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Hist Psychiatry. 2013 Jun;24(2):212-26. doi: 10.1177/0957154X13476201.

The theoretical root of Karl Jaspers' General Psychopathology. Part 1: Reconsidering the influence of phenomenology and hermeneutics.

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Toranomon Branch Hospital, Kawasaki City, Japan.


The present paper investigates the methodology involved in Jaspers' psychopathology and compares it with Husserl's phenomenology and with Dilthey's cultural science. Allgemeine Psychopathologie and other methodological works by Jaspers, the works of Husserl and Dilthey that Jaspers cited, and previous research papers on Jaspers are reviewed. Jaspers had conflicting views on understanding, which were comprised of both empathic understanding and rational, ideal-typical understanding. Such a standpoint on understanding is considerably different from Dilthey's. Additionally, the present paper reconfirms that Jaspers' 'phenomenology' as a form of descriptive psychology for the understanding of empirical psychic states is different from Husserl's phenomenology. Thus, this paper casts doubt on the common opinion that Jaspers was under the profound influence of Husserl or Dilthey.


Descriptive psychology; Edmund Husserl; Karl Jaspers; Wilhelm Dilthey; empathy; methodology

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