The Immeasurable Mind: The Real Science of Psychology

William R. Uttal, Author
William R. Uttal, Author . Prometheus $29 (296p) ISBN 978-1-59102-525-2
Reviewed on: 04/02/2007
Release date: 06/01/2007
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In a quest to determine whether psychology is really a science, Uttal, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Michigan, leads the reader through five investigative chapters that outline the foundations of science and scientific thought (e.g., axioms and deduction)—the criteria psychology ought to adhere to if it is to join the ranks of physics and biology. But the author's liberal use of quotes and anecdotes bogs down the prose, leaving little room for his own arguments. Uttal claims that psychology is indeed a science—and that it isn't. This ambiguous conclusion is due to psychology's two subdivisions, behaviorism and mentalism. The latter "accept[s] the accessibility of mental events" and makes free use of vague terminology that includes "emotion," "soul" and "consciousness." Behaviorism, on the other hand, is interested in external, observable behavior that can be replicated and analyzed, and "can be considered to be a natural, if underdeveloped, science." This conclusion is unsatisfying, and the author's freewheeling application of the classifications inherent to science by using learned quotes, mathematical equations and distracting anecdotes on historical figures (such as Descartes's belief in God) is neither specific nor convincing enough. (June)

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