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History of the Human Sciences

Impact factor: 0.442 5-Year impact factor: 0.493 Print ISSN: 0952-6951 Publisher: Sage Publications

Subjects: History & Philosophy Of Science, History Of Social Sciences

Most recent papers:

  • Frederic Le Play and 19th-century vision machines.
    Freemantle, H.
    History of the Human Sciences. October 26, 2016

    An early proponent of the social sciences, Frédéric Le Play, was the occupant of senior positions within the French state in the mid- to late 19th century. He was writing at a time when science was ascending. There was for him no doubt that scientific observation, correctly applied, would allow him unmediated access to the truth. It is significant that Le Play was the organizer of a number of universal expositions because these expositions were used as vehicles to demonstrate the ascendant position of western civilization. The fabrication of linear time is a history of progress requiring a vision of history analogous to the view offered the spectator at a diorama. Le Play employed the design principles and spirit of the diorama in his formulations for the social sciences, and L’Exposition Universelle of 1867 used the technology wherever it could. Both the gaze of the spectators and the objects viewed are part and products of the same particular and unique historical formation. Ideas of perception cannot be separated out from the conditions that make them possible. Vision and its effects are inseparable from the observing subject who is both a product of a particular historical moment and the site of certain practices.

    October 26, 2016   doi: 10.1177/0952695116673526   open full text
  • How to do the history of the self.
    Hofman, E.
    History of the Human Sciences. June 23, 2016

    The history of the self is a flourishing field. Nevertheless, there are some problems that have proven difficult to overcome, mainly concerning teleology, the universality or particularity of the self and the gap between ideas and experiences of the self. In this article, I make two methodological suggestions to address these issues. First, I propose a ‘queering’ of the self, inspired by recent developments in the history of sexuality. By destabilizing the modern self and writing the histories of its different and paradoxical aspects, we can better attend to continuities and discontinuities in the history of the self and break up the idea of a linear and unitary history. I distinguish 4 overlapping and intersecting axes along which discourses of the self present themselves: (1) interiority and outer orientation; (2) stability and flexibility; (3) holism and fragmentation; and (4) self-control and dispossession. Second, I propose studying 4 ‘practices of self’ through which the self is created, namely: (1) techniques of self; (2) self-talk; (3) interpreting the self; and (4) regulating practices. Analysing these practices allows one to go beyond debates about experience versus expression, and to recognize that expressions of self are never just expressions, but make up the self itself.

    June 23, 2016   doi: 10.1177/0952695116653305   open full text
  • From human science to biology: The second synthesis of Ronald Fisher.
    Esposito, M.
    History of the Human Sciences. June 23, 2016

    Scholars have paid great attention to the neo-Darwinism of Ronald Fisher. He was one of the founding fathers of the modern synthesis and, not surprisingly, his writings and life have been widely scrutinized. However, less attention has been paid to his interests in the human sciences. In assessing Fisher’s uses of the human sciences in his seminal book the Genetical Theory of Natural Selection and elsewhere, the article shows how Fisher’s evolutionary thought was essentially eclectic when applied to the human context. In order to understand how evolution works among humans, Fisher made himself also a sociologist and historian. More than a eugenically minded Darwinist, Fisher was also a sophisticated scholar combining many disciplines without the ambition to reduce, simplistically, the human sciences to biology.

    June 23, 2016   doi: 10.1177/0952695116653866   open full text
  • 'The Germans are beating us at our own game: American eugenics and the German sterilization law of 1933.
    Klautke, E.
    History of the Human Sciences. March 02, 2016

    This article assesses interactions between American and German eugenicists in the interwar period. It shows the shifting importance and leading roles of German and American eugenicists: while interactions and exchanges between German and American eugenicists in the interwar period were important and significant, it remains difficult to establish direct American influence on Nazi legislation. German experts of race hygiene who advised the Nazi government in drafting the sterilization law were well informed about the experiences with similar laws in American states, most importantly in California and Virginia, but there is little evidence to suggest they depended on American knowledge and expertise to draft their own sterilization law. Rather, they adapted a body of thought that was transnational by nature: suggesting that the Nazis’ racial policies can be traced back to American origins over-simplifies the historical record. Still, the ‘American connection’ of the German racial hygiene movement is a significant aspect of the general history of eugenics into which it needs to be integrated. The similarities in eugenic thinking and practice in the USA and Germany force us to re-evaluate the peculiarity of Nazi racial policies.

