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

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New HoP: Neurohistory, Titchener at Oxford, & Debating the New History of Psych

Edward Bradford Titchener

The May 2017 issue of History of Psychology is now online. Articles in this issue explore neurohistory, the influence of Titchener’s Oxford years on his thought, and gender and psychoanalysis in 1940s Britain. The issue also features a special section devoted to “Debating the New History of Psychology.” Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Historiography, affect, and the neurosciences,” by Larry S. McGrath. Abstract:

Recent historiography has put to rest debates over whether to address the neurosciences. The question is how? In this article, I stage a dialogue between neurohistory and the history of the emotions. My primary goal is to survey these two clusters and clarify their conceptual commitments. Both center on the role of affect in embodied subjectivity; but their accounts widely diverge. Whereas neurohistorians tend to treat affects as automatic bodily processes, historians of the emotions generally emphasize that affects are meaningful and volitional activities. This divergence entails contrasting understandings of selfhood, embodiment, and historical change. More importantly, I argue, it reflects a broader realm of disputes within the neurosciences. The divisions among methodologies and commitments testify to the importance of historians’ selection of evidence as well as the critical perspectives they can bring to scientific debates. The neurosciences do not offer readymade theories. Secondarily, I take stock of the shared limitations of neurohistory and the history of the emotions. Both conceptualize the biological bases of affection as a universal ground for historical inquiry. By reexamining this transhistorical approach to neuroscientific evidence, I suggest that historiography might widen the horizon of interdisciplinary scholarship beyond the present options.

“From classicism and idealism to scientific naturalism: Titchener’s Oxford years and their impact upon his early intellectual development,” by Saulo de Freitas Araujo and Cintia Fernandes Marcellos. Abstract: Continue reading New HoP: Neurohistory, Titchener at Oxford, & Debating the New History of Psych

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