how reason almost lost its mind the strange career of cold war rationality

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How Reason Almost Lost Its Mind

Author : Paul Erickson
ISBN : 9780226046778
Genre : History
File Size : 56. 42 MB
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In the United States at the height of the Cold War, roughly between the end of World War II and the early 1980s, a new project of redefining rationality commanded the attention of sharp minds, powerful politicians, wealthy foundations, and top military brass. Its home was the human sciences—psychology, sociology, political science, and economics, among others—and its participants enlisted in an intellectual campaign to figure out what rationality should mean and how it could be deployed. How Reason Almost Lost Its Mind brings to life the people—Herbert Simon, Oskar Morgenstern, Herman Kahn, Anatol Rapoport, Thomas Schelling, and many others—and places, including the RAND Corporation, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, the Cowles Commission for Research and Economics, and the Council on Foreign Relations, that played a key role in putting forth a “Cold War rationality.” Decision makers harnessed this picture of rationality—optimizing, formal, algorithmic, and mechanical—in their quest to understand phenomena as diverse as economic transactions, biological evolution, political elections, international relations, and military strategy. The authors chronicle and illuminate what it meant to be rational in the age of nuclear brinkmanship.

How Reason Almost Lost Its Mind

Author : Paul Erickson
ISBN : 022632415X
Genre : History
File Size : 39. 78 MB
Format : PDF
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In the United States at the height of the Cold War, roughly between the end of World War II and the early 1980s, a new project of redefining rationality commanded the attention of sharp minds, powerful politicians, wealthy foundations, and top military brass. Its home was the human sciences—psychology, sociology, political science, and economics, among others—and its participants enlisted in an intellectual campaign to figure out what rationality should mean and how it could be deployed. How Reason Almost Lost Its Mind brings to life the people—Herbert Simon, Oskar Morgenstern, Herman Kahn, Anatol Rapoport, Thomas Schelling, and many others—and places, including the RAND Corporation, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, the Cowles Commission for Research and Economics, and the Council on Foreign Relations, that played a key role in putting forth a “Cold War rationality.” Decision makers harnessed this picture of rationality—optimizing, formal, algorithmic, and mechanical—in their quest to understand phenomena as diverse as economic transactions, biological evolution, political elections, international relations, and military strategy. The authors chronicle and illuminate what it meant to be rational in the age of nuclear brinkmanship.

The World The Game Theorists Made

Author : Paul Erickson
ISBN : 9780226097176
Genre : Business & Economics
File Size : 77. 84 MB
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In recent decades game theory—the mathematics of rational decision-making by interacting individuals—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 theory’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 Morgenstern’s seminal Theory of Games and Economic Behavior in 1944 and the theory’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.

Database Of Dreams

Author : Rebecca Lemov
ISBN : 9780300216646
Genre : Science
File Size : 28. 57 MB
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Just a few years before the dawn of the digital age, Harvard psychologist Bert Kaplan set out to build the largest database of sociological information ever assembled. It was the mid-1950s, and social scientists were entranced by the human insights promised by Rorschach tests and other innovative scientific protocols. Kaplan, along with anthropologist A. I. Hallowell and a team of researchers, sought out a varied range of non-European subjects among remote and largely non-literate peoples around the globe. Recording their dreams, stories, and innermost thoughts in a vast database, Kaplan envisioned future researchers accessing the data through the cutting-edge Readex machine. Almost immediately, however, technological developments and the obsolescence of the theoretical framework rendered the project irrelevant, and eventually it was forgotten.

The Romantic Machine

Author : John Tresch
ISBN : 9780226812229
Genre : History
File Size : 86. 39 MB
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In the years immediately following Napoleon’s defeat, French thinkers in all fields set their minds to the problem of how to recover from the long upheavals that had been set into motion by the French Revolution. Many challenged the Enlightenment’s emphasis on mechanics and questioned the rising power of machines, seeking a return to the organic unity of an earlier age and triggering the artistic and philosophical movement of romanticism. Previous scholars have viewed romanticism and industrialization in opposition, but in this groundbreaking volume John Tresch reveals how thoroughly entwined science and the arts were in early nineteenth-century France and how they worked together to unite a fractured society. Focusing on a set of celebrated technologies, including steam engines, electromagnetic and geophysical instruments, early photography, and mass-scale printing, Tresch looks at how new conceptions of energy, instrumentality, and association fueled such diverse developments as fantastic literature, popular astronomy, grand opera, positivism, utopian socialism, and the Revolution of 1848. He shows that those who attempted to fuse organicism and mechanism in various ways, including Alexander von Humboldt and Auguste Comte, charted a road not taken that resonates today. Essential reading for historians of science, intellectual and cultural historians of Europe, and literary and art historians, The Romantic Machine is poised to profoundly alter our understanding of the scientific and cultural landscape of the early nineteenth century.

World As Laboratory

Author : Rebecca Lemov
ISBN : 9780374707293
Genre : Science
File Size : 33. 52 MB
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Deeply researched, World as Laboratory tells a secret history that's not really a secret. The fruits of human engineering are all around us: advertising, polls, focus groups, the ubiquitous habit of "spin" practiced by marketers and politicians. What Rebecca Lemov cleverly traces for the first time is how the absurd, the practical, and the dangerous experiments of the human engineers of the first half of the twentieth century left their laboratories to become our day-to-day reality.

Science Democracy And The American University

Author : Andrew Jewett
ISBN : 9781107027268
Genre : History
File Size : 69. 42 MB
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"This book fundamentally reinterprets the rise of the natural and social sciences as sources of political authority in modern America. Andrew Jewett demonstrates the remarkable persistence of a belief that the scientific enterprise carried with it a set of ethical resources capable of grounding a democratic culture - a political function widely assigned to religion. The book traces the shifting formulations of this belief from the creation of the research universities in the Civil War era to the early Cold War, tracking hundreds of leading scholars who challenged technocratic modes of governance rooted in a strictly value-neutral image of science. Many of these figures favored a deliberative model of democracy, defined by a vigorous process of public deliberation rather than rationalized administration or interest-group bargaining. This vision generated surprisingly nuanced portraits of science in the years before the military-industrial complex"--

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