Prolegomena to a Philosophical Inquiry into the Spirit World - Claude Perrottet

The main purpose of this essay is to prepare the way, based on the contribution of Unification Thought, for bringing together two realms that have traditionally been separated by an abyss, namely the issue of the spirit world (the world beyond our physical senses) and philosophical inquiry understood in a predominantly Western sense. This article does not pretend to offer a complete historical overview, nor does it intend in any way to be a treatise on spiritual reality or parapsychological phenomena. It is not even intended to be an in-depth discussion of Unification Thought writings. Its focus is to show what roadblocks have essentially prevented a theoretical consideration of the world of spirit in the past and to suggest some parameters along which a future conceptual elaboration might be possible.
    Even though existing Unification Thought texts affirm the central role of spiritual reality in such areas as ethics, axiology and education, if in the end the notion of that reality remains vague on the level of epistemology, and hence ontology, uncertainty and disorientation will inevitably remain. As Rev. Moon has eloquently put it, there can be no perfection in ignorance.
    According to the views of Unification Thought and even according to common sense, the spirit world amounts to half of reality (not in the sense of a precise 50%, but in the sense of being one of two “worlds” constituting the universe). Unification Thought holds this notion is common with the general understandings prevalent in most cultures. If that is the case, and if we additionally assume (again, according to Unification Thought and to vague notions floating in consciousness at large) that the “half” of reality represented by spirit world is the dominant though largely unknown half, it is surely an understatement to say that taking it seriously into account revolutionizes all aspects of philosophical inquiry.
    Below, I will briefly outline the way in which existing Unification Thought texts have, or have not, dealt with the issue of spirit world, and to that extent have, or have not, revolutionized philosophical thinking from that perspective. My personal conclusion, after spending considerable amounts of time reflecting on the question, is that the theme of spirit world is the single most important issue in striving to complete the conceptual “paradigm shift” initiated by Unification Thought. I am not even talking about the importance of an awareness of spiritual reality as our common destiny, as insisted upon by Rev. Moon and Dr. Sang Hun Lee in his messages from spirit world. Though of ultimate importance for our lives, this is quite another matter. What I mean here is that the absence of any real conceptual consideration of spiritual reality in the history of (Western) philosophy is the single most important factor that has led our philosophical tradition into its present impasse.1
    It is evident that it is an incredible challenge to attempt, in any way at all, to approach the question of spirit world conceptually, in accordance with the methodology of the western philosophical tradition. While I believe that this is possible, in ways and within bounds that I will try to define below, I have come to realize that even my modest initial goal to create some type of an outline or battle-plan is too ambitious. I will nevertheless try to suggest a tentative line of thought and briefly elaborate on some topics and insights I think are of particular significance.

