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5 - Spirits

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 July 2009

Bart Schultz
Affiliation:
University of Chicago
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Summary

Preliminaries and Cautionaries

The battle is to be fought in the region of thought, and the issue is belief or disbelief in the unseen world, and in its Guardian, the Creator-Lord and Deliverer of Man.

W. E. Gladstone

Occultism is the metaphysic of dunces.

Theodor W. Adorno

Whatever one may think of parapsychology, it is impossible to appreciate Sidgwick's worldview without recognizing his commitment to such investigations. Like Gladstone and so many others who feared that dogmatic materialism was on the rise and orthodox religion in serious peril – which in the 1860s and 1870s, especially, it seemed hard to deny – Sidgwick regarded these studies as the vital avenue by which to meet the challenges thrown down by the likes of T. H. Huxley, “Darwin's Bulldog.” Just as the Idealism of Green and Bradley was a reaction to the growing climate of unbelief, so too Sidgwick's parapsychology was a bit of philosophizing with strategic intent, a return to the concerns of Swedenborg to parallel the return to the concerns of Kant (though of course, one could also view it as carrying forward certain forms of Romanticism). It certainly proved to be a happy vehicle for the poetic imagination, as both subject and object.

As noted in Chapters 1 and 2, Sidgwick appears to have been fascinated by ghosts for practically his entire life, quite possibly as a result of being exposed to so many deaths in his early years.

Type
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Information
Henry Sidgwick - Eye of the Universe
An Intellectual Biography
, pp. 275 - 334
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2004

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  • Spirits
  • Bart Schultz, University of Chicago
  • Book: Henry Sidgwick - Eye of the Universe
  • Online publication: 09 July 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511498336.005
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  • Spirits
  • Bart Schultz, University of Chicago
  • Book: Henry Sidgwick - Eye of the Universe
  • Online publication: 09 July 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511498336.005
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Spirits
  • Bart Schultz, University of Chicago
  • Book: Henry Sidgwick - Eye of the Universe
  • Online publication: 09 July 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511498336.005
Available formats
×