Creator of Sherlock Holmes: The World Beyond Science

Arthur Conan Doyle, who of course created the Sherlock Holmes series, had been an Edinburgh medical student and well grounded in science. But, like a number of thinkers in the late 19th century (including a group of scientists who founded the well known Society for Psychical Research), Doyle believed that science had limits, that there were phenomena that transcended empirical science and were of a spiritual, extra-sensory nature. Thus began his later interest in spiritualism, which – despite the many quacks around, the séances, table-rapping, etc – many serious thinkers found appealing – or at least thought that the paranormal was worth studying. Philosophers of the time also argued that the spheres of discourse of science and religion/spiritual concerns were simply different. It was not a matter of black and white. Both discourses were, or could be, valid.
Here is what Conan Doyle wrote in the Strand Magazine in 1921:
“Victorian science would have left the world hard and clean and bare, like the landscape of the moon, but this science is in truth but a little light in the darkness, and outside that limited circle of definite knowledge we see the loom and shadow of gigantic and fantastic possibilities around us, throwing themselves continually across our consciousness in such ways that it is difficult to ignore them”.

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