Parapsychology, Frontier Science of the Mind: A Survey of the Field, the Methods, and the Facts of ESP and PK Research

By J. B. Rhine; J. G. Pratt | Go to book overview

Chapter 5
The Psychology of Psi

THE SCIENCE that deals with persons as distinct from impersonal substances, forces, or bodies is called psychology just as the study of living organisms as distinguished from the inanimate is called biology. The characteristic that most distinguishes personal agency or behavior from an impersonal operation has not yet been successfully defined in terms of psychology. Consequently, it is still not clear in more than superficial terms just how the field of psychology is to be marked off from the rest of the studies of nature. Under the influence of the trend in science towards a mechanistic philosophy the natural effort has been to try to make psychology in effect a branch of physics. However, the discoveries concerning psi, in showing that persons are capable of certain nonphysical functions, have provided psychology with at least one fundamental distinction between a person and an impersonal thing. How far this distinguishing character extends throughout the entire structure of the personality is a matter for further study, but even at a minimal valuation it has won for psychology a scientific claim to its own distinct area of reality. Unlike all the other branches of science, it has been experimentally proved to have operations that do not yield to physical explanation.

We should expect, in view of the significance of psi for a theory of man's nature, that its position would become a more central one in general psychology as recognition of the reality of psi extends within that profession. The shift may come about slowly, but if it should require a long time, that would in itself give some measure of how profound an alteration in current thought was involved. At all events, when the eventual stage of complete recognition of psi is reached it can hardly fail to bring about a major revolution in the larger field, so fundamental is the new concept of man introduced.

-78-

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