1st Edition

Primer in Critical Personalism A Framework for Reviving Psychological Inquiry and for Grounding a Socio-Cultural Ethos

By James T. Lamiell Copyright 2024

    This insightful book offers contemporary psychologists and other social theorists an understanding of the comprehensive system of thought developed by the German scholar William Stern (1871–1938) known as critical personalism.

    Expanding the author’s ongoing efforts in this area, the book considers, firstly, how critical personalism could ground a needed revival of psychological science, a need created by the field's gradual transformation, through its widespread adoption of aggregate statistical methods of investigation, into a discipline better characterized as 'psycho-demography.' Consistent with Stern's own view of the potential of critical personalism vis-a-vis socio-ethical concerns, the book then explores how the framework could facilitate a transcendence of thinking about racial and other social relationships beyond currently prevailing narratives about personkinds into narratives that are actually about persons. This part of the book includes a chapter discussing Stern's own historical efforts in this direction, serving to highlight the non-individualistic nature of critically personalistic thinking. Throughout, Lamiell constructs a clear case for the merits and applicability of critical personalism in modern psychology and social thought.

    Primer in Critical Personalism will interest established psychological scientists and advanced students in the field, as well as those who are concerned about our contemporary socio-cultural ethos and the prospects for its improvement, including philosophers, sociologists, educators, journalists, clerics, and thoughtful laypersons alike.

    Part I. Rudimentary Considerations

    1. On the Need to Revive Psychological Inquiry: The Historic Transformation of Empirical Psychology into Psycho-Demography

    2. Critical Personalism: Its Core Philosophical Tenets

    3. The Challenge of Reviving Psychological Studies: Some Further Historical Perspective and Some Possibilities for Moving Forward

    Part II. Toward A Critical Inter-Personalism in The Grounding of a Socio-Cultural Ethos

    4. Echoes of William Stern's Socio-Cultural Voice

    5. Some Critically Personalistic Observations on Current Discussions of Racism in American Society
    The Impersonal Nature of Discourse About Personkinds

    6. Toward a Broadened Perspective: Navigating Some Conceptual Obstacles to Critically Personalistic Thinking


    James T. Lamiell is a Professor Emeritus in the Psychology Department at Georgetown University, USA. His scholarly interests are in the history and philosophy of psychology, the psychology of subjective personality judgments, and methodological issues pertaining to psychological research.

    "Required reading for every psychologist. With the help of William Stern’s critical personalism, James Lamiell clearly explains the devasting methodological error at the heart of contemporary psychology and the way out of the quagmire in order to better understand persons and pressing social problems."
    Brian Schiff, Esmond Nissim Professor of Psychology at The American University of Paris, France