Language and Human Nature. Kurt Goldstein's Neurolinguistic Foundation of a Holistic Philosophy

Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences 48 (1):40-54 (2012)
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Holism in interwar Germany provides an excellent example for social and political in- fluences on scientific developments. Deeply impressed by the ubiquitous invocation of a cultural crisis, biologists, physicians, and psychologists presented holistic accounts as an alternative to the “mechanistic worldview” of the nineteenth century. Although the ideological background of these accounts is often blatantly obvious, many holistic scientists did not content themselves with a general opposition to a mechanistic worldview but aimed at a rational foundation of their holistic projects. This article will discuss the work of Kurt Goldstein, who is known for both his groundbreaking contributions to neuropsychology and his holistic philosophy of human nature. By focusing on Goldstein’s neurolinguistic research, I want to reconstruct the empirical foundations of his holistic program without ignoring its cultural background. In this sense, Goldstein’s work provides a case study for the formation of a scientific theory through the complex interplay between specific empirical evidences and the general cultural developments of the Weimar Republic.

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David Ludwig
Wageningen University and Research


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