Article ID: CBB000931141

The “World of the Infinitely Little”: Connecting Physical and Psychical Realities circa 1900 (2008)

unapi

Noakes, Richard J. (Author)


Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Volume: 39
Pages: 323--334


Publication Date: 2008
Edition Details: Part of a special issue: “Science and the Changing Senses of Reality circa 1900”.
Language: English

This paper analyses the fraught relationship between physics and the `occult sciences' in the decades around 1900. For some, there was no relationship at all; for others there was a relationship but they did not agree on what it looked like. Many physicists converged with spiritualists, theosophists, and others in interpreting X-rays, the electrical theory of matter, and other aspects of the `new' physics as powerful ways of rendering psychic and occult effects scientifically more understandable. However, they were opposed by commentators on physics who agreed that there was a relationship between the `new' physics and psychical research but that these were two manifestations of a worrying drift of physics into metaphysics and religion. More redoubtable critics were the psychologists who denied that physicists had the experience or experimental skill to cope reliably with the psycho-physical phenomena encountered in psychical research. This paper shows that physicist--psychical researchers were content to ally the `new' physics with religion because it helped vanquish awkward associations with materialism. They also tried to justify the value of their experimental skills by appealing to their expertise in investigating subtle physical effects and ability to create tests that respected the delicate conditions of séances.

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Article Sibum, H. Otto (2008) Science and the Changing Senses of Reality circa 1900. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science (p. 295). unapi

Citation URI
http://data.isiscb.org/isis/citation/CBB000931141/

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Authors & Contributors
Person, Jutta
Hahn, Torsten
Pethes, Nicolas
Leporiere, Lorenzo
Satter, Beryl
Kieser, Dietrich Georg
Journals
Journal of the American Academy of Religion
The Senses and Society
Abaco
Asclepio: Archivo Iberoamericano de Historia de la Medicina
Science in Context
History of Psychiatry
Publishers
University of California Press
Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura
Campus
Cornell University Press
Oxford University Press
Johns Hopkins University Press
Concepts
Occult sciences
Spiritualism
Science and religion
Parapsychology; psychic phenomena
Magic
Supernatural
People
Swedenborg, Emanuel
Blavatsky, Helene Petrovna
Gurdjieff, Ivanovich George
Newton, Isaac
Boyle, Robert
Locke, John
Time Periods
19th century
20th century, early
Ancient
Modern
Enlightenment
17th century
Places
United States
France
Italy
Naples (Italy)
Great Britain
Spain
Institutions
Theosophical Society
Society for Psychical Research
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