HoP: Stratification Theories, Quantification of Virtue, James’s Heidelberg Fiasco

The February 2018 issue of History of Psychology is now online. Articles in this issue explore stratification theories, the quantification of virtue in Medieval Europe, and William James’s Heidelberg fiasco. And don’t forget to check out the regularly featured poetry corner! Full titles, authors, and abstracts below.

“Buried layers: On the origins, rise, and fall of stratification theories,” by Wieser, Martin. Abstract:

This article presents a historical analysis of the origins, rise, and demise of theories of stratification (Schichtentheorien). Following their roots in the ancient metaphysical idea of the “great chain of being,” Aristotle’s scala naturae, the medieval “Jacob’s ladder,” and Leibniz’s concept of the lex continua, I argue that theories of stratification represent the modern heir to the ancient cosmological idea of a harmonious, hierarchical, and unified universe. Theories of stratification reached their heyday during the interwar period within German academia, proliferating over a vast number of disciplines and rising to special prominence within personality psychology, feeding the hope for a unitary image of the world and of human beings, their biological and mental development, their social organization and cultural creations. This article focuses on the role of visuality as a distinct mode of scientific knowledge within theories of stratification as well as the cultural context that provided the fertile ground for their flowering in the Weimar Republic. Finally, the rapid demise of theories of stratification during the 1950s is discussed, and some reasons for their downfall during the second half of the 20th century are explored.

“Quantification of virtue in late Medieval Europe,” by Kemp, Simon. Abstract:

Fourteenth century Europe saw a growing interest in quantification. This interest has been well studied by historians of physical sciences, but medieval scholars were also interested in the quantification of psychological qualities. In general, the quantification issues addressed by medieval scholars were theoretical, even (by our standards) mathematical, rather than those of practical measurement. There was recognition that the seriousness of a sin and the penance laid down for it should be proportionate. A number of late medieval scholars were interested in the quantification of caritas, a Latin word that is translatable as charity or loving benevolence. The scholastic interest linked to the practical issue of how caritas might become habitual through the repeated performance of virtuous acts. Gregory of Rimini’s treatment of caritas in his commentary on Peter Lombard’s Sentences illustrates how one medieval scholar related the quantification of virtue to the quantification of physical qualities such as temperature and luminescence.

“William James and the Heidelberg fiasco,” by Gundlach, Horst. Abstract:

Urged on by his father to become a physician instead of a painter, William James pursued 3 evasion stratagems. First, to avoid becoming a practitioner, he declared that he wanted to specialize in physiology. Based upon this premise, he left for Germany in the spring of 1867. The second step was giving up general physiology and announcing that he would specialize in the nervous system and psychology. Based upon this premise, he declared that he would go to Heidelberg and study with Helmholtz and Wundt. However, he then deferred going there. When, at last, he was urged by an influential friend of his father’s to accompany him to Heidelberg, he employed his default stratagem: He simply fled. He returned home after 3 terms in Europe without enrolling at a single university. There is no evidence that he had learned anything there about psychology or experimental psychology, except, possibly, by reading books. James’s “Heidelberg fiasco” was the apogee of his evasion of his father’s directive. A dense fog of misinformation surrounds his stay in Heidelberg to this day. By analyzing circumstances and context, this article examines the fiasco and places it in the pattern of his behavior during his stay in Europe. Nevertheless, experiencing this fiasco potentially shaped James’s ambivalent attitude toward experimental psychology on a long-term basis.

News. Fox Lee, Shayna (Ed). Abstract:

Presents news concerning members of the Society for the History of Psychology. It includes news about the Center for the History of Behavior Analysis at the University of Kansas. It gives a brief history regarding the Center and its projects.

Poetry corner. Fox Lee, Shayna (Ed). Abstract:

This issue’s poem is of historical interest due to its biographical features and celebratory tone, if not for its craft or lyricism per se. It was written by Joyce M. Hoffman for E. G. Boring on the occasion of his eightieth birthday. Division 26 was also founded that year (1966), with Boring named as its honorary first president.

The 100th anniversary of the death of Julian Ochorowicz (1850–1917).
Ziolkowska, Anna M. Abstract:

This article talks about the life of Julian Ochorowicz. It encompasses his life as a scientist, psychologist, his works, reputation and other events. In conclusion, this article denotes the relevancy of Ochorowicz’s life.

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About Jacy Young

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

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