Tag Archives: William James

HoP: Stratification Theories, Quantification of Virtue, James’s Heidelberg Fiasco

The February 2018 issue of History of Psychology is now online. Articles in this issue explore stratification theories, the quantification of virtue in Medieval Europe, and William James’s Heidelberg fiasco. And don’t forget to check out the regularly featured poetry corner! Full titles, authors, and abstracts below.

“Buried layers: On the origins, rise, and fall of stratification theories,” by Wieser, Martin. Abstract:

This article presents a historical analysis of the origins, rise, and demise of theories of stratification (Schichtentheorien). Following their roots in the ancient metaphysical idea of the “great chain of being,” Aristotle’s scala naturae, the medieval “Jacob’s ladder,” and Leibniz’s concept of the lex continua, I argue that theories of stratification represent the modern heir to the ancient cosmological idea of a harmonious, hierarchical, and unified universe. Theories of stratification reached their heyday during the interwar period within German academia, proliferating over a vast number of disciplines and rising to special prominence within personality psychology, feeding the hope for a unitary image of the world and of human beings, their biological and mental development, their social organization and cultural creations. This article focuses on the role of visuality as a distinct mode of scientific knowledge within theories of stratification as well as the cultural context that provided the fertile ground for their flowering in the Weimar Republic. Finally, the rapid demise of theories of stratification during the 1950s is discussed, and some reasons for their downfall during the second half of the 20th century are explored.

“Quantification of virtue in late Medieval Europe,” by Kemp, Simon. Abstract:

Fourteenth century Europe saw a growing interest in quantification. This interest has been well studied by historians of physical sciences, but medieval scholars were also interested in the quantification of psychological qualities. In general, the quantification issues addressed by medieval scholars were theoretical, even (by our standards) mathematical, rather than those of practical measurement. There was recognition that the seriousness of a sin and the penance laid down for it should be proportionate. A number of late medieval scholars were interested in the quantification of caritas, a Latin word that is translatable as charity or loving benevolence. The scholastic interest linked to the practical issue of how caritas might become habitual through the repeated performance of virtuous acts. Gregory of Rimini’s treatment of caritas in his commentary on Peter Lombard’s Sentences illustrates how one medieval scholar related the quantification of virtue to the quantification of physical qualities such as temperature and luminescence.

“William James and the Heidelberg fiasco,” by Gundlach, Horst. Abstract: Continue reading HoP: Stratification Theories, Quantification of Virtue, James’s Heidelberg Fiasco

The Routledge Guidebook to James’s Principles of Psychology

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:

• Background

• Principles

• Elaborations.

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.

New HoP: Sandor Rado on Bisexuality, Psych and Social Engineering in 20th c. America, & Behavior Therapy in France

Sandor Rado

The August 2017 issue of History of Psychology is now available. Articles in this issue discuss psychoanalyst Sandor Rado’s influential views on bisexuality, American attitudes toward psychology, technology, and social engineering in the 20th century, and the difficult reception of behavior therapy in France. Full details below.

“Sandor Rado, American psychoanalysis, and the question of bisexuality,” by Tontonoz, Matthew. Abstract:

The Hungarian-born physician and psychoanalyst Sandor Rado (1890–1972), who practiced for most of his career in the United States, played a central role in shaping American psychoanalysts’ views toward homosexuality. Historians have pointed to Rado’s rejection of Freud’s notion of constitutional bisexuality as the key theoretical maneuver that both pathologized homosexuality and inspired an optimistic approach to its treatment. Yet scholarly analysis of the arguments that Rado made for his rejection of bisexuality is lacking. This article seeks to provide that analysis, by carefully reviewing and evaluating Rado’s arguments by the standards of his own day. Because one of Rado’s main arguments is that bisexuality is an outdated concept according to modern biology, I consider what contemporary biologists had to say on the topic. The work of behavioral endocrinologist Frank Beach (1911–1988) is important in this context and receives significant attention here. Rado ultimately distanced himself from Beach’s behavioral endocrinology, appealing instead to evolutionary discourse to buttress his claim that homosexuality is pathological. This tactic allowed him to refashion psychoanalysis into a moralistic discipline, one with closer ties to a medical school.

