Psychology down the Ages


ABOUT the beginning of the present century, psychology began to emerge from the kind of chrysalis state in which it was lying dormant and cramped in the cocoon of associationism, and to become a natural science. Even so lately as 1890 no less a psychologist than William James, who made a valiant attempt to break away from the fetters of the system in which he had been trained, brought his "Principles" to an end with the words: "Even in the clearest parts of psychology our insight is insignificant enough. And the more sincerely one seeks to trace the actual course ofpsychogenesis . . . the more clearly one perceives 'the slowly gathering twilight close in utter night'." Not only here did he strike the same pessimistic note. In his "Briefer Course“he concludes in the same strain: ". . . not a single law in the sense in which physics shows us laws, not a single proposition from which consequences can causally be deduced. . . . This is no science, it is only the hope of a science". What a confession to be obliged to make !

Psychology down the Ages

By Prof. C. Spearman. Vol. 1. Pp. xi+454. Vol. 2. Pp. vii+355. 8vo. (London: Macmillan and Co., Ltd., 1937.) Two vols., 30s. net.

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AVELING, F. Psychology down the Ages. Nature 140, 909–910 (1937).

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