Wednesday, 15 February 2012

overview history of the four temperaments - or four humours

 From various sources and references, including Keirsey and Montgomery, here is a history of the Four Temperaments and other models and concepts related to the Four Temperaments or Four Humours. The words in this framework (from Hippocrates onwards) can be seen as possible describing words for each of the temperaments concerned, although do not attach precise significance to any of the words - they are guide only and not definitive or scientifically reliable. The correlations prior to Hippocrates are far less reliable and included here more for interest than for scientific relevance.    N.B. the colours in these charts do not signify anything - they merely assist (hopefully) with continuity between the different tables. The initials K and M denote interpretations according to Keirsey and Montgomery. Ancient dates are approximate. Some cautionary notes relating to the inclusion of some of these theorists and interpretations is shown below the grid. For believers in astrology and star-signs please resist the temptation to categorise yourself according to where your star-sign sits in the grid - these associations are not scientific and not reliable, and are included merely for historical context and information.
Keirsey/MBTI® referenceartisan/SP sensing-perceivingguardian/SJ sensing-judgingidealist/NF intuitive-feelingrationalist/NT intuitive-thinking
Ezekiel 590BC lionoxmaneagle
Empedocles 450BCGoea (air)Hera (earth)Zeus (fire)Poseidon (water)
The SeasonsSpringAutumnSummerWinter
Signs of ZodiacLibra, Aquarius, GeminiCapricorn, Taurus, VirgoAries, Leo, SagittariusCancer, Scorpio, Pisces
Hippocrates 370BCbloodblack bileyellow bilephlegm
Hippocrates 370BC 'Four Qualities'hot and moistcold and dryhot and drycold and moist
Plato 340BC (M)artisticsensibleintuitivereasoning
Aristotle 325BC 'contribution to social order' (K)'iconic'- artistic and art-making'pistic' - common-sense and care-taking'noetic' - intuitive sensibility and morality'dianoetic' - reasoning and logical investigator
Aristotle 325BC Four Sources of Happiness (K)'hedone' - sensual pleasure'propraieteri' - acquiring assets'ethikos' - moral virtue'dialogike' - logical investigation
Galen 190AD Four Temperaments or Four Humourssanguinemelancholiccholericphlegmatic
Paracelsus 1550 'Four Totem Spirits' (K)Salamanders - impulsive and changeableGnomes - industrious and guardedNymph - inspiring and passionateSylphs - curious and calm
Eric Adickes 1905 Four World Views (K)innovativetraditionaldoctrinairesceptical
Eduard Spranger 1914 Four Value Attitudes (K)artisticeconomicreligioustheoretic
Ernst Kretschmer 1920 (M)manicdepressiveoversensitiveinsensitive
Eric Fromm 1947 (K)exploitativehoardingreceptivemarketing
Hans Eysenck 1950s (trait examples from his inventory)lively, talkative, carefree, outgoingsober, reserved, quiet, rigid restless, excitable, optimistic, impulsive careful, controlled, thoughtful, reliable
Myers 1958 (M)perceivingjudgingfeelingthinking
Myers 1958 (K)probingschedulingfriendlytough-minded
Montgomery 2002 on Jung/MyersSP - spontaneous and playfulSJ - sensible and judiciousNF - intuitive and ferventNT - ingenious and theoretical
Montgomery 2002 on Keirsey's Four Temperaments says what is,
does what works
says what is,
does what's right
says what's possible,
does what's right
says what's possible,
does what works
Empedocles (c.450BC), the Sicilian-born Greek philosopher and poet was probably first to publish the concept of 'the elements' (Fire, Earth, Water, Air) being 'scientifically' linked to human behaviour: in his long
poem 'On Nature' he described the elements in relation to emotional forces that we would refer to as love and strife. However 1870 Brewer says that Empedocles preferred the names of the Greek Gods, Zeus, Hera, Poseidon and Goea. (1870 Brewer, and Chambers Biographical, which references Jean Ballock's book, 'Empedocle', 1965.)
Aristotle explained four temperaments in the context of 'individual contribution to social order' in The Republic, c.325BC, and also used the Four Temperaments to theorise about people's character and quest for happiness. Incidentally 1870 Brewer states that Aristotle was first to specifically suggest the four elements, fire, earth, water, air, and that this was intended as an explanation purely of the various forms in which matter can appear, which was interpreted by 'modern' chemists (of the late 1800s) to represent 'the imponderable' (calorie), the gaseous (air), the liquid (water), and solid (earth).