1. Spirit World in the Western Philosophical Tradition

First, I will offer some explanation for the reasons why even those traditions, e.g., the Christian philosophical tradition, that should be expected to be sympathetic to the idea of a spirit world beyond our physical senses have not really sought to discuss it conceptually.2
    To get a sampling of current views on the topic, I have followed my habit of looking up the relevant entries for “spirit” in a few dictionaries and encyclopedias. For the Random House Dictionary, in substance, immaterial is equivalent to incorporeal. Webster’s Dictionary says essentially the same, but also describes spirit as “having the power to become visible at will.” Only the New “Standard” Dictionary of the English Language goes further.3 Spirit: (3) “A disembodied soul regarded as manifested to the senses, often as visible or having some kind of immaterial body” [emphasis added].
    This last definition expresses what popular belief has always grasped, at least as a vague notion, that the spirit, or soul, does have a form or shape of its own that can on occasion appear to us—in visions, as ghosts—in ways that are not bound by the laws of physical existence. The numerous mystics in Christian history and in other religious traditions have often testified to that fact based on their own vivid experiences.
    What the two preceding definitions show is that, on the contrary, Western philosophy has always had great difficulty in elaborating a rational notion of spiritual reality, due to the understanding of corporeality as being something that exists exclusively in the physical dimension. Hence, an immaterial corporeal existence cannot be conceived.
    Just as some philosophers have affirmed the existence of God and others have denied it, some have believed in a world beyond our senses and some have not. The difference is that, while the issue of God has been hotly disputed, often with rational argumentation, philosophers of all persuasions seem to have been reluctant to even engage the question of spirit world. Those who have affirmed the reality of the spirit alongside that of physical reality, like Descartes, while granting it the attribute of highest certainty, have at the same time robbed it of its true substance. This difficulty, of course, existed long before Descartes and his spirit / body dualism.
    Plato, the believer in the world of ideas and the immortality of the soul, also believed that continued existence of the soul apart from the (physical) body was just that: bodiless. This is because by definition, the soul cannot have the qualities of the body: extension, which means divisibility, etc. For Plato, the soul has no parts. If it did, some parts would have qualities that other parts might not have, but the whole soul, as one, is “I.” Hence, the soul cannot have a body, which is composed of parts in time and space.
    In other words, corporeality, as we know it from our experience in our physical environment, is fundamentally incompatible with the very notion of a soul or spirit. Another type of corporeality, belonging to another dimension obeying an entirely different set of rules, is not even considered. The problem, as later for Descartes, is that by reducing the soul (spirit) to a unitary point of consciousness deprived of any bodily existence, one also reduces it to something unreal—no matter how much one stresses its importance in lofty language. If there is a spirit besides and/or beyond the physical body, it cannot be conceived of apart from something that is more than mere consciousness. In Unification terminology, an Individual Embodiment of Truth (any individual being) by necessity involves a sungsang (internal) aspect and a hyungsang (external, visible, bodily) aspect. Otherwise it remains an abstraction.
    And an abstraction it has been in most, if not all, of theoretical Christian philosophy and beyond. I add “theoretical,” because more mystically oriented texts, including some of a philosophical nature, have given very lively accounts of the spiritual realm. Once can cite Hildegard von Bingen and Meister Eckhardt, who were near contemporaries of Thomas Aquinas, and later Swedenborg. The problem seems to have been the following: Medieval and pre-medieval thought, which was permeated with Christian spirituality, put great emphasis on the spiritual element both experientially and dogmatically. Philosophically, however, it was never able to shed or to transcend the parameters of Classical Greek thought that was grounded in the natural sciences.
    Aquinas, whom we have just mentioned, offers a prime example. Unlike Plato, Aristotle had seen that the soul and the body are intimately related, the soul being simply what he calls the “form” of the body. But, quite logically, this also led him to deny that the soul could continue to exist without its body. As a Christian Aristotelian, Aquinas thus had to make the soul an exception, saying that it was a special kind of form that could temporarily exist without a body after death “until it is reunited with it in the general resurrection.”4 That means two things: Aquinas was aware that a soul without any external appearance (body) was not normally a viable entity; and the only way he could conceive of a permanent solution to the problem was through a return of the physical body at the end of time.5 Aquinas’ solution, reminiscent of Descartes’ later struggles with the mind-body connection, led to inextricable difficulties and severe criticism on the part of Duns Scotus.
    In the end, the problem met by all these philosophers, and many others before and after them, whether they were Christians or materialists, has always been the same. It is the identification of corporeality with physical materiality. If corporeality is identified and defined in that way, it indeed cannot, with the limitations, constraints and laws attached to physical objects, be found in the world of spirit. That, however, is nothing but an assumption, due to the natural sciences background of our philosophical tradition, even where a religious perspective was superimposed upon it.
    Paradoxically, it is Kant who undertook what could have become a big step forward, at a time when the general mood was already far removed from that of medieval spirituality. His contemporary Swedenborg, a reputable scientist, had based his description of spiritual world not on any dogmatic assumption but on his actual experience, and he had made a clear distinction between the realm of God and that of finite spiritual beings. Kant expressed his ambivalent feelings in his early work, Dreams of a Spirit-Seer, Illustrated by Dreams of Metaphysics6, and eventually rejected the idea that it was possible to come to any positive conclusion on the existence of such beings, but in the process he acknowledged the issue and made it clear that he was personally inclined to admit the reality of the spiritual realm.7
    Kant’s statement in his first Critique sounds rather definitive, both in terms of knowing and in terms of being: “A substance which is permanently present in space, yet without filling it… or a peculiar fundamental power of the mind of intuiting the future by anticipation (instead of merely inferring from past and present events), or, finally, a power of the mind to place itself in community of thought with other men, however distant they may be—these are conceptions the possibility of which has no ground to rest upon.”8 Nevertheless, there is a considerable difference with the thinkers mentioned above. Kant simply applies his critical method and finds no ground to justify any statement on facts that do not fit into his categories of space-time (understood in a Newtonian perspective), even though he was inclined otherwise. Unlike his predecessors and many of his successors, Kant does not say that substantial, corporeal beings and events in the spiritual dimension are ipso facto an absurdity and cannot exist. He merely says that there is no basis in his system for saying anything about the matter.9 The spiritual dimension is relegated to the realm of faith, where it finds itself in good company: that of God, immortality, and the moral question.
    In conclusion, Plato’s world of ideas, Kant’s Ding an sich, Hegel’s Absolute Spirit, Santayana’s realm of essence, and even aspects of Husserl’s later transcendental-phenomenological idealism, with all their differences seem to have a common deficiency shared by many other views: there is something abstract and unreal in their discourse about transcendence. Each of these authors is a unique case, and their thought can never be dismissed with the simple comment that they did not properly understand the nature of the world of spirit. Rather, I would suggest that a detailed investigation into their work could yield very interesting results when operating from a perspective that goes beyond the traditional understanding of spirit described above. Some discussion along these lines can be found in Unification Thought, but it remains inevitably fragmentary, since no single chapter is devoted to the issue. This is also the case for papers written by Unificationist scholars, at least to my knowledge.

