MORITZ LAZARUS, Psicologia dei popoli come scienza e filosofia della cultura, Scritti, a cura di Alberto Meschiari, Bibliopolis, Napoli 2008, pp. 317. Völkerpsychologie as a science and philosophy of culture collects Lazarus' main writings on the "Völkerpsychologie", translated in Italian for the first time. In the Völkerpsychologie of the Berlin philosophers Moritz Lazarus (1824-1903) and Heymann Steinthal (1823-1899) converge, together with the question of Jewish identity, discussions about the statute and nature of the nascent Geisteswissenschaften, and particularly Humboldt's thesis on the role of ideas for reconstructing historical processes, all this in the light of a new and original consideration of Hegel's concept of the objektiver Geist, which allows us to conceive the Völkerpsychologie not as a social psychology, but as a psychology of the objectifying of the human spirit and its activity, of its condensing and handing down in language and myths, in customs and religions, in ethical and aesthetic ideas, in behaviours and social institutions. The experience of that Völkerpsychologie (in opposition to Wundt's) realized between the Forties and the Sixties of the nineteenth century the reunion of Kant's inheritance with Hegel's idealism in the form of meeting of the Humboldtian attribution to language of the original creative function of the human spirit (according to Kant) with Hegel's concept of the objektiver Geist. The centrality of Lazarus' new concept of objektiver Geist permits him an original reading of the growing complexity of the modern world, as well as the identification of its plural or collective subject in the whole of forms, of condensations (Verdichtungen) of spiritual energy, which, in language as in technical instruments, in customs and ethical prescriptions, govern individuals and their social life. Together with Wilhelm Dilthey, Walter Benjamin, Ernst Cassirer, Georg Simmel attached great importance to the Völkerpsychologie of Lazarus and Steinthal, and even in the works of his maturity, such as Die Philosophie des Geldes and Soziologie, Lazaru's concept of the objektiver Geist is still central. No less important for him are many of Lazarus' acute observations on social life, habits and daily experiences, in which he was a pioneer long before his pupil Georg Simmel. Lazarus, for example, had already spoken of the increasing nervousness of civilized man and the progressive reduction of his excitability, anticipating typical themes of Simmel's philosophy of culture.
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