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THE BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF PARAPSYCHOLOGY

HENRY SIDGWICK

Professor of moral philosophy; a founder an first president, Society for Psychical Research, London, 1882-85; SPR president, 1888-92; editor, SPR Journal, 1885. B. May 31, 1838, Skipton, Yorkshire, England; d. August 28, 1900, Terling Place, Witham, Essex, England. Educ. Rugby; Trinity Colleg, Cambridge (fellow, 1859-69). M. 1876, Eleanor Mildred Balfour (d. 1936). Lecturer in moral science, 1869-75, praelector in moral and political philosophy, 1875-83, Knightsbridge professor of moral philosophy 1883-1900, Cambridge University.

Sidgwick's interest in the paranormal started when as an undergraduate he joined his university's Ghost Society, but his serious work in the field dates from 1869, when he became closely associated with F.W.H. Myers (q.v.), to whom he was then private tutor. Their association led eventually to the formation of the SPR, for at a meeting called for this purpose by Sir William Barrett (q.v.) in 1882, Myers, Edmund Gurney (q.v.) and several othes to become president. In 1884 Sidgwick took part in interviewing Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, founder of the Theosophical Society, and other theosophists during their visit to London from India, and as a result Richard Hodgson (q.v.) was sent to India to investigate her supposed supernormal phenomena, accepted as miraculous by many of her followers. Hodgson's report denounced her as fradulent. In the same year Sidgwick investigated numerous cases of "ghosts" which had been reported to the SPR, interviewing those persons who had contributed or were concerned in such reports.

From 1889 until 1894 he was engaged of the SPR "Census of Hallucinations," which involved the analysis of more than 17,000 replies to a questionnaire on hallucinatory experiences, and was responsible for the subsequent report published in 1894. During the same period Sidgwick took part in a series of experiments in telepathy with hypnotic subjects, and had a number of sittings with the American medium Mrs. Leonore Piper (q.v.). He was also concerned in the investigation of the Italian medium Eusapia Palladino (q.v.).

Sidgwick's books included Ethics of Conformity and Subscription (1870); The Methods of Ethics (1874); Principles of Political Economy (1883); The Scope and Method of Economic Science (1885); Outlines of the History of Ethics for English Readers (1886); Elements of Politics (1891); Practical Ethics (1898). He was author of the following articles in the SPR Proceedings: "Canons of Evidence in Psychical Research" (1889-90); "Attitude of SPR Towards Physical Phenomena" (1888-90); "presidential addresses" (1882-83, 1883-84, 1888-89, 1889-90); and, in the SPR Journal: "presidential address" (1884-85); "Disinterested Deception" (1893-94).


Taken from Helene Pleasants (1964) Biographical Dictionary of Parapsychology with Directory and Glossary 1946-1996 NY: Garrett Publications


 
 

 

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