J. B. Rhine


The Science of Nonphysical Nature

Out of his sensory experience and its rational derivatives man has developed a general concept known as the physical universe. And out of the relationships that have been found to exist within this observed and inferred universe have emerged the recognized physical sciences and the physical bases of the other sciences. While from time to time there have been offered hypotheses of nonphysical factors in living organisms, none of these has ever become orthodox, either in biology or psychology. There are, therefore, no conventionally recognized nonphysical operations in the natural world, and, according to prevailing thought, any occurrence not fundamentally reducible to physical process would have either to be ignored or classed as supernatural (though such a category, too, is unacceptable in the sciences). Thus, even though many individual scientists have reservations on the point, nature has, in the sciences, come to be effectively synonymous with the physical universe.

There has been only one small branch of inquiry to make a scientific attack on the question of nonphysical causation in nature. This branch of inquiry logically is a division of psychological study and is known today as parapsychology (and by various other names such as psychical research, metapsychics, psychic science, etc.). Its problem-domain includes those natural occurrences (now called psi phenomena) which do not submit to

Reprinted from The Journal of Philosophy, volume 51 ( 1954), pp. 801-810, by permission of the author and editors.

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Philosophy and Parapsychology
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 7
  • Preface 13
  • Philosophy & Parapsychology 17
  • Notes 36
  • Section I - Parapsychology and Philosophy 41
  • The Relevance of Psychical Research to Philosophy 43
  • Symposium: is Psychical Research Relevant to Philosophy? 64
  • Notes 108
  • Review of Kneale, Robinson, and Mundle Symposium 110
  • Notes 116
  • The Science of Nonphysical Nature 117
  • The Philosophical Importance of "Psychic Phenomena" 128
  • Notes 141
  • Section II - The Argument from the Posselbility of Fraud 143
  • Science and the Supernatural 145
  • On "Science and the Supernatural" 172
  • Notes 177
  • Comments on "Science and the Supernatural" 178
  • Notes 186
  • Compatibility of Science and Esp 187
  • Probability, Logic, and Esp 191
  • Where is the Definitive Experiment? 196
  • Notes 200
  • The Experiment Should Fit the Hypothesis 202
  • Notes 204
  • Section III - Conceptual Issues in Parapsychology 205
  • Describing and Explaining 207
  • Notes 225
  • References 226
  • On the Meaning of 'Paranormal' 227
  • Notes 244
  • Notes on Guessing 245
  • Notes 254
  • Conceptualizations of Experimental Clairvoyance 255
  • Notes 262
  • Parapsychology Revisited: Laws, Miracles, and Repeatability 263
  • The Problem of Repeatability in Psychical Research 270
  • Notes 283
  • Section IV - Precognition and Its Problems 285
  • The Philosophical Implications of Foreknowledge 287
  • The Causal Objection to Precognition 313
  • Does the Concept of Precognition Make Sense? 327
  • Notes 340
  • Mundle, Broad, Ducasse and the Precognition Problem 341
  • Notes 348
  • Section V - Parapsychology and the Philosophy of Mind 351
  • Explaining the Paranormal, with Epilogue - 1977 353
  • Parapsychology and Human Nature 371
  • Notes 386
  • New Frontiers of the Brain 387
  • Notes 399
  • Central-State Materialism and Parapsychology 401
  • Notes 404
  • Section VI - Historical Postscript 405
  • Final Impressions of a Psychical Researcher 407
  • Bibliography 423
  • Contributors 451
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