    March 02, 2016   doi: 10.1177/0952695116631230   open full text
  • Book review: The Politics of Wounds: Military Patients and Medical Power in the First World War.
    Gehrhardt, M.
    History of the Human Sciences. December 23, 2015
    There is no abstract available for this paper.
    December 23, 2015   doi: 10.1177/0952695115615285   open full text
  • Book review: Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft. Soziologie. Unvollendet 1919-1920.
    Adair-Toteff, C.
    History of the Human Sciences. December 23, 2015
    There is no abstract available for this paper.
    December 23, 2015   doi: 10.1177/0952695115615288   open full text
  • The dawn of detachment: Norbert Elias and sociology's two tracks.
    Kilminster, R.
    History of the Human Sciences. May 30, 2014

    This article draws on Elias’s observations on the origins of political economy and sociology as well as his theory of involvement and detachment to supplement standard accounts of the history of sociology. It shows how, in the 1840s, sociology bifurcated into two tracks. Track I was the highly ‘involved’ partisan track associated with Marx and Engels and track II was the relatively ‘detached’, non-partisan track pursued by Saint-Simon, Comte, Lorenz von Stein and others. These two tracks continue to shape contemporary sociology as basic orientations. The polarization of class conflict predicted in Marx’s theory is contrasted with the class interdependence model in Lorenz von Stein, in particular. Elias’s work is understood as a synthesis of later developments in track II in which he strongly reaffirmed the historical separation of sociology from philosophy. Elias’s work is presented as a central theory of society and as a promising alternative to the prevailing practice of theoretical eclecticism in sociology.

    May 30, 2014   doi: 10.1177/0952695114535397   open full text
  • 'Blind' to the obvious: Wittgenstein and Kohler on the obvious and the hidden.
    Dinishak, J.
    History of the Human Sciences. May 14, 2014

    The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein cites the Gestalt psychologist Wolfgang Köhler almost as often as he cites William James in his posthumously published writings on the philosophy of psychology. Yet, few treatments of the Wittgenstein–Köhler relation in the philosophical literature could be called sustained discussions. Moreover, most of them treat Köhler as a mere whipping boy for Wittgenstein, one more opportunity to criticize the practice of psychologists. This article emphasizes how much the two thinkers agreed, and the extent to which some of Wittgenstein’s work not only agreed with but also has a logical structure parallel to some of Köhler’s text. Both thinkers hold that the theoretician should strive to recognize and resist the impulse to step in and purify, distill, streamline, or exclude phenomena: common, everyday experience for Köhler and common, everyday uses of words for Wittgenstein. They both aim to counteract the tendency to discount and disparage what is ordinary and common.

    May 14, 2014   doi: 10.1177/0952695114530393   open full text
  • Imprimi potest: Roman Catholic censoring of psychology and psychoanalysis in the early 20th century.
    Kugelmann, R.
    History of the Human Sciences. May 14, 2014

    Because he was a Jesuit, Irish-born Edward Boyd Barrett (1883–1966) had to submit his writing to Jesuit censors, who were charged with making sure that nothing in the documents was contrary to Roman Catholic faith and morals. Drawing upon archival records, this article shows the complexities of the censorship process in the early 20th century. Boyd Barrett’s Motive Force and Motivation-Tracks (1911), an experimental study in will-psychology completed under Michotte, was threatened with withdrawal from circulation after an anonymous review (which was not published) accused the book of modernism. In the 1920s, articles on psychoanalysis directed at a wide Catholic readership, received severe criticism by Jesuit censors, and some were not published. The article presents the censors’ objections and Boyd Barrett’s defense. One effect of censorship was to make psychoanalysis, at least in some formulations, acceptable to a Catholic readership.

