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SPRANGER'S DIMENSIONS OF VALUE

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1. The Theoretical. The dominant interest of the theoretical man is the discovery of truth. In the pursuit of this goal he characteristically takes a 'cognitive' attitude, one that looks for identities and differences; one that divests itself of judgments regarding the beauty or utility of objects, and seeks only to observe and to reason. Since the interests of the theoretical man are empirical, critcal, and rational, he is necessarily an intellectualist, frequently a scientist or philosopher. His chief aim in life is to order and systematize his knowledge.

2. The Economic. The economic man is characteristically interested in what is useful. Based originally upon the satisfaction of bodily needs (self-preservation), the interest in utilities develops to embrace the practical affairs of the business world - the production, marketing, and consumption of goods, the elaboration of credit, and the accumulation of tangible wealth. This type is thoroughly 'practical' and conforms well to the prevailing stereotype of businessman.

The economic attitude frequently comes into conflict with other values. The economic man wants education to be practical, and regards unapplied knowledge as waste. Great feats of engineering and application result from the demands economic men make upon science. The value of utility likewise conflicts with the aesthetic value, except when art serves commercial ends. In his personal life the economic man is likely to confuse luxury with beauty. In his relations with people he is more likely to be interested in surpassing them in wealth than in dominating them (political attitude) or in serving them (social attitude). In some cases the economic man may be said to make his religion the worship of Mammon. In other instances, however, he may have regard for the traditional God, but inclines to consider Him as the giver of good gifts, of wealth, prosperity, and other tangible blessings.

3. The Aesthetic. The aesthetic man sees his highest value in form and harmony. Each single experience is judged from the standpoint of grace, symmetry, or fitness. He regards life as a procession of events; each single impression is enjoyed for its own sake. He need not be a creative artist, nor need he be effete; he is aesthetic if he but finds his chief interest in the artistic episodes of life.

The aesthetic attitude is, in a sense, diametrically opposed to the theoretical; the former is concerned with the diversity, and the latter with the identities of experience. The aesthetic man either chooses, with Keats, to consider truth as equivalent to beauty, or agrees with Mencken, that, 'to make a thing charming is a million times more important than to make it true'. In the economic sphere the aesthetic sees the process of manufacturing, advertising, and trade as a wholesale destruction of the values most important to him. In social affairs he may be said to be interested in persons but not in the welfare of persons; he tends toward individualism and self-sufficiency. Aesthetic people often like the beautiful insignia of pomp and power, but oppose political activity when it makes for the repression of individuality. In the field of religion they are likely to confuse beauty with purer religious experience.

4. The Social. The highest value for this type is love of people. In the Study of Values it is the altruistic or philanthropic aspect of love that is measured. The social man prizes other persons as ends, and is therefore himself kind, sympathetic, and unselfish. He is likely to find the theoretical, economic and aesthetic attitudes cold and inhuman. In contrast to the political type, the social man regards love as itself the only suitable form of human relationship. Spranger adds that in its purest form the social interest is selfless and tends to approach very closely to the religious attitude.

5, The Political. The political man is interested primarily in power. His activities are not necessarily within the narrow field of politics; but whatever his vocation, he betrays himself as a Machtmensch. Leaders in any field generally have high power value. Since competition and struggle play a large part in all life, many philosophers have seen power as the most universal and most fundamental of motives. There are, however, certain personalities in whom the desire for a direct expression of this motive is uppermost, who wish above all else for personal power, influence, and renown.

6. The Religious. The highest value of the religious man may be called unity. He is mystical, and seeks to comprehend the cosmos as a whole, to relate himself to its embracing totality. Spranger defines the religious man as one 'whose mental structure is permanently directed to the creation of the highest and absolutely satisfying value experience.' Some men of this type are 'immanent mystics', that is, they find their religious experience in the affirmation of life and in active participation therein. A Faust with his zest and enthusiasm sees something divine in every event. The 'transcendental mystic', on the other hand, seeks to unite himself with a higher reality by withdrawing from life; he is the ascetic, and, like the holy men of India, finds the experience of unity through self-denial and meditation. In many individuals the negation and affirmation of life alternate to yield the greatest satisfaction.

Mixtures. Spranger does not imply that a given man belongs exclusively to one or another of these types of values. His depictions are entirely in terms of 'ideal types,' a conception fully explained in his Types of Men.

Allport, Gordon W., and Vernon, Philip E. A study of values. Manual of directions. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, rev. ed. 1931.
Spranger, Eduard Lebensformen. Halle (Saale): Niemeyer, 1914.
Translation by P. J. W. Pigors Types of Men. New York: G. E. Stechert Company, 1928.

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© Copyright D J Stewart 1998. All rights reserved.

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