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Stepansky, P.E. (1983). Perspectives on Dissent: Adler, Kohut, and the Idea of a Psychoanalytic Research Tradition. Ann. Psychoanal., 11:51-74.

(1983). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 11:51-74

Perspectives on Dissent: Adler, Kohut, and the Idea of a Psychoanalytic Research Tradition

Paul E. Stepansky, Ph.D.

Michael Polanyi, who, among contemporary philosophers of science, has addressed himself most profoundly to the “intellectual passions” that fuel scientific discovery, provides us with a compelling statement on the “logical gap” that separates the protagonists in a scientific controversy. I quote him at length because his remarks capture, with uncanny timeliness, the tenor of the ongoing controversy in psychoanalysis between the proponents and opponents of Heinz Kohut's self psychology:

… scientific controversies never lie altogether within science. For when a new system of thought concerning a whole class of alleged facts is at issue, the question will be whether it should be accepted or rejected in principle, and those who reject it on such comprehensive grounds will inevitably regard it as altogether incompetent and unsound. … The two conflicting systems of thought are separated by a logical gap, in the same sense as a problem is separated from the discovery which solves the problem. Formal operations relying on one framework of interpretation cannot demonstrate a proposition to persons who rely on another framework. Its advocates may not even succeed in getting a hearing from these, since they must first teach them a new language, and no one can learn a new language unless he first trusts that it means something.

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