Simon Cook previously described the novel account of the human mind which emerged before the First World War- the Cambridge Mind. He considers the development of this conception of brain and behavior to be a critical moment in the early history of the social sciences in Britain, informing the views of both Alfred Marshall and W.H.R. Rivers, but to very different effects. From my vantage point of American intellectual history and history of science, I find a number elements of “the Cambridge Mind” interesting.
Alexander Carr-Saunders (1886 to 1966) has been the topic of numerous posts at EWP. He was Director of the London School of Economics from 1937 to 1956, initially reading zoology. Carr-Saunders studied bio-metrics under Karl Pearson, was involved in the Eugenics Education Society as its Secretary, and in 1922 published, The Population Problem (PP). PP is among the most dense of texts and does not make for easy reading, particularly for contemporary readers. Nor does it really engender feelings of worthiness among historians of the 20th century social and behavioral sciences as it is (among other things) an account of the social evolution of primitive and civil peoples (or as Simon has pointed out in many other contexts- Carr-Saunders narrates in a text on quantity and quality the historical transition from races and peoples to nations, blending many, many approaches and disciplinary tools.
In this essay, I will do some work, continued in parts II and III, to illustrate the importance of the “Cambridge Mind” to Carr-Saunders’ landmark Population Problem, a work still viewed by historians and social scientists as foundational to the development of modern demographic science and population research. In Part I, I will spend some time detailing first, how to re-conceptualize the PP as a textual product of a number of overlapping narratives and second, how PP’s arguments about the psychology and physiology of reproduction are best understood as an outgrowth of the “Cambridge Mind.”