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Unstable Ideas
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Jerome Kagan was Daniel and Amy Starch Research Professor of Psychology Emeritus at Harvard University.

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The title refers to the problem of imprecise meaning in the use of scientific language for such terms as temperament, cognition, and self. Kagan (psychology, Harvard) makes a plea for more rigorous and innovative methods and a more powerful vocabulary in child development research, where the interaction of biological, psychological, and contextual features is more finely differentiated. Advocating ``an acceptance of the notion that meanings change with time and are always influenced by the procedure that produced the relevant evidence,'' he insists that researchers should periodically retest their stock of evidence for any particular concept of the essence of human nature. He then goes on to offer his own reconceptualizations of crucial concepts. For specialists in the field.-- William Abrams, Portland State Univ. Lib., Ore.

Jerome Kagan...sets forth an elegantly reasoned and well-written argument for events, functions, and dynamisms rather than things as explanatory notions in psychology. What he calls for is a more complex understanding of the interaction between personality and environment-and the master concept through which he explores such interaction is the notion of 'temperament.' -- Richard M. Restak * New York Times Book Review *
Kagan weaves philosophy, physics, and psychology into a persuasive...form. His book should be required reading for anyone concerned with our children, or who they become. -- Patricia L. Linn * Antioch Review *
The author marshals vast erudition and scholarship... The domain [Kagan] surveys in this series of essays is vast. It includes trends in developmental psychology across the twentieth century; it takes in the cognition, temperament, and self of his subtitle, and touches as well on issues of epistemology, methodology, morality and ethics, and creativity in science... This is a book of varied, sometimes far-flung, themes developed in an integrated and unified manner. It is an ambitious undertaking, but the author realizes his intentions admirably, even spectacularly. -- Alexander Thomas * Readings: A Journal of Reviews and Commentary in Mental Health *

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