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37. General Characteristic Of Hypothieses

In the present Part Two, I shall deal with various hypotheses met with among the Tungus. Indeed an exhaustive account of ail existing hypotheses would be impossible. First of all it was not my intention to record all hypotheses, as well as all facts known to the Tungus; second, to give all the hypotheses recorded, as with facts, would be useless for most of them being based upon some fundamental propositions thus are their mere consequences; third, the variety of hypotheses is rather extensive but the variations are not very interesting from the point of view of giving a general idea of the psychomental complex. Therefore, in the present part I shall follow the same method of exposition as in Part One. However, there will be an essential difference; namely, I shall dwell at greater length on some hypotheses for we shall need them later.

The Tungus build up their hypotheses as do other peoples. If the Tungus cannot connect a group of facts into a system by a simply formulated law and if such a connection is needed owing to the psychological condition, they will find an explanation based upon a supposition which in their eyes may look as a probable one. Degree of confidence in the hypothesis depends on a series of conditions, namely, (1) how far the new hypothesis is correlated with the existing complex; (2) how far the new hypothesis may cover the facts known; (3) how far does the hypothesis not come into the conflict with the new facts observed; (4) how reasonable is the source of the hypothesis i.e. whether or not it is created by the clever people or whether or not it is received from the ethnical groups known as reliable and superior groups; (5) how critical is the individual who accepts the hypothesis. It is thus evident that the hypotheses are accepted and rejected by the Tungus in dependence upon these conditions. So their simple probability becomes certainty and the hypothesis is considered as a fact, if it perfectly suits the existing psychomental complex, covers all the facts known and is confirmed by newly acquired facts, if its source is reliable and if the individuals are not particularly sceptical. On the other hand, if the new hypothesis is in conflict with the existing complex, does not cover the facts known, comes into conflict with the newly acquired facts, originates from a doubtful source and the individuals are extremely sceptical, the hypothesis has no chance of being accepted. The degrees of acceptance of hypotheses are thus different. This might be illustrated by hundreds of instances, but I deem it useless in view of further dealing with the hypotheses. For illustration of the process of building up hypotheses I will now give some instances.

We did not discuss the problems concerning Tungus ideas as to the phenomena of psychic and mental activity with the exception of the remarks concerning language and transmission of cultural complexes. This has been done in view of avoiding the repetition of facts and discussion.

Let us now take the problem of the soul. We have seen that the existence of the soul is accepted as a fact, although its existence cannot be proved as a fact. Thus the existence of the soul may be regarded as a hypothesis. This hypothesis is now accepted by all Tungus groups because the fundamental element of the complex, i.e. an opposition of material substance and immaterial substance, is laid down at its basis. The soul is only a particular case of existing immateriality of the phenomena. Thus it suits the complex. The observation of facts shows that they may be easily understood in the light of this hypothesis and no facts are left which cannot be covered by it. This hypothesis does not come into the conflict with the experience, — the newly acquired facts. Yet, the source is the previous generations whose experience is considered as reliable it is supported by authority of other ethnical groups.

In fact, the Tungus may observe the presence of soul and its exterioration on themselves and on the other persons as well as animals. The man during his sleep may «go» to a long distance for seeing his friends or some region. The visit would appear a reality for after the «travelling» the dreamer may be «tired», yet the physiological effects and behavior after the dream may be quite real. These inferences are confirmed by the observation of animals, e.g. the dogs who during their sleep sometimes move their legs, as though running, they bark, move the tail, nose etc. The inference is that the dog's soul was absent and was running etc. These facts of importance are confirmed by people who relate of their traveling, visiting distant places and persons, also of various events taking place in the dreams. The evidences are confirmed by still more decisive facts. The Tungus in the dream may have a talk with other persons and those persons would know about it. It is true not all men can do it, but many of them, and particularly shamans can do it easily.

