Synopses & Reviews
The Open Mind chronicles the development and promulgation of a scientific vision of the rational, creative, and autonomous self, demonstrating how this self became a defining feature of Cold War culture. Jamie Cohen-Cole illustrates how from 1945 to 1965 policy makers and social critics used the idea of an open-minded human nature to advance centrist politics. They reshaped intellectual culture and instigated nationwide educational reform that promoted more open, and indeed more human, minds. The new field of cognitive science was central to this project, as it used popular support for open-mindedness to overthrow the then-dominant behaviorist view that the mind either could not be studied scientifically or did not exist. Cognitive science also underwrote the political implications of the open mind by treating it as the essential feature of human nature. and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160; and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160; While the open mind unified America in the first two decades after World War II, between 1965 and 1975 battles over the open mind fractured American culture as the ties between political centrism and the scientific account of human nature began to unravel. During the late 1960s, feminists and the New Left repurposed Cold War era psychological tools to redefine open-mindedness as a characteristic of left-wing politics. As a result, once-liberal intellectuals became neoconservative, and in the early 1970s, struggles against open-mindedness gave energy and purpose to the right wing.
In recent decades game theoryandmdash;the mathematics of rational decision-making by interacting individualsandmdash;has assumed a central place in our understanding of capitalist markets, the evolution of social behavior in animals, and even the ethics of altruism and fairness in human beings. With game theoryandrsquo;s ubiquity, however, has come a great deal of misunderstanding. Critics of the contemporary social sciences view it as part of an unwelcome trend toward the marginalization of historicist and interpretive styles of inquiry, and many accuse its proponents of presenting a thin and empirically dubious view of human choice.
The World the Game Theorists Made seeks to explain the ascendency of game theory, focusing on the poorly understood period between the publication of John von Neumann and Oscar Morgensternandrsquo;s seminal Theory of Games and Economic Behavior in 1944 and the theoryandrsquo;s revival in economics in the 1980s. Drawing on a diverse collection of institutional archives, personal correspondence and papers, and interviews, Paul Erickson shows how game theory offered social scientists, biologists, military strategists, and others a common, flexible language that could facilitate wide-ranging thought and debate on some of the most critical issues of the day.
About the Author
Paul Erickson is assistant professor of history, environmental studies, and science in society at Wesleyan University. He is coauthor of How Reason Almost Lost Its Mind: The Strange Career of Cold War Rationality, also published by the University of Chicago Press.
Table of Contents
IntroductionThe American MindChapter 1. Democratic Minds for a Complex SocietyChapter 2. The Creative AmericanThe Academic MindChapter 3. Interdisciplinarity as a Virtueand#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;Chapter 4. The Academy as Model of AmericaThe Human MindChapter 5. Scientists as the Model of Human NatureChapter 6. Instituting Cognitive Science
Chapter 7. Cognitive Theory and the Making of Liberal AmericansThe Divided MindChapter 8. A Fractured Politics of Human NatureConclusion. The History of the Open MindAcknowledgmentsNotesReferences