Abstract

Karl Jaspers is widely considered a major figure in philosophy and psychiatry. His main contributions to psychiatry are often considered to be the introduction of the method of phenomenology and his methodological distinction between causal explanation and meaningful understanding. In this paper, I suggest that his most important contribution to psychiatry has been relatively neglected: the attempt to define scientific method based on a pluralistic model. This paper examines Jaspers' discussion of the nature of pluralism as scientific method, the conflict between a pluralistic model and Karl Popper's philosophy of science, the utility of a pragmatic philosophy of science derived from Charles Sanders Peirce, the role of meaningful understanding in Jaspers' pluralist model, and an application of Jaspers' pluralistic approach to psychiatric nosology. In summary, Jaspers introduced an analysis of scientific method—pluralism—adapted for psychiatric experience. He describes science as having methodological pluralism as its hallmark. It is this pluralism that was Jaspers' main contribution—still underrecognized and underappreciated—to psychiatry.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3303
Print ISSN
1071-6076
Pages
pp. 57-66
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-14
Open Access
No
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