[Marxism] Positivism versus antipositivism

Walter Logeman walter at psybernet.co.nz
Sat Apr 9 09:41:33 MDT 2016


Jim, your post on positivism versus antipositivism gets me to reflect
how this ideological difference appears in psychology. I work as a
psychotherapist. The field is cauldron of diversity of perspectives.
There are strong positivist streaks - such as the current demand for
modalities to be "evidence based".  Jungians, say, and psychodynamic
approaches are more antipositivist (if I have your distinction right).
The whole field is perhaps marginal in the struggle against
capitalism, for all that the work at its best is a form of praxis. It
involves a philosophy of human nature and society and a philosophy of
change. A marxist perspective is relevant and I imagine it has been
debated for the last hundred years in Marxist literature, but rarely
in the mainstream of this branch of social science. Current training
in all modalities of psychology lack an overt world view and are
covertly embedded in capitalist thinking. Even so, some good work is
being done to help people who need help and manage to get it. The
positivist drive at present does seem to be designed to prop up
capitalism.  I see attempts in psychology to make the work
"scientific", it might look like a form of positivism.  Its hard to
tell as most of it is scientism, pseudo science, physics-envy. People
are not things and investigation needs a different form.

I am steeped in the work of J.L.Moreno. He is the founder of
sociometry and psychodrama. He was highly influential, but is not to
be found in contemporary texts.  He was scathing of Freud. Though he
is not marxist he draws on Marx.  For example one of the tenets is to
"explore as well as treat in one stroke".  The approach is
dialectical, maybe that is a word for antipositivism? What I
understand as dialectical here is approaching people as part of a
living group, not "individual psyches". The emphasis is on the
relationship between people.  Change is not linear, and comes from
within the system.

I am motivated to further explore the relationship between marxism and
psychological work. Freud / Marx discussions seem dated. Where to
start?

Walter Logeman



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