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Berger, L.S. (1995). Grünbaum's Questionable Interpretation of Inanimate Systems: History and Context in Physics. Psychoanal. Psychol., 12(3):439-449.

(1995). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 12(3):439-449

Grünbaum's Questionable Interpretation of Inanimate Systems: History and Context in Physics

Louis S. Berger, Ph.D.

In his critiques of psychoanalysis, the philosopher Adolf Grünbaum maintains that psychoanalysis is, or should be, a science cast in the mold of physics. As part of that argument, Grünbaum contends that contrary to the claims of some psychoanalysts and philosophers, certain inanimate systems can and do exhibit historical and contextual features. He supports this contention by analyses of examples of electrodynamic systems and hysteresis effects. In this article, I investigate these examples more closely and show the sense in which Grünbaum's claims are illusory and spurious, “correct but not true.” Consequently, his contention that psychoanalysis should be like physics loses force.

This systems investigation introduces the concept of state or phase spaces (science's basic representational systems). Reference is made to previous work that identified the impoverishing effects that necessarily follow their (usually unwitting) use in psychoanalysis. The problems encountered when one attempts to develop radically alternative representational frameworks are briefly considered.

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