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NONTHEMATIC / Vol. 32, No. 1 (Spring 1965)

In the second volume of The Open Society and its Enemies, Karl Popper criticizes a theory that he associates with J.S. Mill and calls “psychologism,” and defends the opposed position of “institutionalism” or “the autonomy of sociology.” A good deal of this dispute is about the comparative domains of psychology and sociology is due to a failure to define the basic terms involved -particularly the term “psychology” -and that in the remainder of the dispute, Mr. Popper is mistaken.

Psychoanalysis has become a part of the American scene. It is taken for granted in a way probably unparalleled anywhere else in the world. This can be asserted without hesitation even if one means psychoanalysis in its narrower, proper sense, that is, as a form of psychotherapy practiced both within and beyond the medical establishment… If we take psychoanalysis in a more general sense, that is, as an assortment, of ideas and activities derived in one way or another from the Freudian revolution in psychology, then we find ourselves confronted in this country with a social phenomenon of truly outstanding scope.

In periods of rapid social change people find it difficult to endow their intuitive impressions of events with conventional meanings. Despite their uncertainty and formlessness, perceptions of new realities forge ahead of cognitive categories which no longer fit the situation. There is a discrepancy then between what people vaguely and ambiguously perceive and what they are as yet capable of conceiving in meaningful terms. This essay attempts to describe one process of this type: a symbolic reaction to changes in the distribution of scarce values.

Albert Camus was a passionate, articulate, and active participant in the ideological conflict of contemporary Europe. Yet he never was by any means wholly absorbed in that conflict. Essays such as Le Mythe de Sisyphe and L’Homme Revolte show that he was concerned to criticize and judge as well as to advocate and act.

Land Reform resulting from conquest or from liberation from a colonial power or from violent internal revolution do not highlight the issue of compensation or pose a sharp conflict between distribution and economic efficiency.

One of the more interesting development in social sciences in Germany since WWII has been in the theory of institutions. This theory, mainly associated with the work of Arnold Gehlen, is to date virtually unknown in America, despite its important affinities with certain trends in the social sciences of this country. It entails the application to sociological theory of perspectives derived from philosophy and from the biological sciences.

Review of book by Herbert Marcuse. Boston: Beacon Press, 1964. 260 pp.

Review of book by Charles E. Silberman. New York: Random House, 1964. 370 pp.

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