The philosophical concept

The philosophical concept of categorical psychology

The question of the meaning of life is the most urgent of all questions. It is the philosophical question that concerns everyone. The answer that we give to it springs from the conviction that we acquire and need as an inner compass.

Max Lüscher

A pronounced interest in psychodiagnostics already characterized Max Lüscher as a 16-year-old student. Due to his studies in physiognomy, he received a special permit to attend lectures at the University of Basel. His scientific path led him via Ludwig Klages' expressive science to the anthropology of Paul Häberlin, whose lectures fascinated him as a student of philosophy and psychology. In addition, he studied applied psychology as well as clinical psychiatry with John E. Staehelin, which at that time was also possible for a non-medical student. Besides Paul Häberlin, it was the philosophers Hermann Schmalenbach, Max Scheler and Hans Kunz who had a significant influence on his scientific development. Through them he became familiar with phenomenology.

Max Lüscher took an in-depth look at Häberlin's philosophy, in whose functional ontology he saw the cornerstone of functional psychology. According to Häberlin, philosophical anthropology can only answer the question of human nature if it is based on ontology and not empiricism. In this respect he takes a contrary position to his lifelong friend and psychiatrist Ludwig Binswanger, the founder of the analysis of existence. Häberlin criticizes the confusion of "being" and "self-image" in Binswanger's draft of a phenomenological anthropology. Binswanger had thus taken the step towards a purely empirical psychology that is exhausted in the "interpretation of phenomenal contents". According to Häberlin, this is based on the assumption: "Man is as he appears to himself" (self-image).

Rather than investigating what everyone feels, anthropology should first try to understand the being to whom such feelings are possible. Only in this way could an anthropomorphic infection of phenomenology be avoided. Max Lüscher takes up this enormous problem. He did not claim to develop a completely new philosophical-psychological theorem. He saw himself as a systematist. Starting out from Häberlin, he developed a phenomenological anthropology whose basic categories are derived from the basic logical function of the subject-object relation. In this way he fulfilled his teacher's demand that anthropological psychology should not be empirically based.

But he goes one step further by also deriving the phenomenal contents (categorical psycho-logic). The Lüscher cube, the model of the psychic functions, represents the uniformity of the functions in their interdependence. The relationality of all functions also makes it possible to represent the self-regulation of the psyche. In relation to the functional model, the Lüscher cube, this means All modes of experience and behavior can be categorically explored with the help of the Lüscher cube.

Literature: Max Lüscher (1949), Die Farbe als psychologisches Untersuchungsmittel. Dissertation. [Colour as an aid in psychological diagnosis] Universität Basel; ders.: 1955, Psychologie und Psychotherapie als Kultur. [Psychology and Psychotherapy as Culture] Auszug aus der Habilitationsschrift, In: Willy Canziani (Hg.): Psychologia-Jahrbuch 1955. Zürich 1954, S. 172-214

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