Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





I. H. Paul

Committee Members

Arietta Slade

William King

Subject Categories



Attempts to reconceptualize the epistemological basis of psychoanalytic metapsychology and clinical praxis from constructionalist perspectives are reviewed and critiqued. The constructionalist epistemology of the American philosopher, Nelson Goodman, is absent in these discussions. Goodman offers a relativism with restraints, a constructionalist epistemology that asserts no one given reality to which our constructions must answer, but does not accept that therefore all constructions are equally valid. Instead, constructions, or what Goodman calls world versions must answer to standards of "Rightness". Goodman's reconception of philosophy subsumes the concept of truth as a special class of rightness, and replaces the concept of knowledge with that of understanding, the concept of certainty with that of adoption.

Goodman's epistemology is based on a detailed theory of symbolic reference. This dissertation applies his constructionalist thesis and the symbol theory to psychoanalytic metapsychology and clinical praxis. Psychoanalytic praxis is seen as inhering in the humanities rather than the sciences, more an art form than a scientific practice. The works of Donald Spence, Roy Schafer, Donnel Stern, and Irwin Hoffman are examined in light of Goodman's thinking.

Finally, the dissertation offers its own view of the analytic clinical situation based on Goodman's epistemology and using the metaphor of improvisational musical performance.


Digital reproduction from the UMI microform.

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