Maarten Maartensz:    Philosophical Dictionary | Filosofisch Woordenboek                      

 E - ESP

ESP: Abbreviation for Extra Sensory Perception - the perception of things by other means than the known senses (seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, smelling).

There have been lots of claims that someone had ESP of various kinds (reading another's mind, seeing the future etc.) but - so far - any such claim which has been seriously investigated by knowledgeable skeptics (especially those knowing some conjuring) was shown to be untenable or fraudulent.

As a logical possibility there may be ESP in humans, just as pigeons are sensitive to the earthmagnetic field, for example, but if any ESP exists in humans, then so far it has not been discovered by serious science. Of course, mundus vult decipi, and there have been a lot of fraudulent con-men in the field since Antiquity, who made a lot of money by the gullibility of others.

In any case, the most likely ESP in humans, on present knowledge, seems to involve pheromones: Substances one smells without being conscious of it, that effect one's sexuality. Whether this would constitute ESP is a matter of definition, but it is true pheromones exist and are effective in the sex life of non-humans, and were not suspected to exist before the 20th C. It certainly has some relevance for explaining some aspects of the phenomenon of human love.


See also: Magic, Sensations,


Broad, Gardner, Hansel,

 Original: Sep 12, 2005                                                Last edited: 12 December 2011.   Top