2. The Nature of the Spirit World

As hinted in the preceding sections, the description of spiritual reality, including its external appearance, is very different when we turn to serious thinkers like Swedenborg who had intimate contact with it. Despite differences, they have in common that they present the external, or bodily appearance of spirit as following the very same laws as the mind. In Unification Thought terminology, we would say that the hyungsang part of the spirit (the spirit body) is the external appearance of the sungsang part (the spirit mind), and thus has its qualities. As we will see below, this description has barely been touched upon in existing Unification Thought texts.
    What, then, would be a definition of the nature of spiritual reality in as far as it is different from physical reality? Santayana, certainly not a believer in the world of spirit, has offered the following contrasting description that shows how well he understood what the spiritual realm could be, while denying that it exists. “Existence exists by virtue of oppositions in the place, time, and exclusive characters of particulars: being has being by virtue of its universal identity. This is true of the being of each individual essence; and it is true preeminently of pure Being. Its identity is omnipresent and internal everywhere… it makes all times simultaneous; and by excluding change makes existence, from its point of view, inconceivable.”10 This indeed comes very close to a definition of spiritual reality (essence) as opposed to the physical, material realm (existence)—or to God and his attributes vs. material reality—separated by an unbridgeable gulf. Saying, on the other hand, that the spiritual dimension exists is stating that there is a realm that carries the attributes of the physical world without having its limitations. The purpose of this preliminary investigation cannot be to make a case for such a position, but there are ample grounds to say that the question is essential to our understanding of human nature in relationship to a spiritual Creator.
    When trying to describe the spiritual realm from a Unification Thought perspective, a perspective that is in keeping with Swedenborg and others with personal experience of spirit, the expression that first comes to mind is total freedom, freedom from the constraints of physical existence. Just like the mind is free to move without any limitations of time and space, so is the spirit body. Time and space remain part of the picture, but no longer as a rigid framework. Elements that in the physical realm would be strictly ordered in time and space are here subject to simultaneity, multilocality and reversibility. The oneness of Being is not threatened by change, as it can and does appear in innumerable ways and forms that are always reversible and compatible with one another. But this “dream world” does follow laws of its own that are by all accounts even stricter than those of the physical world. Free movement, change and development are possible only to the extent that these laws are respected and practiced.11
    This creates an extraordinary new link between the fields of Ethics, Ontology and Epistemology. Being and knowing directly depend on the state of one’s heart and soul. As Dr. Lee explains, “If the spiritual level of humankind were enhanced and the law of value working in the entire universe came to be understood clearly by all people, then value propositions, also, would come to be recognized as universally true,” and, “It is the view of Unification Thought that fact and value, or science and ethics, must be apprehended as one united theme.”12
    All this has been described and explained in increasing detail by Rev. Moon, by Dr. Lee, and by others in recent years. I will not further dwell on this aspect of the question.13

