Postmodernism and crises in psychology
pp. 373-385in: Human Arenas 1 (4), 2018.
The twentieth century went through a turmoil that produced crises in almost all the academic disciplines, but also in our civilization as such. In the 1980s, postmodernity appeared as one of the buzzwords that tried to rationalize some aspects of the turmoil. Many had problems with the term (like Lapoujade, this volume). This paper, however, pursues the crisis in psychology that Karl Bühler and Lev Vygotsky invited to discuss in the late 1920s. The aim is to examine what this crisis actually was about. A closer look at the appearance of psychology in philosophy in the eighteenth century demonstrates that rather philosophy instead of psychology went into a crisis. The objective aspects of medieval philosophy represented a kind of stability in the discipline. Yet, when psychology appeared as a part of metaphysics in the German Enlightenment, this stability was severely disturbed. The aspect of subjectivity that psychology introduced to philosophy created a crisis that provoked Immanuel Kant and forced him to develop his critical philosophy. Since then, subjectivity has been an accepted aspect of philosophy, but not with full agreement about how it should be understood. On this basis, Edmund Husserl talked about a crisis in European sciences in general. This paper, on the other hand, highlights the postmodern assumption, which says that the crisis is to be located in narratives produced by the sciences themselves. The broader the narratives are, the more they appear as self-contradictory. The more they pretend to explain, the more they fail to grasp the indeterminacy that is embedded in reality and actual life. As long as psychology is about the actual life, psychology is a science that can tell us about the crisis in narratives.