“Hermann von Helmholtz’s Empirico-Transcendentalism Reconsidered”

The most recent issue of Science in Context includes an article on Hermann von Helmholtz that may be of interest to AHP readers.

“Hermann von Helmholtz’s Empirico-Transcendentalism Reconsidered: Construction and Constitution in Helmholtz’s Psychology of the Object,” by Liesbet De Kock. The abstract reads,

This paper aims at contributing to the ongoing efforts to get a firmer grasp of the systematic significance of the entanglement of idealism and empiricism in Helmholtz’s work. Contrary to existing analyses, however, the focal point of the present exposition is Helmholtz’s attempt to articulate a psychological account of objectification. Helmholtz’s motive, as well as his solution to the problem of the object are outlined, and interpreted against the background of his scientific practice on the one hand, and that of empiricist and (transcendental) idealist analyses of experience on the other. The specifically psychological angle taken, not only prompts us to consider figures who have hitherto been treated as having only minor import for Helmholtz interpretation (most importantly J.S. Mill and J.G. Fichte), it furthermore sheds new light on some central tenets of the latter’s psychological stance that have hitherto remained underappreciated. For one thing, this analysis reveals an explicit voluntarist tendency in Helmholtz’s psychological theory. In conclusion, it is argued that the systematic significance of Helmholtz’s empirico-transcendentalism with respect to questions of the mind is best understood as an attempt to found his empirical theory of perception in a second order, normative account of epistemic subjectivity.

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25 Years of History of Psychiatry & A New Issue

The journal History of Psychiatry is celebrating its 25th anniversary. A special issue marking the occasion has just been released. Among the articles in the issue are ones addressing the history of nostalgia, the treatment of shell shock at the Maudsley Hospital, masculinity in Victorian asylums in New Zealand and Australian, the distinction between passion and emotion, and much more. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

Editorial: “The first 25 years of History of Psychiatry,” by German E Berrios.

“Some reflections on madness and culture in the post-war world,” by Andrew Scull. The abstract reads,

This article examines the treatment of madness as a theme in drama, opera and films, concentrating its attention for the most part on the period between World War II and the 1980s. These were the years in which psychoanalysis dominated psychiatry in the USA, and so Freud’s influence in the broader culture forms the central though not the sole focus of the analysis.

“Nostalgia: A conceptual history,” by Filiberto Fuentenebro de Diego and Carmen Valiente Ots. The abstract reads, Continue reading 25 Years of History of Psychiatry & A New Issue

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New Book: Daniel Todes’s Ivan Pavlov: A Russian Life in Science

Historian Daniel Todes, of Johns Hopkins University, has just published a biography of Ivan Pavlov with Oxford University Press. The book is also discussed in a recent piece in The New Yorker, “Drool: Ivan Pavlov’s Real Quest.”

Ivan Pavlov: A Russian Life in Science is described on the publisher’s website as,

a definitive, deeply researched biography of Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936) and is the first scholarly biography to be published in any language. The book is Todes’s magnum opus, which he has been working on for some twenty years. Todes makes use of a wealth of archival material to portray Pavlov’s personality, life, times, and scientific work.

Combining personal documents with a close reading of scientific texts, Todes fundamentally reinterprets Pavlov’s famous research on conditional reflexes. Contrary to legend, Pavlov was not a behaviorist (a misimpression captured in the false iconic image of his “training a dog to salivate to the sound of a bell”); rather, he sought to explain not simply external behaviors, but the emotional and intellectual life of animals and humans. This iconic “objectivist” was actually a profoundly anthropomorphic thinker whose science was suffused with his own experiences, values, and subjective interpretations.

This book is also a traditional “life and times” biography that weaves Pavlov into some 100 years of Russian history-particularly that of its intelligentsia—from the emancipation of the serfs to Stalin’s time. Pavlov was born to a family of priests in provincial Ryazan before the serfs were emancipated, made his home and professional success in the glittering capital of St. Petersburg in late imperial Russia, suffered the cataclysmic destruction of his world during the Bolshevik seizure of power and civil war of 1917-1921, rebuilt his life in his 70s as a “prosperous dissident” during the Leninist 1920s, and flourished professionally as never before in 1929-1936 during the industrialization, revolution, and terror of Stalin.