Paracelsus was a German alchemist and physician and considered by some to be the 'father of toxicology'. His real name was Phillippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, which perhaps explains why he adopted a pseudonym. According to Chambers Biographical Dictionary he lived from 1493-1541, which suggests that his work was earlier than 'c.1550'. Keirsey and Montgomery cite the connection between Paracelsus's Four Totem Spirits and the Four Temperaments, however there are others who do not see the same connection to or interpretation of the Four Totem Spirits. If you are keen to know more perhaps seek out the book The Life Of Paracelsus Phillippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, by A Stoddart, published in 1911, referenced by Chambers Biographical.
Hans Jurgen Eysenck was a German-born British psychologist whose very popular scalable personality inventory model contains significant overlaps with the Four Temperaments. It's not a perfect fit, but there are many common aspects. See the Eysenck section.
Galen was a Greek physician (c.130-201AD - more correctly called Claudius Galenus), who became chief physician to the Roman gladiators in Pergamum from AD 157, and subsequently to the Roman Emperors Marcus Aurelius, Lucius Aurelius Commodus and Lucius Septimus Severus. Galen later interpreted Hippocrates' ideas into the Four Humours, which you might more readily recognise and associate with historic writings and references. Galen's interpretation survived as an accepted and arguably the principal Western medical scientific interpretation of human biology until the advancement of cellular pathology theory during the mid-late 1800s, notably by German pathologist Rudolf Virchow (1821-1902, considered the founder of modern pathology), in his work 'Cellularpathologie' (1858), building on the work of fellow cellular scientists Theodor Schwann, Johannes Muller, Matthias Schleiden and earlier, Robert Brown.
Beware of erroneous correlations between the various sets of four temperaments, humours, elements, body organs, star-signs, etc - it's easy to confuse so many sets of four. I believe the above to be reliable as far as it goes. Please let me know if you spot a fault anywhere. Also remember that the correlation between these sets is not precise and in some cases it's very tenuous.
The above table of correlated four temperaments and other sets of four is not designed as a scientific basis for understanding personality - it's a historical over view of the development of the Four Temperaments - included here chiefly to illustrate the broad consistency of ideas over the past two-and-a-half thousand years, and to provoke a bit of thought about describing words for the four main character types. Keep the Four Temperaments in perspective: the history of the model provides a fascinating view of the development of thinking in this area, and certainly there are strands of the very old ideas that appear in the most modern systems, so it's very helpful and interesting to know the background, but it's not a perfect science.
You'll see significant echoes of the Four Temperaments in David Keirsey's personality theory, which of all modern theories seems most aligned with the Four Temperaments, although much of the detail has been built by Keirsey onto a Four Temperaments platform, rather than using a great amount of detail from old Four Temperaments ideas. The Four Temperaments model also features in Eysenck's theory, on which others have subsequently drawn. To a far lesser extent the Four Temperaments can also be partly correlated to the Moulton Marston's DISC theory and this is shown in the explanatory matrix in the DISC section. Jung, Myers Briggs® and Benziger's theories also partly correlate with the Four Temperaments; notably there seems general agreement that the phlegmatic temperament corresponds to Jung's 'Intuitive-Thinking', and that the choleric temperament corresponds to Jung's 'Intuitive-Feeling'. The other two temperaments, sanguine and melancholic seem now to be represented by the Jungian 'Sensing' in combination with either Jungian 'Feeling' or a preference from the Myers Briggs® Judging-Perceiving dimension.
The Four Temperaments are very interesting, but being over two-thousand years old they are also less than crystal clear, so correlation much beyond this is not easy. Connections with modern theories and types and traits, such as they are, are explained where appropriate in the relevant sections below dealing with other theories.
Dr Stephen Montgomery's 2002 book 'People Patterns' is an excellent guide to the Four Temperaments, in which he provides his own interpretations, and explains relationships between the Four Temperaments and various other behavioural and personality assessment models, notably the David Keirsey model and theories. Incidentally Montgomery is Keirsey's long-standing editor and also his son-in-law. Keirsey's acknowledges Montgomery's depth of understanding of the Four Temperaments in Keirsey's book, Please Understand Me II, which also provides a very helpful perspective of the Four Temperaments.


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