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Inquiries into Human Faculty
variety of mental constitution that exists in the world, and how impossible
it is for one man to lay his mind strictly alongside that of another, except
in the rare instances of close hereditary resemblance.
In the course of my inquiries into visual memory, I was greatly struck
by the frequency of the replies in which my informants described
themselves as subject to “visions.” Those of whom I speak were sane and
healthy, but were subject notwithstanding to visual presentations, for
which they could not account, and which in a few cases reached the level
of hallucinations. This unexpected prevalence of a visionary tendency
among persons who form a part of ordinary society seems to me
suggestive and well worthy of being put on record. The images described
by different persons varied greatly in distinctness, some were so faint and
evanescent as to appear unworthy of serious notice; others left a deep
impression, and others again were so vivid as actually to deceive the
judgment. All of these belong to the same category, and it is the assurance
of their common origin that affords justification for directing scientific
attention to what many may be inclined to contemptuously disregard as
the silly vagaries of vacant minds.
The lowest order of phenomena that admit of being classed as visions
are the “Number-Forms” to which I have just drawn attention. They are in
each case absolutely unchangable, except through a gradual development
in complexity. Their diversity is endless, and the Number-Forms of
different persons are mutually unintelligible. These strange visions,” for
such they must be called, are extremely vivid in some cases, but are
almost incredible to the vast majority of mankind, who would set them
down as fantastic nonsense; nevertheless, they are familiar parts of the
mental furniture of the rest, in whose imaginations they have been
unconsciously formed, and where they remain unmodified and
unmodifiable by teaching. I have received many touching accounts of
their childish experiences from persons who see the Number-Forms, and
other curious visions of which I have spoken or shall speak. As is the Previous page Top Next page