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Jacobson, L. (1996). The Grünbaum Debate: Introduction. Psychoanal. Dial., 6(4):497-502.

(1996). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 6(4):497-502

The Grünbaum Debate: Introduction Related Papers

Lawrence Jacobson, Ph.D.

There is a supposedly Chinese curse that goes “may you live in interesting times.” One interesting thing in these times is a dissolution of authority in culture, politics, and epistemology. This is a predicament for the world in which psychoanalysis subsists and a feature of psychoanalysis itself. Psychoanalysis is, importantly, about the impossibilities and contradictions of authority. It should not be surprising, therefore, that it has explored, contributed to, and enacted this contemporary culture of problematized authority. At first authoritarian, claiming an unassailable interpretive correctness, now it contains a plethora of schools, theories, and notions about itself. Can psychoanalysis hold itself together, maintain a coherent position without either homogenizing important differences within it or resorting to anachronistic authoritarian exclusions?

Into this scene, in 1984, came Adolf Grünbaum, instigating the debate that is the subject of this symposium. In The Foundations of Psychoanalysis, he argued that psychoanalysis must be a science if it is to be anything of importance; that attempts to conceive psychoanalysis as a hermeneutic venture are confused and ill-conceived; that Freud conceived of psychoanalysis as a science tout court; and that it has been a scandalously poor science, relying on the clinical situation and fallacious reasoning for an illusory validation. Indeed, without a great deal more extraclinical experimental validation than there is, psychoanalysis should be considered a castle in the air.

Since

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