38. Spirits from Mercury came to visit a certain spirit from our world, who had been famous for his learning while living in the world, wanting to learn about various matters from him. (He was Christian Wolf.*) But they saw that what he said was not raised above the sense-impressions of the natural man, because in speaking he thought about his reputation, and he wanted, as he had in the world (everyone retaining the same character in the next life), to string together various matters, and to link them again with others, leading continually to new conclusions. Since he tried to produce long chains of arguments based on matters which they did not see or acknowledge as true, they said that the chains did not hang together nor did they lead to his conclusions, calling them the obscurity of authority. So then they stopped questioning him, only asking: 'What is this called? What is that?' Since his replies to these questions were couched in material ideas with no spirituality in them, they left him. Everyone in the next life speaks the more spiritually, or in spiritual ideas, the more he has in the world believed in God, and in material ideas the more he has failed to believe in Him.
 I should like to take the opportunity this offers to bring in here an experience which shows what happens in the next life to learned men who acquire intelligence from their own reflection fired by a love of knowing truths for their own sake, and so for purposes remote from mundane considerations; and also what happens to those who seek to acquire intelligence from other people without reflecting for themselves, as do those whose wish to learn truths is only to gain a reputation for learning, and so to acquire honours or advantages in the world, not, that is, for unworldly purposes.
I became aware of a sound penetrating from below near my left side and reaching up to my left ear. I realised that there were spirits there trying to struggle free, though what sort of spirits they were I could not tell. But when they had struggled out, they talked with me, and said they were logicians and metaphysicians. They had, they said, plunged into deep thought on these subjects, but with no other motive than that of being called learned, and so achieving honours and wealth. They complained that they now led a miserable life, because they had no other purpose in studying these subjects, so that they had not by their means cultivated their rational faculty. Their speech was slow and had a muffled sound.
 Meanwhile two spirits carried on a conversation over my head, and when I asked who they were, I was told that one of them was a very famous character in the world of letters, and I was given to believe that it was Aristotle. (I was not told who the other was.) He was then put into the state he had been in while living in the world. Anyone can easily be returned to the state he had in the world, because he carries with him every state in his life. To my surprise he approached my right ear and spoke there, hoarsely, but sensibly. I was able to tell from the feel of his speech that he was of quite a different character from the scholastics who had come up first; in fact he had drawn on his own thinking in what he wrote and in devising his philosophy. Thus the terms which he invented and imposed on ideas thought about were forms of words to describe inward ideas. He had also, as I learned, been impelled to these discoveries by the pleasure he took in them and the longing to know matters relating to thinking and the intellect; and he had obediently followed the dictates of his spirit. This was why he approached my right ear, unlike his followers, known as scholastics, who do not proceed from thought to terms, but from terms to thought, which is the wrong way. Many of them do not even proceed as far as thought, restricting themselves to the terms. If they make use of these, it is to prove whatever they wish, and to impart to falsities the appearance of truth, to suit what they wish people to believe. Philosophy thus becomes for them the route to madness rather than to wisdom, and plunges them into darkness instead of light.
 I then discussed with him the science of analysis. I said that a small boy could say more philosophically, analytically and logically in half an hour than Aristotle had been able to say in a book,** because the whole of human thought and the speech it produces is analytical, being governed by laws derived from the spiritual world. Anyone who wanted to proceed artificially from terms to thought was rather like a dancer, who tries to use his knowledge of motor fibres and muscles in order to dance; if he concentrated on that while he was dancing, he would hardly be able to move his foot. In fact, without any such knowledge he can move all the motor fibres scattered throughout the body, and appropriately activate his lungs, diaphragm, flanks, arms, neck and so on, which whole books would not be enough to describe. I said that the case of those who sought to make terms the basis of their thinking was much the same. He approved of this, and remarked that learning to think by this route was proceeding the wrong way round. If anyone wanted to be a fool, that was the way to go about it; but he ought to think constantly about the purpose and take an inward view.
 He then showed me what had been his conception of the supreme power, which he had pictured to himself as having a human face with the head surrounded by a radiant halo. He now knew, he said, that that person is the Lord and the radiant halo is the Divine proceeding from Him, which flows not only into heaven but into the universe, controlling and ordering both. He who controls and orders heaven does the same to the universe, since the one cannot be separated from the other. He also said that he had believed in only one God, but that he distinguished His attributes and qualities by as many names as others worshipped gods.
 A woman appeared to me, who put out her hand wishing to stroke my cheek. When I expressed surprise, he said that when he was in the world he had often had such a woman appear to him and seem to stroke his cheek; and she had a beautiful hand. The angelic spirits said that once upon a time the early people had seen such women and gave them the name of Pallas. She appeared, they said, to some one of the spirits who in antiquity had taken great pleasure in ideas, and devoted themselves to thinking, but not to philosophy. Since such spirits had been present with him and had been pleased with him for basing his thinking on an inward view, they had caused such a woman to be presented to view.
 Lastly he sketched his idea about the human soul or spirit, which he called pneuma.*** He thought of this as a vital principle, invisible as a piece of the ether. He said that he had known that his spirit would live on after death, since it was his inward essence, which cannot die because it can think. Beyond that he had been unable to think clearly, having only dim ideas because he had no knowledge about it other than what he thought out for himself, and even the ancients told him little. Aristotle, moreover, is among the sound spirits in the next life, while many of his followers are among the foolish. [* Johann Christian von Wolf, 1679-1754, a German philosopher who was influential in the eighteenth century.-TR.] [** Probably a reference to Aristotle's two works known as Analytics..-TR.] [*** The Greek word for 'breath', translated into Latin as spiritus, our spirit.]