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These two volumes, companions in a series of basic writings in the sciences, are also intellectual companions. The growth and development of sociology and anthropology which Mrs. Levitas describes parallels in time and in country of origin the development of psychology outlined by Floyd Matson. Both disciplines were offshoots of philosophy, and while sociology can claim Auguste Comte as its founding father, and psychology acknowledges Aristotle and Descartes, it was in nineteenth-century Germany, England and America that the sciences took root. Both editors can be complimented for fine introductory essays (which could serve equally well as afterwords), and for their remarks introducing each excerpt. Mrs. Levitas' volume is less satisfactory, however. Too many and too brief excerpts, especially in the first section dealing with theory and method, may render the reader not taking a course in sociology more confused than enlightened. Part of this is the early theorists' insistence on defending scientific status of their new offspring and their ponderous German style of so doing. One hates to admit the stereotype but it does seem that sociologists in general are not distinguished by a felicity of expression. Some notable exceptions occur in the second half of the book, however, in selections from Sapir, Lorenz, Frank Livingstone, O.K. Moore and Alan Anderson. In contrast to the sociologists, psychologists do not appear to suffer any inferiority complex with respect to their discipline. Matson's selections of William James, of Skinner and Watson, among others are exercises in acerbic style and forthright declarations. Both books conclude with contemporary selections which suggest that sociology and psychology are ready to embrace philosophy once more, revivifying the discipline that gave them birth. This is especially evident in Matson's volume where the last essays are almost exclusively devoted to existentialism and its relation to psychoanalysis.

Pub Date: Oct. 25th, 1967
Publisher: Braziller