    May 14, 2014   doi: 10.1177/0952695114530980   open full text
  • On relations between ethnology and psychology in historical context.
    Jahoda, G.
    History of the Human Sciences. May 14, 2014

    Ever since records began, accounts of other peoples and their institutions and customs have included comments about their mental characteristics. The present article traces this feature from the 18th century to roughly the First World War, with a brief sketch of more recent developments. For most of this period two contrasting positions prevailed: the dominant one attributed human differences to ‘race’, while the other one explained them in terms of psychological, environmental and historical factors. The present account focuses on the latter, among them those who asserted ‘the psychic unity of mankind’. Generally it is shown that from the early period when writings were based almost entirely on secondary sources, to the beginnings of empirical studies, ethnological theories were indissolubly linked to psychological concerns.

    May 14, 2014   doi: 10.1177/0952695114532461   open full text
  • Reflections on the ruins of Athens and Rome: Derrida and Simmel on temporality, life and death.
    Hancock, B. H., Garner, R.
    History of the Human Sciences. April 23, 2014

    The recent publication of the translation of Jacques Derrida’s Athens, Still Remains, a small volume of photographs and commentary, affords an opportunity to probe Derrida’s reflections on death and therefore on life as well. Looking at photographs and objects of everyday life, Derrida emphasizes the deferred yet certain nature of death and the way in which this deferral opens the opportunity to devote ourselves to life. His grounding of his philosophical and deconstructionist argument in contemplation of material fragments (the photographs of ruins and scenes from the recent past of Athens) invites a comparison with the writing of sociologist Georg Simmel on ruins, time and death. Both writers attempt to discover practices of survival, the techne of affirming life in the face of death. For both of them these practices are sociological as well as philosophical, individual as well as collective, and aesthetic as well as intellectual. While their reflections thematically converge, their strategies for the affirmation of life are not identical, and we contrast Derrida’s approach, rooted in a concept of being in the world and a connection to others, to Simmel’s analysis which is focused on the role of culture and the force of the human spirit. Reconstructing a conversation between Derrida and Simmel and examining their intellectual rapprochement deepen our thinking about temporality and death as we confront the question ‘How are we to live?’

    April 23, 2014   doi: 10.1177/0952695114529116   open full text
  • Constructing a social subject: Autism and human sociality in the 1980s.
    Hollin, G.
    History of the Human Sciences. April 17, 2014

    This article examines three key aetiological theories of autism (meta-representations, executive dysfunction and weak central coherence), which emerged within cognitive psychology in the latter half of the 1980s. Drawing upon Foucault’s notion of ‘forms of possible knowledge’, and in particular his concept of savoir or depth knowledge, two key claims are made. First, it is argued that a particular production of autism became available to questions of truth and falsity following a radical reconstruction of ‘the social’ in which human sociality was taken both to exclusively concern interpersonal interaction and to be continuous with non-social cognition. Second, it is suggested that this reconstruction of the social has affected the contemporary cultural experience of autism, shifting attention towards previously unacknowledged cognitive aspects of the condition. The article concludes by situating these claims in relation to other historical accounts of the emergence of autism and ongoing debates surrounding changing articulations of social action in the psy disciplines.

