Steiner and Temperaments

The Four Temperaments According to Rudolf Steiner


"The melancholic children are as a rule tall and slender"

"those with more protruding shoulders are the phlegmatic children"

"the sanguine are the most normal"

"those with a short stout build so that the head almost sinks down into the body are choleric"
"The physical body as such expresses itself only in itself"

thin, pale
introspective, sentimental, apathetic
"The etheric body expresses itself in the glandular system"

sluggish, lazy, cowardly
"The astral body expresses itself physically in the nervous system"
ruddy, chubby
amorous, happy, generous, carefree, optimistic
"The ego expresses itself in the circulation of the blood"

red haired, wiry, thin
violent, vengeful, volatile, ambitious
"When the ego of the individual has become so strong through its destiny that its forces are noticeably dominant in the fourfold human nature, and it dominates the other members, then the choleric temperament results. If the person is especially subject to the influence of the forces of the astral body, then we attribute to him a sanguine temperament. If the etheric or life-body acts excessively upon the other members, and especially impresses its nature upon the person, the phlegmatic temperament arises. And when the physical body with its laws is especially predominant in the human nature, so that the spiritual essence of being is not able to overcome a certain hardness in the physical body, then we have to do with a melancholic temperament. Just as the eternal and the transitory intermingle, so does the relation of the members to one another appear."

"Rudolf Steiner emphasized the importance of the four classical temperaments in elementary education, the time when he believed the influence of temperament on the personality to be at its strongest.[19][20] He hypothesized that temperament diminishes in importance as the personality becomes more developed after puberty; that a person's temperament may change, especially in the pre-puberty years; and that temperament is not exclusive: people may combine aspects of several or even, in unusual cases, all of them. He also suggested that people are capable of transforming their own temperaments.
For each temperament Steiner described less and more mature forms: the introspective and sensitive melancholic may be sullen and self-absorbed but can also become a sympathetic helper or a deep thinker. Steiner's temperaments are often used as a basis to describe and understand children during the elementary-school years in Waldorf schools."

"In Waldorf Education, the four temperaments are seen as a tool to help us understand the child as a “whole” human being.  The idea of the four temperaments was not new in Steiner’s time;  it came about during the Greek times and again during the Middle Ages (some of you may remember hearing about the four humors or the four fluids)." source