AHP readers may be interested in Somatospere’s recent book forum discussion of Fernando Vidal and Francisco Ortega’s Being Brains: Making the Cerebral Subject (discussed previously on AHP here). The discussion includes the following contributions:
AHP readers may be interested in a newly available guidebook to William James’s classic Principles of Psychology written by David Leary. Full details below.
The Routledge Guidebook to James’s Principles of Psychology is an engaging and accessible introduction to a monumental text that has influenced the development of both psychological science and philosophical pragmatism in important and lasting ways. Written for readers approaching William James’s classic work for the first time as well as for those without knowledge of its entire scope, this guidebook not only places this work within its historical context, it provides clear explications of its intertwined aspects and arguments, and examines its relevance within today’s psychology and philosophy.
Offering a close reading of this text, The Routledge Guidebook to James’s Principles of Psychology is divided into three main parts:
It also includes two useful appendices that outline the sources of James’s various chapters and indicate the parallel coverages of two later texts written by James, an abbreviated version of his Principles and a psychological primer for teachers. This is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand this influential work.
Thomas Dodman’s What Nostalgia was: War, Empire, and the Time of a Deadly Emotion may be of interest to AHP readers. The book is described as follows:
Nostalgia today is seen as essentially benign, a wistful longing for the past. This wasn’t always the case, however: from the late seventeenth century through the end of the nineteenth, nostalgia denoted a form of homesickness so extreme that it could sometimes be deadly.
What Nostalgia Was unearths that history. Thomas Dodman begins his story in Basel, where a nineteen-year-old medical student invented the new diagnosis, modeled on prevailing notions of melancholy. From there, Dodman traces its spread through the European republic of letters and into Napoleon’s armies, as French soldiers far from home were diagnosed and treated for the disease. Nostalgia then gradually transformed from a medical term to a more expansive cultural concept, one that encompassed Romantic notions of the aesthetic pleasure of suffering. But the decisive shift toward its contemporary meaning occurred in the colonies, where Frenchmen worried about racial and cultural mixing came to view moderate homesickness as salutary. An afterword reflects on how the history of nostalgia can help us understand the transformations of the modern world, rounding out a surprising, fascinating tour through the history of a durable idea.
AHP readers may be interested in M. Norton Wise’s recent book, Aesthetics, Industry, and Science: Hermann Von Helmholtz and the Berlin Physical Society. The book is described as follows:
On January 5, 1845, the Prussian Cultural Minister received a request by a group of six young men to form a new Physical Society in Berlin. In fields from thermodynamics, mechanics, and electromagnetism to animal electricity, ophthalmology, and psychophysics, members of this small but growing group—which soon included Emil Du Bois-Reymond, Ernst Brücke, Werner Siemens, and Hermann von Helmholtz—established leading positions in what only thirty years later had become a new landscape of natural science. How was this possible? How could a bunch of twenty-somethings succeed in seizing the future?
In Aesthetics, Industry, and Science M. Norton Wise answers these questions not simply from a technical perspective of theories and practices but with a broader cultural view of what was happening in Berlin at the time. He emphasizes in particular how rapid industrial development, military modernization, and the neoclassical aesthetics of contemporary art informed the ways in which these young men thought. Wise argues that aesthetic sensibility and material aspiration in this period were intimately linked, and he uses these two themes for a final reappraisal of Helmholtz’s early work. Anyone interested in modern German cultural history, or the history of nineteenth-century German science, will be drawn to this landmark book.
As 2017 comes to a close, we’ve rounded up some recent releases for your reading pleasure. And if you find yourself in Amsterdam January 9th, 2018 swing by the release of Jaap van Ginneken’s new biography of Kurt Baschwitz. Best wishes for the new year!
Kurt Baschwitz: A Pioneer of Communication Studies and Social Psychology, by Jaap van Ginneken, Amsterdam University Press. Event: January 9, 2018, 17:00-18:30 in Amsterdam. Register here.
It was a century ago, that a young Jewish-German journalist rushed overnight from Hamburg to Rotterdam, to replace a predecessor correspondent who had been arrested and accused of espionage – halfway he First World War. Baschwitz was appalled by the mass propaganda he witnessed, and began to develop a book about ‘mass delusions’ – that became an immediate bestseller upon his return. Thereafter, he became a respected journalist under the Weimar republic, rose to become the editor-in-chief of the influential weekly of newspaper publishers, later published a book about the key role of the mass press in history.
