The Debate between Grunbaum and Ricoeur: The Hermeneutic Conception of Psychoanalysis and the Drive for Scientific Legitimacy

Gregory A. Trotter


Paul Ricœur’s hermeneutic approach to psychoanalysis stresses the interpretation of meanings revealed via the narratives woven through the discursive exchanges between analyst and analysand. Despite the tremendous influence Ricœur’s interpretation enjoyed both in philosophy and in psychoanalysis, his approach has been subject to severe criticism by Adolf Grünbaum who argues that Freud modeled psychoanalysis on the natural sciences, and therefore it should be judged according to natural scientific standards. I argue that Grünbaum incorrectly downplays the importance of speech and language in psychoanalytic theory and practice, and moreover, that Ricœur’s approach offers important insights that deserve to be redeployed today.


Ricoeur, Grunbaum, Psychoanalysis, Hermeneutics, Explanation

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Copyright (c) 2016 Gregory A. Trotter

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