The question of pre-existence has come to the fore throughout Western history. Some people adhere to the Hebraic and Christian notions that the individual is created during the period between conception and birth and other people believe the human soul is somehow immortal, neither created nor destined for destruction. For example, according to Christianity, God creates the person for life in this world and prepares a person for a life extended beyond death. A variety of positions arrayed themselves against Christianity.
The question of pre-existence is often tied to the religious issue of reincarnation, a belief that individuals now living on earth have had a series of previous human lives as they have moved from body to body, a position found in the Hindu text, the Bhagavad-Gita. Traditional Spiritualism believes a new soul is created at birth and goes on to other levels of existence. However, French Spiritism and Theosophy argue for reincarnation.
It is rare to believe in pre-existence without reincarnation. One person who articulated such a belief was Sir Oliver Lodge. In Phantom Walls (1929), he wrote:
"When the question of pre-existence arises I should say that the individual as we know him is a fresh apparition, a new individualisation of something preexisting…. We can imagine that, every now and then, an opportunity arises for spirit to enter into relation with matter, and to become gradually an individual, and develop a character and personality which will persist; so that there is almost a kind of 'choice' whether we enter into life or what sort of life we enter into. In that sense we may be said—with apparent absurdity, but possibly with some kind of truth—to select our parentage; and thus may some facts of heredity be accounted for."
"Pre-Existence." Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/pre-existence
"Pre-Existence." Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. . Retrieved August 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/pre-existence
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.