Book Reviews -- Psychological Aspects of Modernity Edited by Jerome Braun

Article excerpt

JEROME BRAUN, ED.: Psychological Aspects of Modernity. Praeger, Westport, CT, 1993, 288 pp., $59.95.

The volume contains 16 articles, 7 of them written by the editor, the remaining by as many other authors. These contributors appear to straddle the fields of psychology, sociology, political science, philosophy, and psychiatry, although degrees or other credentials are not cited. All articles but one make their first appearance in this collection.

As hoped, the scope of scholarship and vantage points in this book is rich and varied. David Levin's article, "Transpersonal Phenomonology: the Corporeal Schema" exposes how hollow our technocratic, rationalistic ways of functioning ring by comparison with the alternative experiential schema he endorses. Despite its somewhat loose-limbed effort at diagnostic typology, Braun's essay, "Resiliency of the Personality," credibly depicts some of the adaptive devices people use to cope with contemporary culture. He dichotomizes "catharsis" (the necessary response to ubiquitous trauma) and "cathexis" (the only viable answer to alienation and meaninglessness). In other pieces, Braun makes a frequent and probably useful distinction between the "authoritarian" and "narcissistic" solutions to social malaise and low self-esteem. A fine article, "Contradictions of Universalistic Ethics," comes from Matthew Kangirathinkal. He sharply etches the evolution, over the centuries and in major philosophical systems, of moral criteria for human behavior and does so with a keen appreciation of the politics of class and caste relationships that exploit such intellectual positions for the ulterior ends of the empowered. In a similar vein, Terry Maley discusses Max Weber and the protestant ethic as both an individual case study and a global pathology of expansionist market capitalism. …