ESP (or Sixth Sense)




A term used to denote the faculty of spiritual perception, which is distinct from, and higher than, the five physical senses. It is the possession of the medium, the psychic or sensitive, and in some measure of all hypnotic subjects. It is not properly a separate sense at all, but is compounded from the spiritual correlates of the physical senses. 

The theory of its existence as a convenient explanation of transcendental phenomena was first put forward in the era of animal magnetism by Tardy de Montravel. He considered the sixth sense as the source and sum of all our partial senses. His contemporaries were of different opinion and explained clairvoyance and prevision by the magnetic fluid. Of late the sixth sense was given prominence as Prof. Richet's comprehensive term for the phenomena of telepathy, clairvoyance, psychometry, premonitions, predictions, crystal vision and phantasmal appearances. They are, in his view, manifestations of a new unknown sense which perceives the vibrations of reality. The conception is largely an attempt to do away with the spirit hypothesis, making its invocation unnecessary. He admits, however, that the working of this sense is incomprehensible when a choice has to be made between vibrations of reality, for instance in the case of a book test, the sensitive being called upon to read a certain line on a certain page in a certain book on the shelf which nobody opened. His main argument in favor of his theory is that the hypothesis of the sixth sense as a new physiological notion contradicts nothing that we learn from physiology, whereas the spirit hypothesis does.

The sixth sense is also called Extra-sensory perception, or ESP, the name given to any ability to acquire information by means other than the five canonical senses (taste, sight, touch, smell, and hearing), or any other sense well known to science (balance, proprioception, etc).

Specific types of extra-sensory perception include:

  • - Perception of events in other places (clairvoyance, clairaudience, clairsentience) and in other times (precognition, retrocognition, second sight, lucid dreaming) 
  • - Perception of aspects of others not perceivable by most people (aura reading) 
  • - The ability to sense communications from, and communicate with, people far away (telepathy), beyond the grave (mediumship, spirit walking), or in other dimensions (astral projection)


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