Book Review

Theory and Experiment in Social Communication

 

Attached is Festinger’s book on Social Communication, mostly a summary of the research done at the Research Center for Group Dynamics, with Kurt Back, Stanley Schacter, Harold Kelley, and John Thibaut.

Theory in social dynamics — HERE IS THE PDF 

 

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One thing is I like how simple the table of contents is. and interesting!

 

This book really set the stage for social psychology, and it is really an interesting demonstration just of how science should be done. Simply, theory driven, with large grants from the navy. 😀

 

hope you enjoy it, Festinger is one of my favorites, and happy to bring it here.

 

All Best,

Brett

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A Treatise of Human Nature.. by David Hume (1739)

 

Attached here is Hume’s Treatise on Human Nature, actually it is quite interesting. Looking at the table of contents, you see that it is mostly interested in understanding, how we make sense of the world, passions, which seems like motivations really, and then morals, which is essentially about justice and how we understand right and wrong.

Really interesting, and actually it was one of Einstein’s favorite books, he even said it was influential in his thinking. I do with I had time to read it, but I am at least glad I was able to look at the TOC.

Have you read it? What do you think is best?

Love ya,

Brett

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Editor’s Preface.

 

Book I: Of the Understanding

Introduction.

Part I.: Of Ideas, Their Origin, Composition, Connexion, Abstraction, &c.

Section I.: Of the Origin of Our Ideas.
Section II.: Division of the Subject.
Section III.: Of the Ideas of the Memory and Imagination.
Section IV.: Of the Connexion Or Association of Ideas.
Section V.: Of Relations.
Section VI.: Of Modes and Substances.
Section VII.: Of Abstract Ideas.

Part II.: Of the Ideas of Space and Time.

Section I.: Of the Infinite Divisibility of Our Ideas of Space and Time.
Section II.: Of the Infinite Divisibility of Space and Time.
Section III.: Of the Other Qualities of Our Ideas of Space and Time.
Section IV.: Objections Answer’d.
Section V.: The Same Subject Continu’d.
Section VI.: Of the Idea of Existence, and of External Existence.

Part III.: Of Knowledge and Probability.

Section I.: Of Knowledge.
Section II.: Of Probability; and of the Idea of Cause and Effect.
Section III.: Why a Cause Is Always Necessary.
Section IV.: Of the Component Parts of Our Reasonings Concerning Cause and Effect.
Section. V.: Of the Impressions of the Senses and Memory.
Section VI.: Of the Inference From the Impression to the Idea.
Section VII.: Of the Nature of the Idea Or Belief.
Section VIII.: Of the Causes of Belief.
Section IX.: Of the Effects of Other Relations and Other Habits.
Section X.: Of the Influence of Belief.
Section XI.: Of the Probability of Chances.
Section XII.: Of the Probability of Causes.
Section XIII.: Of Unphilosophical Probability.
Section XIV.: Of the Idea of Necessary Connexion.
Section XV.: Rules By Which to Judge of Causes and Effects.
Section XVI.: Of the Reason of Animals.

Part IV.: Of the Sceptical and Other Systems of Philosophy.

Section I.: Of Scepticism With Regard to Reason.
Section II.: Of Scepticism With Regard to the Senses.
Section III.: Of the Antient Philosophy.
Section IV.: Of the Modern Philosophy.
Section V.: Of the Immateriality of the Soul.
Section VI.: Of Personal Identity.
Section VII.: Conclusion of This Book.

 

Book II: Of the Passions

Part I.: Of Pride and Humility.
Section I.: Division of the Subject.
Section II.: Of Pride and Humility; Their Objects and Causes.
Section III.: Whence These Objects and Causes Are Deriv’d.
Section IV.: Of the Relations of Impressions and Ideas.
Section V.: Of the Influence of These Relations On Pride and Humility.
Section VI.: Limitations of This System.
Section VII.: Of Vice and Virtue.
Section VIII.: Of Beauty and Deformity.
Section IX.: Of External Advantages and Disadvantages.
Section X.: Of Property and Riches.
Section XI.: Of the Love of Fame.
Section XII.: Of the Pride and Humility of Animals.

Part II.: Of Love and Hatred.

Section I.: Of the Objects and Causes of Love and Hatred.
Section II.: Experiments to Confirm This System.
Section III.: Difficulties Solv’d.
Section IV.: Of the Love of Relations.
Section V.: Of Our Esteem For the Rich and Powerful.
Section VI.: Of Benevolence and Anger.
Section VII.: Of Compassion.
Section VIII.: Of Malice and Envy.
Section IX.: Of the Mixture of Benevolence and Anger With Compassion and Malice.
Section X.: Of Respect and Contempt.
Section XI.: Of the Amorous Passion, Or Love Betwixt the Sexes.
Section XII.: Of the Love and Hatred of Animals.
Part III.: Of the Will and Direct Passions.

Section I.: Of Liberty and Necessity.
Section II.: The Same Subject Continu’d.
Section III.: Of the Influencing Motives of the Will.
Section IV.: Of the Causes of the Violent Passions.
Section V.: Of the Effects of Custom.
Section VI.: Of the Influence of the Imagination On the Passions.
Section VII.: Of Contiguity, and Distance In Space and Time.
Section VIII.: The Same Subject Continu’d.
Section IX.: Of the Direct Passions.
Section X.: Of Curiosity, Or the Love of Truth.

Book III: Of Morals

Part I.: Of Virtue and Vice In General.

Section I.: Moral Distinctions Not Deriv’d From Reason.
Section II.: Moral Distinctions Deriv’d From a Moral Sense.

Part II.: Of Justice and Injustice.