In 1933, he fled to Amsterdam, where Baschwitz was made ‘private lecturer’ at the university, worked for a confidential agency gathering information about the rise of Anti-semitism in Germany: resulting in the ‘Wiener collection’, and the current Holocaust Museum in London. As well as for the newly founded International Institute of Social History, that smuggled the archives of socialist pioneers out. He also published books on mass politics and mass persecutions.
Halfway the war and occupation, Baschwitz was arrested in a raid, sent to the notorious Westerbork transit camp, for deportation to the East and certain death. But his daughter brought him papers that got him out for the time being. He went into hiding, she joined the resistance.
After Liberation, Baschwitz was made professor, and helped found the new faculty for political and social science in Amsterdam. Within it, he built a series of key institutions: a rejuvenated press museum, a national press library and a press studies department, as well as journalist courses.
Isis, December 2017
“Pax Technologica: Computers, International Affairs, and Human Reason in the Cold War,” by Joy Rohde. Abstract: Continue reading Holiday Reading Round Up: Imperfect Children, Sociobiology, Rationality, Communications, & More
AHP readers may be interested in Jamie L. Pietruska’s recently published book Looking Forward: Prediction and Uncertainty in Modern America. As noted on the publisher’s site,
In the decades after the Civil War, the world experienced monumental changes in industry, trade, and governance. As Americans faced this uncertain future, public debate sprang up over the accuracy and value of predictions, asking whether it was possible to look into the future with any degree of certainty. In Looking Forward, Jamie L. Pietruska uncovers a culture of prediction in the modern era, where forecasts became commonplace as crop forecasters, “weather prophets,” business forecasters, utopian novelists, and fortune-tellers produced and sold their visions of the future. Private and government forecasters competed for authority—as well as for an audience—and a single prediction could make or break a forecaster’s reputation.
Pietruska argues that this late nineteenth-century quest for future certainty had an especially ironic consequence: it led Americans to accept uncertainty as an inescapable part of both forecasting and twentieth-century economic and cultural life. Drawing together histories of science, technology, capitalism, environment, and culture, Looking Forward explores how forecasts functioned as new forms of knowledge and risk management tools that sometimes mitigated, but at other times exacerbated, the very uncertainties they were designed to conquer. Ultimately Pietruska shows how Americans came to understand the future itself as predictable, yet still uncertain.
The books keep on coming! AHP readers will doubtlessly be interested in Fernando Vidal and Francisco Ortega’s new book Being Brains: Making the Cerebral Subject. As the publisher’s site describes,
Being Brains offers a critical exploration of one of the most influential and pervasive contemporary beliefs: “We are our brains.” Starting in the “Decade of the Brain” of the 1990s, “neurocentrism” became widespread in most Western and many non-Western societies. Formidable advances, especially in neuroimaging, have bolstered this “neurocentrism” in the eyes of the public and political authorities, helping to justify increased funding for the brain sciences. The human sciences have also taken the “neural turn,” and subspecialties in fields such as anthropology, aesthetics, education, history, law, sociology, and theology have grown and professionalized at record speed. At the same time, the development of dubious but successful commercial enterprises such as “neuromarketing and “neurobics” have emerged to take advantage of the heightened sensitivity to all things neuro. Skeptics have only recently begun to react to the hype, invoking warnings of neuromythology, neurotrash, neuromania, and neuromadness. While this neurocentric view of human subjectivity is neither hegemonic nor monolithic, it embodies a powerful ideology that is at the heart of some of today’s most important philosophical, ethical, scientific, and political debates. Being Brains critically explores the internal logic of such ideology, its genealogy, and its main contemporary incarnations.
Benjamin Morgan’s The Outward Mind: Materialist Aesthetics in Victorian Science and Literature explores efforts to make aesthetics scientific, including within experimental psychology. The book is described as follows:
Though underexplored in contemporary scholarship, the Victorian attempts to turn aesthetics into a science remain one of the most fascinating aspects of that era. In The Outward Mind, Benjamin Morgan approaches this period of innovation as an important origin point for current attempts to understand art or beauty using the tools of the sciences. Moving chronologically from natural theology in the early nineteenth century to laboratory psychology in the early twentieth, Morgan draws on little-known archives of Victorian intellectuals such as William Morris, Walter Pater, John Ruskin, and others to argue that scientific studies of mind and emotion transformed the way writers and artists understood the experience of beauty and effectively redescribed aesthetic judgment as a biological adaptation. Looking beyond the Victorian period to humanistic critical theory today, he also shows how the historical relationship between science and aesthetics could be a vital resource for rethinking key concepts in contemporary literary and cultural criticism, such as materialism, empathy, practice, and form. At a moment when the tumultuous relationship between the sciences and the humanities is the subject of ongoing debate, Morgan argues for the importance of understanding the arts and sciences as incontrovertibly intertwined.
