He is currently working on an interdisciplinary research project on the relations between science and esoteric discourse in the early twentieth century, sponsored by a Toptalent grant of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO). The research interacts with several aspects of the history of science, including the history of psychical research and parapsychology, esoteric uses of ether physics, vitalistic biology, and interpretations of quantum mechanics. He has published a number of articles on occultism, parapsychology, ritual magic, Kabbalah, and other esoteric systems of thought in modern culture.
A nice arrangement of heterodoxies: William Mcdougall and the professionalization of psychical research
Article first published online: 12 APR 2010
© 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences
Volume 46, Issue 2, pages 123–143, Spring 2010
How to Cite
Asprem, E. (2010), A nice arrangement of heterodoxies: William Mcdougall and the professionalization of psychical research. J. Hist. Behav. Sci., 46: 123–143. doi: 10.1002/jhbs.20422
- Issue published online: 12 APR 2010
- Article first published online: 12 APR 2010
Joseph Banks Rhine (1895–1980) is usually considered the founder of modern professional parapsychology. Through his work at Duke University in the 1930s, he established a working research program (in the Lakatosian sense) for the controversial discipline, setting down various methodological standards and experimental procedures. Despite Rhine's clear and important influence on modern parapsychology, this article argues that he came to a stage that had already been set. Adopting recent theoretical advances in the study of scientific professionalization, it is argued that Rhine's mentor, the controversial British psychologist William McDougall (1871–1938), has a stronger claim to the parenthood of modern parapsychology than is typically recognized. Following McDougall's attempts to carve out and establish an institutional space for professionalized psychical research in 1920s America, furthermore, takes us to little explored connections between psychical research, Lamarckism, neo-vitalism and policies of eugenics. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.