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Title: 'A Portion of Truth': Demarcating the Boundaries of Scientific Hypnotism in Late Nineteenth-Century France
Contributor(s): Hajek, Kim  (author)
Publication Date: 2017
Open Access: Yes
DOI: 10.1098/rsnr.2017.0010
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Abstract: In 'fin-de-siècle' France, hypnotism enjoyed an unprecedented level of medico-scientific legitimacy. Researchers studying hypnotism had nonetheless to manage relations between their new 'science' and its widely denigrated precursor, 'magnètisme animal', because too great a resemblance between the two could damage the reputation of 'scientific' hypnotism. They did so by engaging in the rhetorical activity of boundary-work. This paper analyses such demarcation strategies in major texts from the Salpêtrière and Nancy Schools - the rival groupings that dominated enquiry into hypnotism in the 1880s. Researchers from both Schools depicted 'magnètisme' as 'unscientific' by emphasizing the magnetizers' tendency to interpret phenomena in wondrous or supernatural terms. At the same time, they acknowledged and recuperated the 'portions of truth' hidden within the phantasmagoria of 'magnètisme'; these 'portions' function as positive facts in the texts on hypnotism, immutable markers of an underlying natural order that accounts for similarities between phenomena of 'magnètisme' and hypnotism. If this strategy allows for both continuities and discontinuities between the two fields, it also constrains the scope for theoretical speculation about hypnotism, as signalled, finally, by a reading of one fictional study of the question, Anatole France's 'Monsieur Pigeonneau'.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Notes and Records: the Royal Society journal of the history of science, 71(2), p. 125-139
Publisher: The Royal Society Publishing
Place of Publication: United Kingdom
ISSN: 1743-0178
Field of Research (FOR): 220206 History and Philosophy of Science (incl. Non-historical Philosophy of Science)
200511 Literature in French
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
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