Section I.: Justice, Whether a Natural Or Artificial Virtue?
Section II.: Of the Origin of Justice and Property.
Section III.: Of the Rules, Which Determine Property.
Section IV.: Of the Transference of Property By Consent.
Section V.: Of the Obligation of Promises.
Section VI.: Some Farther Reflexions Concerning Justice and Injustice.
Section VII.: Of the Origin of Government.
Section VIII.: Of the Source of Allegiance.
Section IX.: Of the Measures of Allegiance.
Section X.: Of the Objects of Allegiance.
Section XI.: Of the Laws of Nations.
Section XII.: Of Chastity and Modesty.

Part III.: Of the Other Virtues and Vices.

Section I.: Of the Origin of the Natural Virtues and Vices.
Section II.: Of Greatness of Mind.
Section III.: Of Goodness and Benevolence.
Section IV.: Of Natural Abilities.
Section V.: Some Farther Reflexions Concerning the Natural Virtues.
Section VI.: Conclusion of This Book.

Appendix.

The Behavior of Organisms: An Experimental Analysis

This is Skinner’s first book, so far as I can see. Really quite interesting.

Really quite interesting, in its table of contents.

CHAPTER PAGE
I          A SYSTEM OF BEHAVIOR 3
II        SCOPE AND METHOD 44.
III       CONDITIONING AND EXTINCTION 61
IV       PERIODIC RECONDITIONING II6
V        THE DISCRIMINATION OF A STIMULUS 167
VI       SOME FUNCTIONS OF STIMULI 232
VII      TEMPORAL DISCRIMINATION OF THE STIMULUS 263
VIII     THE DIFFERENTIATION OF A RESPONSE 308
IX       DRIVE 341
X         DRIVE AND CONDITIONING: THE INTERACTION OF TWO VARIABLES 379
XI       OTHER VARIABLES AFFECTING REFLEX STRENGTH 406
XII      BEHAVIOR AND THE NERVOUS SYSTEM 418
XIII    CONCLUSION 433
REFERENCES 445
INDEX 451

 

Basically it is about conditioning, he doesn’t come to drive until the end. He doesn’t mention person differences at all, in the table of contents at least. Also doesn’t talk about the biological basis, the neuron at all, so far as I can see. Nor anything about personality or etc, nor influence or really people beyond the individual..

It is also his first book, so far as I can see. Really quite long at 450 pages.

 

The full book is available here.

The essentials of Bertalanffy’s General Systems Theory.

Here I relate what I perceive to be the most important points of Bertalanffy’s General Systems Theory, a copy of which I was given by a professor in the department when he moved to a smaller office and had to purge his bookshelves. Most generally, the idea behind General System Theory is that there are (or at least appear to be) mathematical rules which are stable and can be applied across many levels of organization (e.g., cell, organism, society).

For instance, the second law of thermodynamics (diffusion) makes reasonably accurate predictions of both people and animals in space and the diffusion of ideas throughout a population. The similarities between different levels (e.g., cellular, organismic, societal) are called isomorphisms, and the entirety of the theory is an attempt to combine different fields of science into a more coherent whole. Throughout Bertalanffy’s own intellectual development, he reports noticing the striking similarities (which are now common knowledge, this was published in 1968) between differential fields such as Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and other fields like Psychology, Sociology, and Economics.

The essense is that many of the ideas in these fields rely upon similar mathematical underpinnings. General Systems Theory is then an attempt to apply mathematics across fields like Chemistry, Biology, Psychology, and Sociology in order to create a more unified science.

An example of this sort of thinking is the, ‘law of natural growth’ which is basically a mathematical statement about exponential growth. This law can be applied, at the same time, to the growth of capital through compound interest, the growth of baceria, the growth of peoples and ideas, and even the growth of scientific theories. Conversely, the same law in reverse can be applied to radioactive decay, the decomposition of some chemicals, the destruction of bacteria by poisin, loss of weight through hunger in multicellular organisms and the of decrease of populations.

The law of exponential growth, which can be utilized to explain diverse phenomenon.

This is but one example, others deal with competition, for instance within the individual in the weight of their organs or their percieved value of ideas. Eithin sociology, this equation is generally referred to as Pareto’s law, which describes the distribution of income relative to the overall growth of the system. Competition between individuals in all aspects of life, and even competition between species can be described using this general formulation.

The essential of systems theory, many levels of organization, building upon eachother, across which similar mathematical models can be utilized for explanation.

The essential of systems theory, many levels of organization, building upon eachother, across which similar mathematical models can be utilized for explanation.

The final major concept we will cover here is that of unity, or those cases where the total is more than the sum of its parts. Specifically, it is a process of specialization that allows this. The more complex the system, the less replaceable each part becomes as each piece becomes less general in its function. Thus, the stomach cannot be replaced with an extra lung. This is the cell, with its individual parts, the organism of many cells, the group of many organisms. This levels thinking is the real value in General Systems Theory and has led to a greater integration between the different sciences. As Bertalanffy said, “Modern science is characterized by its ever-increasing specialization, necessitated by the enormous amount of data, the complexity of techniques and of theoretical structures within every field. Thus science is split into innumerable disciplines continually generating new subdisciplines. In consequence, the physicist, the biologist, the psychologist and the social scientist are, so to speak, encapusulated in their private universes, and it is difficult to get word from one cocoon to the other…”

The key to General Systems Theory is to look across fields to examine the isomorphisms, how they are similar, in order to arrive at a more cogent understanding of reality.

This has been a brief introduction to the essentials of systems theory, leave your comment below and suggest the next theory to be summarized. 🙂