Problems of Historical Psychology

Problems of Historical Psychology

Problems of Historical Psychology

Problems of Historical Psychology

Excerpt

This study is rooted in the conviction that a close co-operation between the disciplines of psychology and history opens new and fruitful perspectives for the understanding of both fields. Though presented in the idiom of psychology, the problems with which this book is concerned, appeal to historian and psychologist alike. Of course, research in the combined disciplines is not an easy task. My aim, therefore, was to do no more than to present a few selected examples which should illustrate, on the one hand, the application of historical concepts and methods to the study of the human mind, and on the other, the use to the historian of some of the conceptual tools of contemporary psychology. I say 'illustrate' since I am aware, as the reader will be, that all the problems tackled here need to be followed up by more detailed investigation.

There is something else which this study tries to illustrate, namely, a single-handed inter-disciplinary approach. Though this may appear as easy rationalization, I have to confess to a certain dislike of the idea of 'team work' so frequently used in the field of the social sciences. Admittedly, the 'team approach' presents certain advantages, such as a more detailed and accurate account of the facts bearing on a specific problem, but it seldom produces what is supposed to produce, namely, the feeling of unity. The impression which such an approach gives is often that of a series of 'themes' running in parallel, of a wrongly counterpointed polyphony.

I cannot close this preface without acknowledging my warmest gratitude to Professor W. J. H. Sprott who read the manuscript and made a number of fruitful criticisms. I owe very much, too, to Professor R. W. Pickford, Professor N. Davis, Professor R. G. Smith, Mr. H. O. Chalk, and Dr. A. Wasserstein who took the trouble to read and discuss with me various parts of the manuscript.

In the editing of the book I relied on the kind help of many friends. I wish to express my indebtedness in particular to . . .

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