Jason A. Josephson-Storm’s recently published book, The Myth of Disenchantment: Magic, Modernity, and the Birth of the Human Sciences, may interest AHP readers. The book is described as follows:
A great many theorists have argued that the defining feature of modernity is that people no longer believe in spirits, myths, or magic. Jason ?. Josephson-Storm argues that as broad cultural history goes, this narrative is wrong, as attempts to suppress magic have failed more often than they have succeeded. Even the human sciences have been more enchanted than is commonly supposed. But that raises the question: How did a magical, spiritualist, mesmerized Europe ever convince itself that it was disenchanted?
Josephson-Storm traces the history of the myth of disenchantment in the births of philosophy, anthropology, sociology, folklore, psychoanalysis, and religious studies. Ironically, the myth of mythless modernity formed at the very time that Britain, France, and Germany were in the midst of occult and spiritualist revivals. Indeed, Josephson-Storm argues, these disciplines’ founding figures were not only aware of, but profoundly enmeshed in, the occult milieu; and it was specifically in response to this burgeoning culture of spirits and magic that they produced notions of a disenchanted world.
By providing a novel history of the human sciences and their connection to esotericism, The Myth of Disenchantment dispatches with most widely held accounts of modernity and its break from the premodern past.
Philip Kuhn’s recently published book Psychoanalysis in Britain, 1893–1913: Histories and Historiography will be of interest to AHP readers. Kuhn’s account of the history of psychoanalysis in Britain looks at therich engagements with psychoanalysis in the country during Ernest Jones time abroad in Canada.A recent review of the book, by Fuhito Endo, in Medical History can be found here.
The book is described as follows:
Historians and biographers of psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, psychology, medicine and culture, even Wikipedia, believe Ernest Jones discovered Freud in 1904 and had become the first English-speaking practitioner of psychoanalysis by 1906. Psychoanalysis in Britain, 1893–1913 offers radically different versions to that monolithic Account propagated by Jones over 70 years ago. Detailed readings of the contemporaneous literature expose the absurdities of Jones’s claim, arguing that he could not have been using psychoanalysis until after he exiled himself to Canada in September 1908. Removing Jones reveals vibrant British cultures of “Mind Healing” which serve as backdrops for widespread interest in Freud. First; the London Psychotherapeutic Society whose volunteer staff of mesmerists, magnetists, hypnotists and spiritualists offered free psycho-therapeutic treatments. Then the wondrous Walford Bodie, who wrought his free “miraculous cures,” on and off the music-hall stage, to adoring and hostile audiences alike. Then the competing religious and spiritual groups actively promoting their own faith healings, often in reaction to fears of Christian Science but often cow-towing to orthodox medical and clerical orthodoxies. From this strange milieu emerged medically qualified practitioners, like Edwin Ash, Betts Taplin, and Douglas Bryan, who embraced hypnotism and psychotherapy. From 1904 British Medical Journals began discussing Freud’s work and by 1908 psychiatrists, working in lunatic asylums, were already testing and applying his theories in the treatment of patients. The medically qualified psychotherapists, who formed the Medical Society for the Study of Suggestive Therapeutics, soon joined with medical members from the Society for Psychical Research in discussing, proselytizing, and practising psychoanalysis. Thus when Jones returned to London, in late summer 1913, there were thriving psychotherapeutic cultures with talk of Freud and psychoanalysis occupying medical journals and conferences. Psychoanalysis in Britain, 1893–1913, with its meticulous research, wide sweep of vision and detailed understanding of the subtle inter-connections between the orthodox and the unorthodox, the lay and the medical, the social and the biographical, as well as the byzantine complexities of British medical politics, will radically alter your understanding of how those early twentieth century “Mind Healing” debates helped shape the ways in which the ‘talking cure’ first started infiltrating our lives.