Forthcoming History of the Human Sciences: Thinking in Cases, Landscapes and Human Geography

AHP readers will be interested in several pieces forthcoming in History of the Human Sciences that are now available online. Full details below.

Boundaries of reasoning in cases: The visual psychoanalysis of René Spitz,” Rachel Weitzenkorn. Abstract:

This article argues that the foundational separation between psychoanalysis and experimental psychology was challenged in important ways by psychoanalytic infant researchers. Through a close examination of American psychoanalyst René Spitz (1887–1974), it extends John Forrester’s conception of reasoning in cases outside classic psychoanalytic practices. Specifically, the article interrogates the foundations of reasoning in cases—the individual, language, and the doctor–patient relationship—to show how these are reimagined in relation to the structures of American developmental psychology. The article argues that the staunch separation of experimental psychology and psychoanalysis, reiterated by philosophers and historians of psychology, is flimsy at best—and, conversely, that the maintenance of these boundaries enabled the production of a cinematic case study. Spitz created films that used little language and took place outside the consulting room with institutionalized infants. Yet key aspects of the psychoanalytic case, as put forth by John Forrester, were depicted visually. These visual displays of transference, failure, and interpersonal emotions highlight the foundations of what Forrester means by reasoning in cases. The article concludes that Spitz failed at creating classic psychoanalytic evidence, but in so doing stretched the epistemology of the case.

If p0, then 1: The impossibility of thinking out cases,” Michael J. Flexer. Abstract:

Forrester’s proposed seventh style of reasoning – thinking in cases – functions as an analogous, dyadic relationship that, whilst indebted philosophically to the logical reasoning and semiotics of Charles Peirce, is prone to creating feedback loops between induction and deduction, precluding novel abductive hypotheses from advancing medical knowledge. Reasoning with a Peircean triadic model opens up the contexts and methods of meaning-making and reasoning through medical cases, and the potent influence of their genre conventions, to intellectual critical scrutiny. Vitally, it offers a third mode – abduction – that this article argues needs to be reintroduced into Forrester’s model of reasoning with cases. This article demonstrates this by applying a Peircean triadic model of reasoning to Forrester’s own model, tracing a shared genealogy but one in which the abductive element was lost. The article goes on to illustrate the explanatory and predictive potential of Peircean abductive reasoning and the necessary re-theorising of the case this entails. This argument is supported through an analysis of early case reports of what would become HIV/Aids, drawn from the Case Records of Massachusetts General Hospital series in the New England Journal of Medicine.

‘This scene is itself living’: Buildings as landscapes in transatlantic human geography, 1870–1970,” Peter Ekman. Abstract:

What do houses do to the people who live with them? In what sense are houses themselves living things? If they live and act, how to conceive of the relationship between built and natural landscapes, and between environment and life more broadly? This article considers three moments at which human geographers have attempted to answer these questions without submitting to visions of environmental causation and constraint favoured by determinists, who dominated the discipline into the early 20th century. The article begins with the work of Carl Sauer, by 1925 the major American figure refuting environmental determinism at a theoretical level and recommending the study of housing as an articulate transcript of human action. It then looks back to the American writings of Friedrich Ratzel, one of several German scholars Sauer canonized, to illuminate a more vitalistic ontology of domestic architecture, and an urbanism, untapped by Sauer when filing his dissent. It then looks ahead to mid-century studies of vernacular architecture – by those of Sauer’s students friendlier to urban life than he was, and by the critic and publisher J. B. Jackson – to assess how this inheritance informed critiques of industrial modernity in the post-war United States. The article observes certain continuities, despite manifest tensions, between ‘old’ and ‘new’ cultural geographies. It also routes a long-standing set of debates concerning the relationship of materiality to meaning – and of spatial to social form – through the case of human geography, a peculiar interstice in the broader constellation of disciplines.

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a professor at Quest University Canada. A critical feminist psychologist and historian of psychology, she is committed to critical pedagogy and public engagement with feminist psychology and the history of the discipline.