Experimental psychology, psychiatry and psychopathology in Max Weber’s methodology writings
Misinterpretation of Weber’s antipsychologism has led in turn to the mistaken idea that in his theory of social action, emotion-determined action is nothing more than a defective form of purposive rational action. In fact, given that for Weber sociological explanation necessarily involved understanding the motivations for action, the point for him was to delimit the field of the « understandable » and determine the epistemological and methodological status of the « understanding » undertaking. To do this, he closely examined all the disciplines of his time – experimental psychology, psychiatry and psychopathology, even psychoanalysis – whose research aim was to discover the nature and role of psychic factors. It was through this critical study, which took up questions as complex as relations between the psychic and the somatic, the role of heredity, and even what a sociopathological interpretation of culture would be, that he defined the place and status of what he termed « psychological understanding ».