Bühler and Popper: Kantian therapies for the crisis in psychology

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I analyze the historical background and philosophical considerations of Karl Bühler and his student Karl Popper regarding the crisis of psychology. They share certain Kantian questions and methods for reflection on the state of the art in psychology. Part 1 outlines Bühler's diagnosis and therapy for the crisis in psychology as he perceived it, leading to his famous theory of language. I also show how the Kantian features of Bühler's approach help to deal with objections to his crisis diagnosis and to aspects of his linguistic theory. Part 2 turns to Popper's dissertation, completed in 1928 under Bühler. I analyze Popper's disapproval of Schlick's physicalism in psychology, as well as Popper's attempt to extend Bühler's Kantian strategy to the domain of the psychology of thinking. In conclusion, I indicate how these approaches to the crisis in psychology differ from Thomas Kuhn's notions of crisis and revolution, which are still all too popular in current philosophical discussions of psychology. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.


  • Bühler, Karl
  • Crisis
  • Kantianism
  • Linguistics
  • Popper, Karl
  • Psychology of thinking


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