3. Signs and Evidence

At some point, a discussion on the topic of spirit world inevitably has to include some attempt to summarize arguments that can be used to show that its very existence has to be considered seriously, and not just as a fiction or a delusion. There is a vast array of indices (if not evidence) that suggest the existence of a reality beyond perception by our physical senses.. The list includes:

  • Near death experiences14
  • Spiritualists’ testimonies
  • Parapsychology – experiences implying that spirit can act directly upon matter without a material medium, at distance
  • The effect of prayer on unknowing subjects’ health condition15
  • Attempts to register spiritual phenomena through physical machinery16
  • The traditional religious and cultural consensus
  • Scientific theories generated from quantum physics, mind / brain research, etc.
  • The entertainment media, where in recent years angels and the afterlife have joined sex, violence and courtrooms as favorite topics of the American film industry.17

    From the point of view of theoretical philosophy, it is tempting to dismiss all of this as circumstantial evidence. On second thought though, some of these findings are significant even from the strictly philosophical point of view. When renowned scientists come to the conclusion that certain phenomena can best, or only, be explained by postulating the existence of a world beyond our physical senses, this is a datum. Philosophy is supposed to take all available data into account in its investigations, even and especially those that leave it puzzled. In other words, the more the reality of a world beyond our physical senses becomes obvious, the more easily a philosophical inquiry taking at least its possibility into account will be undertaken.
    It is also interesting to note that considerable effort is being made to merely prove the existence of a world of the spirit, let alone describe it, while the existence of the material (physical) world as the object of our experience is taken for granted and only its nature, the modalities of its perception, etc. are discussed. In fact, however, the history of philosophy is replete with unsuccessful attempts to find an ultimate grounding for explaining the nature of physical reality. Henri Bergson has rightly observed that the materialist attempt to reduce all phenomena to physical reality in the end amounts to attributing to that physical reality quasi-supernatural qualities.18
    Exploring the spiritual dimension of reality as an essential counterpart to the physical dimension thus implies more than dealing with disincarnate spirits and the world of “ghosts,” though that is undeniably part of the picture. It also involves the issue of our earthly human nature, spiritual and physical, and scientific investigation into the nature of things in general.
    The approach of Unification Thought is to show that a discussion of reality only makes sense when one takes into account both the spiritual and the physical worlds, as well as their interrelatedness and their grounding in the Original Being, God.


4. Spirit World in the Existing Unification Thought Texts

The issue of spirit world, which has been the constant emphasis of messages received from Dr. Sang Hun Lee since his departure from this earth a few years ago, is not the object of a separate chapter or even a section in the various versions of Unification Thought. But like the question of God’s existence, the nature of evil and a few other issues not specifically dealt with in existing publications, it appears throughout the text and does receive attention in some passages.
    In the chapter on Theory of the Original Image, spirit world appears only indirectly to the extent that its existence is assumed, implied, and referred to in the discussion of God. There it also receives its ultimate theoretical justification19 in reference to the dual nature of the Original Being.
    In Ontology, human beings’ spirit / physical person is briefly treated, i.e., described much in the same way as it is treated in the Divine Principle:20 “[T]he spirit person is made of spiritual elements, which cannot be perceived with our physical senses; yet, the spirit person has an appearance no different from that of the physical person. When the physical person dies, the spirit person discards it…”21 This is continued in “The Theory of the Original Human Nature,” where the relationship between our spiritual nature and our physical nature is analyzed in terms of Sungsang and Hyungsang (internal and external).22 Here, Dr. Lee also introduces the issue of the corruption of human nature due to humankind’s falling away from God. This is a key point in trying to deal with some of the difficulties attached to the present topic, but it is one that I have consciously left out because it would not fit within the boundaries I have set for myself here.
    The issue of the spiritual realm reappears in Axiology with the question of the dual nature of purpose. In a somewhat enigmatic way the theme intermittingly appears in parts of the chapter on Epistemology, but it never really surfaces in an explicit manner except when Dr. Lee speaks of Spiritual Apperception: “‘Mind’ refers to the union of the spirit mind and the physical mind… Thus, here we use the special term ‘spiritual apperception’ to refer to the functional part of the mind in cognition, which means ‘the comprehensive function of sensation and perception of the united mind of spirit person and physical person.’”23 Even in this brief passage, spiritual reality is not discussed as the object of cognition, but the spiritual aspect of cognition as a function of our spiritual nature is stated. This implies, quite in agreement with the Unification Thought notion of our dual spiritual and physical nature, that there is much more to cognition than the traditional epistemological mechanisms discussed in the chapter.
    Somewhat relevant to the discussion of spiritual world is also a section on the ten forms of existence and forms of thought.24 This last section is maybe where Dr. Lee comes closest to what could be a description of the nature of spiritual reality. Among the ten forms, at least Changeability / Unchangeability and Finitude / Infinity apply to the realm of spirit, though the discussion there is about existence in general and there is no further elaboration.
    Overall, Unification Thought texts present a clear framework for an intellectual or conceptual understanding of spiritual world as the “invisible substantial world,” the physical realm representing the “visible substantial world,”25 and both together the universe. But Dr. Lee has obviously not felt it appropriate at that time to engage in a real description of spiritual world in the context of a philosophical treatise.. He even left untouched a number of points covered by the Divine Principle.

