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date: 19 April 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses the psychopathological ideas of Karl Jaspers, one of the founding fathers of phenomenological thinking. Jaspers always admired researchers who used the means of natural sciences in psychiatry, but he relied more on the psychology of understanding conceptualized and exercised in the humanities (“Geisteswissenschaften”) by Wilhelm Dilthey, Max Weber, and Georg Simmel. The chapter first provides an overview of Jaspers’s intellectual biography as a psychiatrist before analyzing his methodological horizons of understanding psychology. It then examines what philosophical considerations motivated Jaspers to draw the “limits of understanding” closer and stricter in the last edition of his book General Psychopathology, first published in 1913. It suggests that these limits can be determined as an existential application of Immanuel Kant’s idea and antinomy of freedom. The chapter concludes with an assessment of Jaspers’s claim that existence-philosophical self-reflection constitutes a necessary supplement to psychotherapy.

Keywords: psychopathology, Karl Jaspers, General Psychopathology, psychiatry, psychology of understanding, Wilhelm Dilthey, Immanuel Kant, freedom, self-reflection, psychotherapy

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