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.
and#8220;In this fascinating book, Jamie Cohen-Cole illustrates the surprisingly strong relations among conceptions of the human mind, models of the academy, and images of the ideal American citizen, as well as the ultimate fragility of these relations in the face of disruptive political forces.and#8221;
and#8220;Charting the political and psychological resonance of and#8216;the open mindand#8217; in the postwar United States, Jamie Cohen-Cole himself opens up wholly new ways of conceiving the relationship of the human sciences to public culture. His compelling account of the ways intellectuals brought the democratic citizen, the scholarly self, and the normative human into alignment in this era fundamentally alters what we know about the and#8216;liberal consensusand#8217;: both how it was knit together and how it unraveled. Deeply original and provocative, The Open Mind reveals how thinking about thinking changed, and why it matteredand#8212;for the academy, for science, and for American political culture.and#8221;
and#8220;Who could be against an open mind? In this lucid and humane book, Jamie Cohen-Cole shows how psychologists tried to model Americans on themselvesand#8212;as autonomous, creative, experimental scientists. Ultimately, however, their subjects kicked back. A salutary reminder of the limits to the authority of science in postwar America.and#8221;
and#8220;The Open Mind is an elegant and important book that makes a major contribution to rethinking the Cold War and its many legacies. Jamie Cohen-Cole has written a prismatic history, one that reflects the academic disciplines, the institutions of higher education and their funders, and the social and intellectual networks of its principle figures as they shaped Cold War politics and education policy. And it even has a chapter on and#8216;Man: A Course of Studyand#8217; (MACOS), a subject I have puzzled over since the fifth grade. Meticulously researched and argued, the narrative is compelling, surprising, and refreshingly free of conventional wisdom about the period. As we come to question the self-evident value of open-mindedness in the process of seeing it historicized, Cohen-Cole allows us to see our own values and habits of thought in a new way.and#8221;
and#8220;Cohen-Coleand#8217;s book not only offers a fascinating glimpse into the development of mid-century psychology and cognitive science but also shows the deep connections among what was happening in what might otherwise be considered separate social and political spaces that include laboratories, classrooms, cocktail parties, conferences, academic departments, and various physical and textual loci of political and social engagement. It is exceptionally clear in its narrative structure, prose style, and argument, and it offers a fresh perspective on how we understand the co-creation of science and society in Cold War America.and#8221;
and#8220;Cohen-Coleand#8217;s fascinating new book The Open Mind tells the story of liberal tolerance since World War II, examining how an ideal of open-mindedness was deliberately cultivated in psychology, pedagogy, and social science. Exposing all the contradictions of liberalism, Cohen-Cole has written a highly illuminating prehistory of the muddles and riddles of contemporary political rhetoric.and#8221;
and#8220;Anyone who wants to know about American democracy in the postwar era, and the special place of psychology within it, will profit enormously from reading Cohen-Coleand#8217;s excellent study.and#8221;
"Paul Erickson has written a vital book. Game theory has been a critical part of the social, mathematical, and biological sciences for several decades. It has also seeped into the popular imagination. Yet until now no one has tracked the theory's odyssey across the disciplines, or explained its peculiar appeal and adaptability. Treating game theory as both tool and ideology, The World the Game Theorists Madeand#160;thrillingly fills out this story. Perhaps most strikingly, Erickson shows how game theory has survived despite its repeated failure to fulfill the highest hopes of its exponents. This is an outstanding and sure-to-be influential study of twentieth-century science and social thought."
"As intellectual history, Cohen-Cole's broadly researched, closely argued study does not provide easy reading. But the attention it demands is worthwhile for its important, fresh outlook on significant developments during the Cold War era. Highly recommended."
andldquo;Whereas the literature in game theory is vast, critical studies of its philosophy and history are scarce. The World the Game Theorists Made narrates the early development and dissemination of game theory, from von Neumann and Morgensternandrsquo;s Theory of Games and Economic Behavior onward, displaying thorough knowledge of the primary texts and novel insights into the theoryandrsquo;s idiosyncratic development. The field of game theory has met its match in Ericksonandrsquo;s steady unraveling of the threads of the intricate tapestry its legacy now represents.andrdquo;
andldquo;This is the first work I am aware of that treats the history of game theory as a whole, rather than restricting itself to game theory in a specific discipline. In light of the highly interdisciplinary nature of game theory (just look at the schedule for the Game Theory World Congress!), this represents an obvious hole in the literature, one that The World the Game Theorists Made is poised to fill.andrdquo;
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