5. Some Important Consequences for Philosophical Inquiry

a. General Questions Of Method
As a whole, Unification Thought’s contribution to the discussion of spiritual reality seems to be rather modest; especially when one considers the importance the theme has in that worldview. Numerous points seem to have been overlooked, intentionally or not, e.g., there is no discussion of the precise nature of the “spiritual element.” Much elaboration is still needed based on existing texts.
    I would nevertheless suggest that Dr. Lee implicitly introduces a valid alternative to the usual ways of dealing with issues like God and spiritual reality (though there is no mention of it in Methodology). I see his way of proceeding as a form of the descriptive method,26 one that ultimately relies on intuition (a general characteristic of Oriental thought) but is at the same time intimately connected to the deductive method.
    The analytical-deductive method when left on its own tends to end up with recourse to either infinite regress or unfounded assumptions, which has largely led to the contemporary demise of so-called foundationalism. Dr. Lee seems to have chosen a third way: that of tentative assumptions about that which lies beyond the rational discourse, combined with great care in proceeding within the framework of a systematic, logical discussion. With nothing tentative in his tone, he first posits the ultimate reality of God and spirit world without any attempt of justification. Next, fundamental characteristics are posited, and so on. In the process, gradually the unfolding elements are put into a relationship with each other, thus creating a structure that makes logical sense and allows one to visualize what is meant. That visualization is expected to form the ultimate justification of preceding assertions.
    One is reminded of the “self-evident truths” that have carried our civilization, especially in this country, for the last few centuries. Quite naturally, intuitionism has had a great career in both ethics and the abstract area of mathematics. Interestingly, even recent thinkers dealing with the issue of knowledge and being have believed in the ultimate role of intuition. These include Husserl and Jean-Paul Sartre, for whom “[t]here is only intuitive knowledge. Deduction and discursive argument, incorrectly called examples of knowing, are only instruments that lead to intuition. When intuition is reached, methods utilized to attain it are effaced before it; in cases where it is not attained, reason and argument remain as indicating signs which point toward an intuition beyond reach.”27
    The relevance of intuition to the question of spirit is obvious: spiritual reality, by its very nature, allows for immediate contact and knowledge, and thus allows one to bypass the uncertainty of mediate knowledge through the physical senses. Without being in any way irrational, it makes the rational discourse almost superfluous. However, the leap to intuition cannot excuse reason, lest spirit be unintelligible to philosophy. Significantly, with Dr. Lee, it is the rational structure of things that is the main intended object of intuition. Things are introduced in a way that ultimately makes sense. The integrity of the rational structure offers a guarantee and a safeguard against possible delusions. But the confirmation or certainty of knowledge cannot be offered by that structure alone. The questions of purpose and meaning that are attached to the spiritual element can, in the end, only be grasped through immediate knowledge by a spiritual subject. As Sartre would put it (in an admittedly very different frame of mind), the rational structure can guide us, but it is not understanding itself.
    In other words, by presenting the logical, meaningful connection of tentative elements, one does not necessarily engage in circular thinking ending up in unfounded assumptions. In a way that is after all not so alien to the western philosophical tradition, this process plays a role similar to that of a midwife. This cannot in any way be an excuse for sloppiness in the deductive process or faulty logic; wherever shortcomings of that type exist, they should be removed. However, Dr. Lee is fundamentally right to my mind when he does not seek to ground his views on an ever-elusive first element in the chain of deductions, but leaves the task of validation to what could in some way be called a “spiritual experience” surrounded by a rational framework within which it makes sense.

