A letter about Dilley's theory of clairvoyance
To the Editor,
In the January issue of the JSPR, Frank B. Dilley has tried to make clairvoyance coherent by claiming that it poses no additional problems to those encountered in normal perception.
He shows very well that in both cases we need to posit some sort of reading relation between mind and matter. Furthermore he makes it clear that the non-spatial character of clairvoyance appears to be shared by normal perception. Notwithstanding these important achievements, I want to criticize Dilley's view that clairvoyance is not in any essential way different from normal sensory perception. For instance, in vision our eyes receive physical stimuli, the patterns of which are transmitted to the brain, where they are processed further. Only after this has occurred, can we read our brains to obtain the visual information.
Of course, how this reading is done, is a mystery. The point is that there is specific, visual information for us to read. Otherwise how to explain (organic) blindness?
In clairvoyance, however, we lack both the reception by physical senses and the cerebral processing of nervous information. In other words, the information we appear to read directly off physical objects, is not visual information comparable to that read in vision.
We might consider the importance of physical processes in normal perception greater than in clairvoyance, where all the work seems to be done by us.
Therefore, I think Dilley has contributed considerably to the plausibility of clairvoyance, but he has not succeeded in taking away its basic difference with normal perception. It is not a simple, unimportant 'direct-indirect' contrast. It involves the fact that although both forms of perception share a dualist basis, clairvoyance needs not only psychical reading, but also psychical simulation of physical reception and processing before the reading can start.
If we realize this, it appears impossible to consider normal perception just some kind of indirect clairvoyance.
Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, Volume 55, 1989, pp. 434-435
Contact: Titus Rivas