Freud; on science and being scientific

There are many critics on Freudian psychoanalysis. One of the major critics was made by Popper. He claimed that Psychoanalysis is pseudo-science because of the lack of fasifiability in psychoanalytic theory. This post is not about providing a reply to Popper’s critics but it is about how Freud looks at ‘being scientific’.

In my point of view it may be true if we say that Psychoanalysis is not scientific but I think it is an effort through ‘being scientific’. It should be reminded that we shall not look at science as an ideology and it is not a wise manner if we totally abandon what we don’t perceive as science.

An idea or theory that at present time is not scientific may become scientific one day.

A theory / approach or study which we may perceive it as science at present time may be considered as non-scientific with future coming standards.

And Now what Freud says about being scientific:

We have often heard it maintained that sciences should be built up on clear and sharply defined basic concepts. In actual fact no science, not even the most exact, begins with such definitions. The true beginning of scientific activity consists rather in describing phenomena and then in proceeding to group, classify and correlate them. Even at the stage of description it is not possible to avoid applying certain abstract ideas to the material in hand, ideas derived from somewhere or other but certainly not from the new observations alone. Such ideas which will later become the basic concepts of the science are still more indispensable as the material is further worked over. They must at first necessarily possess some degree of indefiniteness; there can be no question of any clear delimitation of their content. So long as they remain in this condition, we come to an understanding about their meaning by making repeated references to the material of observation from which they appear to have been derived, but upon which, in fact, they have been imposed. Thus, strictly speaking, they are in the nature of conventions – although everything depends on their not being arbitrarily chosen but determined by their having significant relations to the empirical material, relations that we seem to sense before we can clearly recognize and demonstrate them. It is only after more thorough investigation of the field of observation that we are able to formulate its basic scientific concepts with increased precision, and progressively so to modify them that they become serviceable and consistent over a wide area. Then, indeed, the time may have come to confine them in definitions. The advance of knowledge, however, does not tolerate any rigidity even in definitions. Physics furnishes an excellent illustration of the way in which even ‘basic concepts’ that have been established in the form of definitions are constantly being altered in their content.

–  Instincts And Their Vicissitudes (1915)


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