David Keirsey in his book Please Understand Me and the sequel Please Understand Me 2 uses the term "temperament". He broadly classifies everyone into 4 temperaments with 4 additional Myers-Briggs personality types each. Thus:


These 4 temperaments have appeared over and over throughout history. A little table documents the 4 types and their various names since 340 bc to present

Plato c340 B.C.  | Artisan      Guardian    Idealist      Rational
Aristotle c325   | Hedonic      Propietary  Ethical       Dialectical
Galen c190 AD    | Sanguine     Melancholic Choleric      Phlegmatic
Paracelsus 1550  | Changeable   Industrious Inspired      Curious
Adickes 1905     | Innovative   Traditional Doctrinaire   Skeptical
Spranger 1914    | Aesthetic    Economic    Religious     Theoretic
Kretschmer 1920  | Hypomanic    Depressive  Hyperesthetic Anesthetic
Fromm 1947       | Exploitative Hoarding    Receptive     Marketing
Myers 1958       | Probing      Scheduling  Friendly      Tough-minded

The Medievals had a theory of temperaments, as well, dividing human beings into the Sanguine, the Choleric , the Phlegmatic , and the Melancholic depending upon their prevailing humor, or bodily fluid (blood, yellow bile, phlegm, or black bile) according to a theory by Aristotle and accepted by Galen. In true Medieval fashion, these were correlated with directions of the compass, the four elements, and the animals of Ezekiel (lion, eagle, angel, and ox).

Sanguines were classified as dominant, yet friendly, types who tended to run things, and were marked by a propensity towards cheerfulness and often had red hair or faces; the Choleric were domineering, were drawn to military careers or other bellicose roles, who tended towards pride and often had blonde hair a slight yellow cast to their skin; the Phlegmatic were humble, friendly, people of great patience, drawn towards farming and the clergy, who had grey or white hair and a blue cast, and the Melancholic, who were dark in skin and/and or hair, and tended towards criminal careers of nihilism, despair, and sloth.

This classification system survives in Dr. Timothy Leary's still-useful Transpersonal Diagnosis of Personality and the Houses of Hogwarts in Harry Potter, where the Serpent of Slytherin substitutes for the Ox and the Badger of Hufflepuff for the Angel.

Poet's Note: This poem was inspired by what I read about the education of Algernon Charles Swinburne in A.N. Wilson's book God's Funeral: A Biography of Faith and Doubt in Western Civilization.

Temperament

A Daft Fool is within each man
Whose play untamed will turn him
About himself, inter him
In soot of burnt decorum,
And ply his movements mill.
A man himself a lover
Is doomed to once uncover
The Fool before another,
And thence his Daftness kill.
But Daftness is a virtue
And cannot be to hurt you,
Just cool you when things flame you,
And do you good he will --
If birch him when he’s naughty,
‘Til blood erupts his body,
You do, and 'til you’re haughty,
So Daftness lies there still.

Tem"per*a*ment (?), n. [L. temperamentum a mixing in due proportion, proper measure, temperament: cf. F. temp'erament. See Temper, v. t.]

1.

Internal constitution; state with respect to the relative proportion of different qualities, or constituent parts.

The common law . . . has reduced the kingdom to its just state and temperament. Sir M. Hale.

2.

Due mixture of qualities; a condition brought about by mutual compromises or concessions.

[Obs.]

However, I forejudge not any probable expedient, any temperament that can be found in things of this nature, so disputable on their side. Milton.

3.

The act of tempering or modifying; adjustment, as of clashing rules, interests, passions, or the like; also, the means by which such adjustment is effected.

Wholesome temperaments of the rashness of popular assemblies. Sir J. Mackintosh.

4.

Condition with regard to heat or cold; temperature.

[Obs.]

Bodies are denominated "hot" and "cold" in proportion to the present temperament of that part of our body to which they are applied. Locke.

5. Mus.

A system of compromises in the tuning of organs, pianofortes, and the like, whereby the tones generated with the vibrations of a ground tone are mutually modified and in part canceled, until their number reduced to the actual practicable scale of twelve tones to the octave. This scale, although in so far artificial, is yet closely suggestive of its origin in nature, and this system of tuning, although not mathematically true, yet satisfies the ear, while it has the convenience that the same twelve fixed tones answer for every key or scale, C♯ becoming identical with D♭, and so on.

<-- = tempering -->

6. Physiol.

The peculiar physical and mental character of an individual, in olden times erroneously supposed to be due to individual variation in the relations and proportions of the constituent parts of the body, especially of the fluids, as the bile, blood, lymph, etc. Hence the phrases, bilious or choleric temperament, sanguine temperament, etc., implying a predominance of one of these fluids and a corresponding influence on the temperament.

Equal temperament Mus., that in which the variations from mathematically true pitch are distributed among all the keys alike. -- Unequal temperament Mus., that in which the variations are thrown into the keys least used.

 

© Webster 1913.

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