b. Some Methodological Issues More Directly Related to the Theory of Knowledge
If there is a realm beyond our physical senses, the issue of knowledge acquires an entirely different dimension from that of ordinary philosophical discourse. Knowing through one’s spiritual senses may have its own pitfalls, limitations and complexities, but it offers an element of immediacy and the possibility of investigation comparable to sense knowledge in the physical realm.
    Two points in particular deserve to be briefly considered:

  • Verifiability or falsifiability: these criteria represent maybe the greatest challenge to an intellectual approach to spiritual reality. While they certainly cannot be applied in the same way as they are applied to physical phenomena, a world beyond our physical senses, to the extent that it has its own set of “internal” rules, does offer the potential for such criteria to be applied, provided that those rules are known. Even the possibility of replicating experiences (same cause, same effect) should not be excluded.
  • Intersubjectivity: This exasperatingly difficult issue appears in an entirely different light if one assumes the reality of a spiritual realm where we can freely exchange immediate knowledge with each other and have immediate knowledge of each other. At first sight, knowledge acquired through our spiritual senses or intuition seems on the contrary to be a quintessentially subjective phenomenon strictly limited to each one’s personal experience, without any tangible basis for a common appraisal. But to the extent that there is immediate spiritual contact between two souls, whether physically alive or disincarnate, each can potentially share the other’s experience one hundred percent.

c. Consequences for the Theory of Being
Here, the implications may be even more dramatic. Quite simply, the entire complicated discussion on being/substance, essence/existence, etc., has to be reconsidered, beginning with Parmenides’ assertion that change implies non-being and hence being cannot change—change is mere illusion. In particular, if we consider being as endowed with the qualities of the spirit rather than those of matter, Parmenides’ objections do not apply, and we find ourselves in a much better position to reconcile his views with those of Heraclitus. Change does not imply non-being because it is permanently reversible; being can be anything and everything at the same time, being can be here and there at the same time, being can be now, before and after, etc., though not simply at random.
    The thought of numerous more recent thinkers would deserve to be revisited along the same lines.


Is it then possible to have philosophy, perhaps even philosophy “as a rigorous science,” include spiritual reality into its considerations? And if so, does it make sense? I would answer with a cautious but determined yes in both cases.
    I hope to have shown above that, if we choose to accept the spirit as a dimension of reality in addition to the physical dimension, one hardly has any other choice but to either try to understand the modalities of its existence or to have recourse to pure faith in something that makes little rational sense. If the spiritual dimension exists as more than a subjective experience of consciousness, then it is part of the larger universe and should be the object of possible investigation. From that perspective, the reason why philosophy has failed to become a rigorous science might not have so much to do with the fact that it deals with elusive factors, but rather that it has refused to deal with the most elusive of all: the spiritual dimension.28
    I have explained above how the weak conceptual elaboration of the issue of spiritual reality in our philosophical tradition has created a fateful vacuum that affects the contemporary discussion. I find it extraordinarily important to try and find a meeting point between our philosophical tradition and the spiritual dimension—and by that I don’t simply mean face-to-face separated by a glass partition. Our philosophical tradition has gradually lost most of its significance except for a few professionals, and many spiritually and religiously oriented people consider it a pure waste of time to even deal with its empty abstractions. If the only point were to restore this tradition to its old glory, we could do without it. But before losing its way, the Western philosophical tradition had developed into a wonderful tool in the quest for understanding, meaning and purpose. It should be applied anew to clarify the meaning for us of a dimension that it has heretofore ignored, mostly because it did not know how to handle it. Even if spiritual understanding culminates with intuition, what is intuited has a structure that can be the object of investigation.
    In his works, Dr. Lee stresses again and again that the theoretical understanding he tries to convey in Unification Thought is essentially needed for the solution of practical problems. A fuller philosophical explication of the spirit world is not without interest from that perspective. Philosophy’s refusal to apply its intellectual tools to understanding the world of spirit has not made space for more fulfilling, non-rational insights; it has simply left a legacy of irrational and illegitimate assumptions that block humanity in its spiritual development and in pursing right actions. By investigating this “blind spot” in existing philosophy, this essay can serve as a prolegomenon for what will one day become a complete theory of the spirit world that may fill a separate new chapter in future textbooks of Unification Thought.


