Fourth Pre-Print Article from Psychical Research Special Issue now Online: Shannon Delorme on William Carpenter and Spiritualism in Victorian Britain

Forbidden Histories

In the fourth of eight articles from the upcoming Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C special issue on psychical research, Shannon Delorme (OxfordUniversity) takes a closer look at one of the most vocal British 19th-century opponents of spiritualism and animal magnetism, the physiologist William B. Carpenter.

PHYSIOLOGY OR PSYCHIC POWERS? WILLIAM CARPENTER AND THE DEBATE OVER SPIRITUALISM IN VICTORIAN BRITAIN

Shannon Delorme, University of Oxford

Abstract

William B. Carpenter William B. Carpenter

This paper analyses the attitude of the British Physiologist William Benjamin Carpenter (1813–1885) to spiritualist claims and other alleged psychical phenomena in the second half of the Nineteenth Century. It argues that existing portraits of Carpenter as a critic of psychical studies need to be refined so as to include his curiosity about certain ‘unexplained phenomena’, as well as broadened so as to take into account his overarching epistemological approach in a context of theological…

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