Since this group of facts is not very well investigated I shall relate what is known about them among the Tungus. In the state of great concentration the shamans and other people may come into communication with other shamans and ordinary people. Among all Tungus groups this is done quite consciously for practical needs, especially in urgent cases. What is the mechanism of this process may now be only hypothetically supposed. For practical use to achieve such a communication, the person must think about another person and formulate the desire, e.g. «please, come here» (to a given locality). This must be repeated until one «sees» the person called or until one «knows» that the person perceives the call. One can «see» the person called as a physical person in the natural surroundings. Afterwards when the person called is met he may be asked to confirm the surroundings and location at the moment of call. The person may also reply in the form of a bird or animal which would speak with the person's voice. The same animals cannot do it in their ordinary state [239]. So these animals are not understood as physical animals [240]. The Tungus who are connected by close relations, e.g. the children and parents, friendship, and mutual understanding (e.g. the fighting shamans may be hostile one to another but they would understand each other), may communicate easier than the people who do not know each other. Yet, some people cannot do it at all. About such a people the Tungus would say «they do not know how to do it», but they would not be able to explain how they do it themselves. The shamans use this method in their common practice when they want to meet some people or other shamans. Sometimes they do not realize the motive as to why they leave one place and go to another where they meet the person who called them, — they go because they feel they must go. The best period for such a call is calm weather and night. V. K. Arseniev related to me a case in Maritime Gov., when under his observation a shaman invited the other two shamans from distant places on an accidental occasion (sudden illness of a young man) and they arrived within such a period that they could not have physically done it if invited by a messenger. The Tungus speak about such cases as a common thing, and do it when they have no time for sending a messenger [241].

This series of observations is interpreted in the sense that there is an element which exteriorates as an immaterial substance, - the soul, — which communicates with the souls of other persons. In the same group of evidences of the existence of the soul, the Tungus included the cases of «vision on distance «the mechanism of which is perhaps the same as that of «telepathy» [242]. According to the Birarchen, the soul of a dying man enters into the body of one of the young near-relatives. The young person may feel this. In addition to the above enumerated evidences confirming the existence of the soul, there must also be included a large number of coincidences. In fact, distant communication may sometimes be only the mutual desire of meeting on the part of two people connected by common interest, especially when the periods of relative freedom are short which greatly increases the chance that two persons will think about the matter and dream about it at the same time. Such coincidence would be, of course, interpreted as an evidence of the activity of the soul.

This point of view is still more supported by the fact of the soul's traveling, according to the will of the bearers of the soul. In fact, before falling asleep the Tungus express their desire of seeing distant places and people. If the dream occurs the fact is interpreted as a voluntary direction of the soul. The practice of conscious loss of consciousness practised by the shamans and candidates to become shamans gives hundreds of facts which confirm the hypothesis of the existence of soul. In the same line are found all cases of hypnotic actions.

The new facts are presented by further observations of psychic functions cognized and interpreted as new evidences of the existence of the soul. The second source of evidence is that of the other ethnical groups which also have the same conception of soul. So these authoritative opinions would be quoted for supporting the existing complex idea of the soul. The Tungus would increase their knowledge of the soul with the new aspects discovered by other groups which, as modus operandi, would not very much differ from the modern investigators who would look for support of their ideas into the sources, with which they are not in conflict, without giving themselves any trouble of finding how far the premises of these sources are reliable.

In this way the idea of soul is always confirmed and it becomes in the Tungus psychomental complex one of fundamentally established truths. In this function it will be made the basis of further Tungus investigations into the particular questions, where the soul may explain the complexity of phenomena.

Let us take another instance of hypothesis which cannot be accepted. This time I shall take the hypothesis of the spirits responsible for various diseases known amongst the Tungus of Manchuria under the name of ajin'i burkan. This burkan has seventy-two manifestations many of which may be identified with the infectious diseases. This complex was seemingly received, through the medium of the Manchus, from the Chinese. As a source in the eyes of the Tungus it is quite reliable, but it is not «genuine» Tungus for its origin is partly remembered. The entire seventy-two kinds of diseases are not met with amongst the Tungus, but only a few of them. This objection is rejected under the pretext that probably these diseases are known amongst other groups (Chinese) and not amongst the Tungus, which naturally is a case of adaptation. So that the hypothesis will be only partially accepted. There will be no objection for accepting it on the ground of its complexity for the Tungus previously possessed the idea of complex spirits. However, there are difficulties: in the theory of the spirits there is a postulate, namely, that the spirits cannot be managed by medicines if they are real spirits, while the Chinese themselves use various kinds of medicines, which fact brings the Tungus into conflict with the general conception of spirits. Furthermore, the success in medical treatment of some of these seventy-two diseases brings another doubt into the Tungus mind. For this reason the hypothesis is not accepted by all Tungus but only by a part of them particularly by those who are not critical and inclined to recognize the authority of «superior» ethnical groups.