  1. During his career, Husserl had repeatedly pointed out with some degree of pride that philosophy proper, as a method, is a Western (European) phenomenon. At the end of his life, though, he made this poignant statement: “Philosophy as a serious, rigorous science endowed with apodictic certainty—the dream is over (der Traum ist ausgeträumt).” Edmund Husserl, Die Krisis der Europäischen Wissenschaften und die Transzendentale Phanomenologie, W. Biemel, ed., (Haag, 1976), p.508 [my translation].
  2. Except for attempting to explain it away, as Aquinas does at great length in his Summa Theologica.
  3. Funk and Wagnalls, New York, 1947.
  4. Richard Swinburne, “Nature and Immortality of the Soul,” in Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (London: Routledge, 1998), vol. 9, p. 45. This excellent article has proven generally useful in this discussion. Cf. Frederick Coplestone, Thomas Aquinas (London: Search Press, 1976), pp. 156-198.
  5. Cf. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica (Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1952), Vol. II. Supplement to the Third Part: Treatise on the Resurrection. Thomas describes the qualities of the glorified body at the general resurrection in great detail, making every effort to eliminate any suggestion that it might have spiritual, i.e., non material qualities, e.g., pp. 975-976: the resurrected body is not a subtle, immaterial, spiritual body; p. 977: “It cannot be maintained that a glorified body, by reason of its subtlety, is able to be in the same place with another body”; p. 986: Can the glorified body move instantaneously? “But this will not hold, because the glorified body will never attain to the dignity of the spiritual nature, just as it will never cease to be a body.”
  6. Immanuel Kant, Dreams of a Spirit-Seer, Illustrated by Dreams of Metaphysics, (London: Swan Sonneschein, 1900). German original published in 1766.
  7. Kant was convinced of Swedenborg’s genuine ability to have prophetic insights by perceiving things beyond the boundaries of physical space-time. Swedenborg had given a detailed description of a fire that had just broken out 50 miles away. Kant: “[This] occurrence appears to me to have the greatest weight of proof, and to place the assertion respecting Swedenborg’s extraordinary gift beyond all possibility of doubt,” in Frank Sewall, Preface, and Appendices to Dreams, p. 158. “I cannot help having a slight inclination for things of this kind [spiritual visions], and indeed, as regards their reasonableness, I cannot help cherishing an opinion that there is some validity in these experiences in spite of all the absurdities involved in the stories about them,” Kant’s April 8, 1766 letter to Mendelssohn, quoted in Frank Sewall, Preface, and Appendices to Dreams, p. 162. Finally: “Neither the possibility nor the impossibility of this kind of thing can be proved, and if someone attacked Swedenborg’s dreams as impossible, I should undertake to defend them,” in Gabriele Rabel, Kant (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963), p.74. These and other references, as well as an interesting discussion can be found in: Stephen Palmquist, “Kant's Critique of Mysticism: (1) The Critical Dreams,” in Philosophy & Theology 3:4 (Summer 1989), pp.355-383. Also available at:
  8. Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason (London: J. M. Dent & Sons, 1950), p. 168; A 222-223, B 270.
  9. As a result, Kant remains a welcome reference for contemporary philosophers interested in the realm of the spiritual and parapsychology. Cf. David King, “A Kantian Model for Parapsychological Phenomena,” Journal of Parapsychology60:3 (Sept. 1996), pp. 241 ff.
  10. George Santayana, The Realm of Essence, Book First of Realms of Being(Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1974 [1928]), pp. 48-49.
  11. See Joong Hyun Pak and Andrew Wilson, True Family Values (New York: HSA-UWC, 1996), pp. 145-174; Kerry Pobanz, The Spirit-Person and the Spirit-World, An Otherdimensional Primer (New York: HSA-UWC, 2001).
  12. Sang Hun Lee, Essentials of Unification Thought: The Head-Wing Thought(Tokyo: Unification Thought Institute, 1992), p. 218.
  13. Sun Myung Moon, Earthly Life and the Spirit World I & II (Washington, DC: FFWPU, 1998); Sang Hun Lee, Life in the Spirit World and on Earth, Messages from the Spirit World (New York: FFWPU, 1998). These are the basic but by no means the only publications that can serve as a reference.
