Ideas Concerning a Descriptive and Analytic Psychology (1894)



Explanatory psychology, which currently stimulates so much interest and work, sets up a causal system claiming to make all the manifestations of mental life intelligible. It seeks to explain the constitution of the psychic life [Seelenleben] with the help of its components, energies and law, just as physics and chemistry explain those of the corporeal world. Associationistic psychologists (such as Herbart, Spencer, Taine), and the different types of materialism, are particularly clear representatives of this psychology. The distinction between explanatory sciences and descriptive sciences on which we here rely corresponds to the common usage. By explanatory science is to be understood every subordination of a domain of experience to a system of causality [Kausaliusammenhang] by means of a limited number of well-determined elements (i.e., the components of the system). This concept characterizes the ideal of such a science, formed in particular from the development of atomic physics.


External World Mental Life Explanatory Psychology Analytic Psychology Causal System 
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© Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, Netherlands 1977

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