DEBATE: Do Ghosts exist?

Courier staff debate whether ghosts are real or not..

Peter Bath
1st November 2021
Lego ghost (image credit: flickr)

For: Peter Bath, Sports Editor

Have I ever seen a ghost? No, I can’t say I have. But do they exist? Yes. How do I know? There’s no smoke without fire. And when it comes to ghosts, there’s a lot of smoke. 

Since prehistory, humans have been fascinated by spirits of the deceased, from the late inhabitants of the underworld in Homer’s Odyssey to the various forms of ancestor worship practised around the world. 

More recent culture is saturated with ghoulish figures: A Christmas Carol, The Turn of the Screw, The Sixth Sense, Ghost (the film), Ghosts (the show)... Even such seminal texts as Hamlet and Ghostbusters are preoccupied with the spectral.

There's no smoke without fire, and when it comes to ghosts there's a lot of smoke

Despite reductionist attempts to explain away the supernatural, ghosts have come into vogue in recent years. French philosopher Jacques Derrida coined the term ‘hauntology’ - a pun on 'haunt' and 'ontology' which works better in a French accent. Derrida draws on Marx’s declaration that “A spectre is haunting Europe - the spectre of communism” as well as the ghost of Hamlet’s father, to describe the way our present is haunted by collapsed visions of the future. Writers like Mark Fisher have subsequently applied this to the present culture, observing ghostly disruptions of linear time in everything from The Shining to Ariel Pink.

This metaphorical conception of ghosts might be intellectually stimulating, but can post-structuralism provide reassurance when you see a glowing form in the corner of your room at night? While some may argue that the proliferation of ghosts in today’s culture is the cause of ghost sightings, the reverse is true. Such a universal obsession with the undead can only mean that somewhere, deep in the collective unconscious, ghosts do exist.

Against: Muslim Taseer, Deputy Editor of the Courier

It is a well known and widely accepted fact that Ghosts simply do not exist. Not only is there no solid, scientific evidence for the existence of ghosts, the very idea of it violates several laws of physics and nature, and most psuedoscience surrounding ghosts is no more than hackery and charlatanry.

I've still got a bunch of words left.

What a silly proposition, the existence of ghosts. What sort of sensationalism are we stooping to? You know though, it's only human to be drawn to superstitions like this.

It's only human to be drawn to superstitions like this

I'm not above it either! The hallway outside my apartment gets really dark sometimes. Often, I'll hear a faint sound, or feel eyes on my back, or get a sudden unexplainable chill. But that's just stuff the body does! Hell, you can't even trust your eyes. One time, I thought I saw a face in the hallway window, but when I got closer no one was there. When you're tired, your brain can misinterpret light! The fact that the face closely resembled the face of my dead grandfather was only the malfunction of a tired mind! The white red speckled and coal black feathers that keep showning up on my windowsill in bunches of threes are nothing more than serendipitous happenstance, not some sort of dark omen!



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