Henry Habberley Price

Henry Habberley Price

     H. H. PRICE - not to he confused with the flamboyant Harry Price - was educated at Winchester, and served in the Royal Air Force from 1917 to 1919. Perhaps it was this experience that led him to found the Oxford University and City Gliding Club, an initiative which shows it would be unjust to form a stereotyped image of him as an Absent Minded Professor immersed in abstract thought to the exclusion of all else. There could be grounds for doing so; on one occasion, for instance, he became so much absorbed during a broadcast discussion that a fellow broadcaster had to stop him knocking out his pipe on a microphone.

He went up to Oxford as a scholar of New College, got a First, and then became in his own words, 'a professional philosopher', in various academic posts, among them that of Wykeham Professor of Logic. He lectured at many British universities, at Princeton, and at the University of California at Los Angeles. Among his books were Perception, Hume's Theory of the External World, Belief (his Gifford Lectures) and Essays on the Philosophy of Religion.

He contributed much valuable material to the SPR Journal and Proceedings. His Presidential Address noted (as had Prospero Lambertini 200 years before him) the rarity of paranormal experiences among highly educated people, and urged that these should be encouraged to think in images, which were good vehicles for extra sensory perception. He also urged that they should try various physical procedures as means to increasing sensitivity; among these were fasting, yoga exercises, and reduced atmospheric pressure (as on high mountains). He suggested, moreover, that images once made may persist apart from the minds in which they originated, and may generate more; a forward echo, perhaps, of Dr Rupert Sheldrake's 'hypothesis of formative causation'. He believed that the existence of telepathy, clairvoyance and hauntings had been proved, and that this diminished 'the antecedent improbability of survival'. His last remarks, startling in a man accustomed to argue with the closest logical precision, were that in discussing psychical research - whose data differ so much from those of other subjects - the risk of talking apparent nonsense had to be taken, and that 'it will be the timidity of our hypotheses, not their extravagance, which will provoke the derision of posterity'.

It looks as if modern physics may well prove this delightful character to have been quite right.

Source (with minor modifications): The Society for Psychical Research, 1882-1982: A History by Renée Haynes (1982, Macdonald & Co (Publishers) Ltd, London).

Articles by H. H. Price on this website:

Psychical Research and Human Personality



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