Eduard Spranger : LUSENET : History & Theory of Psychology : One Thread

I have to do an oral presentation on Types of Men by Eduard Spranger. I am having trouble getting thru and understanding the book. I cannot find any summary of the book, can you help?

-- Karyn Mehringer (, November 03, 2001


The book is straightforward. One just has to read it. Here is some background information:

Teo, T. (2000). Eduard Spranger. In A. E. Kazdin (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Psychology. Vol. 7 (pp. 458-459). New York: Oxford University Press.

SPRANGER, EDUARD (1882-1963). German philosopher, pedagogue, and psychologist. During his professorship of philosophy in Leipzig (1911-1920), Spranger (1914/1928) published an influential monograph on personality psychology and its connection to ethics. As a professor of philosophy and pedagogy in Berlin (1920-1946), Spranger (1924) published a widely successful developmental treatise on the phase of youth. Spranger was a prolific and respected writer, not only in psychology, philosophy, and education, but also in political and cultural studies (Spranger, 1969-1980). Spranger was a student of Wilhelm Dilthey, the German philosopher who emphasized the autonomy of the Geisteswissenschaften (cultural sciences) against the natural sciences. Spranger, incorporating German classical philosophy (particularly G. W. F. Hegel), drew on Dilthey for his elaboration of a geisteswissenschaftliche psychology. Spranger conceptualized a psychological performance as part of a meaningful life totality that requires knowledge and understanding of the psychological-mental whole. The term verstehen (understand) does not denote the act of sympathizing with another person, but refers to transcending the immediate consciousness or the individual's psyche and grasping mental structures as meaningful in cultural relations, while providing objectively valid knowledge. Using a verstehende psychology, Spranger (1914/1928) theorized in his personality psychology six ideally basic types of individuality. Each type fulfills the quality of a Gestalt and corresponds to an ethical system. The theoretic type accords with the ethics of general legality and the value of objectivity; the economic type with utilitarian ethics and the value of utility; the aesthetic type with the ethics of inner form and the value of proper form and harmony; the social type with the ethics of helpful love and loyalty; the political type with the ethics of a will to power; and the religious type with the ethics of blessedness in God. Spranger argued that his system of types has implications for research and practical life, and that individuals may not belong exclusively to one type, as mixed and historically determined types exist. In his developmental psychology, Spranger (1924) offered a holistic characterization of adolescence (from age 13 to 19 for girls, and 14 to 22 for boys). Adolescence is characterized, in a general manner, by the discovery of a self, the emergence of a life plan, and the growth of adolescents into different domains of human life. Using material from history, literature, and the method of understanding, Spranger describes, in a detailed manner, fantasy and creativity of adolescents, pubertal eroticism and sexuality, the ethical and social development of youth, and the legal, political, ideological, work-related, and religious consciousness of young people. Similar to his personality psychology, Spranger identifies different types of adolescent life affection and ego affection. The Americanization of West-German psychology after the Second World War lead to the decline of the geisteswissenschaftliche psychology in Germany. From a contemporary psychological point of view, Spranger's approach would not be considered scientific, as it is mainly based on the philosophical-intellectual authority and verstehende competence of the psychologist. Despite a gender-biased and elitist position, Spranger still offers insights into human psychological life and its complexity. References: Spranger, E. (1924). Psychologie des Jugendalters [Psychology of youth]. Leipzig: Quelle & Meyer. Spranger, E. (1928). Types of men: The psychology and ethics of personality (P. J. W. Pigors, Trans.). Halle: Max Niemeyer. (Original work published 1914 under the title: Lebensformen: Geisteswissenschaftliche Psychologie und Ethik der Persönlichkeit). Spranger, E. (1969-1980). Gesammelte Schriften [Collected writings] (Vols. 1-11) (Ed. by H. W. Bähr et al.). Heidelberg: Quelle & Meyer.

I you are interested in interpretive psychology, see:

Teo, T. (2001). Karl Marx and Wilhelm Dilthey on the socio-historical conceptualization of the mind. In C. Green, M. Shore, and T. Teo (Eds.). The transformation of psychology: Influences of 19th-century philosophy, technology and natural science (pp. 195-218). Washington, DC: APA.

-- thomas teo (, November 04, 2001.

Gordon Allport's (1937) Psychology: A Psychological Interpretation includes some comments on Spranger's types (pp. 227-231); he doesn't summarize of the whole book, but he does give a useful overview of at least some of it and of Spranger's general approach.

-- Nicole B. Barenbaum (, December 05, 2001.

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