MIND by David A. Taylor


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Experimental psychologist Taylor's views of mind might comprise a traditional freshman course in psychology. There are chapters on perceiving, imagining, remembering, thinking, acting, etc.--beginning with the usual homage to the roots of psychology in Aristotle, Descartes, James, Wundt, or Freud. We quickly learn that Taylor is no dualist, believing that ""mind"" represents the activities of the brain. He is also no behaviorist, dismissing Watson et al. with a passing reference to the failure of that limited approach. As for the rest, the reader gets a taste of past and current thinking about mental activities that is more old- than new-fashioned. There are suggestions that feelings rank below thinking; that reason has emerged as the greater glory made possible by the ability to order sequences of stored imaginings. Taylor sees higher mental activities as only recently having evolved--giving credence, for example, to Jaynes' ideas that consciousness only dawned some 3,000 years ago. To shore up his arguments, Taylor speculates on the growth of mind in other species and on the development of mental faculties in childhood. Curiously, he makes no mention of Piaget, or of the renewed interest in Gestalt psychology; and takes little note of the contributions of major psycholinguists and cognitive psychologists. He does allude to developments in neurophysiology and neurochemistry (e.g., the endorphons as mediators of pain), he admits that innate defects in brain chemistry might be responsible for schizophrenia. But clearly he is not about to abandon traditional psychological turf to the neurosciences. Instead, there is familiar-type material on mnemonic devices and problem-solving. And one is startled, toward the end, by Taylor's insistence that biological evolution in man has stopped, as well as by his assertion that all persons with personality disorders pose a risk to society. Such pronouncements, albeit mixed with hopes of greater insights to come, give the book a guarded air. Respectable old-fashioned, non-rat psychology, then, but only a part of the modern picture.

Pub Date: July 12th, 1982
Publisher: Simon & Schuster