Enthusiasm

Enthusiasm

Overview
Enthusiasm originally meant inspiration or possession
Spiritual possession
Spirit possession is a paranormal or supernatural event in which it is said that spirits, gods, demons, animas, extraterrestrials, or other disincarnate or extraterrestrial entities take control of a human body, resulting in noticeable changes in health and behaviour...

 by a divine afflatus
Afflatus
Afflatus is a Latin term derived from Cicero that has been translated as "inspiration." Cicero's usage was a literalizing of "inspiration," which had already become figurative...

 or by the presence of a god
Divine presence
Divine presence, presence of God, or simply presence is a concept in religion, spirituality, and theology that deals with the omnipotent ability of a god and/or gods to be "present" with human beings...

. Johnson's Dictionary, the first comprehensive dictionary of the English language, defines enthusiasm as "a vain belief of private revelation
Private revelation
In the teaching of the Catholic Church, a private revelation refers to visions and revelations from God to a specific Christian which have taken place since the completion of the New Testament...

; a vain confidence of divine favour or communication." In current English vernacular the word simply means intense enjoyment, interest
Interest (emotion)
Interest is a feeling or emotion that causes attention to focus on an object or an event or a process. In contemporary psychology of interest, the term is used as a general concept that may encompass other more specific psychological terms, such as curiosity and to a much lesser degree surprise.The...

, or approval
Approval rating
In the United States, presidential job approval ratings were introduced by George Gallup in the late 1930s to gauge public support for the President of the United States during his term. An approval rating is a percentage determined by a polling which indicates the percentage of respondents to an...

.

Originally, an enthusiast was a person possessed by a god.
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Quotations

Whenever the true objects of action appear, they are to be heartily sought. Enthusiasm is the height of man; it is the passing from the human to the divine.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, in "The Superlative" in The Century (February 1882)

The Greeks have given us one of the most beautiful words of our language, the word "enthusiasm" — a God within. The grandeur of the acts of men are measured by the inspiration from which they spring. Happy is he who bears a God within.

Louis Pasteur, as quoted in Spiritual Literacy : Reading the Sacred in Everyday Life (1998) by Frederic Brussat and Mary Ann Brussat

There is real magic in enthusiasm. It spells the difference between mediocrity and accomplishment. ... It gives warmth and good feeling to all your personal relationships.

Norman Vincent Peale, as quoted in Spiritual Literacy : Reading the Sacred in Everyday Life (1998) by Frederic Brussat and Mary Ann Brussat Reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).

Enthusiasm is the element of success in every thing. It is the light that leads, and the strength that lifts men on and up in the great struggles of scientific pursuits and of professional labor. It robs endurance of difficulty, and makes a pleasure of duty.

Bishop Doane, p. 208.

Every great and commanding movement in the annals of the world is the triumph of enthusiasm.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, p. 208.

Those who have arrived at any very eminent degree of excellence in the practice of an art or profession have commonly been actuated by a species of enthusiasm in their pursuit of it. They have kept one object in view amidst all the vicissitudes of time and fortune.

John Knox, p. 208.

Be not afraid of enthusiasm; you need it; you can do nothing effectually without it.

François Guizot, p. 209.

Depend upon it, my younger brethren, the bright, self-sacrificing enthusiasms of early manhood are among the most precious things in the whole course of human life.

Henry Parry Liddon, p. 209.
Encyclopedia
Enthusiasm originally meant inspiration or possession
Spiritual possession
Spirit possession is a paranormal or supernatural event in which it is said that spirits, gods, demons, animas, extraterrestrials, or other disincarnate or extraterrestrial entities take control of a human body, resulting in noticeable changes in health and behaviour...

 by a divine afflatus
Afflatus
Afflatus is a Latin term derived from Cicero that has been translated as "inspiration." Cicero's usage was a literalizing of "inspiration," which had already become figurative...

 or by the presence of a god
Divine presence
Divine presence, presence of God, or simply presence is a concept in religion, spirituality, and theology that deals with the omnipotent ability of a god and/or gods to be "present" with human beings...

. Johnson's Dictionary, the first comprehensive dictionary of the English language, defines enthusiasm as "a vain belief of private revelation
Private revelation
In the teaching of the Catholic Church, a private revelation refers to visions and revelations from God to a specific Christian which have taken place since the completion of the New Testament...

; a vain confidence of divine favour or communication." In current English vernacular the word simply means intense enjoyment, interest
Interest (emotion)
Interest is a feeling or emotion that causes attention to focus on an object or an event or a process. In contemporary psychology of interest, the term is used as a general concept that may encompass other more specific psychological terms, such as curiosity and to a much lesser degree surprise.The...