    April 17, 2014   doi: 10.1177/0952695114528189   open full text
  • White psychologists only: The rise and fall of the Psychological Institute of the Republic of South Africa.
    Long, W.
    History of the Human Sciences. April 15, 2014

    This article explores the rise and fall of an Afrikaner psychological association: the Psychological Institute of the Republic of South Africa (PIRSA). It presents rhetorical, discursive and social analyses of presidential addresses delivered at PIRSA congresses between 1962 and 1977, identifying the emergence of a discourse of volksdiens (ethnic-national service) during the 1960s that called for the ethnic-national relevance of the discipline. With the Afrikaner nation vulnerable to the triple threat of communism, capitalism and egalitarianism, PIRSA insisted that psychological research be dedicated towards addressing these and other dangers. In the 1970s, however, such appeals became less prominent as discussions of South African issues slipped off the agenda. Curiously, at a time when the apartheid state was in decline, PIRSA’s psychologists were concerned with everything but the survival of Afrikanerdom. The unraveling of PIRSA’s quest for ethnic-national relevance mirrored the disintegration of the state’s apartheid rationality, which resulted from a concatenation of political, economic and cultural upheavals.

    April 15, 2014   doi: 10.1177/0952695114529117   open full text
  • Revisiting early sociological studies on addiction: Interactions with collectives.
    Chen, J.-s.
    History of the Human Sciences. April 15, 2014

    Addiction is a significant issue in many aspects but no explanatory closure has been attained. The overemphasis on the brain disease paradigm upheld by the National Institute on Drug Abuse may run serious risks, and the present study intends to counteract this partiality. Drawing on Ludwik Fleck’s notion of thought collectives, this article offers a close reading of the works of sociologists Bingham Dai and Alfred R. Lindesmith vis-à-vis other coeval biomedical approaches. Individuals within the same thought collective, such as Dai and Lindesmith, have different views although they share certain thought styles. As noted in this study, inter-collective communication is not typically antagonistic and may form some liaison under certain circumstances. These findings imply that communication among collectives may facilitate creative liaison, as suggested by Fleck. This study aims to enrich the understanding of addiction by coordinating biomedical and sociological sciences through minimizing, if not erasing, their intellectual antagonism and social distance.

    April 15, 2014   doi: 10.1177/0952695114529433   open full text
  • The mental test as a boundary object in early-20th-century Russian child science.
    Byford, A.
    History of the Human Sciences. April 08, 2014

    This article charts the history of mental testing in the context of the rise and fall of Russian child science between the 1890s and the 1930s. Tracing the genealogy of testing in scientific experimentation, scholastic assessment, medical diagnostics and bureaucratic accounting, it follows the displacements of this technology along and across the boundaries of the child science movement. The article focuses on three domains of expertise – psychology, pedagogy and psychiatry, examining the key guises that mental testing assumed in them – namely, the experiment, the exam and the diagnosis. It then analyses the failed state-bureaucratic harnessing of mental testing in early Soviet attempts to manage mass education, discussing the peculiar dynamics of the (de)legitimation of testing, as it swung between black-boxing and instrumentalization, on the one hand, and scandal and controversy, on the other. The article argues that mental testing thrived in Russia as a strategically ambiguous and flexibly interpreted ‘boundary object’, which interconnected a highly heterogeneous field, enabling the coexistence and cooperation of diverse occupational agendas and normative regimes.

    April 08, 2014   doi: 10.1177/0952695114527598   open full text
  • The growth and the stagnation of work stress: Publication trends and scientific representations 1960-2011.
    Vaananen, A., Murray, M., Kuokkanen, A.
    History of the Human Sciences. March 21, 2014

    Stress at work is a frequent subject of scientific research. In most of this, the unit of analysis has been the employee and his or her work stress. Historical, cultural and macro-contextual approaches have rarely been included in the analytical framework. In this study, we examined secular trends in scientific publications on work stress, and analysed how, over a period of 50 years, a new discursive, institutional, intellectual and subjective space has developed, in which questions related to workers’ diminished mental energy became the centre of attention. Our interpretation links the occupational health debate to the broader historical and cultural processes that took place in western countries and work organizations in the period 1960–2011. Our quantitative analysis shows how the number of work stress publications rose steeply until the early 2000s and how the growth evened out and even started to decline in some data sources in the early 2010s. It would seem that work stress research is reaching its peak and that other conceptualizations in the domain of occupational health (e.g. resource-based views) are becoming more important. This historical study provides new insights regarding the nature of work stress and its links with societal changes for all those interested in the changing nature of health at work.

