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.

Contents

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

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