PSYCHOANALYSIS AS SCIENCE: ITS BOUNDARY PROBLEMS, SPECIAL STATUS, RELATIONS TO OTHER SCIENCES, AND FORMALIZATION


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Abstract

This paper examines psychoanalysis as science, especially from the point of view of questions suggested by a review (published in this issue) of the first four volumes of the series Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Science. The author focuses in particular upon the following questions.First, what is there about psychoanalysis that leads so many of its scholars, as well as so many scholars in other disciplines, to take up habitation on the boundaries between it and other disciplines? What are the particular vulnerabilities to which the work of those who reside in border regions is susceptible? What is the source of such boundary difficulties as excessive permeability or excessive impermeability? How can they be mitigated?Second, does psychoanalysis have a special status among the sciences? Is it science at all – hermeneutics rather than explanation, humanistic rather than mechanistic, private rather than public knowledge?Third, if psychoanalysis is a science, rather than a body of knowledge with a special status freeing it from obligations other sciences share, what are some existing and possible relations of psychoanalysis as science to other sciences? Here, especially, examples are drawn from the author's own theoretical studies. Finally, on the basis of the discussion of the previous questions and an examination of the present state of psychoanalysis as science, the author argues that the task of formalizing psychoanalytic theory should receive immediate, high priority; without formalization, further progress seems unlikely. Some directions such formalization might take are suggested.

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