Psychology's Dilemma: To Explain or To Understand

At one time behavioristic psychology depreciated the value of introspection and descriptive observation in an attempt to exorcise the ghosts of mentalism and introspectionism. The roots of this bias were traced to a Cartesian dualism of subject and object. Behavioristic research has typically concentrated on a specific kind of data requiring the controls of a detached third-person observer. Its findings have been far removed from the concrete "lived world" of the subject, notwithstanding the sophistication and utility of its experimental designs. The task of understanding the human world of everyday life has been precluded from investigation by an exclusive reliance on explanation for the purpose of facilitating prediction. A case has been made that such a position is neither philosophically tenable nor conducive to the growth of psychology as a science. The contention of contemporary philosophers and behavioral scientists is that psychology cannot proceed as an independent science of man without combining empirical induction with experiential descriptions. Psychologists cannot exclude the role of intentionality and remain consistently within the orbit of causality. A science of psychology as the study of behavior and experience is possible through a comprehensive approach with equitable sharing of methodologies. Two methods were presented: The method of Phenomenal Study, and the method of Individual Reflection. Experiences from the real world may be studied without the earlier pitfalls of "introspectionism," or the present outcries against a meaningfulness. An application of the two methods to the experience of "feeling understood," suggests a necessary and possible rapprochement between the methods of behaviorism and phenomenology
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1163/156916271X00138
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 16,667
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Sheila Lintott (2002). When Artists Fail: A Reply to Trivedi. British Journal of Aesthetics 42 (1):64-72.
Jürgen Schröder (1991). Searles Kritik Am Funktionalismus — Eine Untersuchung Des Chinesischzimmers. Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 22 (2):321-336.
Kristin Andrews (2009). Telling Tales. Philosophical Psychology 22 (2):227-235.
James A. Beshai (1975). Is Psychology a Hermeneutic Science? Journal of Phenomenological Psychology 5 (2):425-439.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

5 ( #377,318 of 1,726,249 )

Recent downloads (6 months)


How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.