Toward a Psychological History of Philosophy: Kant’s Dreams of a Spirit-Seer (Träume eines Geistersehers, erläutert durch Träume der Metaphysik, 1766)

By: Laurie Johnson

Abstract: This article explores Immanuel Kant’s contributions to psychology (specifically, the “Dreams of a Spirit-Seer” of 1766 and the “Classification of Mental Disorders” of 1764) in order to illuminate some connections between critical philosophy and psychology. Early in his career, and, surprisingly, in texts about hallucinations and mental illness, Kant’s expositions on the malfunctioning, (or extraordinary functioning) of the mind demonstrated interests similar to those that guided his philosophy decades afterwards. Kant’s philosophy has been credited with informing later developments in psychology and psychoanalysis. But the article argues that Kant’s early work demonstrates that early psychology also informs modern critical philosophy.