Todes’s story of this powerful personality and extraordinary man is based upon interviews with surviving coworkers and family members (along with never-before-analyzed taped interviews from the 1960s and 1970s), examination of hundreds of scientific works by Pavlov and his coworkers, and close analysis of materials from some twenty-five archives. The documents range from the records of his student years at Ryazan Seminary to the transcripts of the Communist Party cells in his labs, and from his scientific manuscripts and notebooks to his political speeches; they include revealing love letters to his future wife and correspondence with hundreds of lay people, scholars, artists, and Communist Party leaders; and unpublished memoirs by many coworkers, his daughter, his wife, and his lover.

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The Psychologist: Robbers Cave 60 Years Later

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The November 2014 issue of the British Psychological Society‘s The Psychologist magazine celebrates the 60th anniversary of the Robbers Cave study. A number of articles in the issue explore the legacy of the Robbers Cave study and the life and work of Muzafer Sherif more generally. Full details are available on The Psychologists website. (For more on Robbers Cave see our previous posts on the study.)

Updated: Full articles in the issue can be read online, just create an account and sign-in on the BPS The Psychologist site.

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Nov 24 Talk! BPS History of Psych Disciplines Seminar Series

The British Psychological Society’History of Psychology Centre, in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines, has announced the next talk as part of its autumn  BPS History of Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series. On November 24, Joel Eigen (above) of Franklin & Marshall College will be speaking on “Medical Testimony and the Dynamics of Forensic Diagnosis at the Old Bailey, 1760-1913.” Full details follow below.

The British Psychological Society History of Psychology Centre in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines

Location: UCL Arts and Humanities Common Room (G24), Foster Court, Malet Place, London WC1E 7JG
Time: 6pm-7.30pm

Monday 24 November

Professor Joel Eigen (Franklin & Marshall College, Pennsylvania)
“Medical Testimony and the Dynamics of Forensic Diagnosis at the Old Bailey, 1760-1913″

With the enigmatic diagnosis of Homicidal Mania, forensic psychiatric witnesses in late Victorian insanity trials introduced a form of mental derangement that for the first time excluded cognitive impairment. How medical men constructed a disease out of distracted volition and the role played by an administrative change that brought doctor and prisoner before trial is the subject for this talk. The research is based on a study of courtroom testimony given in 1000 Old Bailey insanity trials.

Joel Eigen has written of the origins and evolution of forensic psychiatry in Witnessing Insanity, Madness and Mad-Doctors in the English Court (Yale, l993) and Unconscious Crime, Mental Absence and Criminal Responsibility in Victorian London (Johns Hopkins, 2003). He is currently working on the third and final book in this series, the subject of this seminar.

 

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Alfred Binet: Naissance de la Psychologie Scientifique

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Historian of Medicine Alexandre Klein, a postdoctoral fellow at the Université d’Ottawa has recently released a web documentary on Alfred Binet. The French language documentary, a collaboration with film maker Philippe Thomine, can be viewed in full here.

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New JHN: Transnational Psychosurgery, Phantom Limbs, & More

A new issue of Journal of the History of the Neuroscience is now online. Included in this issue are articles on psychosurgery as a transnational movement, artists and phantom limbs, and sex and gender in organology. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“A Transnational Perspective on Psychosurgery: Beyond Portugal and the United States,” by Brianne M. Collinsa & Henderikus J. Stam. The abstract reads,

The history of psychosurgery is most often recounted as a narrative wherein Portuguese and American physicians play the leading role. It is a traditional narrative in which the United States and, at times, Portugal are central in the development and spread of psychosurgery. Here we largely abandon the archetypal narrative and provide one of the first transnational accounts of psychosurgery to demonstrate the existence of a global psychosurgical community in which more than 40 countries participated, bolstered, critiqued, modified and heralded the treatment. From its inception in 1935 until its decline in the mid-1960s, psychosurgery was performed on almost all continents. Rather than being a phenomenon isolated to the United States and Portugal, it became a truly transnational movement.

“Phantoms in Artists: The Lost Limbs of Blaise Cendrars, Arthur Rimbaud, and Paul Wittgenstein,” by Laurent Tatu, Julien Bogousslavsky & François Boller. The abstract reads, Continue reading New JHN: Transnational Psychosurgery, Phantom Limbs, & More

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New JHBS: Intelligence Testing in India, Racism in South Africa, & More

The autumn 2014 issue of Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences is now online. Articles in this issue discuss the race and professional organizations in South Africa, intelligence testing in British India, and discussion over psychical, occult, and religious research at early twentieth century international congresses. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“The Rhetoric of Racism: Revisiting the Creation of the Psychological Institute of the Republic of South Africa (1956–1962),” by Wahbie Long. The abstract reads,

