Until Sunday December 7, 2014 access to “Psychical Research in the History of Science and Medicine,” a Special Section of the December issue of Studies in History and Philosophy of the Biological and Biomedical Sciences is free using the links provided in this post. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.
“Psychical research in the history and philosophy of science. An introduction and review,” by A. Sommer. The abstract reads,
As a prelude to articles published in this special issue, I sketch changing historiographical conventions regarding the ‘occult’ in recent history of science and medicine scholarship. Next, a review of standard claims regarding psychical research and parapsychology in philosophical discussions of the demarcation problem reveals that these have tended to disregard basic primary sources and instead rely heavily on problematic popular accounts, simplistic notions of scientific practice, and outdated teleological historiographies of progress. I conclude by suggesting that rigorous and sensitively contextualized case studies of past elite heterodox scientists may be potentially useful to enrich historical and philosophical scholarship by highlighting epistemologies that have fallen through the crude meshes of triumphalist and postmodernist historiographical generalizations alike.
“Haunted thoughts of the careful experimentalist: Psychical research and the troubles of experimental physics,” by R. Noakes. The abstract reads, Continue reading Free Access to “Psychical Research in the History of Science and Medicine”
The British Psychological Society’s History of Psychology Centre, in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines, has announced the next talk as part of the BPS History of Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series. On Monday, November 25th Andreas Sommer, postdoctoral fellow at the University of Cambridge and the blogger behind Forbidden Histories, will be speaking on “The last Romantic? Carl du Prel (1839-1899) and the Formation of German Experimental Psychology.” Full details follow below.
British Psychological Society History of Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series
Sponsored by the British Psychological Society. Open to the public.
Date: Monday 25th November
Time: 6pm to 7.30pm
Location: Arts and Humanities Common Room (G24), Foster Court, Malet Place, University College London.
The last Romantic? Carl du Prel (1839-1899) and the Formation of German Experimental Psychology
Dr. Andreas Sommer (University of Cambridge) (UCL)
Although the philosopher Carl du Prel was arguably the most popular German-language theorist of the unconscious mind immediately preceding Sigmund Freud, his work has received remarkably little attention in histories of the mind sciences. Revered by artists such as Rilke and Kandinsky, du Prel was read by psychologists like William James, Frederic W. H. Myers, Carl Gustav Jung and Freud, who referred to the philosopher in ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’ as “that brilliant mystic”. Taken up and advanced by Frederic W. H. Myers and Edmund Gurney in England, du Prel’s integrative psychological research programme became a competing brand of German physiological psychology and significantly informed the psychological methodologies of William James in the US and Théodore Flournoy in Switzerland. Sketching the formation and reception of du Prel’s ideas, this talk will reconstruct the hardening of epistemological and methodological boundaries of German experimental psychology, partly in response to his radical research programme. Through a discussion of the cultural and political backdrop of late-nineteenth century German science, it also hopes to shed light on factors for the curious neglect of du Prel and his ideas in conventional histories of psychology.
Historian of the human sciences Andreas Sommer (right), a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge, has recently begun a blog Forbidden Histories. Sommer’s historical work explores the empirical study of the occult and the emergence of scientific psychology at the end of the nineteenth century. On Forbidden Histories he discusses his ongoing scholarship in this field in relation to our understanding of the nature of rationality. As he describes on the blog’s Welcome page:
…‘Forbidden Histories’ implicates the existence of a taboo, and of motivations and sensibilities that have kept it alive. This blog is thus primarily concerned with the functions of popular science and disciplinary history as knowledge management and tries to identify a variety of epistemologies and concerns (many of which, interestingly, have been mutually antagonistic), that have prevented mainstream historical information from entering common knowledge.
Obviously, as a historian of science I am neither interested nor competent to decide whether or not some ‘miraculous’ phenomena do in fact occur, and how to interpret them if they do. Rather, the purpose of this blog is to test questions and ideas concerning the historicity of certain standards of rationality – particularly those we are not accustomed let alone encouraged to critically reflect upon, even though they have powerfully shaped western individual and collective identities.
To be sure, my blog does not aim to provide easy answers but merely rehearses some of my personal reflections on what it means to be ‘rational’. Well aware that it thoroughly goes against the grain of many established ideologies and epistemological standard positions, all I can do is assure you that it strives to employ those principles that most would agree make good science as well as good history: contextualised evidence and differentiated analysis.
The Winter 2013 issue of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences is now online. Included in this issue are articles on French psychologist Théodule Ribot’s (right) founding of the Revue Philosophique de la France et de l’Étranger and the founding of the German Gesellschaft für psychologische Forschung” (“Society for Psychological Research”), which was intended to be an outlet for non-Wundtian psychologies from France and Britain. Other articles in this issue look at the history of ethnographic research and Bayesian rationality in economics. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.
“‘A Big Piece of News’: Théodule Ribot and the Founding of the Revue Philosophique de la France et de l’Etranger,” by Serge Nicolas. The abstract reads,
This paper describes the founding of the Revue Philosophique de la France et de l’Étranger by Théodule Ribot (1839–1916) in 1876. Like the English journal Mind, which was launched the same year, this journal introduced the new scientific psychology to France. Its founding increased Ribot’s scientific credibility in psychology and led him to be regarded as the most distinguished French specialist in the field. First, we review the state of French philosophy at the time of the journal’s founding, focusing on the three main French schools of thought in philosophy and on their relations with psychology. Second, after analyzing the preface written by Ribot in the first issue of the Revue Philosophique, we examine how the journal was received in French philosophical circles. Finally, we discuss its subsequent history, highlighting its founder’s promotion of new ideas in psychology.
“Normalizing the Supernormal: The Formation of the “Gesellschaft Für Psychologische Forschung” (“Society for Psychological Research”), c. 1886–1890,” by Andreas Sommer. The abstract reads, Continue reading New JHBS: Ribot, German psych, & More!