Berger -- Social scientists for social justice- Making the case against segregation.pdf

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Berger -- Social scientists for social justice- Making the case against segregation.pdf
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   Journal of History of the Behavioral Sciences, Vol. 39(3), 299–300 Summer 2003Published online in Wiley InterScience (www.interscience.wiley.com). DOI: 10.1002/jhbs.10146 ᭧ 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. 299 B O O K R E V I E W S Thomas C. Dalton. Becoming John Dewey: Dilemmas of a Philosopher and Naturalist. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002. 377 pp. $45.00 (cloth). ISBN 0-253-34082-9.Once upon a time, philosophical naturalism was a robust pan-discipline enterprise. Itsadvocates promoted the method of empirical science in an all-out battle for the new twentiethcentury against entrenched theological and conservative forces. In America, the battle startedlate but proved to be decisive. The early champions of naturalism, like Herbert Spencer,ThomasHuxley,andW.K.Clifford,wereBritish;Americahadslumberedinidealisticdreamsfor an extra generation. Not until Dewey’s generation, born around the time of the Civil Warand its aftermath, would naturalism find its footing in academia. Ironically,theacknowledgedleader of American naturalism started out as a Hegelian idealist. John Dewey’s respect forthe natural and social sciences took him places where idealism could not go, but he neverforgot its snares and seductions. Even while the succeeding generation raised the banner of realism during the first two decades of the twentieth century, Dewey saw well how thisrealistic movement was still trapped in dualistic Cartesian premisesabout consciousness,self-awareness, and agency. Dewey’s naturalism went deeper and spread its roots wider than anyother of that era, precisely because his philosophy worked in tandem with, and took muchinspiration from, many of the major developments in the social and biological sciences. Thisonce-upon-a-time story has a sad ending: the last 50 years forgot Dewey and abandonedrobust naturalism. Philosophy settled for a thin eliminative materialism and individualisticepistemology that largely ignored the sciences, mitigated only by a recent flurry of interestin cognitive science.The story of the srcin and maturation of Dewey’s philosophical naturalism deserves tobe told, and not just because of Dewey’s deserved stature. The tale would teach us howphilosophy could be again—how philosophy could rejoin cooperative efforts with the sci-ences. No scholar, until now, has attempted an account of Dewey so that such cooperativeachievements are displayed in due proportion. Dalton has accomplished a tremendous feat of research and exposition, indebting not just scholars of pragmatism but also those intriguedby interrelationships among philosophy, behavioral psychology, neuropsychology, physics,sociology, education,andpolitics.UtilizingthevastresourcesoftheCenterforDeweyStudiesand its editions of his writings and correspondence, Dalton painstakingly uncovers the nu-merous connections Dewey made with scholars across physics, psychology, neurology, andeducation, including Niels Bohr, Myrtle McGraw, Lawrence Frank, and many more scientistswho could supply Dewey with news of cutting-edge research. But Dewey was no latecomerto science. Dalton’s tale starts with Dewey’s early years advancing functional psychologywith James Angell and George Mead. Dewey grasped the many dilemmas confronting anaturalistic philosophy, chief among them the most intractable problems of human reasonand consciousness. By forging strong supports between the study of the brain’s developmentand functioning and the study of the psychological processes essential to intelligence,Deweyconstructed a viable pragmatism opposed to both dualism and reductionism. Humans areneither rational spirits trapped in material bodies nor mechanical automatons following outpreprogrammed instructions: we are adaptive manipulators of our environment who improveour problem solving skills to advance culture. That this view is no surprise to scholars in the  300 BOOK REVIEWS behavioral sciences today only highlights Dewey’s impact; yet his revolutionary synthesis of so many fields can still awe and inspire further generations.Dalton’s work stands on its own as an comprehensive introduction to Dewey, the prag-matism he championed, and the robust naturalism that once flourished in America. This book is a marvelous accomplishment in intellectual history, destined to be required reading foranyone investigating the rise and destiny of naturalism.Reviewed by J OHN R. S HOOK , Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Oklahoma State Univer-sity, Stillwater, OK 74078.  Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, Vol. 39(3), 300–301 Summer 2003Published online in Wiley InterScience (www.interscience.wiley.com). DOI: 10.1002/jhbs.10135 ᭧ 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Deborah Blum. Love at Goon Park: Harry Harlow and the Science of Affection. Cam-bridge, MA: Perseus Publishing, 2002. 336 pp. $26.00 (cloth). ISBN 0-7382-0278-9.This book is a cross between a biography of Harry F. Harlow and a history of the studyof love in experimental psychology. Blum’s title stems from frequent errors on mail arrivingat the Harlow’s laboratory address: 600 N. Park. Harlow was the University of Wisconsincomparative psychologist who is best known for his research on the affectional systems andthe effects of isolation on social interactions in rhesus monkeys. He was a complex man whois regarded both positively, for his impact on comparative psychology and childcare in hu-mans, and negatively, by many who regard his research as inhumane. Harlow’s tendenciestoward colorful language and provocation of those with whom he disagreed made him es-pecially controversial.Blum admits to having written a selective, rather than a comprehensive, biography of Harlow. She focuses on his work on mother-young affection while downplaying Harlow’simportant work in the comparative psychology of learning and virtually ignoring his studiesin physiological psychology. Error-factor theory is neglected. Her treatment of Harlow isgenerally accurate and insightful; hers is a sensitive, and sometimes moving, portrayal of thiscomplex man. Blum follows Harlow from his srcins in southeastern Iowa through his Stan-ford education to the Wisconsin campus. She deftly interweaves Harlow’s complex personallife with his research and shows how interrelated the two were. This comes to a climax inthe brilliant and moving Chapter 8 where Harlow’s research on the most severe aspects of isolation in monkeys are interwoven with his wife’s death and his own depression.The book is beautifully written, with prose that flows like that of few academicians.Thus, “Lake Mendota dances with wind-ruffled wavelets of light” (p. 61). However, seem-ingly because Harlow often used terms that were taboo in the science of his time, Blum takeslicense to write so loosely as to be questionable in our own time. We find a discussion of a“survival instinct” (p. 195) and learn of a study of “whether food or water was more likelyto inspire a rat to escape” (p. 20). Rats not given early handling “seemed perpetually tunedto the anxiety channel in their brains. The early-stressed rats, by contrast, seemed to belistening in on the easy rock channel” (p. 181).Blum tries to place Harlow’s research in its proper context but sheisoftenlesssuccessfulas she strays from Harlow per se into wider horizons. For example, John B. Watson did not  301 BOOK REVIEWS say that babies feel only fear, rage, and love, but rather that they were the three unlearnedbehavioral reactions (cf. p. 43). In her discussion of Watson, Thorndike, and Pavlov, Blumfails to distinguish between the procedures used in classical and instrumental conditioning.Konrad Lorenz’s Nobel Prize was not awarded “for his work with ‘imprinting’” (cf. p. 168).It is not true that “Pavlov refused to speculate about what might be happening in the dogs’brains” (p. 71).As a result of focusing on one scientist, Blum often portrays him as the lone knightbattling the bastions of ignorance. She fails to recognize that there were others beyond thefew whom she acknowledges. Others during the 1930s advocated cognitive approaches inanimal learning. Researchers at the Yerkes Laboratories studied contact comfort, learning tolearn, and the sometimes deleterious effects of food motivation on problem solving before orat about the same time as Harlow. Harlow’s genius was not so much in being there first asin elaborating on the basic phenomena, finding meaning in the results, and in presentingthemin ways that took on major significance.Overall, the book reads well, has an excellent coherence, and tells a balanced and sen-sitive story of much of Harlow’s troubled life and work. The author did not set out to writea historical treatise or comprehensive biography but succeeded in the task she set in providinga highly accessible telling of the story of the man and his work.Reviewed by D ONALD A. D EWSBURY , Professor of Psychology, University of Florida,Gainesville, FL 32611.  Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, Vol. 39(3), 301–302 Summer 2003Published online in Wiley InterScience (www.interscience.wiley.com). DOI: 10.1002/jhbs.10137 ᭧ 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. David Wright. Mental Disability in Victorian England: The Earlswood Asylum 1847–1901. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2001. 244 pp. $65.00 (cloth) ISBN 0-19-924639-4. Mathew Thomson. The Problem of Mental Deficiency: Eugenics, Democracy, and Social  Policy in Britain c.1870–1959. