A few intellectually superior women exist, conceded nineteenth-century anthropologist Gustav Le Bon, but ‘they are as exceptional as the birth of any monstrosity, as, for example, of a gorilla with two heads’. Armed with cephalometers, scales, and birdseed for measuring skull volumes ...... (read more)
Social psychology has a few iconic experiments that have entered public consciousness. There is the shaken but obliging participant who delivers potentially lethal electric shocks to another person in Stanley Milgram’s obedience research. There are the young Californians who descend into an orgy of brutality and ...... (read more)
Shortly after Sigmund Freud’s death in 1939, W.H. Auden published an elegy to the famous Viennese refugee. Auden’s Freud is flawed and fallible – ‘He wasn’t clever at all: he merely told / the unhappy Present to recite the Past’ – but unquestionably great. ‘If some traces of the autocratic pose, / the paternal ...... (read more)
There may or may not be an epidemic of autism, but the idea of 'autism' has been remarkably catching. Once understood as a vanishingly rare condition, identified only in 1943 ...... (read more)
In 1798, during the revolutionary wars on the European mainland, the Irish rebelled. Though they were supported militarily by the French Republic, it was the ideas heralded by the Revolution that gave real strength to their cause. A decade later, in Dublin, William Hallaran argued in hisAn Enquiry Into the Causes Producing the Extraordinary Addition to the Number ...
The brain, notes philosopher Paul Churchland, is the engine of reason and the seat of the soul. David Roland’s memoir of stroke and its aftermath presents a vivid picture of engine failure and a soul unseated. His book lays bare the disorienting realities of brain injury and his gradual but faltering steps towards recovery. In time he adjusts to having a somewhat ...