HAR is please to announce the latest release from BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology: an article in French about the German anthropologist, philologist and philosopher Heymann Steinthal.
Bondi, Davide, 2021. “La Psychologie des peuples, entre histoire, langue et culture : la pensée et l’œuvre de Heymann Steinthal” [Transl.: “Völkerpsychologie, between History, Language and Culture: The Thought and Work of Heymann Steinthal”], in BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology, Paris.
Heymann Steinthal, together with his brother-in-law and friend Moritz Lazarus, was the founder of the journal Zeitschrift für Völkerpsychologie und Sprachwissenschaft, one of the most influential forums of European philosophical discussion in the second half of the nineteenth century. The theoretical project of the journal was linked to the legacy of Hegel and Herbart, taking from the former the idea that the mind is a “subject” and from the latter the proposal of “psychology” as a fundamental science of the mind. The “psychology of peoples” could then become a field of elaboration and coordination of the concepts inherent in the multiple sciences that study cultural phenomena. This is because these phenomena are the result and symbolic expression of the psychic processes of historical or living societies. In his writings, Steinthal turned in particular to the problems of language from the description of the grammatical structures of different African, Asian and European languages. From the descriptive to the reflexive level, he developed a theory of the evolution of speech communities which emphasised the plurality of spiritual centres that could be systematically reconstructed by means of a ‘morphological classification’ which is attentive to differences. In this ambitious article unfolding Steinthal’s thinking, Bondi points out that the episteme thus developed served as a stimulus for the development of sociology and ethnology in the twentieth century.