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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Comparative Psychology of Leonard T. Hobhouse: Its Context and Conception

  • Author(s): Tolman, Charles W.
  • et al.
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License

Hobhouse viewed comparative psychology as playing a key role in his politically liberal, social-ethical worldview. The main feature of evolving mind was the increased capacity for democratic self-direction. Political reaction, identified with imperialism, attempts ideologically to obscure this fact, and thus to impede social progress. Its instruments are philosophical idealism and pseudo-scientific biologism or Social Darwinism. Comparative psychology, conceived as an essentially human psychology, could counteract this reactionary ideology with genuine scientific knowledge of present human capacity and future potential. These can only be revealed by a correct scientific approach, which, Hobhouse maintained, had to be evolutionary and comparative.

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