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Soul Machine : The Invention of the Modern Mind (Hardcover) (George Makari)
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A new book in the history and philosophy of science, this text's contents and style hark back to an earlier generation in the field. The author is a psychiatrist and historian of psychiatry. The book is an attempt to trace the history of modern concepts of the human mind. Though the book is long, it limits itself to a 19th-century vision of history: events in elite and military circles in northwest Europe are considered, social and cultural contexts and events in the rest of the world are not. Human history begins with Aristotle, leaps to Western Christian theologians who are mentioned briefly and found wanting, and goes into detail only in France, Germany, and England in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Unusually for such a text, the book ends there. Kant is given much attention. The basic premise is that elite thinkers in these three countries bet that Franz-Joseph Gall had the correct unification of scientific and humanist ideas of mind. Unfortunately, it turned out to be phrenology (the European racist pseudoscience of physiognomy is meant, not the 19th century popular US self-improvement movement). The book's conclusion is that because the modern division between the sciences and the humanities is artificial and relatively new, investigations into the human mind and behavior in all fields are properly based in the machine analogies of reductionism; Gall was a tragically bad choice for what the author sees as a humane and necessary synthesis. The book follows the format of mid-century modernist texts that see psychiatry as the final evolution of all intellectual thought. It updates the idea for the current era of medical reductionism in psychiatry by replacing the icon of Freud the hero with Gall the failure. Annotation ©2015 Ringgold, Inc., Portland, OR (protoview.com)
Soul Machine takes us back to the origins of modernity, a time when a crisis in religious authority and the scientific revolution led to searching questions about the nature of human inner life. This is the story of how a new concept?the mind?emerged as a potential solution, one that was part soul and part machine but fully neither.George Makari, director of Cornell?s Institute for the History of Psychiatry, shows how writers, philosophers, doctors, and anatomists worked to construct notions of the mind as not an ethereal thing, but a natural one. Conducted in a cauldron of political turmoil, their efforts spanned 150 years and would underwrite the birth of the mind sciences, liberal politics, secular ethics, and radically new visions of the self, society, the ordering of knowledge, and the sources of unreason. Boldly original and synthetic, Soul Machine is a masterful new history of the mind, madness, and the emergence of psychological man in the Western world.
Number of Pages: 656
Sub-Genre: Mental Health, Social Psychology, History
Publisher: W W Norton & Co Inc
Author: George Makari
Street Date: November 2, 2015
Item Number (DPCI): 247-48-2545
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