AHP readers may be interested in the April 2022 issue of History of the Human Sciences. Article titles, authors and abstracts below.
“Cultivating trust, producing knowledge: The management of archaeological labour and the making of a discipline,” Allison Mickel, Nylah Byrd. Abstract:
Like any science, archaeology relies on trust between actors involved in the production of knowledge. In the early history of archaeology, this epistemic trust was complicated by histories of Orientalism in the Middle East and colonialism more broadly. The racial and power dynamics underpinning 19th- and early 20th-century archaeology precluded the possibility of interpersonal moral trust between foreign archaeologists and locally hired labourers. In light of this, archaeologists created systems of reward, punishment, and surveillance to ensure the honest behaviour of site workers. They thus invented a set of structural conditions that produced sufficient epistemic trust for archaeological research to proceed—a system that continues to shape archaeology to the present day.
“Revisiting the ‘Darwin–Marx correspondence’: Multiple discovery and the rhetoric of priority,” Joel Barnes. Abstract:
Between the 1930s and the mid 1970s, it was commonly believed that in 1880 Karl Marx had proposed to dedicate to Charles Darwin a volume or translation of Capital but that Darwin had refused. The detail was often interpreted by scholars as having larger significance for the question of the relationship between Darwinian evolutionary biology and Marxist political economy. In 1973–4, two scholars working independently—Lewis Feuer, professor of sociology at Toronto, and Margaret Fay, a graduate student at Berkeley—determined simultaneously that the traditional story of the proposed dedication was untrue, being based on a long-standing misinterpretation of the relevant correspondence. Between the two, and among several other scholars who became their respective allies, there developed a contest of authority and priority over the discovery. From 1975 to 1982, the controversy generated a considerable volume of spilled ink in both scholarly and popular publications. Drawing on previously unexamined archival resources, this article revisits the ‘case’ of the so-called ‘Darwin–Marx correspondence’ as an instance of the phenomenon of ‘multiple discovery’. A familiar occurrence in the natural sciences, multiple discovery is rarer in the humanities and social sciences. The present case of a priority dispute in the history of ideas followed patterns familiar from such disputes in the natural sciences, while also diverging from them in ways that shed light on the significance of disciplinary norms and research infrastructures.
“Frederick Antal and the Marxist challenge to art history,” Jim Berryman. Abstract:
First published in 1948, Frederick Antal’s Florentine Painting and Its Social Background was an important milestone in anglophone art history. Based on European examples, including Max Dvo?ák, it sought to understand art history’s relationship to social and intellectual history. When Antal, a Hungarian émigré, arrived in Britain in 1933, he encountered an inward-looking discipline preoccupied with formalism and connoisseurship; or, as he phrased it, art historians of ‘the older persuasion’ ignorant of ‘the fruitful achievements of modern historical research’. Despite its considerable scholarship and erudition, Antal’s book was not warmly received, largely because he had used historical materialism to understand the production of art and the development of styles. Antal’s class-based account of the social position of the artist and the role of the patron in determining the emergence of early Renaissance styles was especially controversial. However, although Marxist analysis was used to challenge the assumptions of Anglo art history, it was not Antal’s intention to weaken art history’s disciplinary autonomy. With historical materialism, he sought to place art history on a firmer historical footing. Most importantly, this approach was compatible with the discipline’s Central European tradition, where art-historical scholarship was framed by questions of method and based on broad historical research. Without defending its more deterministic features, this article supports a re-evaluation of Antal’s book, as an important forerunner of interdisciplinary art scholarship. It considers why Antal’s legacy has not endured, despite the ‘social history of art’ enjoying widespread acceptance in English-speaking art history in later decades.
“Social science and Marxist humanism beyond collectivism in Socialist Romania,” Adela Hîncu. Abstract:
This article brings together the history of the social sciences and the history of social thought in Socialist Romania. It is concerned with the development of ideas about the social beyond collectivism, especially about the relationship between individual and society under socialism, from the early 1960s to the end of the 1970s. The analysis speaks to three major themes in the current historiography of Cold War social science. First, the article investigates the role of disciplinary specialization in the advancement of new ideas about the social in the postwar period. Specifically, it asks how the debate over the relationship between sociology and Marxism-Leninism has challenged ideas about collectivism from Stalinist social science. Second, the article shows how social practice, individual and collective agency, and people’s subjectivities became theoretically relevant in the 1960s, and how they were integrated, via empirical sociological research, into the reworked conceptual apparatus of post-Stalinist Marxism-Leninism. This complicates accounts about the role of quantification and theorization in postwar social science by foregrounding the intense reflection on the role of empirical research in sociology under state socialism. Third, the article shows how the relationship between individual and society became a topic of interest across social sciences in the 1960s and 1970s. The Marxist humanist approach to the social, although it never achieved the institutional status of a distinct discipline, adds an important perspective from East Central Europe to the existing historiography of the ‘thinning’ of the social in social sciences and social thought beginning in the 1950s.