, or approval
Approval rating
In the United States, presidential job approval ratings were introduced by George Gallup in the late 1930s to gauge public support for the President of the United States during his term. An approval rating is a percentage determined by a polling which indicates the percentage of respondents to an...

.

Historical usage


Originally, an enthusiast was a person possessed by a god. Applied by the Greeks
Greeks
The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

 to manifestations
Manifestation of God
The Manifestation of God is a concept in the Bahá'í Faith that refers to what are commonly called prophets. The Manifestations of God are a series of personages who reflect the attributes of the divine into the human world for the progress and advancement of human morals and civilization...

 of divine possession, by Apollo
Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

 (as in the case of the Pythia
Pythia
The Pythia , commonly known as the Oracle of Delphi, was the priestess at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, located on the slopes of Mount Parnassus. The Pythia was widely credited for her prophecies inspired by Apollo. The Delphic oracle was established in the 8th century BC...

), or by Dionysus
Dionysus
Dionysus was the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness and ecstasy in Greek mythology. His name in Linear B tablets shows he was worshipped from c. 1500—1100 BC by Mycenean Greeks: other traces of Dionysian-type cult have been found in ancient Minoan Crete...

 (as in the case of the Bacchantes and Maenads), the term enthusiasm was also used in a transferred or figurative sense. Socrates
Socrates
Socrates was a classical Greek Athenian philosopher. Credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, he is an enigmatic figure known chiefly through the accounts of later classical writers, especially the writings of his students Plato and Xenophon, and the plays of his contemporary ...

 taught that the inspiration of poet
Poet
A poet is a person who writes poetry. A poet's work can be literal, meaning that his work is derived from a specific event, or metaphorical, meaning that his work can take on many meanings and forms. Poets have existed since antiquity, in nearly all languages, and have produced works that vary...

s is a form of enthusiasm.

Its uses were confined to a belief in religious inspiration, or to intense religious fervour or emotion
Emotion
Emotion is a complex psychophysiological experience of an individual's state of mind as interacting with biochemical and environmental influences. In humans, emotion fundamentally involves "physiological arousal, expressive behaviors, and conscious experience." Emotion is associated with mood,...

. Thus, a Syrian sect of the 4th century was known as the Enthusiasts. They believed that "by perpetual prayer
Prayer
Prayer is a form of religious practice that seeks to activate a volitional rapport to a deity through deliberate practice. Prayer may be either individual or communal and take place in public or in private. It may involve the use of words or song. When language is used, prayer may take the form of...

, ascetic practices and contemplation
Contemplation
The word contemplation comes from the Latin word contemplatio. Its root is also that of the Latin word templum, a piece of ground consecrated for the taking of auspices, or a building for worship, derived either from Proto-Indo-European base *tem- "to cut", and so a "place reserved or cut out" or...

, man could become inspired
Biblical inspiration
Biblical inspiration is the doctrine in Christian theology that the authors and editors of the Bible were led or influenced by God with the result that their writings many be designated in some sense the word of God.- Etymology :...

 by the Holy Spirit, in spite of the ruling evil spirit, which the fall had given to him". From their belief in the efficacy of prayer, they were also known as Euchites
Euchites
The Euchites or Messalians were a sect first condemned as heretical in a synod of 383AD , whose acta was referred by Photius. From Mesopotamia they spread to Asia Minor and Thrace. The name 'Messalian' comes from the Syriac , mṣallyānā, meaning 'one who prays'...

.

Several Protestant sect
Sect
A sect is a group with distinctive religious, political or philosophical beliefs. Although in past it was mostly used to refer to religious groups, it has since expanded and in modern culture can refer to any organization that breaks away from a larger one to follow a different set of rules and...

s of the 16th and 17th centuries were called enthusiastic. During the years that immediately followed the Glorious Revolution
Glorious Revolution
The Glorious Revolution, also called the Revolution of 1688, is the overthrow of King James II of England by a union of English Parliamentarians with the Dutch stadtholder William III of Orange-Nassau...

