The Psychological as an Epistemic Margin between the Natural and the Social: A Critical Reflection on Heinrich Rickert’s View of Concept Formation in Sciences

By Levent Kara.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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This paper discusses the indispensible role of psychological states in our understanding of social phenomena through a critique of Heinrich Rickert’s views on the difference between natural and cultural sciences. *My intention is to show that Rickert’s emphasis on the purely formal principle of demarcation between the two domains falls short of acknowledging our unique epistemic relation to psychological state concepts which are crucial for our understanding of social, thus, cultural phenomena. Against Rickert’s refusal to base the methodological difference between the natural and cultural sciences on psychological phenomena, I will argue that our knowledge of the psychological phenomena is constituted differently from that of the non-psychological phenomena (that does not involve or related to any psychological event) and this structural difference in the formation of concepts in social domain and natural realm marks the hinge for the methodological difference in respective fields of scientific investigation.
*Rickert, H. 1899. Science and history: A critique of positivist epistemology. Trans. G. Reisman. Princeton: D. Van Nostrand Co., 1962.
Rickert, H. 1902. The Limits of Concept Formation in Natural Science. Trans. G. Oakes. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1986.

Keywords: Concept, Concept Formation, Meaning, Experience, Psychological State Terms, Science, Methodology, Heinrich Rickert

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp.245-252. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 731.970KB).

Dr. Levent Kara

Assistant Professor, School of Architecture and Community Design, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, USA

Dr. Levent Kara joined the University of South Florida School of Architecture and Community Design in 2010. He received his B.Arch and M.Arch degrees from Orta Dogu Teknik Universitesi (Turkey) and his Ph.D. from the University of Florida. Dr. Kara is a registered architect in Turkey where he practiced for several years before coming to the University of Florida for doctoral studies in 2002 with a full four-year Alumni Fellowship. His practice in Turkey involved commissioned design work, competition entries, and construction supervision. Prior to his appointment at USF, Dr. Kara taught design studios and theory and history courses in the School of Architecture at the University of Florida as a tenure-track Assistant Professor. Dr. Kara’s research investigates architectural design as a critical practice in the production of culture. To this end, his scholarship mainly concentrates on the epistemology of design thinking, from the fundamental modalities of architectural design in terms of the relation between thinking and making, to the contemporary dilemmas surrounding the theory/ practice dichotomy. This main focus on the epistemology of architectural design is further supported by lateral research on the interfaces between architectural design and other modes of cultural production including formal philosophical investigations in natural epistemology, aesthetics and culture theory, and pedagogical investigations in architectural design and theory. Dr. Kara’s writings range from formal philosophical subjects in epistemology, aesthetics, and culture theory, to architectural design, theory and criticism, and architectural pedagogy.


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