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From Soul to Mind

From Soul to Mind: The Emergence of Psychology, from Erasmus Darwin to William James

Edward S. Reed
Copyright Date: 1997
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 302
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  • Book Info
    From Soul to Mind
    Book Description:

    Early in the nineteenth century, psychology was considered a science of the soul; by the end of the century, it had abandoned the soul to become a science of the mind, says Edward Reed. In this lively and original account of psychology's formative years, Reed tells the story of the failures and successes of the attempts of nineteenth-century thinkers and practitioners-including philosophers, theologians, medical workers, mesmerists, and even poets-to make psychology into a science. He also situates psychological developments within the social, religious, and literary contexts of the times, taking into account the effects of such significant historical changes as rising nationalism, industrialization, urbanization, and changes in communication.From Soul to Mindintroduces a cast that includes not only well-known psychologists and philosophers (Kant, Reid, Darwin, James) but also figures important in their time who are largely forgotten today (R. H. Lotze in Germany, G. H. Lewes in Britain) and literary notables (Mary Shelley, E. T. A. Hoffman, Edgar Allan Poe). Countering the widespread belief that psychology is the offspring of philosophy, Reed contends that modern philosophy arose when academic philosophers sought to distinguish themselves from psychologists. He places the histories of philosophy and psychology within a broad intellectual and social framework and offers a new perspective on the roots of the New Psychology.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-14723-0
    Subjects: Psychology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xviii)
  4. 1 In Search of Psychology
    (pp. 1-21)

    Smack in the middle of the nineteenth century, on February 12, 1850, seven United States senators—among them Sam Houston, Henry Clay, and Daniel Webster—invited a psychologist to speak in the Hall of Representatives in Washington, D.C. Their choice was the Universalist minister John Bovee Dods (1795-1872), who duly provided a series of lectures on “electrical psychology.” Published that spring, Dods’s lectures were so popular that they went through several printings, and a revised and augmented edition appeared in the fall.

    Dods’s lectures offer the modern reader a convenient microcosm of nineteenth-century psychology. Beginning with a ideological view of...

  5. 2 The Impossible Science
    (pp. 22-37)

    The consensus in Europe during and immediately after the French Revolution was that psychology as a science was impossible. This was not the position of a few retrograde theorists but the thoughtfully articulated opinion of the best-placed academic thinkers. Much of what we now call psychology and philosophy emerged from the reversal of this opinion under the onslaught of an ostensibly sacrilegious and materialistic psychology.

    An important terminological shift took place during this time as well. In Locke’s day, the English termsnatural philosophyandmoral philosophywere used in tandem to refer roughly to what we would now call...

  6. 3 Frankenstein’s Science
    (pp. 38-59)

    Try as they might, Metternich and his allies in reaction could not completely eradicate progressive thinking about the nature of society and individual psychology. Although the set curriculum of most academic institutions and texts followed the kind of popularized Reidian or Kantian psychology I have dubbed traditional metaphysics, there was at the same time a widespread if nonacademically based alternative psychology, which might be broadly characterized as fluid materialism. It had its roots in Franklin’s two-fluid theory of electricity, with branches in Mesmer’s animal magnetism and Galvani’s and Volta’s competing theories about electrical phenomena in animal tissues. Increasingly, some thinkers...

  7. 4 The Breakdown in the Concert of European Ideas
    (pp. 60-80)

    Traditional metaphysics was an unstable theory for psychology, despite the support it received from the authorities. Its instability arose out of the understandable desire of its proponents to say something meaningful about the way the mind works—even though their official theory required them to claim that no one can really analyze the soul because the soul is not a natural entity. Thinkers like Stewart and Abercrombie were adamant in claiming that any analysis of the mind’s relation to nature is “beyond the reach of human faculties” (Abercrombie, p. 25). Yet at the same time, these writers insisted that materialistic...