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998. 351 pp. $98.00 (cloth).ISBN 0-19-820692-4.These two recent volumes in the Oxford Historical Monographs series provide comple-mentary evidencethatthehistoryof intellectualdisabilityinEngland,untilrecentlyamarginalarea of study, has reached an impressive new state of development. Both of these worksthoroughly demolish widely believed,yet overlysimplistic,viewsaboutinstitutionsandsocialpolicy. David Wright shows that nineteenth-century British asylums for persons identified as“idiots” were not custodial dumping grounds run by untrained, incompetent, and neglectfulstaff. Focusing primarily on the twentieth century, Matthew Thomson demonstrates that thedevelopment of state policy toward the intellectually disabled in Britain, even during theperiod of in which they were deemed a “menace,” was the outcome of complex politicaldynamics. He shows that the role of the eugenics movement has been greatly exaggerated inearlier accounts.Wright’s is a fascinating and wholly convincing narrative “from below” of Earlswood,the first “idiot asylum” in the British Isles. His analysis was made possible through the  302 BOOK REVIEWS remarkable construction of a database linking theEarlswood admissionregistryforover2,000patients and Earlswood staff and donor databases, with census records from England andWales. He was thus able to study the relationship between family context and the decisionto place a family member in the asylum, as well as the social standing and motivations of donors to the institution and those who worked there.Wright found that a continuum of care options for the mentally disabled existed innineteenth-century Britain, the most important of which was the nuclear family, the rise of asylums notwithstanding. Families did not permanently “dump” unwanted members in insti-tutions, but strategically used them as resources to cope with periods of family crisis. Earls-wood patients, drawn from all British social classes were usually “elected” to Earlswood foronly five-year periods of confinement after which they frequently returned to the community.Work in asylums, rather than being “employment of last resort,” provided acareerladderfor lower-class British women. They advanced, through training and experience, from entry-level work as maids, to become attendants and finally nurses. Contrary to what has beenwritten earlier, the turnover rate at institutions was not due to low status and pay for thesepositions, but to a competitive market for the skilled workers trained there.In contrast to Wright’s work, Thomson’s comprehensive, seminal study of the politicsof mental deficiency legislation in England and Wales is a multilevel analysis that isprimarilyconcerned with the period between the passage of the Mental Deficiency Act of 1913 and theNational Health Service Act in 1946. Thomson focuses not only on the political role of parliamentary leaders, parties, and central and local governments, but also on charitable andprofessional organizations. All of these interacted to develop a policy of segregation for thementally disabled that would not have been tolerated for any other group. Thomson refutesthosewho havedescribed thisastheantidemocraticvictoryofanemergingeugenicmovementaimed at expanding social control over those it deemed undesirable and unfit. In fact, theeugenics movement had so little influence on the development of policy that its linkage tovarious positions was often a hindrance rather than benefit in the process of coalescing sup-port.How then to explain the adoption of harsh, authoritarian, mental-deficiency policy?Thomson moves the focus away from theriseof theeugenicsmovementto,instead,England’s“adjustment to democracy” occasioned by the expansion of suffrage during the same period.The reduction of the rights of the mentally disabled was paradoxically related to the intensityof the contemporary focus on the entitlements of citizens in a democracy. Because the men-tally disabled were seen as incapable of properly exercising their democratic rights, it becameacceptable state policy in the welfare state to exclude and segregate them.In this way, the establishment of a clear boundary between democratically entitled cit-izens and intellectually disabled “others” served to ground someof theelectricitygenerated—in a patriarchal and class-conscious society—when voting rights were granted to womenandthe lower classes. In a similar manner, nineteenth-century degenerationists’ exclusion of thesame “mentally defective” victims (as well as of nonwhite races) from the corpus of civilizedhumanity had served to alleviate anxieties raised by the news that human beings were partof the animal kingdom.Reviewed by S TEVEN A. G ELB , Professor of Education, University of San Diego, SanDiego,CA 92110.
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