Muller in Germany, and Edward Beecher in America, have advocated it, upon the ground that the inborn depravity of the human will can be explained only by supposing a personal act of self- determination in a previous, or timeless, state of being.
The truth at the basis of the theory of pre-existence is simply the ideal existence of the soul, before birth, in the mind of God ? that is, God?s foreknowledge of it. The intuitive ideas, of which the soul finds itself in possession, such as space, time, cause, substance, right, God, are evolved from itself; in other words, man is so constituted that he perceives these truths upon proper occasions or conditions. The apparent recollection that we have seen at some past time a landscape, which we know to be now for the first time before us. This is an illusory putting together of fragmentary concepts or a mistaking of a part for the whole; we have seen something like a part of the landscape. We fancy that we have seen this landscape and the whole of it. Our recollection of a past event or scene is one whole, but this one idea may have an indefinite number of subordinate ideas existing within it. The sight of something, which is similar to one of these parts, suggests the past whole. Coleridge: ?The great jaw of the imagination that likeness in part tends to become likeness of the whole.? Augustine hinted that this illusion of memory may have played an important part in developing the belief in metempsychosis.
Other explanations are those of William James, in his Psychology: The brain tracts excited by the event proper, and those excited in its recall, are different. Baldwin, Psychology, 263, 264: We may remember what we have seen in a dream, or there may be a revival of ancestral or race experiences. Still others suggest that the two hemispheres of the brain act asynchronously; self-consciousness or apperception is distinguished from perception; divorce, from fatigue, of the processes of sensation and perception, causes paramnesia. Sully, Illusions, 280, speaks of an organic or atavistic memory: ?May it not happen that by the law of hereditary
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