Verstehende Psychologie

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Verstehende Psychologie


an idealist trend in German philosophy and psychology during the first third of the 20th century, originating in the work of W. Dilthey. To Dilthey understanding, the intuitive grasp of a certain spiritual wholeness, was a specific method used by the “sciences of the spirit,” unlike objective rationalist “explanation”, the method used by the “sciences of nature.” Dilthey proposed a new, descriptive psychology, differing from traditional psychology and based on the phenomenon of a directly experienced interconnection of spiritual life. He asserted that this interconnection was teleologi-cal and maintained that the description of its structure should be the subject of Verstehende Psychologie.

The tenets of Verstehende Psychologie were most fully developed by E. Spranger, who introduced the term itself. The trend influenced such existentialists as K. Jaspers, M. Heidegger, and J. Ortega y Gasset, as well as M. Weber’s Verstehende Soziolo-gie and the hermeneutic philosophy of H. G. Gadamer and P. Ricoeur.


Dilthey, W. Opisatel’naia psikhologiia. Moscow, 1924. (Translated from German.)
Spranger, E. “Erotika i seksual’nost’ v iunosheskom vozraste.” In the collection Pedologiia iunosti. Moscow-Leningrad, 1931.
Vygotskii, L. S. Razvitie vysshykh psikhicheskikh funktsii. Moscow, 1960.
Gruhle, H. W. Verstehende Psychologie. Stuttgart, 1948.
Spranger, E. Lebensformen, 8th ed. Tübingen, 1950.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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