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The Mind of the Nation

The Mind of the Nation: Volkerpsychologiein Germany, 1851-1955

Egbert Klautke
Copyright Date: 2013
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 194
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  • Book Info
    The Mind of the Nation
    Book Description:

    Volkerpsychologieplayed an important role in establishing the social sciences via the works of such scholars as Georg Simmel, Emile Durkheim, Ernest Renan, Franz Boas, and Werner Sombart. In Germany, the intellectual history of "folk psychology" was represented by Moritz Lazarus, Heymann Steinthal, Wilhelm Wundt and Willy Hellpach. This book follows the invention of the discipline in the nineteenth century, its rise around the turn of the century and its ultimate demise after the Second World War. In addition, it shows that despite the repudiation of "folk psychology" and its failed institutionalization, the discipline remains relevant as a precursor of contemporary studies of "national identity."

    eISBN: 978-1-78238-020-7
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. Introduction: Völkerpsychologie in Germany
    (pp. 1-10)

    Völkerpsychologie, or folk psychology, reflected some of the main currents within German academia in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Its champions attempted to synthesize the empirical knowledge about the history and development of civilization that had been accumulated during the nineteenth century, and tried to construct an academic discipline that would reflect the rapid political, economic and cultural changes of their contemporary society, and explain these in a comprehensive way. The success of the sciences provided an irresistible model for such an enterprise, as did the national movement in Prussia and the subsequent founding of a unified German nation...

  5. Chapter 1 Lazarus, Steinthal and the Invention of Folk Psychology
    (pp. 11-57)

    Moritz Lazarus and Heymann Steinthal are considered to be the founders ofVölkerpsychologie. In 1851 Lazarus introduced the term into scholarly debates, and in 1859, together with Steinthal, he established theZeitschrift für Völkerpsychologie und Sprachwissenschaft(ZfVS), subsequently published in twenty volumes until 1890, which gave the new discipline a platform and its most important forum.¹ Lazarus and Steinthal’s folk psychology and the expectations and hopes they attached to this approach were closely linked to their position as emancipated, liberal Jews who identified strongly with Prussia and subsequently with the unified German empire. At the same time they kept their...

  6. Chapter 2 Wilhelm Wundt’s Folk Psychology
    (pp. 58-103)

    Wilhelm Wundt, one of the founders of modern, scientific psychology, is the scholar most closely associated with the concept ofVölkerpsychologie. He devoted the last twenty years of his long career to writing a general and comprehensive folk psychology, which was published in ten massive volumes from 1900 – a task that Lazarus and Steinthal had not even attempted. Wundt considered hisVölkerpsychologie, in contrast to the majority of his peers and most of his numerous students, his finest achievement.¹ It formed an integral part of his concept of psychology, which consisted of two separate, but complementary, branches. According to Wundt,...

  7. Chapter 3 Willy Hellpach and the Resurrection of Folk Psychology
    (pp. 104-146)

    In 1938 Willy Hellpach published a book entitledEinführung in die Völkerpsychologie. It was the first book-length study on folk psychology since Wilhelm Wundt’s death and the first attempt to provide a concise introduction to the field suitable for university teaching. ¹ This study turned Hellpach into the major representative of a discipline that did not really exist. Lacking an energetic and dedicated proponent, the field had not flourished after Wundt’s death in 1920, despite the increased interest in ‘differential’ folk psychology during and after the First World War. By the 1930s Hellpach seemed an unlikely candidate to assume this...

  8. Conclusion: Völkerpsychologie after the Catastrophe
    (pp. 147-158)

    At first sight it seems that the efforts by Lazarus, Steinthal and Wundt to promote and establishVölkerpsychologieended in complete failure. After the Second World War it was all too easy to dismiss folk psychology since it had not been established as a discipline at university level, but remained a mere ‘approach’. So while in the 1950s and 1960s the social sciences finally became part of the university curriculum and expanded greatly during the course of the twentieth century, folk psychology was left out of this process. Instead, other disciplines became fully institutionalized, with their own university departments, dedicated...

  9. Bibliography
    (pp. 159-180)
  10. Index
    (pp. 181-188)