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An Argument for Mind

An Argument for Mind

Copyright Date: 2006
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    An Argument for Mind
    Book Description:

    In this elegantly written book, Jerome Kagan melds the history of the field of psychology during the past 50 years with the story of his own research efforts of the same period and an analysis of what he terms "the currently rocky romance between psychology and biology." As Kagan unwinds his own history, he reveals the seminal events that have shaped his career and discusses how his assumptions have changed. With full appreciation for the contributions to psychology of history, philosophy, literature, and neuroscience, he approaches a wide range of fascinating topics, including:· the abandonment of orthodox forms of behaviorism and psychoanalysis· the forces that inspired later-twentieth-century curiosity about young children· why B. F. Skinner chose to study psychology· why the study of science less often ignites imaginations today· our society's obsession with erotic love· the resurgence of religious fanaticism and the religious RightEmbedded in Kagan's discussions is a rejection of the current notion that a mature neuroscience will eventually replace psychology. He argues that a complete understanding of brain is not synonymous with a full explanation of mind, and he concludes with a brief prediction of the next five decades in the field of psychology.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-12933-5
    Subjects: Psychology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. ONE Choice and Indoctrination
    (pp. 1-34)

    The second week of September 1950 was warm and humid when I arrived in New Haven, Connecticut, to begin graduate work at what the chairman of my psychology department at Rutgers had told me was the best psychology department in the world. I was twenty-one. That autumn theNew York Timesannounced that President Harry Truman had threatened China with an atomic bomb if it attacked Formosa, the first modern credit card was introduced, and Senator JosephMcCarthy began his witch hunt of Americans suspected of being communists. Hundreds of thousands of men and women who had served in the armed...

  6. TWO Setting a New Foundation
    (pp. 35-69)

    Two types of scientists began to fill the ideological vacuum created by the abandonment of the orthodox versions of behaviorism and psychoanalysis during the 1960s. Both groups were more interested in mental processes than in Pavlov’s conditioned habits or Freud’s oral, anal, phallic stages, and their ambitions were a bit more modest. The scientists who wanted to uncover universal principles for cognitive processes remained politically dominant in the university. Most psychologists regard 1960, the year that George Miller, Eugene Galanter, and Karl Pribram publishedPlans and the Structure of Behavior, as marking the birth of a cognitive revolution that offered...

  7. THREE Flirting with Biology
    (pp. 70-100)

    The mothers of children born afterWorldWar II and entering the workforce in greater numbers needed surrogate care for their young children. This new form of rearing, discrepant from the tradition of their mothers and grandmothers, evoked uncertainty because of the verity that infants needed the loving care only a biological mother could provide. Anything less placed an infant at an unknown level of risk for some later bleak outcome. This belief, which was less common in Europe, permeated Sunday sermons in colonial America three hundred years earlier and was the central theme in Erik Erikson’s influential bookChildhood and Society...

  8. FOUR Accepting Biology and History
    (pp. 101-126)

    The flirtation with biology that began with our study of the infant became a commitment after my sabbatical year on Lake Atitlán in northwest Guatemala. But the sabbatical would have been spent somewhere else had I not been a member of a group of consultants to a research institute in Guatemala City. The purpose of the visit was to evaluate a research proposal designed to determine whether malnutrition was an important contributor to intellectual development. The rationale for the proposal originated in American politics.

    One of the most robust facts in the social sciences is that poor American children, often...

  9. FIVE Human Morality
    (pp. 127-172)

    The routine evaluation of experience as good or bad distinguishesHomo sapiensfrom every other animal. There is not the slimmest shred of evidence to suggest that the most precocious chimpanzee applies notions of good and bad to its actions or those of others. All children agree that hitting another for no good reason is bad but are puzzled if asked whether “eating potatoes is bad.” That evaluative language is selectively applied to particular thoughts, feelings, and actions that, on some occasions, provoke anxiety, shame, guilt, or pride, implies a special set of representations that psychologists call moral standards. It...

  10. SIX Acknowledging Temperament
    (pp. 173-209)

    Community pressure for government-funded daycare centers grew in the 1970s as more working mothers found it hard to find suitable surrogate care for their children. Some members of Congress, appreciating the reasonableness of this need, responded to PresidentNixon’s request to prepare legislation that would establish child-care centers under government supervision. The bill was never passed, and today’s Congress would not consider such a law because of the greater suspicion of government control of an institution that is so closely tied to family values.

    Although most parents had not noticed serious problems in their threeand four-year-olds who attended nursery schools, they,...

  11. SEVEN Celebrating Mind
    (pp. 210-257)

    Natural events can be described and eventually explained in two ways. The first views each phenomenon as the result of a cascade of events. Some cascades, like the reflexwithdrawal of a hand after touching a hot stove, are over in less than a second. The cascade that begins with the formation of a tropical depression off theWest African coast and ends with a hurricane striking Palm Beach, Florida, requires days. The cascade that began with Lyndon Johnson’s birth in rural Texas and ended with his assumption of the presidency in 1963 required decades. The important fact is that when novel...

  12. EIGHT Coda
    (pp. 258-262)

    Althoughmost estimates of the future prove to be wildly incorrect, it is hard to subdue the temptation to be prophet. I am encouraged in this harmless game by recalling two predictions I made in 1983 in the fourth edition of theHandbook of Child Psychology. I suggested that future investigators would acknowledge the importance of brain maturation and include biological measures in their research. Both guesses were correct. By limiting the temporal horizon to the year 2060 (about two generations), I should be able to avoid the appearance of excessive foolishness. Themost secure prediction, which I regret, is that psychology...

  13. NOTES
    (pp. 263-274)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 275-287)