DOI: 10.14704/nq.2011.9.1.393

Reflections about Parapsychology and the Philosophy of Science: Has Parapsychology Progressed As a Science to the Point Where Science Can Include Psi and Transpersonal Views In Its Hard Core?

Jalmir Freire Brelaz de Castro


This paper proposes to evaluate the relationship of scientific criteria to parapsychology. It is herein argued that the most effective ways for the discipline of parapsychology to progress, are: a) to face psi, firstly, as a conceptual problem; b) to combine several approaches containing psi in their essence; and c) to try to build a psi “hard core” through a theoretical approach to resolving and clarifying the problems raised. To understand psi it will be necessary to explore not only empirical problems, but especially such conceptual problems as mind, consciousness, and altered states. Only then can science in general and parapsychology in particular, progress. Furthermore, parapsychology needs to develop its own heuristics – that is, new scientific methodologies that will include the roles of the researcher and of consciousness itself. Based on the work of the philosophers of science Larry Laudan and Imre Lakatos, the current analysis proposes a “hard core” for psi studies. Based on Laudan’s work especially, it is argued that the conceptual problems are more important than the empirical ones. A psi hard core may be studied in two complementary ways: using Lakatos’ empirical and Laudan’s theoretical approaches. The theoretical approach offers a greater chance to see and clarify psi as a problem and lead to an understanding of the metaphysics and ontologies behind it. For parapsychology to progress, it is necessary to establish a psi hard core of constructs, beliefs, and assumptions, less testable and more operational, where the problem of ascertaining effectiveness is what matters.


paraphsychology, psi phenomena, transpersonal psychology, philosophy of science, metaphysics of science, research tradition, research program

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