Tag Archives: folk psychology

Workshop: Folk Psychology and Descriptive Psychology – in the Contexts of Historicism, Relativism and Naturalism

A workshop on “Folk Psychology and Descriptive Psychology – in the Contexts of Historicism, Relativism and Naturalism” will take place at the University of Vienna April 26th through 28th. Full details below.

Folk Psychology and Descriptive Psychology – in the Contexts of Historicism, Relativism and Naturalism /Völkerpsychologie und beschreibende Psychologie – im Kontext von Historismus, Relativismus und Naturalismus.

Workshop / Tagung
Wednesday April 26 – Friday April 28, 2017

Vienna, University Campus, Alte Kapelle.

Organizers:
Christian Damböck, Uljana Feest, Martin Kusch, Hartwig Wiedebach

Hosts:
Institute Vienna Circle,
ERC project 339382 “The Emergence of Relativism”,
FWF project P27733 “Early Carnap in Context”
Faculty for Philosophy and Education, University of Vienna

Conference languages are English and German

Late 19th-century German language philosophy and humanities saw the emergence of two important (related) approaches: Folk Psychology (Völkerpsychologie) and Descriptive Psychology (beschreibende Psychologie). The main representatives of these currents were Chaim H. Steinthal and Wilhelm Dilthey, as well as many of their pupils and followers. One could mention here Hermann Cohen, Moritz Lazarus, Gustav Glogau, Georg Simmel, Wilhelm Wundt, Karl Mannheim, Paul Natorp, Rudolf Carnap, and Georg Spranger. Although Folk and Descriptive Psychology were highly influential for some time, they were quickly forgotten in the 20th century. Until recently, histories of psychology, sociology and philosophy have paid little attention to these developments. Indeed, even in key figures such as Steinthal, Dilthey, or Cohen, their involvement with Folk and Descriptive Psychology is often ignored. The aim of this workshop is to invite scholars working on the history of psychology, of sociology, of the humanities, and of philosophy to reconsider historiographical and philosophical aspects of this important current. Topics of the conference will be: (1) an exegesis of the key contributions of Steinthal and Dilthey; (2) historical analyses of positive receptions of Folk Psychology and Descriptive Psychology; (3) historical analyses of negative responses to Folk Psychology and Descriptive Psychology, e.g. in phenomenology, experimental psychology, and various currents of (Neo )Kantianism; (4) philosophical investigations of the current relevance of Folk and Descriptive Psychologies.

PROGRAME / PROGRAMM Continue reading Workshop: Folk Psychology and Descriptive Psychology – in the Contexts of Historicism, Relativism and Naturalism

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New Book: The Mind of the Nation: Völkerpsychologie in Germany, 1851-1955

Egbert Klautke, of University College London’s School of Slavonic and East European Studies, has written a book on the history of Völkerpsychologie. The Mind of the Nation: Völkerpsychologie in Germany, 1851-1955 recounts how Völkerpsychologie struggled to find a foothold in the German university system and its demise by the mid-twentieth century. As described on the publisher’s website,

Völkerpsychologie played an important role in establishing the social sciences, in Germany and abroad, 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” in Germany 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.”

The publisher’s website also includes an interview with Klauptke about the volume,

Berghahn Books: How would you define “Folk Psychology” and what drew you to the study of it?

Egbert Klautke: “Folk Psychology” is an awkward translation of the German term Völkerpsychologie. Originally, it referred to attempts to study the psychological make-up of nations, and as such is a forerunner of today’s social psychology. However, in today’s common understanding, Völkerpsychologie equals national prejudice: it is seen as a pseudo-science not worth considering seriously.

My first book dealt with perceptions of the U.S.A. in Germany and France, and much of these views could be described as Völkerpsychologie: clichés and stereotypes about a foreign nation, which were of a surprisingly coherent nature. Back then, my rather naïve idea was that there must be a general theory behind these perceptions, and I embarked on a study of Völkerpsychologie.

BB: Did any perceptions on the subject change from the time you started your research to the time you completed the book?

EK: When I started my research, I shared the general view of Völkerpsychologie as a flawed attempt to present national stereotypes as academic research, and was suspicious of its nationalist agenda and racist undertones. I also considered it typically German. Having completed the book, I have a much more sympathetic view of “folk psychology,” at least of the early attempts by (Moritz) Lazarus, (Heymann) Steinthal and (Wilhelm) Wundt. Despite its flaws and shortcomings, Völkerpsychologie was a serious and honorable attempt to introduce a social science to the university curriculum. As such, it influenced pioneers of the social sciences not only in Germany, but also around the world.

The full interview can be found here and The Mind of the Nation can be found on Amazon here.

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