Tag Archives: intellectual history

New Issue: History of Medicine & Allied Sciences

The January 2012 issue of the Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences has just been released online. Included in this issue are a number of articles that may be of interest to historians of psychology and related fields. A special issue devoted to recent developments in the intellectual history of medicine, the issue includes articles on sexual inversion, shell shock (right), koro as a culture-bound syndrome, and the rise of hypnosis in Germany, among other topics. Titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Recent Developments in the Intellectual History of Medicine: A Special Issue of the Journal of the History of Medicine,” by Chiara Beccalossi and Peter Cryle. An extract from this introduction to the special issue reads,

The history of medicine is probably best thought of as a wide range of different types of inquiry, rather than a single, well-defined field. It can involve, among other things, the history of institutions, technologies, and outstanding individuals. The articles gathered in this special issue are offered specifically as contributions to the intellectual history of medicine. Each shows, in its own way, how a particular disorder became conceptualized or how a particular set of difficulties was made into a topic of debate. Inquiry of this kind is not quite the same thing as a history of ideas—if by the latter one understands only the study of ideas as they traverse medical writing—since our concern is not with major ideas in the field of medicine, as such. One of our working assumptions is that intellectual history ought to be no grander an enterprise than social history at its most focused, or cultural history at its most closely bounded. We will simply examine ways of thinking that prevailed at given points in history, indicating the material consequences to which they gave rise. By seeking to articulate thought, writing, and professional practice, we are responding to the challenge Michel Foucault laid down for historians. But the histories offered here are not “Foucauldian” in the manner of histories that focus primarily on articulating epistemic “rupture” and unprecedented conceptual “invention.” The point of our contributions is to examine the contexts in which new kinds of thinking emerged gradually, and often unevenly. We seek, as Foucault did at his best, to highlight the circumstantial nature of thought and the intellectually productive nature of circumstance.

This special issue had its beginnings in a seminar series conducted in 2009 by the Center for the History of European Discourses at the University of Queensland…

“Female Same-sex Desires: Conceptualizing a Disease in Competing Medical Fields in Nineteenth-century Europe,” by Chiara Beccalossi. The abstract reads, Continue reading New Issue: History of Medicine & Allied Sciences

Does an education in science need history?

Isis, 99(2)In the latest issue of Isis, 99(2), Graeme Gooday, John M. Lynch, Kenneth G. Wilson, and Constance K. Barsky ask an important question: “Does science education need the history of science?” Generalized to address recent questions about the place of “the History of psychology” in “the discipline of Psychology,” their discussion seems particularly timely.

Perhaps predictably, given what is likely my own bias in sharing their article with the readers of AHP, Gooday and his colleagues answer such questions in the affirmative: “science education can gain from close engagement with the history of science both in the training of prospective vocational scientists and in educating the broader public about the nature of science” (p. 322). Their essay makes this case in two parts, with a third suggesting some ways in which historians could further increase the value they offer to science:

First it shows how historicizing science in the classroom can improve the pedagogical experience of science students and might even help them turn into more effective professional practitioners of science [pp. 323-327]. Then it examines how historians of science can support the scientific education of the general public at a time when debates over “intelligent design” are raising major questions over the kind of science that ought to be available to children in their school curricula [pp. 327-329]. It concludes by considering further work that might be undertaken to show how history of science could be of more general educational interest and utility, well beyond the closed academic domains in which historians of science typically operate.

Of the three, the third part of their essay seems most likely to generate the kind of discussion that would help historians of psychology secure the future of History in Psychology. Continue reading Does an education in science need history?

Does History require a variety of Contextualism?

John GrecoIn the July issue of The Philosophical Quarterly, 58(232), John Greco asks: “What’s wrong with Contextualism?” His discussion connects with one of AHP‘s recurring themes — the doing of history — in several interesting ways. In particular, his essay will be of special relevance to those interested in writing intellectual histories.

…the present thesis is that knowledge attributions are a kind of credit attribution, and that credit attributions in general involve causal explanations: to say that a person S is creditable for some state of affairs A, is to say that S’s agency is salient in an explanation regarding how or why A came about. (pp. 419-420)

In other words, claims about past intellectual achievements require an explanation detailing how those achievements were achieved. It is insufficient merely to state, for example, that al-Tabari invented “psychotherapy” (here and here). Rather, the invention must be presented alongside a description of the context in which such a thought became thinkable (previously discussed at AHP here). Continue reading Does History require a variety of Contextualism?