  8. 5 The Brief Life of Natural Metaphysics
    (pp. 81-108)

    The traditional metaphysics that held sway throughout the Western world from 1815 to 1830 did not give way suddenly to one or even a few different theories. Instead, thinkers chipped away at exposed places in the edifice of the traditional theory. If theorists were right to advocate recognition of a new sense, whether a muscular sense or a sense of effort, then many of the traditional claims about the impossibility of knowing the external world could be proved wrong, for they would be based on an inadequate inventory of our sensory experience. Many of the traditionalist critiques of associationism could...

  9. 6 1848 and All That
    (pp. 109-126)

    The intellectual transformations of the 1840s were rapid and significant, but they pale in comparison with the socioeconomic and technological changes of that decade. The unprecedented developments in transportation and communication in those years were a major factor in the shaping of modern Europe. Railroads, transoceanic steamers, telegraphs, post offices, and modern roads all began to be built and used extensively during this period. The industrial revolution already had altered the landscape in Britain and Belgium and was beginning to do so in other places. Many cities experienced major growth in population. Modern social legislation (sanitary reforms, for example) began...

  10. 7 The Three Unconsciousnesses and How They Grew
    (pp. 127-143)

    The idea of unconscious mental processes, or even oftheunconscious as an entity, was by no means original with Freud. Many thinkers throughout the nineteenth century pondered the nature of the unconscious. The unconscious of the Romantics, however—especially that of Schelling andNaturphilosophie, which so influenced German literature—was as much ontological as psychological. In a theory that defies easy description, many Romantics equated the physical forces (fluids?) of electricity and magnetism with irrational urges and vague feelings, feelings such as those of unity with nature or longings for oneness and sexual satisfaction. Despite his loathing for Schelling...

  11. 8 The Apotheosis of Positivism
    (pp. 144-167)

    Experimental psychology is often said to have begun in 1879, the year in which Wundt’s very productive experimental psychology laboratory was inaugurated in Leipzig. This anniversary is misleading. As we have seen, both the theories and the experimental methods of Wundt (and others in the decade following 1879) had been developed earlier by the associationists and the natural metaphysicians. Nevertheless, the late 1870s mark two important transitions for psychology. The first is institutional: after 1879 “serious” psychological research was increasingly carried out in academic settings, by professionals who identified their work with the lab and the lectern. The second transition...

  12. 9 The Anomalous Mr. Darwin
    (pp. 168-183)

    Charles Darwin (1809-82), grandson of Erasmus, was a model scientist who could not and cannot serve as a model for scientists. Among the most influential thinkers of all time, Darwin single-handedly made some of the greatest advances of the nineteenth century in several fields, from geology and biogeography to experimental botany and animal breeding—not to mention evolution and psychology. But this tremendously productive figure was a unique case, not someone whose methods and procedures can be emulated. Independently wealthy, Darwin never had to work for a living and was able to devote virtually every healthy working hour of his...

  13. 10 The Generation of 1879, or How Philosophy Emerged from Psychology
    (pp. 184-200)

    The generation of psychologists who came of age around 1879 transformed the field. Experimental psychology labs sprang up at all the major universities in Germany. Increasingly, and for the first time, scholars began identifying themselves as specialists in psychology—although, in many cases, they also called themselves philosophers or physiologists. Americans in particular flocked to the German laboratories and returned to establish their own; by the late 1890s the center of activity in psychology had already begun to shift to the United States. Britain and France lagged behind, largely because in those countries the universities did not promote research. Alfred...

  14. 11 William James: Psychology as a Science of Experience
    (pp. 201-220)

    William James is both a major figure in the history of American thought and an anomalous one. In standard accounts he is treated as the first major American philosopher and also as the father of psychology in America. Acclaimed as the father of two academic disciplines, James nevertheless deplored academic specialization, as he made clear in his critical article “The Ph.D. Octopus.” Furthermore, the projects on which he expended the most labor—his stream-of-consciousness psychology, his studies of psychic powers, his analysis of religious experience and conversion—have never been taken up seriously by those who claim to be his...

  15. Bibliographic Essay
    (pp. 221-272)
  16. Index
    (pp. 273-283)