“B. F. Skinner and technology’s nation: Technocracy, social engineering, and the good life in 20th-century America,” by Rutherford, Alexandra. Abstract: Continue reading New HoP: Sandor Rado on Bisexuality, Psych and Social Engineering in 20th c. America, & Behavior Therapy in France

Special Issue: “Pragmatism and Psychologism” Feat. Charles Sanders Peirce on Experimental Psychology

The most recent issue of the European Journal of Pragmatism and American Philosophy is devoted to “Pragmatism and Psychologism.” Edited by Rosa M. Calcaterra and Roberta Dreon the issue includes a number of articles that may be of interest to AHP readers, including a piece on Charles Sanders Peirce (right) and experimental psychology. Full details below.

“Introduction to Pragmatism and Psychologism,” by Rosa M. Calcaterra and Roberta Dreon. No Abstract.

“Anti-Psychologism and Neutrality: The Radical Empiricism of Husserl and James,” by Roberta Lanfredini. Abstract:

Both the phenomenology of Husserl and the pragmatist phenomenology of James can be categorized by the formula “radical empiricism,” which is explicit in James and implicit, but no less pervasive, in Husserl. For both of them, radical empiricism is additionally conjoined with an equally radical anti-psychologism. The problem is that the two terms “radical empiricism” and “anti-psychologism” take on a radically different meaning in the two authors. This essay aims to investigate the structural differences between two perspectives that, while following completely different courses, seem to share the same objective: to elaborate a philosophy which at no point moves away from the experiential plane.

“Psychologism and the Self,” by Vincente Sanfelix Vidarte. Abstract: Continue reading Special Issue: “Pragmatism and Psychologism” Feat. Charles Sanders Peirce on Experimental Psychology

New Article Round-Up: Women of British Projective Testing, Psych & Womanpower, Woodsworth & James, & More

Margaret Lowenfeld

A quick new article roundup to usher you into the weekend. Forthcoming in the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences are two articles exploring the queer history of women in projective testing in Britain and psychology’s post-WWII engagement with sex roles and womanpower, respectively. An article by David Leary in the most recent issue of William James Studies explores the influence of WIlliam Woodsworth on James’s psychology and philosophy. Finally, a piece in the most recent issue of Science, Technology, & Human Values explores the quantified self in relation to the “European Science of Work.” Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Queer signs: The women of the British projective test movement,” by Katherine Hubbard. Abstract:

As queer history is often hidden, historians must look for “signs” that hint at queer lives and experiences. When psychologists use projective tests, the search for queer signs has historically been more literal, and this was especially true in the homophobic practices of Psychology in the mid-twentieth century. In this paper, I respond to Elizabeth Scarborough’s call for more analytic history about the lesser known women in Psychology’s history. By focusing on British projective research conducted by lesbian psychologist June Hopkins, I shift perspective and consider, not those who were tested (which has been historically more common), but those who did the testing, and position them as potential queer subjects. After briefly outlining why the projective test movement is ripe for such analysis and the kinds of queer signs that were identified using the Rorschach ink blot test in the mid-twentieth century, I then present June Hopkins’ (1969, 1970) research on the “lesbian personality.” This work forms a framework upon which I then consider the lives of Margaret Lowenfeld, Ann Kaldegg, and Effie Lillian Hutton, all of whom were involved in the British projective test movement a generation prior to Hopkins. By adopting Hopkins’ research to frame their lives, I present the possibility of this ambiguous history being distinctly queer.

““Making better use of U.S. women” Psychology, sex roles, and womanpower in post-WWII America,” by Alexandra Rutherford. Abstract: Continue reading New Article Round-Up: Women of British Projective Testing, Psych & Womanpower, Woodsworth & James, & More