Philosophy and Parapsychology

Philosophy and Parapsychology

Philosophy and Parapsychology

Philosophy and Parapsychology

Excerpt

Matters of Fact well proved ought not to be denied, because we cannot conceive how they can be perform'd. Nor is it a reasonable method of inference, first to presume the thing impossible, and thence to conclude that the fact cannot be proved. On the contrary, we should judge of the Action by the evidence, and not the evidence by the measures of our Fancies about the Action.

Joseph Glanvill -- Saducismus Triumphatus

William James died in 1910. Yet I have before me a book that James is supposed to have dictated to its automatist/editor in the mid-nineteen-twenties. ' Such, according to one common view, is the stuff of parapsychology that strains credulity.

But the embodied, ante-mortem William James took parapsychology (or psychical research, as it was known in his time) seriously, as did (and do) many other philosophers. Does this indicate merely that philosophers, like all human beings, have their intellectually weak moments, or are there aspects of parapsychology worthy of philosophical study? There is obviously much more to parapsychology than claims of post-mortem authorship, and some of the other issues raised by parapsychologists are such as to be of central concern to philosophers. Yet, given the mass of . . .

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