Ducasse, C(urt) J(ohn) (1881–1969)
Philosopher and parapsychologist. Ducasse was born July 7,
1881, in Angoulême, France. He was educated in France and
England, but migrated to the United States in 1900 and was
naturalized in 1910. He began teaching at the University of
Washington, Seattle, in 1912 and remained there until 1926
when he moved to Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island.
He rose from associate professor to chairman of the Department
of Philosophy (1930–1951). He was named professor
emeritus at the time of his retirement in 1951.
Ducasse served as president of the Association for Symbolic
Logic (1936–38), the American Philosophical Association
(1939), the American Society for Aesthetics (1945–46), and the
Philosophy of Science Association (1958–61).
As a scholar, Ducasse argued for the legitimacy of psychical
research, stating that such research had established a body of
facts with implications for philosophy. He read about psychic
phenomena, conducted fieldwork with mediums, and regularly
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attended parapsychological gatherings. He joined the board of
the American Society for Psychical Research in 1951 and
served a term as vice president beginning in 1966.
Ducasse was most concerned about survival of death. He argued
that survival was not only philosophically possible but that
the evidence of psychical research was impressive as proof of
such survival. He also was impressed by the evidence for reincarnation.
Ducasse established his place in American philosophy quite
apart from his concerns for psychical matters. He wrote a number
of books over the years. Only during the 1950s did his concern
with parapsychology become evident, in such books as
Nature, Mind and Death (1951) and A Philosophical Scrutiny of Religion
(1953). He is remembered for his text A Critical Examination
of the Belief in a Life After Death (1961). Shortly before his
death he wrote Paranormal Phenomena, Science, and Life After
Death (1969). He died September 3, 1969.
Sources
Berger, Arthur S., and Joyce Berger. The Encyclopedia of
Parapsychology and Psychical Research. New York Paragon
House, 1991.
Dommeyer, Frederick C., ed. Current Philosophical Issues Essays
in Honor of Curt John Ducasse. N.p., 1966.
Ducasse, C. J. A Critical Examination of the Belief in a Life After
Death. Springfield, IL Charles C. Thomas, 1961.
———. Nature, Mind and Death. LaSalle, IL Open Court
Publishing, 1951.
Pleasants, Helene, ed. Biographical Dictionary of Parapsychology.
New York Helix Press, 1964.