The Case of Johannes Linschoten’s Apostasy: Phenomenological Versus Empirical-Analytical Psychology

  • Sybe J. S. Terwee
Part of the Recent Research in Psychology book series (PSYCHOLOGY)


Twenty-five years after his death, Johannes Linschoten (1925–1964) has not yet been forgotten by Dutch psychology. Almost everyone is familiar with his work Idolen van de Psycholoog (Idols of the Psychologist) which appeared posthumously in 1964, the year of his death.1 This study is a perceptive and still very readable defence of the empirical-analytical method in psychology against a number of different schools of thought which Linschoten considers unscholarly or unscientific, and against common everyday prejudice. It has played a role in creating the identity of Dutch psychology. A second work is less well-known: I am referring to Op weg naar een fenomenologische psychologie (Towards a Phenomenological Psychology) (1959), in which Linschoten discusses William James as a precursor of phenomenology. During the time of writing, Linschoten was part of a representative group of phenomenologists at the University of Utrecht. How do we explain the fact that Linschoten, as a prominent member of the “Utrecht School”, was initially one of those who defended the notion of a phenomenological psychology, but subsequently and almost immediately afterwards revealed himself as an advocate of a methodology based on experiments and a fervent opponent of phenomenology? Even though we know that in psychology schools regularly replace each other, such a sudden personal switch remains tantalizingly mysterious. Should we look at Linschoten’s personal life for an explanation?


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sybe J. S. Terwee
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Social Sciences, Unit of Experimental and Theoretical PsychologyLeiden UniversityLeidenThe Netherlands

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