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Special Smith-sonian Feature

Historian of Science and Emeritus Reader at Lancaster University, Roger Smith, has recently published two books and a journal article. The first book, Free Will and the Human Sciences in Britain: 1870-1910 is a discussion of late Victorian debats on free will, with reference to British Psychology. The second book, Between Mind and Nature: A History of Psychology, is a classic account of the history of psychology. The book chronicles how psychology became the discipline it is today set in the various social, cultural, political, and national contexts. Included in the discussion are major figures in psychology, such as, Freud, Jung, and Pavlov. Smith’s third publication comes in the form a journal article. Titled “‘The sixth sense’: towards a history of muscular sensation”, the article discusses the history of knowledge on the muscular sense. Below are full abstracts:

Free Will and the Human Sciences in Britain: 1870-1910:

From the late nineteenth century onwards religion gave way to science as the dominant force in society. This led to a questioning of the principle of free will – if the workings of the human mind could be reduced to purely physiological explanations, then what place was there for human agency and self-improvement?

Smith takes an in-depth look at the problem of free will through the prism of different disciplines. Physiology, psychology, philosophy, evolutionary theory, ethics, history and sociology all played a part in the debates that took place. His subtly nuanced navigation through these arguments has much to contribute to our understanding of Victorian and Edwardian science and culture, as well as having relevance to current debates on the role of genes in determining behaviour. Continue reading Special Smith-sonian Feature