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Dr. James Martin Peebles – A hundred years of theory meeting practice?

English: Louis XVI of France

Louis XVI of France; Peebles believed one of Louis’ sisters was one his many spiritual guides – Photo: Wikipedia

Dr. James Martin Peebles (1822-1922) was an American medical doctor, spiritualist, author and Universalist minister who later became a Theosophist.

He believed he received inspiration and guidance from a “band of angels,” as he put it.

Some of these alleged spiritual guides were famous characters, such as Mozart, Louis XVI of France‘s sister, and Chief Powhatan, who was the father of Pocahontas.

Other guides were less famous, like John W. Leonard, a deceased Scottish clergyman.

Peebles traveled to India several times with Col. Henry Steel Olcott, the co-founder of Theosophy.

Today, Linda Pendleton and others claim to channel messages from Dr. Peebles.

Chief Powhatan

Chief Powhatan by Terren via Flickr – Another guide whom Peebles believed helped him

His purported message to humanity is consistent with much New Age channeling—that is, universal love, cooperation, and the need to overcome the illusion of separation among individuals and nations.

Dr. Peebles, himself, lived three days short of 100 years and penned a book caled How to Live a Century and Grow Old Gracefully.²

So I guess we could say that, for him, theory really did meet practice!

It will be interesting to see if the same thing happens with more recent “live-long and beautiful” figures like Deepak Chopra.³

Related » Channeling

¹ Linda Pendleton’s web site has more about Dr. Peebles: todancewithangels.com

² https://archive.org/details/howtolivecentury00peeb 

³ For me, Chopra raises a red flag whenever I see him, despite his media popularity. The Amazon blurb for one of his books says it all: “Ageless Body, Timeless Mind goes beyond current anti-aging research and ancient mind/body wisdom to dramatically demonstrate that we do not have to grow old!” Sounds pretty hokey to me. But I guess we’ll see…

 Bastille Day: Everything you need to know about the French holiday (telegraph.co.uk)


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Comte Henri de Saint-Simon – His concern for the poor shines above everything else

Louis de Rouvroy, duc de Saint-Simon

Louis de Rouvroy, duc de Saint-Simon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Claude Henri de Rouvroy, comte de Saint-Simon (1760-1825) or, more commonly, Saint-Simon is one of those figures who comes up regularly in sociology courses, especially so-called “classical” or “classical theory” courses.¹

Until writing this entry, I knew little about him. But I felt he was important because so many books and professors (the better ones, anyhow) mention him in passing.

Looking over Wikipedia this morning to update my 2009 entry, Saint-Simon turns out to be quite interesting.

Born in Paris as a French Aristocrat, he spent some time in America, fighting under George Washington in the siege of Yorktown. Back in Europe, he took up the cause of the poor, which lead his being called the founder of French socialism.

He supported the French Revolution but was put in jail during the Reign of Terror because of unwarranted suspicions that he was a counter-revolutionary. Luckily for him, he was released from prison in 1794 before literally losing his head. By this time French currency was devalued, which left him rich. But he was cheated out of his fortune by his business partner.

After an unhappy marriage that ended in a year, he wrote and tried to recover his lost fortune without success. He then spent time in a sanatorium. Ten years later, discouraged by his lack of influence on the world, he attempted suicide. According to the story, shooting himself six times in the head didn’t kill him, although he did become blind in one eye.

Nederlands: Portret van Claude Henri de Rouvro...

Portrait of Claude Henri de Rouvroy from the first quarter of the 19th century (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Relatives helped him out but Saint-Simon lived his final years in abject poverty. Perhaps this had something to do with his earlier concern for the poor.²

Saint-Simon reacted against the brutality of the French Revolution and envisioned a society where science and technology would guide the workings of religion and politics. He disliked government intervention in the economy, making his approach differ from how we usually understand “socialism.”

Concerning religion, he believed in a divine power but wanted to strip away the dogmas and routines of both Protestant and Catholic Christianity to get to the core of Jesus’ message as he saw it. For him, theory wasn’t done for mere pleasure or, as a twisted professor I had allegedly once said, for a “paycheck.” For Saint-Simon, theory and practice should go hand in hand to alleviate suffering and elevate all peoples to the highest possible good.

Saint-Simon’s writings remain influential in sociology. He had particular impact on the political views of Auguste Comte (17981857), especially with regard to the concept of progress. Comte in turn influenced Emile Durkheim, now hailed as one of the founding fathers of sociology.

Tumba de Saint Simon by Cosmovisión / Juan Luis Sotillo

Tumba de Saint Simon by Cosmovisión / Juan Luis Sotillo

¹ Sociologists tend to join the dots for us, telling us what is important according to how they see things today. The word “classical” should be taken critically too. It’s full of connotations about legitimacy and importance.

² If the soul is beyond space and time, as some mystics tell us, quite possibly Saint-Simon’s future state influenced his younger concerns. You won’t find this idea among the rank and file of psychologists and psychiatrists in the 21st century, but I think it’s quite possible and hopefully an idea that future theorists will pursue.


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Lavoisier, Antoine Laurent

Portrait of Monsieur de Lavoisier and his Wife...

Portrait of Monsieur de Lavoisier and his Wife, chemist Marie-Anne Pierrette Paulze via Wikipedia

Lavoisier, Antoine Laurent (1743-94) was a French chemist who demonstrated that air is a combination of oxygen and nitrogen.

The English clergyman, Joseph Priestly (1733-1804), had previously discovered a new gas that was later recognized as an element and named oxygen by Lavoisier.

No slouch when it came to innovation, Lavoisier introduced the nomenclature system for chemical compounds as well as the metric system. He also refuted the old phlogiston theory, which tried to account for fire by means of a fiery element supposedly residing in things that burn. To do so, Lavoisier showed that combustion requires a gas that has weight–i.e. oxygen.

In his groundbreaking work, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), T. S. Kuhn makes much use of Lavoisier’s work with oxygen to illustrate Kuhn’s notion of the paradigm shift, a concept so prevalent today.¹

A tax collector in pre-revolutionary France, Lavoisier was sent to the guillotine in Paris despite his efforts to introduce reforms. This demonstrates how hordes of unthinking ‘revolutionaries’ may be ignorant, violent and anything but revolutionary.

¹ See Frederic Lawrence Holmes, Lavoisier and the chemistry of life: an exploration of scientific creativity: http://books.google.ca/books?id=MLY-x9a393QC&pg=PA119&lpg=PA119&dq=kuhn+lavoisier&source=bl&ots=PeTk4gOrMQ&sig=hzmU8dMc3HLlWEF9d7ymYfkRJm4&hl=en&ei=o8P_TPChNaiInAe9uJDFCw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBgQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=kuhn%20lavoisier&f=false