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Heuer, B. (1996). Böuhle, Alexander. Die Ratio des Mythos: Ein Versuch über die Apriori psychoanalytischer Erkenntnis. [The reason of myth: Considerations as to the a priori of psychoanalytical knowledge.] Analytische Psychologie, 25, 1994. Pp. 208-36.. J. Anal. Psychol., 41(3):467-469.

(1996). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 41(3):467-469

Böuhle, Alexander. Die Ratio des Mythos: Ein Versuch über die Apriori psychoanalytischer Erkenntnis. [The reason of myth: Considerations as to the a priori of psychoanalytical knowledge.] Analytische Psychologie, 25, 1994. Pp. 208-36.

Review by:
Birgit Heuer

Edited by:
William Meredith-Owen and Joseph Cambray

On reading Böhle's article, ‘The reason of myth’, I felt relief and excitement: it is relatively rare that questions of psychoanalytical epistemology are given more than a cursory glance. Jung himself could never make up his mind on whether to consider analysis an art or a science and neither, according to the author, could Freud. Böhle starts with the classic dualism of these epistemic positions and then points us towards the possibility of a third and different paradigm for the science of psychoanalysis.

I hope the reader will now permit me some preliminary remarks on philosophy/epistemology as they will underpin my discussion of Böhle's paper. How do we know what we think we know? How do we know about the nature of the many assumptions which make up our clinical theory and practice as so-called facts? The logical status and structure of these assumptions or indeed any assumptions regarding fact, reality, truth, validity within a scientific system constitutes the subject of epistemology. Traditionally, reality has been conceptualized epistemologically in two ways: the empirical-deductive approach as evidenced by the natural sciences and the hermeneutic-interpretative approach favoured by the humanities. As paradigms, they logically oppose each other.

One of the greatest controversies in modern epistemology concerns the debate on positivism between the critical theorists, Habermas and others, and the neo-positivists, notably Popper. For Habermas, the scientist is a political animal whose intentional interest (Erkenntnisinteresse) is an integral part of scientific enquiry, whereas Popper espouses the possibility of arriving at the apolitical, purely scientific, positive fact.

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