Between these two extreme instances one may put all other hypotheses in the respect of their admissibility by the Tungus. We have seen that the theory of spirits was a logical consequence of the originally accepted hypothesis as to the existence of soul and «animus». To find when the first spirit made its first appearance amongst the Tungus is, of course, impossible. Yet, such a question would bring us to the slippery ground of groundless hypotheses. Of course, we may establish the origin of many spirits, but some of them will remain quite mysterious, and on this ground it will be impossible to consider them as original Tungus spirits. What is really important is that such an idea of spirit did appear after which it might receive its further complication and further increase as formed by the method of analogy. Indeed, the moment of the appearance of the first idea of spirit must be brought to the time when no Tungus as an ethnical unit existed, for theoretically it is but a short step from the idea of managing the souls of dead people to the idea of their free post-mortal existence, which makes absolutely hopeless the search for establishing the origin and sequence of hypotheses regarding the spirit complex [243]. Yet, the problem of origin, in the present state of ethnography, is not even important for without this knowledge one may still form an idea of a functioning complex and its components [244].

The existence of the new spirits may be suspected in phenomena up to a certain moment unknown amongst the Tungus. For instance, the settlement of the Chinese in the Mergen region brought among the Tungus of this part of Manchuria some venereal diseases. The new disease was attributed to the special spirit supposed to be brought by the soldiers. Indeed, this hypothesis will exist up to the moment when the modern treatment of these diseases will disprove the conception of this new spirit. Psychic troubles were known for a long time, but the shamanistic method of their treatment brought a new hypothesis, namely, the hypothesis of a particular kind of spirit which is responsible for the trouble.

If a new hypothesis satisfies the Tungus, they accept it. However, there must be all of the necessary elements for its being accepted. First of all the original fallacy of postulating the existence of spirits must be there. Second, the new phenomenon, or the phenomenon just cognized, must not be explained by any other hypothesis, nor «natural» causes. If there are no such two conditions the hypothesis cannot be accepted. Thus at the basis of all hypotheses of spirits there is always present the original fallacy. However, the hypotheses may be rejected after subsequent observation of new facts which can be explained without the original postulate, but the latter will persist till the whole complex is little by little substituted or the original postulate compromised. In one of the stages of the process, as I have recorded amongst the Birarchen, the reasoning is as follows: «If there is soul, there is spirit; if there is no soul, there is no spirit; but burkan (a special spirit, vide infra) must not be admitted if the soul is admitted.» This fact shows that among the Tungus even the fundamental postulate of the soul may be subject to essential scrutiny by some individuals. As a matter of fact, those of the Tungus who may change their ethnical milieu and may receive the school education among the Russians become free of this postulate, if they do not happen to be influenced by the Russians who themselves are not free and retain the postulate either in a religious form or in its philosophical justification, a dualistic conception of phenomena. In so far as knowledge of newly acquired facts permits, a Tungus in his conclusions will scrutinize the most fundamental conceptions. Owing to this trait of the Tungus psychomental complex, — the criticism and inclination for the observation and analysis conditioned as we have seen chiefly by the professional needs [245], — the hypotheses received from other ethnical groups are subject to the adaptation, if they can be used, or to rejection. Here the source of the hypotheses for the Tungus is of importance. If it comes, for instance, from the educated Manchus who are familiar with the Chinese books, the hypothesis has more chance to be accepted, at least for temporary use, while the hypotheses received from both uneducated Chinese and uneducated Russians are not at once accepted. In such a case they would say: «The Russians (or Chinese) believe so, but we do not know whether it is true or not.» More than this, the Chinese zoological and anatomical treatises (in book form!) are not blindly accepted as «truth», for the Tungus sometimes meet with errors which they explain as due to the fact that the Chinese are not hunters, and thus cannot know the animals and anatomy [246].

