The World of Thoughts Alone

  • Hywel D. Lewis
Part of the Philosophy of Religion Series book series (PHRES)


By disembodied existence I mean, in the present context, two things. Firstly, that we shall not have a body like the present physical body or be in any other way in the present order of nature. Secondly, we shall have nothing strictly analogous to our present bodies, for example image bodies of the kind already considered. We shall have no world or environment in the ordinary sense. There will be only thoughts, or a world of thoughts, and appropriate mental reactions to them. This is not how the word ‘disembodied’ is always understood. But I shall be using it here in the sense indicated. No one finds it easy to think of this kind of totally disembodied being. It is very hard to divest ourselves in imagination of the conditions to which we are fully habituated now, especially when so many find it hard to think at all without some imaged accompaniment. Even a world of thoughts, or the idea of a thought or thought process, comes before us in the guise of some image. But we may at least get close to our quarry in this way, namely by thinking of occasions when we are very deep in thought on some abstract topic and oblivious, as we say, of the world around us. It is not always of such a theme that we are thinking when ‘lost’ in thought. We may have very deep reveries of another sort, in a very vivid day-dream about one’s visit abroad perhaps or the next game of tennis. But I am now supposing that we are not imaging anything of that sort but following out a highly abstract train of thought, like trying to solve a problem in arithmetic or algebra or attempting some new variation on the ontological argument for the existence of God. Some people are much better than others at doing this without the aid of images and, so they say, can dispense with the need for images entirely.


Image Body Ontological Argument Mental Reaction Present Body Previous Existence 
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Copyright information

© Hywel D. Lewis 1973

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hywel D. Lewis
    • 1
  1. 1.King’s CollegeUniversity of LondonUK

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