Edmund Gurney

   Posted by: David   in Uncategorized

Edmund Gurney

Edmund Gurney

From the very beginning in1848 the claims of Modern Spiritualism have been challenged, tested, and scrutinized by the scientific community. The relationship of Spiritualism to science has been at times affirming and at other times disheartening but unlike any other religion Spiritualism presents itself as both a religion and a science. As a science, the claims of Spiritualism require objective proof and Spiritualist have always cooperated with scientist who test their claims in an effort to provide this proof.

One of the earliest scientist to devote considerable time to the investigation of spirit phenomena was Edmund Gurney. Edmund was an English psychologist and psychic researcher. Born on March 23, 1847, he crossed over to the unobstructed universe on June 23, 1888, in Brighton, United Kingdom.

From Utilitarianism.com accessed Saturday, August 15, 2015

“In June 1888 Gurney apparently received a letter asking him to go to Brighton, which he did, without telling his wife or anyone else the reason. He stayed overnight (and alone) at the Royal Albion Hotel and was found dead in bed the next morning with a chloroform pad over his face.

“Was it suicide? He used chloroform to relieve his neuralgia, so the coroner’s verdict was accidental death, but Trevor Hall and others have suggested that he killed himself….considering that his depression was growing worse, he had failed in three careers, his high hopes for psychical research were probably foundering, and he had reached the age when mid-life crises tend to loom…” But, “A strong argument against suicide is Gurney’s concern for his wife and daughter, whom he would not want to hurt,” however “she married again a few months after he died….At least Gurney died just two months too soon to be a possible Jack the Ripper; or, given his medical training and gloomy temperament, some Ripperologist would have accused him by now.”

But it is not his death but his life that is of significance to me. Edmund was a founding father of the Society for Psychical Research. One of the first scientific organizations dedicated to the study of spirit phenomena. His book, written after years of research, Phantasms of the Living (1886), stands as one of the first scholastic records of what would eventually become paranormal psychology.

It was at least in part the work of Edmund Gurney who inspired William James to found and serve as vice president for the American Society for Psychical Research. The ASPR in the USA worked in cooperation with the English Society for Psychical Research. These two organizations together laid the groundwork in the Victorian era for all psychic research in the years since.

From Utilitarianism.com accessed Saturday, August 15, 2015

“The late Victorian period was a time of great optimism about human progress. Twenty-seven years before the First World War destroyed that optimism, Gurney was skeptical. The optimistic view of human progress towards a perfect future, he believed, is invalidated by the sufferings of individuals throughout history. Only the hope of some supernatural underpinning can make life worthwhile.”

“The keynote of life without Supernaturalism is resignation; the keynote of life with Supernaturalism is hope.” – Edmund Gurney

As Zig Ziglar often said, “Where there is hope in the future, there is power in the present.”

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