The hypotheses used by the Tungus may be classed into two groups, namely, the hypotheses based upon the postulate of the spirit; and hypotheses free of this postulate. The first group of hypotheses can be easily classified and described in the analysis of particular spirits, while the second group cannot be treated in the same systematic manner for the basis of these hypotheses is not uniform. In order to be clear I shall give an instance of Tungus theory based upon a hypothesis which was accepted as a postulate. This is the case, already quoted, of loss of hair by man owing to the use of salt. It runs as follows:

1. The man had incidentally discovered the white stone, which was salt, and began to use it for seasoning the raw meat (a proposition which may be theoretically accepted as one of probabilities!); (2) owing to the salt consumed, the hair began to fall out (a proposition which cannot be accepted without proofs and which is a mere hypothesis accepted as a truth; the Tungus themselves use salt for the reindeer and horses, and they know that the wild animals largely use salt if they can have it; the fallacy of reasoning is not noticed); (3) since the hair began to fall out man needed protection with animal skins (a proposition based on the present human behavior which cannot be extrapolated into the past); (4) and fire (ibid.). This theory of human evolution and change of culture is told to the children. However, the adult Tungus may sometimes notice the fallacy of the proposition (2) by pointing out the cervines which are fond of salt but still covered with hair. In such a case they would say: «It is a story for children», and it is not accepted by all the Tungus as an established fact.

As another instance of hypothesis I may quote that of kulikan as the male element in the heredity and embryological process which disregards the female element. Such hypotheses have already been mentioned in previous chapters in the course of exposition of the facts regarding the positive knowledge of the Tungus. I shall now leave them unclassified and I shall return to some of them which may be particularly interesting in the last chapter of the present part.

239. Let us remark that according to the Tungus conception the animals do not speak by themselves; as to the «speaking» vide supra Chapter VI.

240. Cf. SONT p. 271 where prediction of the sex of children is discussed.

241. Transmission of thought at a distance was observed by several authors and interpreted in different manners. However the experiments have confirmed the possibility of such a transmission of thought. V. M. Bexterev was particularly interested in this problem so he and his assistants have carried out their experiments on the dogs and men in conditions which exclude possibility of mistake. The experiments have shown that at least in some conditions the transmission is a fact (cf. Collective Reflexology where the other publications are given, p. 122). In 1921 I carried out several experiments with a dog which although isolated in another room could easily find objects (e.g. watch, notebook, crystal top of an inkstand, purse etc.) transferred from one place to another by one of the persons present (There were five persons present.) or even from the pocket of one person to that of another. These facts may now be understood in the light of modern theories and on condition of general positive approach to this problem — not possible even a few years ago. Indeed the question will be solved very soon. Let us remark here that the scepticism due to the ignorance and prejudice did not permit collection and publication of facts. In fact, some time go any one who dared to discuss these questions or to publish the facts met with criticism from the «scientists» who said that these were «superstitions», «folklore», «immaterial approach», «lack of criticism» etc. while they themselves were merely impressed by the existing theories and hypotheses accepted as «truth». As a matter of fact such a behavior of scientists is as much ethnocentric as that of the Tungus and it is as much «folklore» as that designated as such by the scientists. «Science» is not so much accumulated facts, as method of approach to the facts.

242. Some illustrations given by the Tungus are that in general when some misfortune to the people occurs, one may know it at a distance by a peculiar feeling perceived by the heart. On the third day after the grandfather of my communicator arrived, a nephew (or brother) had committed suicide by hanging himself. The grandfather had not been able to stay away for he had felt an uneasiness which compelled him to return. He was not surprised at the suicide. When people die the young members of the clan may know it and relate what has happened and the circumstances of the death. The Birarchen say that this is also true among the Manchus and the Dahurs. Such a statement may be taken as a starting point for an investigation. An instance for illustration is that of a small boy who «saw» his grandfather's uncle kill his father and predicted that the murderer would return after three days with the antlers of a Cervus Elaphus, killed by his father. The man came as had been predicted. He was immediately taken before the boy who repeated his sayings. The man then confessed, the body was found and sentence of death for the criminal passed at the clan meeting.

243. vide supra

244. I now leave the historical aspect of ethnographical phenomena. Should we approach it we must follow modern methods used in historical research.

245. I do not want to involve the problem of innate character of the Tungus psychomental complex, for it would mean to bring the problem to the slippery and misleading ground of hypotheses. Although it is possible that such a correlation does exist, but since this line of investigation is not yet scientifically explored, it is safer to keep the problem in its functional aspect. Yet, the case of the Manchus who perhaps originally did not differ very much from the Northern Tungus is also instructive; the lack of criticism and sticking to the hypothesis is rather typical of the Manchus.

246. I do not know what was the Tungus reaction toward Russian books for in my time the Tungus were not yet much familiar with them.

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