Existential questions: no, one, or two Utrecht Schools?

René Van Hezewijk, Henderikus J. Stam, Geert Panhuysen

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperAcademic


Among psychologists, the Utrecht School was famous (at least outside The Netherlands) for its phenomenological psychology (e.g. (Giorgi, 1990). Buytendijk, Linschoten, Van Lennep, Kouwer, Langeveld, and others were considered as the members of a school with a strongly resembling approach to psychological problems. To put it bluntly these were problems about meaning and intentionality (Brentano, Husserl), problems going beyond the biological nature of human existence, problems reserved for the human person. Less well known in circles of psychologists is a school of criminologists and criminal justice scholars that Jacques Léauté explicitly called the Utrecht School as well (Léauté, 1959). He referred to Pompe, Baan, Kempe, Hudig, Van Ratingen, and others that were active as professors in criminal justice, forensic psychiatry, criminology in Utrecht from the early fifties till the early sixties of the twentieth century. Their activities went beyond teaching. Their approach and critical attitude led to many institutional and practical results that still can be seen in the criminal justice and penal system in the Netherlands. Theirs was a “delinquent-centered way of thinking” (Kempe, 1969). It is not at all clear whether these scholars themselves, or their interpreters considered themselves as members of one school. Nor is it clear whether they would have had good arguments to do so. And if not, it is not at all clear whether there were two schools at all. In this paper answers to these questions are discussed, by discussing studies by historians of psychology (e.g. (Dehue, 1995; Dekkers, 1985; Moedikdo, 1976; Nagel, 1963; Ter Meulen, 1988) and original work by authors from both alleged schools, as well as making use of unpublished, recently uncovered material from the Linschoten archives.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jan 2002
Externally publishedYes
Event20th Conference of the European Society for the History of the Human Sciences - Amsterdam, Netherlands
Duration: 14 Aug 200118 Aug 2001


Conference20th Conference of the European Society for the History of the Human Sciences


  • history of psychology
  • utrecht school


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