Being-in-the-World: Selected Papers of Ludwig Binswanger

By Ludwig Binswanger; Jacob Needleman | Go to book overview

II
Systematic Explanation and
the Science of Psychoanalysis

The Ideal of Explanation

It is claimed by Binswanger that apprehension of the a priori structures of human existence, the Existential A Priori(s), provides the therapist with a fuller understanding of the patient's world than does, for example, psychoanalysis. Binswanger claims that natural scientific method on principle is barred from the fullest understanding of the patient, although its ability to explain psychological phenomena is, in principle, not open to question. 1 The main purpose of this chapter will be a general examination of natural science, especially psychoanalysis, considered as an explanatory system in contrast with the phenomenological approach upon which Daseinsanalyse claims to rest. The ultimate goal is to establish a frame of reference in which philosophical considerations surrounding psychoanalytic and Daseinsanalytic viewpoints may with less generality be discussed in succeeding chapters.

The distinction between understanding (Verstehen) and explanation (Erklärung) may, at the outset, be roughly equated with the distinction between phenomenology and philosophical system. One of the things that phenomenology claims differentiates it from philosophical system is its attempt to be presuppositionless. Systems there are that claim undoubtable presuppositions, but none that claim to have no presuppositions at all. We shall see that phenomenology's certainty, as well as its powerlessness, stems from this refusal to presuppose.

____________________
1
Binswanger, Schizophrenie (Pfullingen, 1957), p. 142.

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