There is this movement 'New Thought' that believes to exist Law of Attaction.

The law of attraction will certainly and unerringly bring to you the conditions, environment and experiences in life, corresponding with your habitual, characteristic, predominant mental attitude.

The law of attraction works universally on every plane of action, and we attract whatever we desire or expect. If we desire one thing and expect another, we become like houses divided against themselves, which are quickly brought to desolation. Determine resolutely to expect only what you desire, then you will attract only what you wish for

Basically idea is that if you will convince yourself that you will get cancer you will get it, and if you will convince yourself that you have pockets full of cash then they will become full.

EDIT: One shouldn't be able to attract something that he is not aware of in a frame that things only happen when one convinces himself of them being true.

Is there possible logical explanation for person 'attracting' cancer (in 'law of attraction' frame) if he does not know what cancer is?

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    Sounds like some esoteric thing "motivation coaches" could use to indoctrinate their clients. I think this is not a philosophical movement in any serious sense, just a mere Weltanschauung, and an obscure one that will fall under sceptic inquiry quickly. Perhaps better fitting in Christianity.SE.
    – Philip Klöcking
    Dec 14, 2015 at 13:27
  • @PhilipKlöcking well it has 2 centuries of history The New Thought movement was based on the teachings of Phineas Quimby (1802–66), an American mesmerist and healer. and New Thought publishing and educational activities reach approximately 2.5 million people annually so it's not that insignificant. What makes you think it relates to Christianity.SE? To me it looks more like Scientology or some other wacky cult. But we are going a bit of topic here question is how does one explain it not what new thought is. Dec 14, 2015 at 13:39
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    Christianity.SE because of the links to the Unity Church, which describes itself as a form of Christianity. The point I want to make is that the explanations could not hold any form of serious philosophical questioning, so that it is not part of philosophy. BTW regarding its "significance": there are so many cults that existed over centuries, reached hundreds of thousands of people and were complete nonsense. Playing with the needs of people successfully is no argument whatsoever.
    – Philip Klöcking
    Dec 14, 2015 at 13:50
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    @Matas I agree with Philip. According to your description "New Thought" is no philosophical movement: You did not give us any argument, but a list of theses. I think this philosophical blog is not the right place for this question. Probably it fits better to an esoteric blog. Of course, the best place would be to address your question to the movement itself. If you get an answer with argumentation I'm looking forward to discuss these arguments.
    – Jo Wehler
    Dec 14, 2015 at 14:06
  • @JoWehler Hi Jo. Argument is simple really. One shouldn't be able to attract something that he is not aware of in a frame that things only happen when one convinces himself of them being true. Should we chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/32953/new-thought Dec 14, 2015 at 14:18

2 Answers 2


Thanks to language, we can attract things we do not expect.

Consider the person who doesn't know what cancer is, but knows what a heart attack is. They spend their entire life trying to avoid a heart attack. They may use dozens of experimental prophylaxis, one of which may cause cancer. In the end, they attracted cancer. But that's not the only way to see it. The other way to see it is they attracted "things that prevent a heart attack," and one of those things happened to attract cancer.

It is no surprise that schools of thought which suggest things such as The Law of Attraction also preach avoiding hate and trying to become one with Good. In this example, the individual fought against heart attacks, trying to push them out of their life and attracted everything else in the process. The Law of Attraction works much better if you presume you use it only to attract, not as a reverse-psychology trick to push things away.

The law actually makes quite a lot of sense if you view things from a value optimization point of view. Your subconscious will naturally optimize itself to strive for the goals you set for it. It will find connections you never were aware of, and act on them.

Honestly, the law has been phrased much more succinctly in the fairy tales. Fairy tales have a strange tendency of being filled with useful information in nice easy to digest units:

Be careful what you wish for.


First off, the "law of attraction" is not a law - it's a theory!

That much in the "scientific sense" (Natural Law) that a theory remains a theory, until experimental proof confirms it.

The "law of attraction" -as described- is a misnomer-analogy for the laws of physics, be it the laws of electromagnetism, Newton's law of Universal gravitation, or laws from atomic physics.

Thus the first step, should be to deny any misapplication of the word "law" to what is essentially a (broad) pseudo-scientific sophism.

(The other answer in this thread mentions "the unconscious" but that is also a common theme to several psychological theories (Jungian, Freudian, and so on...). However, psychology (being a science) explicitly assumes (by naming them so) the several "models" are exactly that: theories.

The other answer, also departs from strict philosophy extending into theology - by way of explicit reference to the divine.)

So finally, the "pseudo-law of attraction" can be correlated heavily (if not entirely entailed) to theorized Magical Thinking.

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