IUBio Biosequences .. Software .. Molbio soft .. Network News .. FTP

100 Most Important Science Books

Nick Medford nick at hermit0.demon.co.uk
Tue Nov 16 11:14:12 EST 1999

In article <stephan-1411990208530001 at we-24-130-94-102.we.mediaone.net
>, SA <stephan at nospam.ucla.edu> writes


>As far as Freud not being a scientist, he certainly was a scientist,
>unfortunately science was not what it was today.

He certainly *claimed* that his psychoanalytic theories were scientific. But
even in his own time, these claims were widely questioned- for the good
reason that they were not subjected to scientific tests of validity. Quite the
opposite, in fact- they became a dogma. I'm not sure this was entirely Freud's
fault, as some of those who followed him were perhaps more responsible for
making psychoanalysis cultic and dogmatic. 

However it was not until comparatively recently that certain Freudian ideas
(e.g. the notion of 3 basic personality types)  were tested scientifically- and
found to be wanting.

>  But you can't sit and
>criticize someone who basically replaced the idea that people who were
>mentally ill were possesed by evil spirits.  

To say this is to seriously overestimate the contribution of Freud to
mainstream psychiatry (as opposed to psychoanalysis) and to seriously
underestimate the contribution of others such as Kraepelin, Wernicke,
Bleuler and Jaspers.

I don't want to dismiss Freud as obviously he helped to transform the way
we think about the mind. But to claim that he was rigorously scientific, or
that he was the first person to debunk ideas about demonic possession, is
well wide of the mark.

>Even Mesmer was a scientist. 
>Now all of us would consider Aristotle a scientist (and widely recognized
>as a fine biologist), and he thought the mind was in the bodily fluids. In
>fact, if you read the work, the arguments are fairly convincing.  For
>example, he noted that during periods of emotion, the heart drastically
>changed in function but the brain didn't at all.  Of course, it's easy to
>sit back and laugh at other people's work from long ago, but people may be
>laughing at our own work in 50 years.  True some work stands the test of
>time better, but this doesn't mean the work was not an important
>contribution in its own time.
>Just my 2c worth,
>> Almost any book on cognitive neuroscience or biological psychiatry
>> could qualify for consideration. Two (relatively) widely-read examples
>> that spring to mind are Jeffrey Gray's "The Neurobiology of Anxiety"  and
>> Joseph LeDoux's  "The Emotional Brain".Whether they are among the
>> 100 most important science books is another matter, but they are
>> certainly scientific.
>> >
>> >I think that putting Freud on the list would be like adding Ptolemy, on the
>> >grounds that the Flat Earth Theory was one of the most historically
>> >important contributions to the sciences of geography, navigation,
>> >cartography and theology. Sorry, no.
>> I certainly wouldn't suggest Freud was a scientist. 
>> >
>> >Somewhere I saw the case being made that Jung did really good stuff --
>> >outside of all the archetype stuff that he's famous for -- and that this
>> >other stuff really qualifies as psychology.  That I'm agnostic (and
>> >ignorant) on.
>> >
>> Well,I think his work qualifies as "psychology"- his theorising concerns
>> the psyche after all- but it's highly speculative, non-scientific theorising. 
>> Relatively early in his career he did some experimental studies using
>> word association techniques, and this is often cited as his most scientific
>> phase, but this characterisation is highly questionable. 
>> Having misremembered the stamp-collecting quote so thoroughly, I
>> hesitate to essay another, but I can't resist at this point quoting
>> Nietzsche's maxim that "Idleness is the beginning of all psychology".
>> >                                 Best  wishes,
>> >
>> >                                        -dlj.
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> Regards

Nick Medford

More information about the Neur-sci mailing list

Send comments to us at biosci-help [At] net.bio.net