  14. Sam Parnia, “Scientist Says Mind Continues after Brain Dies,” Findings presented at Caltech, L.A. seminar, June 29, 2001,
  15. “The Power of Prayer in Medicine: People Who Are Prayed for Fare Better,” Jeanie Davis, WebMD, November 6, 2001. The dramatic effect of prayer on unknowing patients was compared to a control group in studies conducted in Korea by the Columbia University School of Medicine of New York City and in the USA by Duke University.
  16. On purported voice recordings of spirits and organizations engaged in this research, see for example,
  17. Needless to say, this is a very mixed bag. Every category includes elements worthy of serious consideration and others that are frivolous at best. Moreover, each has been refuted one way or another. But the fact that an argument remains open to counter-arguments is a fact of life, not the proof of its falsity. Sorting out and evaluating the content of the “bag” would be an undertaking of its own.
  18. Henri Bergson, Matière et Mémoire. Essai sur la relation du corps à l’Esprit (Paris: Librairie Félix Alcan, 1929 [1896]). This is at least partly echoed by Santayana when he states, “Curiously … [m]atter, though so much nearer and dearer to the heart of mankind, is even harder to define [than the realm of essence] and to situate from a psychological point of view,” Santayana, The Realm of Essence, p. 169.
  19. Though this is the case in terms of a descriptive statement, rather than as the fruit of a deductive-rational discourse.
  20. Exposition of the Divine Principle (New York: HSA-UWC, 1996).
  21. Lee, Essentials, p. 44.
  22. Ibid., pp. 93-95.
  23. Ibid., p. 334.
  24. Ibid., pp. 326-327.
  25. These expressions are only found in the earlier (1973) translation of the Divine Principle; they have been retranslated into the “incorporeal world” and “corporeal world” (which is in some way closer to the Korean original, though formless or shapeless would be even more accurate than incorporeal, and “substantial” has simply been dropped) in the 1996 edition (p. 45 ff.), thus reflecting the general understanding of the spiritual as incorporeal as far as the physical senses are concerned. Nevertheless, the context makes it abundantly clear that it is only physical corporeality (bodily nature) that is denied, and that there indeed is spiritual corporeality, i.e., a body in the spiritual dimension. In fact, this is the key point of the entire passage.
  26. One that has nothing to do with recent descriptive metaphysics, an outgrowth of analytical philosophy and philosophy of language, a trend that culminates with what has been called quite appropriately "the explicitly anti-metaphysical context of logical positivism,” “the transition from ‘philosophical analysis’, conceived as an important method of inquiry, to ‘analytical philosophy’, which restricts genuine philosophy to analysis" (Thomas Baldwin, "Analytical Philosophy," in Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, vol. 1, p. 225), and with the “rise to preeminence of topics which, though important, should rightfully remain ancillary: epistemology, language, and questions of method,” (Huston Smith, Beyond the Post-Modern Mind [New York: Crossroad, 1982], p. 36).
  27. Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness, An Essay in Phenomenological Ontology(Secaucus, NJ: The Citadel Press, 1977); L'Etre et le Néant (Paris: Gallimard, 1943), p.148.
  28. Anthony Flew, author of a study on the question and otherwise an insightful thinker, shows what I mean by this. Jumping over Aristotle’s materialism of sorts, he recognizes that the “immortal-soul doctrine” (Plato) and the “reconstitution doctrine” (Aquinas) are not satisfactory to explain the nature of the soul and leave only one option open, but that option, which he ominously calls the “shadow-man doctrine,” is dismissed in a few lines: “The systematic investigation of such phantasms has shown, however, that though they do undoubtedly occur, they belong to the category of purely subjective and hallucinatory experience.” “The third way must therefore be dismissed as a blind alley.” Anthony Flew, “Immortality,” in The Encyclopedia of Philosophy (New York: Macmillan, 1967), vol. 3. p. 140.