Wundt and the Philosophical Foundations of Psychology

Full page photoDear friends and members of the ESHHS,
we are happy to announce that Saulo de Freitas Araujo, one of our long time members, published his book on Wundt.

About the book:

This book reassesses the seminal work of Wilhelm Wundt by discussing the history and philosophy of psychology. It traces the pioneering theorist’s intellectual development and the evolution of psychology throughout his career. The author draws on little-known sources to situate psychological concepts in Wundt’s philosophical thought and address common myths and misconceptions relating to Wundt’s ideas. The ideas presented in this book show why Wundt’s work remains relevant in this era of ongoing mind/brain debate and interest continues in the links between psychology and philosophy.

Featured topics include:

Theoretical and philosophical foundations of Wundt’s early work in scientific psychology.
Wundt’s conception of scientific philosophy in relation to his theory of knowledge.
The epistemological dimensions of Wundt’s final project in scientific psychology.

Wundt and the Philosophical Foundations of Psychology is a valuable resource for researchers, professors, and graduate students in cognitive and related psychology and philosophy disciplines.

For further information, see the publisher’s website

New book publication on teleology and genealogy

image-service.aspDear members and friends of the ESHHS,
some of you might be interested in the following book publication:

“From Aristotle’s Teleology to Darwin’s Genealogy – The Stamp of Inutility” by Marco Solinas.

Starting with Aristotle and moving on to Darwin, Marco Solinas outlines the basic steps from the birth, establishment and later rebirth of the traditional view of living beings, and its overturning by evolutionary revolution. The classic framework devised by Aristotle was still dominant in the 17th Century world of Galileo, Harvey and Ray, and remained hegemonic until the time of Lamarck and Cuvier in the 19th Century. Darwin’s breakthrough thus takes on the dimensions of an abandonment of the traditional finalistic theory. It was a transition exemplified in the morphological analysis of useless parts, such as the sightless eyes of moles, already discussed by Aristotle, which Darwin used as a crowbar to unhinge the systematic recourse to final causes. With many excerpts, a chronological sequence and an analytical approach, this book follows the course of the two conceptions that have shaped the destiny of living beings in western culture.

You can order the book directly at the publisher’s website.

Book award for ESHHS president!

hulluuden_historia-pietikainen_petteri-22477450-1255822921-frntlPetteri Pietikäinen, current president of the ESHHS, received the prestigious Finnish national Kanava Award for the best non-fiction book of 2013 for his recent publication “Hulluuden historia” (“History of Madness”).

The awarding committee noted that the book tells an impressive story of how madness has been an intrinsic part of human experience and social organization. It suggests a new perspective on the role of madness in history, one expressed through the variety of ways in which madness has been explained and treated over time.

ESHHS member Roger Smith’s new books

Roger Smith, Between Mind and Nature: A History of Psychology (London: Reaktion Books, Feb. 2013; distributed in US by University of Chicago Press)

This is a new and up-to-date history of psychology with a historian of science’s perspective. It is a critical history in the sense that it looks at psychology ‘from the outside’: it understands psychological beliefs and activity historically and does not take a psychological way of thought for granted. The book is for anyone interested in human nature and in the relations of the sciences and the humanities. I also hope students and psychologists of all kinds will find stimulus here and, though it is not a text-book, its coverage is unusually full. I write distinctively about the variety of psychological activity and the intellectual and social worlds of which it has been part. The history of psychology covers a field without clear boundaries, and I try to do justice to this. It is possible, though, to read chapters separately. The book has an origin in an earlier and larger book,The Fontana (or NortonHistory of the Human Sciences, published some fifteen years ago and out of print. This new book is different, with a sharper focus on psychology and much new material. In places, I have rewritten and brought up to date earlier material where that best suited my purpose; and I have also rewritten material taken from a version of theFontana/Norton history translated and published in Russia.

Roger Smith, Free Will and the Human Sciences in Britain, 1870-1910 (London: Pickering & Chatto, Jan. 2013)

From the late nineteenth century onwards religion gave way to science as the dominant force in society. This led to a questioning of the principle of free will _ if the workings of the human mind could be reduced to purely physiological explanations, then what place was there for human agency and self-improvement?  Smith takes an in-depth look at the problem of free will through the prism of different disciplines. Physiology, psychology, philosophy, evolutionary theory, ethics, history and sociology all played a part in the debates that took place. His subtly nuanced navigation through these arguments has much to contribute both to our understanding of Victorian and Edwardian science and culture, as well having relevance to current debates on the role of genes in determining behaviour.


1. Belief in Free Will: What was at Stake?
 2. Physiology and Mind in the 1870s
 3. Shaping the Science of Psychology
 4. Volition and Mental Activity 
5. Causation 
6.The Moral Agent 
7. History and Society
 8. The Legacy

Perspectives on culture: society, politics and the individual

Ratner (2012)Two interesting books have recently been published by Carl Ratner, director of the Institute for Cultural Research and Education. The first, Macro Cultural Psychology, a Political Philosophy of Mind, explains how macro cultural factors are the cornerstones of society and how they form the origins and characteristics of psychological phenomena. In doing so it articulates a systematic political philosophy of mind and utilizes this to examine current issues and approaches to psychology.

In Cooperation, Community, and Co-Ops in a Global Era, Ratner argues for a societal paradigm shift and details how such a transformation might be accomplished. Taking the evolutionary long view, he demonstrates how cooperative principles can make a social system not just more efficient and less wasteful of time and resources, but also more democratic, empowering, and fulfilling for everyone involved.

Carl Ratner, Macro Cultural Psychology, a Political Philosophy of Mind. Oxford University Press, 2011. 544 pp. ISBN 978-0-195-37354-7

Carl Ratner, Cooperation, Community, and Co-Ops in a Global Era. Springer, 2012. 245 pp. ISBN 978-1-461-45824-1