This paper revisits the 1962 splitting of the South African Psychological Association (SAPA), when disaffected Afrikaner psychologists broke away to form the whites-only Psychological Institute of the Republic of South Africa (PIRSA). It presents an analysis of the rhetorical justification for forming a new professional association on principles at odds with prevailing international norms, demonstrating how the episode involved more than the question of admitting black psychologists to the association. In particular, the paper argues that the SAPA-PIRSA separation resulted from an Afrikaner nationalist reading of the goals of psychological science. PIRSA, that is, insisted on promoting a discipline committed to the ethnic-national vision of the apartheid state. For its part, SAPA’s racial integration was of a nominal order only, ostensibly to protect itself from international sanction. The paper concludes that, in a racist society, it is difficult to produce anything other than a racist psychology.

“Searching for South Asian Intelligence: Psychometry in British India, 1919–1940,” by Shivrang Setlur. The abstract reads, Continue reading New JHBS: Intelligence Testing in India, Racism in South Africa, & More

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New Editorship of History of the Human Sciences

History of the Human Sciences will be under new editorship as of January 2015. Full details on the journal, and its new editors, follow below.

HISTORY OF THE HUMAN SCIENCES aims to expand our understanding of the human world through a broad interdisciplinary approach. The journal publishes articles from a wide range of fields – including sociology, psychology, anthropology, geography, political science, philosophy, literary theory and criticism, critical theory, art history, linguistics, and the law – that engage with the histories of these disciplines and the interactions between them.  The journal is especially concerned with research that reflexively examines its own historical origins and interdisciplinary influences in an effort to review current practice and to develop new research directions.

James Good, the editor of History of the Human Sciences for 15 years, will be stepping down at the end of 2014. The incoming editors are: Dr Felicity Callard (Durham University) [Editor-in-Chief], Dr Rhodri Hayward  (Queen Mary University of London), Dr Angus Nicholls (Queen Mary University of London). They have assumed responsibility for new submissions since 1 July 2014.  Dr Chris Millard   (Queen Mary University of London) takes over as the new Book Reviews Editor. The journal also welcomes the following new members to the Advisory Editorial Board: Dr Sabine Arnaud, Prof Cornelius Borck, Prof Jamie Cohen-Cole, Prof Stefanos Geroulanos, Prof Sarah Igo, Prof Junko Kitanaka, Prof Rebecca Lemov, Prof Michael Pettit, Dr Chris Renwick, Dr Sadiah Qureshi, Prof Barbara Herrnstein Smith, Prof Marianne Sommer, Prof John Tresch, and Dr Neil Vickers.
 
Each editor is based in a different discipline – geography, history, and literary studies / critical theory – and all have strong cross-disciplinary interests. They look forward to continuing the journal’s rigorous interdisciplinary investigation of the human condition.

 

REGULAR SPECIAL ISSUES

The journal provides comprehensive coverage of a range of themes across the human sciences. Special issues and sections have been devoted to:

  • Historians in the Archive
  • Inventing the Psychosocial
  • Foucault Across the Disciplines
  • Neuroscience, Power and Culture
  • Reflexivity in the Human Sciences
  • The New Art History
  • Rhetoric and Science
  • New Developments in the History of Psychology
  • Writing as a Human Science
  • Hans Blumenberg
  • Constructing the Social
  • Identity, Self and Subject
  • Making Sense of Science
  • Identity, Memory and History
  • Who Speaks? The Voice in the Human Sciences

 The new editors welcome any enquiries about the journal and suggestions for special issues. Please write to:

Felicity Callard felicity.callard@durham.ac.uk

Rhodri Hayward r.hayward@qmul.ac.uk

 
More information is available at the journal’s website (http://hhs.sagepub.com).
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Special Issue CfP: History of the Behavioral Sciences

A call for papers has been issued for a special issue of Revista Argentina de Ciencias del Comportamiento (Argentinean Journal of Behavioral Sciences) dedicated to the history of the behavioral sciences. The issue is guest edited by Fernando José Ferrari, Fernando Andrés Polanco, Rodrigo Lopes Miranda, and Miguel Gallegos and submissions are due by December 31, 2014. The call for papers notes,

This special issue on the “History of the Behavioral Sciences” is open to unpublished manuscripts of researchers addressing all aspects of the behavioral sciences past and of its interrelationship with the many contexts within which it has emerged and has been practiced. Therefore, articles focusing the history of psychology, pedagogy, biology, medicine, linguistics, neuroscience will be analyzed and can be submitted. Contributions in English, Spanish and Portuguese are accepted.

The full call for papers – in Portuguese, English, and Spanish – can be found here.

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