To look backward on 25 years of one’s own work seems at times an exercise in narcissistic self-indulgence, but it can also yield new perspectives that seem to transcend the purely personal. I am struck by a number of recurring themes in my own work, which the distance of some years helps me to see as a slightly idiosyncratic expression of problems endemic to all of psychology. Perhaps the most persuasive is my struggle to come to terms with a peculiarly psychological antinomy, which may be expressed in the often-encountered, skeptical question: is a science of psychology possible at all? For science is an attempt to be impersonal and objective in the pursuit of public knowledge, of invariances, laws, and precise measurements and formulations; whereas the most distinctive subject matter of psychology is personal, subjective, privately known thoughts, feelings, fantasies, dreams, yearnings, dreads, free choices, and states of consciousness—evanescent and constantly changing impalpables that seem to defy codification, exact description, or measurement.
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