By Dan J. Stein
Presents a framework for addressing very important philosophical concerns in psychiatry and psychopharmacology.
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A series of useful distinctions have been drawn between erkl¨aren (explanation) and verstehen (understanding) (Dilthey, 1883; Jaspers, 1963; Strasser, 1985; van Niekerk, 1989; von Wright, 1971), tough-minded and tender-minded (James, 1907), objectivism and intellectualism (Merleau-Ponty, 1942), platonism and nominalism (Quine, 1969), metaphysicists and ironists (Rorty, 1979), objectivism and relativism (Bernstein, 1983; Harman & Thomson, 1996; Johnson, 1993),1 rationalism and romanticism (Gellner, 1985), universalism and historicism (Margolis, 1986), positivism and antirealism (Miller, 1987), the nomological and the idiographic (Schwartz & Wiggins, 1987), the modern and the post-modern (Bertens, 1995), empiricism and post-empiricism (Bolton & Hill, 1996), essentialism and normativism (Schaffner, 1999), and the objective and the reactive (Elliott, 2003).
Categories are intimately related to human actions and activities. Linguistics has provided additional evidence that abstract categories (such as disorder) are crucially dependent on neuronally based sensorimotor and affective experience (such as the experience of pain). Lakoff’s elegant analyses point to the existence of what he terms radial categories, made up of a central case (based on basic-level sensorimotor–affective experience) and conventionalized variations (requiring metaphoric extensions or mappings from the central case; Lakoff, 1987).
Alongside such work, continental philosophy has developed a concept of the lived-body (Merleau-Ponty, 1963b); the body does not merely involve mechanically caused acts; rather, it is an intentional entity that “understands” the world by perceiving its surroundings and moving towards goals. 12 This kind of thinking has 10 11 12 Whereas Descartes’s thinking was imbued with physics, Spinoza had a particularly biological perspective. Hampshire argues that this had a number of consequences for Spinoza’s unique contributions, including his preference for descriptions of individual natures rather than of universal laws, his notions of physical and psychological explanation (akin to erkl¨aren vs.