What is the function of "exhausts" in this context? Does "more than exhausts" refer to "the psychic knowledge"?

Both Kate Fox Jencken and Margaret Fox-Kane died in the early 'nineties, and their end was one of sadness and gloom. The problem which they present is put fairly before the reader, avoiding the extremes of the too sensitive Spiritualist who will not face the facts, and the special-pleading sceptics who lay stress upon those parts of the narrative which suit their purpose and omit or minimize everything else. Let us see, at the cost of a break in our narrative, if any sort of explanation can be found which covers the double fact that what these sisters could do was plainly abnormal, and yet that it was, to some extent at least, under their control. It is not a simple problem, but an exceedingly deep one which exhausts, and more than exhausts, the psychic knowledge which is at this date available, and was altogether beyond the reach of the generation in which the Fox sisters were alive.

from The History of Spiritualism, Vol. I by Arthur Conan Doyle

  • 1
    The text is hopelessly dated (both linguistically and philosophically), but the "extremes" are those "arguments / presentations" that Conan Doyle thinks overstate their cases. He himself is trying to give the impression that "the Truth" lies somewhere in between people who dismiss Spiritualism out of hand and those who credulously believe claims that are manifestly untrue. It seems that "the problem" is deciding whether Spiritualism is true or not. Apparently Conan Doyle believes there's such a thing as "psychic knowledge" - but for some reason it's unable to resolve that problem. Commented Mar 31, 2020 at 14:32
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica that was a good help for me to understand the text.
    – solesoul
    Commented Mar 31, 2020 at 14:35
  • 1
    FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica great. do you want to say that he is not impartial? but as far as i read this book i understood that he considers both sides of the matter.
    – solesoul
    Commented Mar 31, 2020 at 15:05
  • 2
    I too think the author was biased. The passage in your recent question states "...abnormal power was shown by reading the contents of a letter in Mr. Funk's pocket." Considering the immense skill of the detective Holmes in the novels, this conclusion suggests that ACD wanted to believe that the only way the letter could be read was by psychic means. Commented Mar 31, 2020 at 15:26
  • 2
    @solesoul whilst you could be right, spirituality and spiritualism are quite different things. Commented Mar 31, 2020 at 16:12

1 Answer 1


To "exhaust", as used here, means to use up, to use all that is available. Like you might say, "Buying a new car exhausted all the money in my bank account."

So the writer is saying that people have some knowledge of psychic phenomena, but this knowledge is limited and incomplete, so that understanding whatever magic these sisters did goes beyond our understanding of psychic phenomena. It "exhausts our knowledge", it uses all the available knowledge and we still don't understand.

  • thanks for your answer and thanks for not commenting and judging the beliefs of author or me rather than be serious and giving a helpful answer.
    – solesoul
    Commented Mar 31, 2020 at 16:03
  • @solesoul As a Fundamentalist Christian, I often get slammed on StackExchange when I occasionally express my beliefs or opinions. I don't want to do the same thing to others. :-)
    – Jay
    Commented Mar 31, 2020 at 19:16
  • 1
    @ Jay dear jay i do not know you. but i want to tell you that conan doyle said a beautiful sentence in his book. he said lets be friends. lets ruin the walls and become united. he hoped that spiritualism will unite the people some day in future.
    – solesoul
    Commented Mar 31, 2020 at 19:23
  • 1
    i think that history of spiritualism is full of golden points about enlightenment and it is completely against bigotry.
    – solesoul
    Commented Mar 31, 2020 at 19:26

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .