, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp 265-274

Nomothetic and Idiographic Methodology in Psychiatry — A historical-philosophical analysis

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Abstract

The purpose of this article is to demonstrate the epistemic position of psychiatry between the science of general laws in relation to frequently encountered generality and the science of specific events which is directed towards the particular. In this respect the development of the dichotomy of nomothetic and idiographic methodology from its generally forgotten neo-Kantian origins (Windelband, Rickert, Natorp, Bauch, Münch, Hessen, Münsterberg) is delineated within the context of a historical-philosophical analysis and then its incorporation into psychology and psychopathology (Stern, Binswanger, Kronfeld, Jaspers) is reconstructed. In the course of this analysis and also in the discussion of the currently accepted theories of analytical philosophy (Stegmüller) and critical rationalism (Popper) it becomes clear that, in spite of widespread current opinions to the contrary, individualizing concept formation is an indispensable element in the methodological inventory of psychiatric science.

This revised version was published online in July 2006 with corrections to the Cover Date.