KARL JASPERS FORUM
URL : <kjf.ca>
AN ELECTRONIC JOURNAL FOR TARGET ARTICLES
To provide an interdisciplinary international e-mail testing ground for propositions in the areas of psychology, psychopathology, and related fields, including clinical and basic sciences and questions concerning the mind-brain relation and 'consciousness'; with some emphasis on clarification of conceptual pre-suppositions. Target articles are discussed by invited and spontaneous commentators. The articles and commentaries can be quoted as such (i.e., as electronic publications), but the authors retain copyright, and the material may in addition be published elsewhere. In this respect, the purpose is that of a pre-publication 'dress rehearsal', for articles (working papers) as well as commentaries, and thus goes beyond the scope of most e-mail discussion groups. Open interactive peer review is expected to facilitate the exchange of opinions, which is the main aim of this journal. Suggestions how to improve the conditions for this aim are welcome.
In contrast to some other e-mail groups in this field, acceptance of articles for commentary is not limited by a requirement of exclusive empiricism which might impede the discussion of some questions. The philosopher and psychiatrist Karl Jaspers pointed out the need for open philosophical reflection which is grounded in present experience and cannot be replaced by fixed traditions or methods. This maxim is proposed as a guiding principle for the FORUM.
One prevalent attitude of objective researchers at present is to neglect the conceptual questions. One cannot blame anyone for proceeding in this fashion, because much of the literature concerning these questions is difficult to absorb, and some of it is nebulous. However, such deliberate neglect is necessarily accompanied by an implicit (default) attitude which is mostly that of naive realism or exclusive empiricism. The difficulty is that: everybody has philosophical opinions, there is no choice, and the question is only how deliberate or unaware, and how clear or confused they are (as Jaspers has commented). Explicitly confronting the problem is preferable to using a foggy or default epistemology.
This leads to a request to elucidate basic assumptions in the argumentation, and it is hoped that this will stimulate the discussion of aspects which may otherwise remain hidden, or cannot be addressed, and which are an essential complement to empirical studies. Basic assumptions should be described in practical terms and should not be limited to a label such as 'realism', or 'objectivity', nor to a reference to some author or epistemological school, because the labels are used in different ways by different writers. They might best be justified not primarily by analogy (or contrast) to some other views, but as compared to no presupposition at all (zero-reference procedure: similar to zero-base budgeting, where the budget managers have to justify every expenditure, as compared to no expenditure at all, rather than in comparison to the previous year's budget). For instance, what are the expected benefits and difficulties from the assumptions which are used, rather than: by whom was this opinion accepted as valid in the past ?
One of the most common questions in this area is: what is and what is not scientific ? In particular, the prevalent equation of science with traditional empiricism and objectivism should be scrutinized, since it appears to cause difficulties in the investigation of subjective experience and some other questions.
Interdisciplinary discussion poses particular problems, as several of our contributors have pointed out. The main difficulty is that by necessity one has to formulate opinions concerning areas which are outside one's field of of expertise. Thus there is ample opportunity to make a fool of oneself, and this can prevent discussion by those who have a reputation to lose. (It is, on the other hand, remarkable that some prominent investigators are willing to take that risk.)
On the other hand, this unstructured common area is just the one of concern here, and in case no general structure can be defined and agreed upon, it may at least be possible to agree on procedure. Thus for such interdisciplinary discussions one needs a persistent desire for work in this area, which is not easily discouraged, and texts which are to the point, not offensive, and, chiefly, not ad hominem.
The published contents of the FORUM can be accessed by hypertext transfer from
Active participation in the FORUM includes receiving updates, usually on weekly basis consistimg of the current publications as they occur (the texts are also available from the web site) and the possibility of submitting articles and commentaries to articles, etc. If you want to participate actively, please let me have a statement about your field of interest, and in particular in which area you would be willing to act as a contributor and commentator, and also about your institutional affiliation, work, field of study, etc.
Invited commentators need not be participants in this FORUM, but are welcome to join if they so desire.
All who want to participate in the FORUM should also be members of the e-mail discussion group DIALOGUES, of which the FORUM is a section. DIALOGUES has several specialized sub-groups which are centered around various themes and provide the possibility of less formal discussion, which parallel and complement the more definitive pre-publication style of the FORUM. Please contact
about this, unless you are already a member of DIALOGUES.
Please send all communications for the FORUM to