    March 21, 2014   doi: 10.1177/0952695114525168   open full text
  • The fascination with eros: The role of passionate interests under communism.
    Horvath, A.
    History of the Human Sciences. April 30, 2013

    Plato’s work offers insights into the corrosive impact of eros, insights central for contemporary politics. The article combines an in-depth reading of Plato with a case study, arguing for the relevance of communism. This is because love also establishes a relationship of subordination to the object of desire, which can subjugate and entrap the lover in his or her feelings. Such instrumentalization of eros in communism was promoted by adherents being supposed to love the sufferers. The obligation that to understand and help the sufferers one must become a sufferer turned suffering into an autopoietic system. The acceptance of such instrumentalization of love was rendered possible first by a sense of guilt due to the system of passionate interests (Tarde and Latour), connected to the rise of capitalism as a solution for the period of civil wars, and then by the liminal conditions that emerged, especially in eastern Europe, after two world wars; conditions that were purposefully perpetuated through staging a sacrificial system, paralysing social life. The character of such liminal leaders can be analysed through the figure of the trickster, developed by anthropologists, complementing Weber’s notion of charisma. While communism disappeared as a force, contemporary political life is increasingly reduced to a politics of victimhood and suffering, where the search for the good life is replaced by the double negation of eliminating all suffering from the world – an effort that only produces the opposite result, while public reality becomes torn apart by sex scandals, confirming Foucault’s insight about the investment of desire and enslavement to sexuality.

    April 30, 2013   doi: 10.1177/0952695113484319   open full text
  • In liminal tension towards giving birth: Eros, the educator.
    Szakolczai, A.
    History of the Human Sciences. March 26, 2013

    The discussion on the nature of eros (love as sexual desire) in Plato’s Symposium offers us special insights concerning the potential role played by love in social and political life. While about eros, the dialogue also claims to offer a true image of Socrates, generating a complex puzzle. This article offers a solution to this puzzle by reconstructing and interpreting Plato’s theatrical presentation of his argument, making use of the structure of the plays of Aristophanes, a protagonist in the dialogue. The new image of Socrates, it is argued, signals Plato’s move beyond the way he envisioned so far his master, best visible in his introducing Diotima, a prophetess who takes over the role of guide from Socrates; and by his presenting the truth about Socrates through Alcibiades, cast into the role of a boastful intruder, a central figure in Aristophanes’ comedies. Eros and Socrates are both ‘in-between’ or liminal figures, indicating that Socrates is still entrapped in the crisis of Athenian democracy. The way out, according to the new philosophy of Plato, lies in redirecting eros from the hunting of beautiful objects that are to be possessed, to elevating the soul to the essence of beauty as a primary means for further generating beauty, in particular through engendering and educating children, thus reasserting a harmonious coexistence with the order of the cosmos.

    March 26, 2013   doi: 10.1177/0952695113478242   open full text
  • Eros and ironic intoxication: Profound longing, madness and discipleship in Plato's Symposium and in modern life.
    Bonner, K.
    History of the Human Sciences. March 26, 2013

    The Symposium addresses the relation between desire, beauty and the good life, while indicating the fascination that strong teaching arouses in followers. For Plato, unlike for moderns, power, desire and ethics are interrelated. This article takes Socrates as a case study for the Platonic understanding of this interrelation and it will put into play the grounds involved in their modern separation. It focuses on the three speakers in the dialogue who were followers of Socrates as a way of addressing the role of desire in the teacher–student relation. The article demonstrates how the radical interpretive method brings to life the challenges a strong engagement with Eros risks, especially those related to Socrates’ strong and influential teaching, while addressing and exemplifying theorizing’s need for ironic intoxication.

    March 26, 2013   doi: 10.1177/0952695113479358   open full text