Tag Archives: Darwin

The Politics of Cognition: Liberalism and the Evolutionary Origins of Victorian Education

AHP readers may be interested in a forthcoming piece in The British Journal for the History of Science on the politics of cognition in Victorian Britain. Full details below.

The Politics of Cognition: Liberalism and the Evolutionary Origins of Victorian Education,” by Matthew Daniel Eddy. Abstract:

In recent years the historical relationship between scientific experts and the state has received increasing scrutiny. Such experts played important roles in the creation and regulation of environmental organizations and functioned as agents dispatched by politicians or bureaucrats to assess health-related problems and concerns raised by the public or the judiciary. But when it came to making public policy, scientists played another role that has received less attention. In addition to acting as advisers and assessors, some scientists were democratically elected members of local and national legislatures. In this essay I draw attention to this phenomenon by examining how liberal politicians and intellectuals used Darwinian cognitive science to conceptualize the education of children in Victorian Britain.

Reflecting on “Functionalism, Darwinism, and the Psychology of Women” 40 Years Later

The August 2016 issue of Feminism & Psychology features a special focus section looking back at Stephanie Shield’s seminal “Functionalism, Darwinism, and the Psychology of Women” some 40 years on. Full details on the pieces that make up this special section follow below.

Special Focus: “Functionalism, Darwinism, and the psychology of women” forty years on: reflections, implications and empirical work
I. Special Focus: Revisiting “the woman question”
Lisa Lazard, Hale Bolak Boratav, and Helen Clegg

II. “Functionalism, Darwinism, and the Psychology of Women” as critical feminist history of psychology: Discourse communities and citation practices
Shayna Fox Lee, Alexandra Rutherford, and Michael Pettit

III. Historical significance of Shields’ 1975 essay: A brief commentary on four major contributions
Rhoda Unger and Andrea L Dottolo

This article argues that Shields’ work demonstrated that it is impossible to practice value-free science. And, despite the efforts of many feminist psychologists who have argued that the question of sex differences is someone else’s question, biological theories about the differences between women and men are still popular and influential today. This paper will call attention to four areas of scholarship produced by second-wave feminist psychologists who were inspired by Shields’ work: (1) rediscovery of the work of first-wave feminist psychologists, (2) discussion of the impossibility of value-free research on sex differences, (3) introduction of new categories of analysis such as “gender” and reframing research based on these new categories, and (4) addition of more value-laden categories to sex such as race, social class, and sexuality and using intersectionality theory to design new avenues of research.

IV. Has the psychology of women stopped playing handmaiden to social values?
Alice H Eagly Continue reading Reflecting on “Functionalism, Darwinism, and the Psychology of Women” 40 Years Later

JHBS: Darwin, Freud, & Psychiatric Legitimacy

The Fall 2011 issue of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences has just been released online. Included in this issue are three articles that may be of interest to historians of psychology. In her article “The naturalist and the nuances,” which won the 2009 John C. Burnham Early Career Award from the Forum of the History of Human Sciences, Stéphanie Dupouy situates Darwin’s investigation of emotional expression within the context of previous scientific investigations on the subject. Articles by Anthony Kauders and Gerald Grob move into the twentieth century and discuss, respectively, Freud’s reception in Germany in the mid-twentieth century and challenges to psychiatric authority in the 1960s.

“The naturalist and the nuances: Sentimentalism, moral values, and emotional expression in Darwin and the anatomists,” by Stéphanie Dupouy. The abstract reads,

Comparing Charles Darwin’s account of emotional expression to previous nineteenth-century scientific studies on the same subject, this article intends to locate the exact nature of Darwin’s break in his 1872 book (as well as in his earlier notebooks). In contrast to a standard view that approaches this question in the framework of the creationism/evolutionism dichotomy, I argue that Darwin’s account distinguishes itself primarily by its distance toward the sentimentalist values and moral hierarchies that were traditionally linked with the study of expression—an attitude that is not an inevitable ingredient of the theory of evolution. However, Darwin’s approach also reintroduces another kind of hierarchy in human expression, but one based on attenuation and self-restraint in the exhibition of expressive signs.

“’Psychoanalysis is good, synthesis is better’: The German reception of Freud, 1930 and 1956,” by Anthony D. Kauders. The abstract reads, Continue reading JHBS: Darwin, Freud, & Psychiatric Legitimacy

Special Issue: History of Evolutionary Psychiatry

The June 2010 issue of History of Psychiatry, dedicated to “A Hundred Years of Evolutionary Psychiatry (1872-1972),” has just been released online. This special issue features a number of articles of interest to historians of psychology, including, among others, an article on Harry Harlow (left) and the nature of love by Marga Vicedo of the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology and an article on the work of Lauretta Bender and the African American psyche by Denis Doyle. Titles, authors and abstracts to these and the other articles in the June issue follow below.

“The evolutionary turn in psychiatry: A historical overview,” by Pieter R. Adriaens and Andreas De Block. The abstract reads:

Ever since Darwin, psychiatrists have been tempted to put evolutionary theory to use in their efforts to understand and explain various aspects of mental disorders. Following a number of pivotal developments in the history of evolutionary thought, including degeneration theory, ethology and the modern synthesis, this introductory paper provides an overview of the many trends and schools in the history of ‘psychiatric Darwinism’ and ‘evolutionary psychiatry’. We conclude with an attempt to distinguish three underlying motives in asking evolutionary questions about mental disorders.

“Schizophrenia, evolution and the borders of biology: On Huxley et al.’s 1964 paper in Nature,” by Raf De Bont. The abstract reads: Continue reading Special Issue: History of Evolutionary Psychiatry

Origin: 150 Years Ago Today

Although Darwin celebrations have been taking place for more than a year, today has particular significance for such celebrations. It was 150 years ago today that Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life was published. To celebrate this anniversary the Darwin Correspondence Project has launched a new interface for their website. Available, fully searchable on the site, are the complete transcripts of all known letters written and received by Darwin up to the year 1867. These letters were originally published in volumes 1 to 15 of the Correspondence of Charles Darwin. The most recent volume, number 17, was published in July of this year. There is generally a two to three time lag between the publication of a volume of correspondence and the appearance of the correspondence on the project’s website.

Notably, a number of first edition volumes of Darwin’s work, including a first edition of On the Origin of Species, are currently on display at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library at the University of Toronto. This display has been put on in association with the “150 Years After Origin: Biological, Historical, and Philosophical Perspectives” Conference wrapping up at the University of Toronto today.