The historiography of psychical research: lessons from histories of the sciences

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The historiography of psychical research: lessons from histories of the sciences

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dc.contributor.author Noakes, Richard en_GB
dc.contributor.department University of Exeter en_GB
dc.date.accessioned 2008-08-26T09:38:31Z en_GB
dc.date.accessioned 2011-01-25T10:52:32Z en_US
dc.date.accessioned 2013-03-20T14:11:58Z
dc.date.issued 2008-04 en_GB
dc.description.abstract This paper surveys the different uses to which history has been put, and the different historiographical perspectives adopted, in psychical research and related enterprises since the mid-nineteenth century. It contrasts recent historiographies of the science with those employed from late eighteenth century to the 1960s, and shows how these and other developments in the practice of history have dramatically changed our understanding of the places occupied by psychical research and the ‘occult’ in ‘orthodox’ sciences and wider culture. The second half of this paper outlines some of the key ways in which we can proceed still further in the shift towards better situating psychical research in its contemporary scientific contexts and abandoning rigid and ultimately unhelpful distinctions between ‘science’ and ‘pseudo-science’. I suggest that by deepening our understanding of nineteenth and early twentieth century scientific cultures — their troubles as well as successes — we can better appreciate why psychic phenomena were considered fit topics of scientific research. In conclusion I consider the suggestion that eclecticism is a virtue and necessity in history and suggest that it’s precisely because my discipline, the history of science, is more eclectic than many that it is and will continue to be a fruitful resource for developing our histories of psychical research. en_GB
dc.description.sponsorship British Academy; Royal Society en_GB
dc.identifier.citation 72(2) en_GB
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10036/36372 en_GB
dc.language.iso en en_GB
dc.publisher Society for Psychical Research en_GB
dc.relation.url http://www.spr.ac.uk/expcms/index.php?section=41 en_GB
dc.subject psychical research en_GB
dc.subject historiography en_GB
dc.subject sciences en_GB
dc.subject sociology en_GB
dc.subject geography en_GB
dc.subject anthropology en_GB
dc.title The historiography of psychical research: lessons from histories of the sciences en_GB
dc.type Article en_GB
dc.date.available 2008-08-26T09:38:31Z en_GB
dc.date.available 2011-01-25T10:52:32Z en_US
dc.date.available 2013-03-20T14:11:58Z
dc.identifier.issn 0037-9751 en_GB
dc.identifier.journal Journal of the Society for Psychical Research en_GB


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