, "enthusiasm" was a British pejorative term for advocacy of any political or religious cause in public. Such "enthusiasm" was seen in the time around 1700 as the cause of the previous century's English Civil War
English Civil War
The English Civil War was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists...

 and its attendant atrocities, and thus it was an absolute social sin to remind others of the war by engaging in enthusiasm. The Royal Society
Royal Society
The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, known simply as the Royal Society, is a learned society for science, and is possibly the oldest such society in existence. Founded in November 1660, it was granted a Royal Charter by King Charles II as the "Royal Society of London"...

 bylaws stipulated that any person discussing religion or politics at a Society meeting was to be summarily ejected for being an "enthusiast." During the 18th century, popular Methodists such as John Wesley
John Wesley
John Wesley was a Church of England cleric and Christian theologian. Wesley is largely credited, along with his brother Charles Wesley, as founding the Methodist movement which began when he took to open-air preaching in a similar manner to George Whitefield...

 or George Whitefield
George Whitefield
George Whitefield , also known as George Whitfield, was an English Anglican priest who helped spread the Great Awakening in Britain, and especially in the British North American colonies. He was one of the founders of Methodism and of the evangelical movement generally...

 were accused of blind enthusiasm (i.e. fanaticism
Fanaticism
Fanaticism is a belief or behavior involving uncritical zeal, particularly for an extreme religious or political cause or in some cases sports, or with an obsessive enthusiasm for a pastime or hobby...

), a charge against which they defended themselves by distinguishing fanaticism from "religion of the heart."

Modern usage


In contemporary usage, enthusiasm has lost its meaning that someone is over excited and irritable.

The Enthusiast also refers to the "Type Seven" personality type (not to be confused with the "Type Three"/"Type A" personality) . Some who fall into this modern definition of "enthusiasts" are adventurous, constantly busy with many activities with all the energy and enthusiasm of the Puer Aeternus (Peter Pan Complex). At their best they grab life for its different joys and wonders and truly live in the moment but, at their worst, they dash trepidatiously from one new endeavor to another, too scared of disappointment to actually enjoy themselves. Enthusiasts fear being incapable to provide for themselves or to experience life fully.

The term is sometimes used to describe the demeanor of fans
Fan (person)
A Fan, sometimes also called aficionado or supporter, is a person with a liking and enthusiasm for something, such as a band or a sports team. Fans of a particular thing or person constitute its fanbase or fandom...

 of various activities or organizations, ranging from hunting aficionados to wine lovers.

See also

  • Motivation
    Motivation
    Motivation is the driving force by which humans achieve their goals. Motivation is said to be intrinsic or extrinsic. The term is generally used for humans but it can also be used to describe the causes for animal behavior as well. This article refers to human motivation...

  • Emotional contagion
    Emotional contagion
    Emotional contagion is the tendency to catch and feel emotions that are similar to and influenced by those of others. One view developed by John Cacioppo of the underlying mechanism is that it represents a tendency to automatically mimic and synchronize facial expressions, vocalizations, postures,...

  • Euphoria
    Euphoria
    Euphoria is an emotional and mental state defined as a sense of great elation and well being.Euphoria may also refer to:* Euphoria , a genus of scarab beetles* Euphoria, a genus name previously used for the longan and other trees...

  • Flow (psychology)
    Flow (psychology)
    Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person in an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity. Proposed by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, the positive psychology concept has been widely referenced across a variety of...

  • Zest (positive psychology)
    Zest (positive psychology)
    In Positive Psychology, zest is one of the 24 strengths possessed by humanity. As a component of the virtue of Courage, zest is defined as living life with a sense of excitement, anticipation, and energy. Approaching life as an adventure; such that one has “motivation in challenging situations or...

  • Entheogen
    Entheogen
    An entheogen , in the strict sense, is a psychoactive substance used in a religious, shamanic, or spiritual context. Historically, entheogens were mostly derived from plant sources and have been used in a variety of traditional religious contexts...

  • Fan
    Fan (person)
    A Fan, sometimes also called aficionado or supporter, is a person with a liking and enthusiasm for something, such as a band or a sports team. Fans of a particular thing or person constitute its fanbase or fandom...

  • Connoisseur
    Connoisseur
    A connoisseur is a person who has a great deal of knowledge about the fine arts, cuisines, or an expert judge in matters of taste.Modern connoisseurship must be seen along with museums, art galleries and "the cult of originality"...


Further reading

  • Ronald Knox
    Ronald Knox
    Ronald Arbuthnott Knox was an English priest, theologian and writer.-Life:Ronald Knox was born in Kibworth, Leicestershire, England into an Anglican family and was educated at Eton College, where he took the first scholarship in 1900 and Balliol College, Oxford, where again...

    . Enthusiasm. Oxford: The Clarendon Press
  • John Locke
    John Locke
    John Locke FRS , widely known as the Father of Liberalism, was an English philosopher and physician regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers. Considered one of the first of the British empiricists, following the tradition of Francis Bacon, he is equally important to social...

    . An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. vol. 2. New York: Dover Publications
  • Susie Tucker. Enthusiasm: A Study in Semantic Change. London: Cambridge University Press

External links