I blogged a bit ago about Gregg Henriques's "New Unified Theory of Psychology", which had seen several in-press discussions, and a book. Gregg also blogs over at Psychology Today.
I mention this because my practice of reviewing one book a year for PsychCritiques provided me with a copy of Gregg's recent book, and the review has just released. As in the past, I don't want to provide too much of the review, for fear of violating copyright, but, as I liked the book, something should be said here.
Excerpts from the review:
The title of Gregg Henriques’s new book, A New Unified Theory of Psychology,
is a bit misleading. One might expect from that title a volume
dedicated to bringing together different approaches to psychology.
Although much of the book is dedicated to that purpose...those efforts
are embedded in a far larger proposal to link together all of modern
science.... Clearly, Henriques should be
applauded for his ambition. Too often, however, one reads a book for
which the only thing worth applauding is the author’s ambition. This is
not the case here: A New Unified Theory has much worth thinking about, and readers will not be sad for working through it.
Henriques’s claims about mind and behavior [his "mentalistic behaviorism"] must be taken as both
descriptive and prescriptive. Descriptively, he is claiming that a full
explanation of behavior will be a full explanation of many things that
contemporary psychologists and laypeople are interested in when they
inquire about mind. Prescriptively, he is claiming that those are the only types of things one should use the term mind
to refer to—that the domain, the science of “mind,” should be thus
limited. However, unlike several historic and contemporary authors who
might make similar claims, he is definitely not limiting psychology to
the study of such issues. He simply believes that the other things
psychologists study can be coherently thought of as a separate domain,
the domain of culture.
Henriques does not offer a unified theory in the sense of a single
principle that underlies all of psychological science (as the theory of
evolution did for biology and as is wished from the elusive unifying
theory of physics). Rather, he offers a set of nested frameworks that
puts different parts of psychological research and practice into a
coherent relationship with each other (as Tinbergen’s questions did for
animal behavior and as the periodic table did for chemistry). The
approach is not as hard-nosed as I would like: I want winners and
losers. Instead, no single approach is privileged.
Aside from the value in the framework offered, it provides successful
overviews of an almost-encyclopedic range of current and past work. If I
could teach a graduate-level Introduction to Psychology, this would be
the book. If I could recommend one book to colleagues distraught at the
fragmented nature of the field, this would be the book. It is not
perfect, but it is an admirable step forward.