“Simulating Marx: Herbert A. Simon’s cognitivist approach to dialectical materialism,” Enrico Petracca. Abstract:
Starting in the 1950s, computer programs for simulating cognitive processes and intelligent behaviour were the hallmark of Good Old-Fashioned Artificial Intelligence and ‘cognitivist’ cognitive science. This article examines a somewhat neglected case of simulation pursued by one of the founding fathers of simulation methodology, Herbert A. Simon. In the 1970s and 1980s, Simon had repeated contacts with Marxist countries and scientists, in the context of which he advanced the idea that cognitivism could be used as a framework for simulating dialectical materialism. Simon’s idea was, in particular, to represent dialectical processes through a ‘symbolic’ version of dialectical logic. This article explores the context of Simon’s interaction with Marxist countries—China and the USSR—and also assesses the outcome of the simulation. The difficulty with simulating distinctive features of dialectical materialism is read in light of the underlying assumptions of cognitivism and, ultimately, in light of the attempt to tame a rival world view.
“Rahel Jaeggi’s theory of alienation,” Justin Evans. Abstract:
Rahel Jaeggi’s theory of alienation has received less attention than her work on forms of life and capitalism. This theory avoids the problems of traditional theories of alienation: objectivism, paternalism, and essentialism. It also sidesteps post-structuralist criticisms of the theory of alienation. However, Jaeggi’s theory is flawed in two ways: it is not historically specific, and so cannot explain why alienation is a problem for modernity rather than other historical periods, and it is difficult to connect to social critique. I argue that Karl Marx’s later theory of alienation, as interpreted by Moishe Postone and others, is able to avoid the problems that Jaeggi’s theory avoids, and is also able to avoid the flaws in her theory. This suggests that critical theory should focus on a theory of capitalism rather than normative social theory.
“The idea of an ethically committed social science,” Leonidas Tsilipakos. Open access. Abstract:
This article presents a long overdue analysis of the idea of an ethically committed social science, which, after the demise of positivism and the deeming of moral neutrality as impossible, has come to dominate the self-understanding of many contemporary sociological approaches. Once adequately specified, however, the idea is shown to be ethically questionable in that it works against the moral commitments constitutive of academic life. The argument is conducted with resources from the work of Peter Winch, thus establishing its continuing relevance and critical importance for the social sciences, sociology in particular. Special reference is made to heretofore unappreciated aspects of Winch’s work, including within the groundbreaking The Idea of a Social Science and Its Relation to Philosophy, but focusing specifically on his later contributions to ethics.
“On the assumption of self-reflective subjectivity,” Christoforos Bouzanis. Open access. Abstract:
Contemporary social theory has consistently emphasized habitual action, rule-following, and role-performing as key aspects of social life, yet the challenge remains of combining these aspects with the omnipresent phenomenon of self-reflective conduct. This article attempts to tackle this challenge by proposing useful distinctions that can facilitate further interdisciplinary research on self-reflection. To this end, I argue that we need a more sophisticated set of distinctions and categories in our understanding of habitual action. The analysis casts light on the idea that our contemporary social theories of self-reflection are not consistent with everyday notions of agential knowledgeability and accountability, and this conclusion indicates the need to reconceptualize discourse and subjectivity in non-eliminative terms. Ultimately, the assumption of self-reflective subjectivity turns out to be a theoretical necessity for the conceptualization of discursive participation and democratic choice.
Review Symposium on John Forrester and Laura Cameron’s Freud In Cambridge
“Freud in Cambridge Review Symposium,” Felicity Callard, Sarah Marks. No Abstract.
“Fort/Da/Freud,” Paul Kingsbury. Open access. No Abstract.
“A public inquiry into Freud’s influence upon Cambridge,” Steve Pile. Open access. No Abstract.
“Freud in Cambridge: An institutional romance?,” Jessica Dubow. No Abstract.
“Criticism as self-analysis,” Clive Barnett. No Abstract.
“Reply to my commentators – Thinking with Forrester: Dreams, true crimes, and histories of change,” Laura Jean Cameron. Open access. No Abstract.