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The Sciences of the Soul

The Sciences of the Soul

The Early Modern Origins of Psychology

Fernando Vidal
Trad.  Saskia Brown
Chicago,  University of Chicago Press,  [2020], 440 p.
Prix : $40

Fernando Vidal’s trailblazing text on the origins of psychology traces the development of the discipline from its appearance in the late sixteenth century to its redefinition at the end of the seventeenth and its emergence as an institutionalized field in the eighteenth. Originally published in 2011, The Sciences of the Soul continues to be of wide importance in the history and philosophy of psychology, the history of the human sciences more generally, and in the social and intellectual history of eighteenth-century Europe.

Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables 
Ad Limen
Chapter 1 The “Century of Psychology”
Psychology as a “discipline”
A long past but a short history?

Chapter 2 “Psychology” in the Sixteenth Century: A Project in the Making?
The function of the neologism “psychology”
Aristotelianism and Galenism
Psychologia and the scientia de anima
Rudolph Goclenius’s Psychologia

Chapter 3 From the Science of the Living Being to the Science of the Human Mind
Psychology as the generic science of the living being
Psychologia and empsychologia
On whether de anima books can themselves constitute a science
From soul-form to soul-mind
Psychology as a metaphysics of the rational soul
The new psychology: Christian Wolff

Chapter 4 Psychology in the Age of Enlightenment
Psychology, anthropology and the human sciences
A Republic of Letters
Methodological discussions in Enlightenment psychology
“The best way to perfect this fine Science”

Chapter 5 Historicizing Psychology
Inventing a bibliographic tradition
Constructing a history for psychology
“Psychologiae historico-criticae speciminae”
The history of the “theory of ideas”
Philosophers write the history of psychology

Chapter 6 Psychology and the History of Humankind
Friedrich August Carus and the “history of humanity”
The primitives and the ancients
Toward a total history of psychology
The psychology of the Hebrews
Homeric psychology

Chapter 7 Anthropology’s Place in the Encyclopedias
Enlightenment encyclopedias
The Syntax of the Encyclopédies
The Paris and Yverdon Encyclopédies
The “Systèmes figurés”
Anthropology in the text
The anthropological transformation of morals

Chapter 8 Human Perfectibility and the Primacy of Psychology
Psychology in the Paris Encyclopédie
Psychology in the Yverdon Encyclopédie
The fields claimed for psychology
The psycho-anthropology of perfectibility
The union and interaction of the soul and the body

Chapter 9 Psychology, the Body and Personal Identity 
The soul, the body and the “completeness of the nerve”
Psycho-theology and “modern identity” 
The body in resurrection
The loss of the body
The seed and the brain 
The emergence of the cerebral subject

Appendix I The Two Editions of Goclenius’s Psychologia
Appendix II ANTHROPOLOGIE and PSYCHOLOGIE in the Paris and Yverdon Encyclopédies
Appendix III Articles from the Yverdon Encyclopédie Belonging to Psychology and Their Place in the Paris Encyclopédie


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Centre Alexandre-Koyré

Campus Condorcet / bât. EHESS
2 cours des Humanités
93322 Aubervilliers cedex