Towards a Measure of Man: The Frontiers of Normal Adjustment

Towards a Measure of Man: The Frontiers of Normal Adjustment

Towards a Measure of Man: The Frontiers of Normal Adjustment

Towards a Measure of Man: The Frontiers of Normal Adjustment

Excerpt

Today sociologists file away their facts and findings in unlabelled cabinets which have no alphabetical index. The cabinets are also widely dispersed and no single sociologist is in a position to be familiar with the location of all of them. Having largely inherited the filing cabinets from social sciences which had been established in business a good deal earlier than sociology, sociology was loath to discard them and is still clinging to them in a pennywise fashion.

Alas this clinging is a virtue of thrifty beginnings and not of epoch-making enterprises. The present book certainly does not claim to be epoch-making. If anything it is a gamble with the accumulated small change of modern psychological knowledge in the hope of winning some of the coveted prizes of sociology and perhaps even of moral philosophy. Yet should my book be branded as a rash enterprise it may still have been well worth the adventure of writing it, for, as it is often observed, even those contribute to the exploration of a maze who come back only to report the itinerary of their failures. Furthermore it seems to me that, even if my stake proves unwise, it will be a gamble of this sort which will eventually rescue social science from its present predicament.

This book deals centrally with the concepts of 'normal' and 'abnormal' in human personality and behaviour. It seeks to establish whether one or the other of these can be defined and thereby an absolute measure of man educed. The string of essays which follows opens with a discourse on the first principles upon which the subsequent chapters depend. Here I shall rely on metapphysical, biological, and psychological information. Following this I develop my arguments to a stage when the conditions of defining the human 'norm' or 'abnorm' are within our view. Thereupon the conclusion I shall reach is that, even though 'normality' is indefinable, the minimum area of 'abnormality' is already a subject of substantial agreement. Yet if my definition . . .

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