Monday, October 10, 2011

Temperaments And Personality Types, Part Four: Modernity

As we saw in the last post and the post on the Middle Ages' perspective, Humorism and the traditional view of the temperaments had become a part of the European consciousness. Modernity started out no different. To quote again from David Keirsey's Please Understand Me II:
"When William Harvey discovered the circulation of blood in 1628, he argued that blood was simply the most sovereign of the four humors, and he came to look on the Sanguine temperament with special favor. And philosophers of the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, Bruno in Italy, Hume in Scotland, Voltaire and Rousseau in France, Kant in Germany, took the idea of four humors as a matter of course, as part of the air they breathed.
"19th-century novelists, from Jane Austen and the Brontës to George Eliot and Tolstoy, had these four patterns of human attitude and action clearly in mind when they framed their characters. In War and Peace, for example, Tolstoy divides the members of a lodge of Freemasons into what he described as 'four classes' of character: some looking for social 'connections' and opportunities, some interested in the lodge's 'external form and ceremony,' some seeking a 'fully understood path for themselves,' and some occupied exclusively with 'the scientific secrets of the order.'
"Even some early 20th-century writers demonstrated detailed knowledge of the roots of temperament and character theory. D.H. Lawrence not only saw human nature as organized around 'four poles of dynamic consciousness,' but he actually described a ruddy, sanguine character in his novel Sons and Lovers (1913) as Paracelsus' Salamander," (24-25).
As medicine progressed, though, the rupture the Modern Age sought to establish between it and the traditions of the past affected even Humorism, and it came to be disregarded as a legitimate scientific theory. While a staunch supporter of the central role of tradition in all things, this was, of course, a good thing, as the advances in the physical sciences and anatomy have proven that Humorism, strictly speaking, is false.

Since Galen in AD 190, the medicinal and psychological elements in the traditional theory had remained wedded to one another. It was the balance of the bodily fluids which caused the differences in behavior and personality. As such, when medicine disproved the existence of the humors, it assumed it had also disproved the existence of the temperaments. In essence, they threw the baby out with the bath water:
"In the behavioral sciences what had been the prevailing current of thought for centuries—that temperament determines character—gradually decreased to a tiny trickle in the latter part of the 19th century, owing mainly to the ideas of two men, Sigmund Freud and Ivan Pavlov. Freud reduced mankind to mere animal, nothing more than a creature of blind instinct. Similarly, Pavlov reduced mankind, not to animal, but to machine, its actions nothing more than mechanical response to environmental stimulation. And the 20th century was nearly swept away by these two new theories," (Ibid. 25).
There were some, however, who developed theories of behavior along similar lines to the personalogical elements of Ancient thought. Erich Adickes, working in 1905 without knowledge of the traditional temperaments, "said that mankind could be divided into four 'world views'—Innovative, Traditional, Doctrinaire, and Skeptical," (Ibid.). Adickes' "Innovatives" clearly correspond to Plato's creative and productive Artisans; his "Traditionals" to Plato's duty-, history-, and rule-obsessed Guardians; his "Dogmatics" or "Doctrinaires" to Plato's ethical and harmony-oriented Idealists; and his "Skeptics" or "Agnostics" to Plato's intellectual, theory-minded Rationals.

Not long after Adickes' work, Eduard Spränger "wrote of four 'value attitudes' which distinguish one personality from another—Artistic, Economic, Religious, and Theoretic," (Ibid.) Spränger, like Aristotle before him, was driving at people's motivations, what they seek out and admire. Obviously Artisans value the "aesthetic;" the "economic" is synonymous with the Guardians' "property," as is the "religious" with Idealists' "morality" and the "theoretic" with "rationality."

A few years later Ernst Kretschmer took a slightly different approach and "proposed that both normal and abnormal behavior can be understood in terms of four 'character styles' similar to those of Adickes and Spränger—Hypomanic, Depressive, Hyperesthetic, and Anesthetic," (Ibid.) These four are more obviously correlated to Galen's Temperaments than Plato's, "hypomanic" meaning emotional and excitable, "depression" recalling melancholy, "hyperesthetic" meaning passionate and ambitious, and "anesthetic" meaning generally emotionless and self-content.
"Rudolph Dreikurs, a disciple of Alfred Adler, pointed out in 1947 what he called four 'mistaken goals' which different kinds of people pursue when their self-esteem declines too far for safety—Retaliation, Service, Recognition, and Power. Also in 1947 Eric Fromm, looking at both negative and positive sides of personality, as did Kretschmer, attributed four different 'orientations' to the four styles—Exploitative, Hoarding, Receptive, and Marketing," (Ibid.)
This last group of four "orientations" may seem out of place, but if we consider "exploitation" in terms of a person who sets out to experience as much as possible, seeking sensation, then it starts to sound an awful lot like Aristotle's Hedonics. Likewise, "hoarding" can be thought of as property-acquisition and "reception" as submission of oneself in favor of harmony. According to Fromm, a "marketer" is a person who knows very little of emotion and social matters and so focuses more on a theoretical and strategic understanding of them and less on actually experiencing them, much like a "logical" and "calculating" Rational would do.

We can now add the following additions to the chart:

Next up: Carl Jung reinvents the wheel.

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