FROM SOUL TO MIND by Edward S. Reed

FROM SOUL TO MIND

The Emergence of Psychology, from Erasmus Darwin to William James
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Reed (Psychology/Franklin and Marshall Coll.) traces the gradual, contentious evolution of the discipline of psychology in the 19th century. The origins of psychoanalysis are quite clear: It emerged at the end of the last century largely as the result of the efforts of one man, Sigmund Freud. But the larger discipline of psychology was shaped by a number of remarkable figures. In the early decades of the 19th century, Reed notes, psychology was viewed as a part of metaphysics: It was a science of the soul. It was Erasmus Darwin (Charles's grandfather) who repositioned psychology in the sciences, driven in part by his materialist view that (as Reed paraphrases it) ``all mental states derive from the motion of particles in the brain.'' During the course of the century psychology and philosophy slowly became disentangled, with psychology gradually acquiring the status of an academic discipline. By century's end, psychology's intellectual reach (and influence) had broadened considerably, for it now included an experimental dimension developed predominantly by German thinkers, touching on such matters as the nature of will and of perception, and a fascination with a concept until then largely limited to the literary romantics: the unconscious. Reed's demanding work relates the story of the competing theories and debates with a fair amount of detail, drawing on such emerging fields as modern metaphysics and epistemology, neurology, physiology, and perceptual theory to make his points. He presupposes that his reader has at least a basic knowledge of modern philosophy, and sometimes more; his sentences can be dense and packed with theory. Clearly, this is a work targeted at academics rather than at lay readers. The former will find it intellectually challenging and perhaps a bit exhausting--there is a fast parade of thinkers and concepts, which occasionally receive too cursory an exploration- -though ultimately informative and rewarding.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-300-06967-7
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Yale Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1997