Forthcoming HOPOS Special Issue on Descriptive Psychology and Völkerpsychologie

Two pieces forthcoming in a special issue of HOPOS, the official journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science, will be of interest to AHP readers. The special issue, “Descriptive Psychology and Völkerpsychologie—in the Contexts of Historicism, Relativism, and Naturalism,” is guest-edited by Christian Damböck, Uljana Feest, and Martin Kusch. Full details below.

Descriptive Psychology: Brentano and Dilthey,” by Guillaume Fréchette. Abstract:

Although Wilhelm Dilthey and Franz Brentano apparently were pursuing roughly the same objective—to offer a description of our mental functions and of their relations to objects—and both called their respective research programs ‘descriptive psychology’, they seem to have used the term to refer to two different methods of psychological research. In this article, I compare analyses of these differences. Against the reading of Orth but also against a possible application of recent relativist accounts of the epistemology of peer disagreement to this case, I argue that their apparent shared objective is not enough to support an understanding of their views as two alternatives within a given historical or scientific context, or as a mutual peer disagreement. I show that the impression of a shared objective can be explained away as stemming from the influence of their teacher Adolf Trendelenburg, and I stress that the case of introspection strongly suggests that an account in terms of peer disagreement is not plausible. Finally, I conclude that the opposition between two traditions, Austrian philosophy and historicism, might be better suited to account for the dispute and its apparent common historical context.

Völkerpsychologie and the Origins of Hermann Cohen’s Antipsychologism,” by Scott Edgar. Abstract:

Some commentators on Hermann Cohen have remarked on what they take to be a puzzle about the origins of his mature antipsychologism. When Cohen was young, he studied a kind of psychology, the Völkerpsychologie of Moritz Lazarus and Heymann Steinthal, and he wrote apparently psychologistic accounts of knowledge almost up until the moment he first articulated his antipsychologistic neo-Kantianism. To be sure, Cohen’s mature antipsychologism does constitute a rejection of certain central commitments of Völkerpsychologie. However, the relation between Völkerpsychologie and Cohen’s mature antipsychologism is not one of straightforward opposition. This article argues that Cohen had significantly less distance to travel than it appears to get from his early Völkerpsychologie to his mature antipsychologism. In particular, this article argues that Cohen always had an antipsychologistic account of knowledge, even during the period when he was studying Völkerpsychologie, and, further, that key features of his Völkerpsychologie partly shaped his mature account of knowledge. Finally, the article identifies how Cohen’s views did change over the transition from his völkerpsychological period to his later antipsychologism. It thus identifies what changes in Cohen’s views do need to be explained.

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a professor at Quest University Canada. A critical feminist psychologist and historian of psychology, she is committed to critical pedagogy and public engagement with feminist psychology and the history of the discipline.