• This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn more.

19th century spiritualists, higher dimensions and the occult


The Force is Strong With This One
Spiritual hyperplane
How spiritualists of the 19th century forged a lasting association between higher dimensions and the occult world

The roots of connecting higher dimensions with a transcendental realm date back at least to Plato’s cave allegory, in which prisoners confined to a cavern observe two-dimensional shadows on a wall while being unaware of the three-dimensional world outside that produced them. But although Plato implied that we three-dimensional beings might be likewise oblivious to a greater reality, he didn’t explicitly argue that there was an actual fourth dimension.

A more immediate antecedent to Zöllner’s hypothesis is found in The Unseen Universe, a popular book published anonymously in 1875, and later revealed to have been co-authored by the Scottish mathematical physicists Balfour Stewart and Peter Guthrie Tait (a lifelong friend of Maxwell). The treatise speculates about links between scientific concepts such as conservation of energy and spiritual questions such as the persistence of life after death.