Harry Elmer Barnes
MOVEMENTS OF THOUGHT IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY, by George H. Mead. Edited by Merritt H, Moore. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1936. xxxix + 519 pp. $5.00
The late George H. Mead, of the University of Chicago, was well known as one of the most brilliant of American teachers of philosophy and social psychology. But he was extremely loath to put his material into print. Hence, we may be especially grateful to Mr. Merritt H. Moore for editing and publishing his notable lectures on modern and contemporary thought.
The volume is particularly valuable not only because of the excellence of Mr. Mead's material, but because of the general paucity of reliable and readable books on the thought of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
After a brief review of preceding thought, the volume opens with an excellent account of the thinking of Immanuel Kant, the spiritual father, though not entirely intentionally, of philosophic romanticism. Then comes
( 172) an admirable summary of the leading philosophers of romanticism, Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel. Next, Mr. Mead takes up the significance of the evolutionary doctrine for modern intellectual life. Special and unusual attention is given to the influence of the industrial revolution upon nineteenth-century thinking. The accounts of Utilitarianism and Marxism are brilliant, penetrating, and original. The issues raised by modern science are considered with special attention to vitalism, realism, pluralism, and pragmatism. The author's mastery of social psychology is well illustrated by the chapters on the relationship between the individual and society and on behaviorism, and he concludes with a long chapter on French philosophy in the nineteenth century.
The book is clear and tolerant. The major movements in contemporary thought are clearly grasped and expounded. They are also directly related to the historical background. The treatment is the more illuminating and penetrating because Mr. Mead was himself a man of deep philosophic grasp and of independent judgment. All in all, the volume is one of the outstanding contributions to intellectual history.
HARRY ELMER BARNES
Auburn, New York