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An Intellectual History of Psychology Paperback – September 15, 1995

ISBN-13: 978-0299148447 ISBN-10: 0299148440 Edition: 3rd

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Twenty years in the making, including two prior editions, this work conveys a deep, calm mastery of the subject. Philosopher and psychologist Robinson (Toward a Science of Human Nature, Columbia Univ. Pr., 1982) guides the reader from the pre-Socratics to Skinner, passing through Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Luther, Kant, Spinoza, Nietzsche, and many others, including Weyer, Mesmer, and Charcot. Along the way, Robinson convinces the reader that "the view of reason and appetite as opposing forces is as old as the Homeric epics and as current as psychoanalytic theory." He also raises questions about the darkness of the "Dark" ages and the brightness of the Renaissance. Convinced that "psychology is the history of ideas," Robinson treats every idea and every sentence with critical respect, making this a standard-setting book that is also a pleasure to read.?E. James Lieberman, George Washington Univ. Sch. of Medicine, Washington, D.C.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

“Robinson does not follow the usual conventions of celebrating one great man after another in chronological order but instead follows the development of ideas as they provide alternative perspectives on the nature of mind. Hence, the reader is carried along on a genuine intellectual adventure.”—Ernest R. Hilgard, professor emeritus of psychology, Stanford University
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 392 pages
  • Publisher: The University of Wisconsin Press; 3rd edition (September 15, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0299148440
  • ISBN-13: 978-0299148447
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #535,477 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
5 star
67%
4 star
25%
3 star
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1 star
8%
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I have read earlier editions of this book twice, and plan to continue re-reading it periodically.
disco75
This book provides a unique approach to telling the history of psychology and does a great job in tying a historical perspective of people and events.
Lather
The author is brilliant as he focuses on the historical progression of psychological ideas and their philosophical basis.
CJR

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 52 people found the following review helpful By disco75 on August 1, 2001
Format: Paperback
The rare psychology tome that doesn't mistake psychology's history for history in general! The learned Robinson can stand back enough to place the nascent "science" of psychology within the field of human meta-thought that started at least amongst the Greek philosophers. The book provides a cogent survey of developments in theories that are psychological in nature. The author demonstrates how many of the big deals amongst today's academic psychological concepts were anticipated long ago but forgottten when, I assume, liberal arts education and philosophy became passe. In so doing, he is able to distill from the fractured, specialized field of the current psychology scene what is vital, relevant, and productive. By using a historical context, he allows us to see the real progress of ideas instead of being distracted by the yipping of scientism's mutts. I have read earlier editions of this book twice, and plan to continue re-reading it periodically.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By CJR on February 29, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book was used as a textbook in my history of psychology class. The author is brilliant as he focuses on the historical progression of psychological ideas and their philosophical basis.

Be warned, many students complained about the "difficult language" the author uses. This is not an "Idiot's Guide" and the language is not dumbed down. It requires a great deal of effort to understand because it is written for a scholarly audience. Not for the mildly curious, but for the serious scholar there is no better book.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Sampson of Raleigh on November 2, 2010
Format: Paperback
Robinson is a wide-ranging, and brilliant scholar. And given his credentials (look them up!), he is something of an authority in the field of historical psychology. His writing style, along with his lecturing, is eloquent, and fast paced, which makes for an enjoyable experience.

There are, however, a few drawbacks with this work. For one, it is a little dated. Many scholarly debates have risen since it was last published. Some positions that were widely accepted in Robinson's day have been disproved or are now matters of intense debate. For example, Robinson says that Kant was deeply influenced by Reid. But after reading a number of articles on Reid for a recent paper, few (if any) scholars still hold to that view (See "Reid's Influence in Britain, Germany, France, and America" by Benjamin W. Redekop in The Cambridge Companion to Thomas Reid). I am by no means a "scholar," but I readily picked up on a handful of other similar occurrences in this work. For example, he claims that Locke holds to a "Newtonian Theory of the Mind." But according to the Cambridge Companion to Locke's Essay, this view is either exaggerated or groundless.

There are a number of other debates/corrections that developed after Robinson's publication, in which case he is excused. And even if these ideas were circulating in his time, Robinson wrote an overview of the history of psychology, and thus probably didn't see the need to go into many other interpretive positions.

The only other potential drawback off the top of my head has to do with Robinson's logical ordering of paragraphs and the content within those paragraphs. Overall, the book is well organize, but some might find his digressions and broad historical overviews annoying. Personally, I loved the digressions, connections, etc.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Williams on October 18, 2009
Format: Paperback
Daniel N. Robinson is acknowledged universally by scholars as quintessential authority on historical, philosophical antecedents of modern behavioral science. Professor Robinson presupposes readers have some knowledge of elementary philosophy and some exposure to psychology and probability theory.

Whereas his treatment may appear overly complex to some, the topic cannot be reduced to level of reading a novel. Those expecting an easy read will be disappointed.

Instead, advanced readers can expect a scholarly treatise.

I recommend this work highly.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Evan on September 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a fan of Prof. Robinson's having listened to several of his courses on philosophy from the Teaching Company. I have not read the book in its entirety yet but it looks consistent with his deep knowledge of the subject and erudite presentation.
An added plus is the nice binding- it is very sturdily hardbound with gilding on the front and edges. A welcome relief from the unrelieved paperbackness of most college texts.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I feel that it would be very hard to review a book of such a long scope in a short review so I will give my shot at what I felt about it. Firstly, I feel that the book did a great job to capture the feel of each period of 'history' ("cognitive thread / narrative") and how they developed attitudes about life. For instance, the Medieval Christian beliefs involved a continuous rebirth - people had a rather indifferent attitude towards time and what was contained within it. The leading figures of this age were devoid of good measures of accuracy and short lifespans resulted in a constant fear of death that developed cultural attitudes towards redemption, suffering, sin and the afterlife. What I appreciated about the book/author in this case was that he understood why these ideas in the context of where they developed and didn't have that modernistic disease of dismissing anything as 'irrational' but instead as 'understandable'.

Further on, I feel that the author did a good job of reconciling the two major intellectual traditions of Hellenistic-Roman philosophy grounded in Aristotle and Plato and the Judeo-Christian tradition - how Aristotle's ethical system was devoid of sin and was based on empirical observations. However, I thought that the author should have put a far greater emphasis on the third force, that is the Islamic tradition that holds values that go against the deification of man and the ego - also, I thought the book was a bit eurocentric by its lack of chapters devoted to Eastern traditions such as Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and so forth.
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