Freud on psychology as a natural science
- "Whereas the psychology of consciousness never went beyond the broken sequences which were obviously dependent on something else, the other view, which held that the psychical is unconscious in itself, enabled psychology to take its place as a natural science like any other. The processes with which it is concerned are in themselves just as unknowable as those dealt with by other sciences, by chemistry and physics, for example; but it is possible to establish laws which they obey and to follow their mutual relations and interdependences unbroken over long stretches - in short, to arrive at what is described as an 'understanding' of the field of natural phenomena in question. This cannot be effected without framing fresh hypotheses and creating fresh concepts; but these are not to be despised as evidence of embarrassment on our part but deserve on the contrary to be appreciated as an enrichment of science. They can lay claim to the same value as approximations that belongs to the corresponding intellectual scaffolding found in other natural sciences, and we look forward to their being modified, corrected and more precisely determined as further experience is accumulated and sifted. So too it will be entirely in accordance with our expectations if the basic concepts and principles of the new science (instinct, nervous energy, etc.) remain for a considerable time no less indeterminate than those of the older sciences (force, mass, attraction, etc.)."
Freud, S. (1940) Abriß der Psychoanalyse. Internationale Zeitschrift für Psychoanalyse Imago 25 (1), 7 - 67. English translation An Outline of Psycho-Analysis translated and newly edited by James Strachey (1969) W. W. Norton & Company New York.