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SIR OLIVER LODGE A. VIBERT DOUG LAS IT is not always easy to appraise the influence of a man of science who has achieved eminence in his chosen field. To do so becomes an almost impossible task when the scientist lays science aside as his major interest and turns to the realm of psychic phenomena . Thereafter many scientists look upon him with a feeling of distrust, the average man is incredulous and makes disparaging comments, while people least qualified to judge of the value and significance of psychic research are loudest in their scorn and ridicule. A scientific reputation built up by long years of arduous labour and genuine achievement can suffer almost complete eclipse in this way. Only a relatively few sober scholars will not be misled: they will judge the scientific work at its nue worth, undisturbed by the subsequent or overlapping activities of the same man in the psychic field. They will acknowledge his greatness even though they may have little or no sympathy with investigation into occult phenomena. Among other names, those of Emanuel Swedenborg, William Crooks and Oliver Lodge come to mind in this connection. How far has the scientific r:eputation of each suffered because his name is associated in the general mind with visions and revelations, with mediums and seances? It is the influence of Loage that particularly interests me. I have heard some of the greatest scientists in the University of Cambridge laugh at his preoccupation with psychic phenomena and deride Raymond's heavenly cigars, yet acknowledge the greatness of Lodge the physicist. I have heard many people who have never read Raymond, scoff at it as nonsense, and not one of them when asked about the legitimate scientific work of its author, even knew that he was an experimental physicist by training and the leading pioneer worker in wireless telegraphy. I have never read Raymond myself (being one of those who find problems enough in the physical world), and I am no judge whatever of the value of his contributions in that sphere of thought' and experience . But if Lodge the spiritualist has had no marked influence upon me, Lodge the man, and Lodge the man of science, have influenced me considerably. It is for this reason that I have attempted to recapture events of the past in order to present for any 111 112 THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO QUARTERLY who may read what are apparently little known aspects of this remarkable man. Twenty-seven years ago an undergraduate paused to look at the titles of the books displayed in a shop window. Man and the Universe by Sir Oliver Lodge-what a title! And the name of the author was a name to conjure with, because the student knew in a vague way that this was the principal of a university, a physicist and an educationalist, an active member of the Society for Psychical Research, knighted while he was its president. The small book, one of an English shilling series, was purchased and carried away with a feeling of high expectancy and proud possession. Delving into Section I, entitled "Science and Faith," of which Chapter I was headed "The Outstanding Controversy," the undergraduate was enthralled by the challenge with which contradictory points of view were set forth and the ';nflinching courage of the man who in those pages was seeking for the truth. Picking up a pencil, the student marked certain passages; and then and there some of the ideas of Sir Oliver Lodge made a lasting impression upon the mind of one of his readers. Today I hold in my hand this little volume and re-read some of the marked passages: This is the standing controversy. . .. Is the world controlled by a living Person, accessible to prayer, influenced by love, able and willing to foresee, to intervene, to guide, and wistfully to lead without compulsion spirits that are in some sort akin to Himself? ~ Or is the world a self.generated, self-controlling machine, complete and fully organized for movement, either up or down, for progress or degeneration, according to the chances of heredity and the influence of environment? .. Do we live in a universe permeated ~ith life...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 111-116
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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