New JHBS: Cattell at Johns Hopkins, A Tribute to Franz Samelson, & More

The Winter 2016 issue of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences is now online. Included in this issue are articles exploring James McKeen Cattell’s time at Johns Hopkins, the early 20th century classification of “defective delinquent” girls, and the various versions of the Weber Thesis in the social sciences. The issue also includes a special section, organized by Ben Harris, which pays tribute to the late historian of psychology Franz Samelson (right). Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“LAUNCHING A CAREER IN PSYCHOLOGY WITH ACHIEVEMENT AND ARROGANCE: JAMES McKEEN CATTELL AT THE JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY, 1882–1883,” by Michael M. Sokal. The abstract reads,

The scientific career of eminent experimentalist and psychological tester James McKeen Cattell (1860–1944) began at the Johns Hopkins University during the year (1882–1883) he held the university’s Fellowship in Philosophy. This article opens by sketching the scope of Cattell’s lifetime achievement and then briefly reviews the historical attention that his life and career has attracted during the past few decades. It then outlines the origins and evolution of Cattell’s “scientific ideology,” traces the course of events that led to his fellowship, reviews his earliest studies at Johns Hopkins, and analyzes in some detail his initial laboratory successes. These laid the groundwork for his later distinguished work as a psychological experimentalist, both in Europe and America. It concludes, however, that even as Cattell’s early experimental achievements impressed others, the personal arrogance he exhibited during his year in Baltimore served to alienate him from his colleagues and teachers. Over the long run, this arrogance and his often-antagonistic approach to others continued to color (and even shape) his otherwise distinguished more than 50-year scientific career.

““SAFEGUARDING THE INTERESTS OF THE STATE” FROM DEFECTIVE DELINQUENT GIRLS,” by Kate E. Sohasky. The abstract reads,

The 1911 mental classification, “defective delinquent,” was created as a temporary legal-medical category in order to identify a peculiar class of delinquent girls in a specific institutional setting. The defective delinquent’s alleged slight mental defect, combined with her appearance of normalcy, rendered her a “dangerous” and “incurable” citizen. At the intersection of institutional history and the history of ideas, this article explores the largely overlooked role of borderline mental classifications of near-normalcy in the medicalization of intelligence and criminality during the first third of the twentieth-century United States. Borderline classifications served as mechanisms of control over women’s bodies through the criminalization of their minds, and the advent of psychometric tests legitimated and facilitated the spread of this classification beyond its original and intended context. The borderline case of the defective delinquent girl demonstrates the significance of marginal mental classifications to the policing of bodies through the medicalization of intellect.

“THE WEBER THESIS OF CALVINISM AND CAPITALISM—ITS VARIOUS VERSIONS AND THEIR “FATE” IN SOCIAL SCIENCE,” by Milan Zafirovski. The abstract reads,

The paper identifies and examines various multiple renditions of the so-called Weber Thesis of an historical association and convergence between ascetic Protestantism, above all Calvinism, and the emergence and development of modern capitalism as an economic spirit and system. Specifically, it detects at least four different versions and formulations or interpretations, thus casting doubt in the common view of the Weber Thesis as a single and monolithic theory or hypothesis. The paper also considers the status of the multiple versions of the Weber Thesis in post-Weberian and contemporary sociology and related disciplines like economics and history. It concludes that the weaker, relaxed renditions of the Weber Thesis have attained a greater success and more endured in contemporary social science than have its stronger, stricter versions.

“SPECIAL SECTION CELEBRATING FRANZ SAMELSON’S CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE HISTORY OF PSYCHOLOGY,” by Ben Harris. No abstract.

“FRANZ SAMELSON AS THE GENTLE AGENT SENT TO PUNISH THE SIN OF PRIDE,” by John C. Burnham. No abstract.

“CONTINUITY AND DISCONTINUITY IN THE BIOGRAPHY OF FRANZ SAMELSON,” by Lorenz J. Finison. No abstract.

“FRANZ SAMELSON AND A CONUNDRUM,” by Jull Morawski. No abstract.

“PUBLICATIONS BY FRANZ SAMELSON.”

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About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Surrey in the UK. She completed her doctorate in the History and Theory of Psychology at York University in 2014.

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