Klautke, E (2010) The Mind of the Nation: The Debate about Völkerpsychologie, 1851-1900. Central Europe , 8 (1) 1 - 19. 10.1179/174582110X12676382921428.
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Völkerpsychologie or ‘folk psychology’ has a bad reputation amongst historians. It is either viewed as a pseudo-science not worth studying in detail, or considered a ‘failure’ since, in contrast to sociology, psychology, and anthropology, it never established itself as an independent discipline at university level. This article argues that Völkerpsychologie as developed by Moritz Lazarus and Heymann Steinthal was an important current in nineteenth-century German thought. While it was riddled with conceptual and methodological problems and received harsh criticism from academic reviewers, it contributed to the establishing of the social sciences since key concepts of folk psychology were appropriated by scholars such as Georg Simmel and Franz Boas. The article summarizes the main features of Lazarus and Steinthal’s Völkerpsychologie, discusses its reception in Germany and abroad, and shows how arguments originally developed for folk psychology were used by Lazarus to reject antisemitism in the 1870s and 1880s. It concludes that Lazarus and Steinthal’s Völkerpsychologie epitomized the mentality of nineteenth-century liberals with its belief in science, progress, and the nation, which was reinforced by their experience of Jewish emancipation.
|Title:||The Mind of the Nation: The Debate about Völkerpsychologie, 1851-1900|
|Open access status:||An open access version is available from UCL Discovery|
|Keywords:||VölkerpsychologieVölkerpsychologie, antisemitism, Germany, philosophy, psychology, social sciences, Moritz Lazarus, Heymann Steinthal|
|UCL classification:||UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > SSEES (School of Slavonic and East European Studies) > SSEES - Department of History|
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