1882 was the year that Friedrich Nietzsche announced that God was dead and added that “we” had killed him. At Cambridge in England during the same year, Frederic Myers with several colleagues officially launched a new scientific discipline called psychical research. If ever there was a “meaningful” historical coincidence, this one qualifies.
It is about the most important crisis in the history of Western consciousness. A key item of the Western worldview was the belief in God, but now we have the son of a Protestant minister announcing the death of God. Modern astronomy and evolutionary biology reduce the Biblical God-story to fiction. But the same year a discipline took shape in England that attempted to use scientific method to investigate the nature of the human soul—or, as we might say today, the nature and scope of human consciousness.