Monday, 14 April 2008

How new is new?

I’ve just been invited to submit a paper based on the presentation I gave at the German Psychiatric Association (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Psychiatrie, Psychotherapie und Nervenheilkunde) in Berlin last November to the journal Psychopathology. This is a fine journal focusing on experimental psychopathology and clinical psychiatry but very much influenced by the German phenomenological tradition in psychiatry. It was founded by Carl Wernicke (1848-1905) (pictured). I am thus delighted to be invited. It does, however, raise a question.

These days, at conferences, I never read a written paper but rather give a presentation based on slides (whether gloriously in the middle of the audience using OHP or rather more detachedly via PowerPoint). Thus the papers I write on the basis of presentations are never strict derivations but require a kind of creative development from them. (They are more like Kant’s reflective rather than determinate judgement.) Now, I’ve already had one stab at this process for the DGPPN presentation to be published by JMHCP and I cannot simply repeat it. I need, therefore, to write another paper which is both sufficiently close to the presentation to satisfy the invitation but also sufficiently distinct so as to be worth publishing. This raises the question: just how different does a new paper have to be?

In this case, a new paper might be rather less scholastic in trying to derive from Windelband’s rectorial address a plausible account of idiographic judgement and rather more explicit in thinking about the relation between the failure of that project and diagnostic options. Well something like that!