Mind over matter

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Mind over matter is a phrase popularized during the 1960s and 1970s that was originally used in reference to paranormal phenomena such as psychokinesis.[1] However, it has also been used in reference to mind-centric spiritual and philosophic doctrines such as responsibility assumption.


The phrase "mind over matter" first appeared in 1863 in The Geological Evidence of the Antiquity of Man by Sir Charles Lyell (1797–1875) and refers to the increasing status and evolutionary growth of the minds of animals and man throughout Earth history.[2]

It may be said that, so far from having a materialistic tendency, the supposed introduction into the earth at successive geological periods of life — sensation, instinct, the intelligence of the higher mammalia bordering on reason, and lastly, the improvable reason of Man himself — presents us with a picture of the ever-increasing dominion of mind over matter.

— Sir Charles Lyell, 1863

Another related saying was coined almost two millennia earlier (19 B.C.) "the mind drives the mass" by the poet Virgil in his work Aeneid, book 6, line 727.[3] The latter saying in Latin, mens agitat molem, is the official motto of the University of Warwick and Eindhoven University of Technology in The Netherlands.


The first use of the term to refer to psychokinesis was the 1903 book Mind over matter: the influence of will power on disease by J. W. Martin.[citation needed] In 1972, parapsychologist Louisa Rhine published a book titled Mind over Matter: Psychokinesis.[citation needed] Another researcher D. Scott Rogo published Mind Over Matter: Case for Psychokinesis (1986).[citation needed] Jeffrey Mishlove wrote The PK Man: A True Story of Mind Over Matter (2000), which discusses the claims of Ted Owens regarding his alleged ability to influence the weather by psychokinetic activity.[4]

Mao Zedong[edit]

"Mind over matter" was also Mao Zedong's idea that rural peasants could be "proletarianized" so they could lead the revolution and China could move from feudalism to socialism. It departs from Leninism in that the revolutionaries are peasants, instead of the urban proletariat.[5][better source needed]

Controlling pain[edit]

The term also relates to the ability to control pain that one may or may not be experiencing,[citation needed] such as holding one's hand under extremely hot water and feeling no pain[citation needed] or walking on walk on hot coals without being burnt.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Berger, Arthur S.; Berger, Joyce (1991). The Encyclopedia of Parapsychological and Psychical Research. New York: Paragon House. ISBN 1-55778-043-9.  Page 341: "Psychokinesis (PK). The response of objects such as dice or the environment to a person's wishes is commonly labelled 'mind over matter.'"
  2. ^ Bartlett, John; Kaplan, Justin (Editor) (2002). Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, Seventeenth Edition. New Fork: Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 978-0-316-08460-4. 
  3. ^ Stevenson, Burton (Editor) (1948, seventh printing 1968). The Macmillan Book of Proverbs, Maxims, and Famous Phrases. New York: The Macmillan Company. 
  4. ^ Mishlove, Jeffrey (2000). The PK man: A True Story of Mind Over Matter. Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Roads. ISBN 1-57174-183-6. 
  5. ^ Asian survey, Volume 4 University of California Press, 1964, p. 1049