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Geist

Geist

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Geist (ˈɡaɪst) is a German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 word. Depending on context it can be translated as the English words mind
Mind
The concept of mind is understood in many different ways by many different traditions, ranging from panpsychism and animism to traditional and organized religious views, as well as secular and materialist philosophies. Most agree that minds are constituted by conscious experience and intelligent...

, spirit
Spirit
The English word spirit has many differing meanings and connotations, most of them relating to a non-corporeal substance contrasted with the material body.The spirit of a living thing usually refers to or explains its consciousness.The notions of a person's "spirit" and "soul" often also overlap,...

, or ghost
Ghost
In traditional belief and fiction, a ghost is the soul or spirit of a deceased person or animal that can appear, in visible form or other manifestation, to the living. Descriptions of the apparition of ghosts vary widely from an invisible presence to translucent or barely visible wispy shapes, to...

, covering the semantic field
Semantic field
A semantic field is a technical term in the discipline of linguistics to describe a set of words grouped by meaning in a certain way. The term is also used in other academic disciplines, such as anthropology and computational semiotics.-Definition and usage:...

 of these three English nouns. Some English translators resort to using "spirit/mind" or "spirit (mind)" to help convey the meaning of the term.

Geist is a central concept in Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit
Phenomenology of Spirit
Phänomenologie des Geistes is one of G.W.F. Hegel's most important philosophical works. It is translated as The Phenomenology of Spirit or The Phenomenology of Mind due to the dual meaning in the German word Geist. The book's working title, which also appeared in the first edition, was Science of...

(Phänomenologie des Geistes).

Etymology and translation


No knight so rude, I weene, As to doen outrage to a sleeping ghost


Edmund Spenser's usage of the English-language word 'ghost', in his 1590 The Faerie Queene
The Faerie Queene
The Faerie Queene is an incomplete English epic poem by Edmund Spenser. The first half was published in 1590, and a second installment was published in 1596. The Faerie Queene is notable for its form: it was the first work written in Spenserian stanza and is one of the longest poems in the English...

, demonstrates the former, broader meaning of the English-language term. In this context, the term describes the sleeping mind of a living person, rather than a ghost, or spirit of the dead. The word Geist is etymologically identical to the English ghost (from a Common Germanic *gaistaz) but has retained its full range of meanings, while some applications of the English word ghost had become obsolete by the 17th century, replaced with the Latinate spirit. For this reason, English-language translators of the term Geist from the German language face some difficulty in rendering the term, and often disagree as to the best translation in a given context.

Related terms in other languages include the Greek word πνεύμα (pneuma
Pneuma
Pneuma is an ancient Greek word for "breath," and in a religious context for "spirit" or "soul." It has various technical meanings for medical writers and philosophers of classical antiquity, particularly in regard to physiology, and is also used in Greek translations of the Hebrew Bible and in...

), the Latin animus
Animus
-Psychology :* Anima and animus, Jungian concepts* The ancient Roman concept of animus or soul-Music:*Animus , a Philadelphia, PA based Eastern Mediterranean World Fusion music group...

and anima
Anima
Anima may refer to:*the Latin term for the "animating principle", see vitalism**the Latin translation of Greek psyche**in Christian contexts, the soul**see also spirit...

, and the Chinese medical 神 shen
Shen
Shen can refer to:* Shen , a central word in Chinese philosophy, religion, terms for God, and Traditional Chinese Medicine* Shen , a shapeshifting Chinese dragon believed to create mirages...

.

Hegel


Geist is a central concept in Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit
Phenomenology of Spirit
Phänomenologie des Geistes is one of G.W.F. Hegel's most important philosophical works. It is translated as The Phenomenology of Spirit or The Phenomenology of Mind due to the dual meaning in the German word Geist. The book's working title, which also appeared in the first edition, was Science of...

(Phänomenologie des Geistes).
According to Hegel, the Weltgeist ("World Spirit") is not an actual thing one might come upon or a God-like thing beyond, but a means of philosophizing about history. Weltgeist is effected in history through the mediation
Mediation
Mediation, as used in law, is a form of alternative dispute resolution , a way of resolving disputes between two or more parties. A third party, the mediator, assists the parties to negotiate their own settlement...

 of various Volksgeister ("Folk Spirits"), the great men
Hero
A hero , in Greek mythology and folklore, was originally a demigod, their cult being one of the most distinctive features of ancient Greek religion...

 of history, such as Napoleon, are the "concrete universal
Universality (philosophy)
In philosophy, universalism is a doctrine or school claiming universal facts can be discovered and is therefore understood as being in opposition to relativism. In certain religions, universality is the quality ascribed to an entity whose existence is consistent throughout the universe...

".

This has led some to claim that Hegel favored the great man theory
Great man theory
The Great Man Theory was a popular 19th century idea according to which history can be largely explained by the impact of "great men", or heroes: highly influential individuals who, due to either their personal charisma, intelligence, wisdom, or Machiavellianism utilized their power in a way that...

, although his philosophy of history
Philosophy of history
The term philosophy of history refers to the theoretical aspect of history, in two senses. It is customary to distinguish critical philosophy of history from speculative philosophy of history...

, in particular concerning the role of the "universal
Universality (philosophy)
In philosophy, universalism is a doctrine or school claiming universal facts can be discovered and is therefore understood as being in opposition to relativism. In certain religions, universality is the quality ascribed to an entity whose existence is consistent throughout the universe...

 state
State (polity)
A state is an organized political community, living under a government. States may be sovereign and may enjoy a monopoly on the legal initiation of force and are not dependent on, or subject to any other power or state. Many states are federated states which participate in a federal union...

" (Universal Stand, which means as well "order" or "statute" than "state"), and of an "End of History" is much more complex.

For Hegel, the great hero is unwittingly utilized by Geist or Absolute Spirit, by a "ruse of Reason" as Hegel puts it, and is irrelevant to history once his historic mission is accomplished; he is thus submitted to the teleological
Teleology
A teleology is any philosophical account which holds that final causes exist in nature, meaning that design and purpose analogous to that found in human actions are inherent also in the rest of nature. The word comes from the Greek τέλος, telos; root: τελε-, "end, purpose...

 principle of history, a principle which allows Hegel to re-read all the history of philosophy as culminating in his philosophy of history.

Weltgeist, the world
World
World is a common name for the whole of human civilization, specifically human experience, history, or the human condition in general, worldwide, i.e. anywhere on Earth....

 spirit
Spirit
The English word spirit has many differing meanings and connotations, most of them relating to a non-corporeal substance contrasted with the material body.The spirit of a living thing usually refers to or explains its consciousness.The notions of a person's "spirit" and "soul" often also overlap,...

 concept, designates an idealistic
Idealism
In philosophy, idealism is the family of views which assert that reality, or reality as we can know it, is fundamentally mental, mentally constructed, or otherwise immaterial. Epistemologically, idealism manifests as a skepticism about the possibility of knowing any mind-independent thing...

 principle of world explanation, which can be found from the beginnings of philosophy up to more recent time. The concept of world spirit was already accepted by the idealistic schools of ancient Indian philosophy, whereby one explained objective reality as its product. (See metaphysical objectivism) In the early philosophy of Greek antiquity, 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 ...

, Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

 and Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 all paid homage, amongst other things, to the concept
Concept
The word concept is used in ordinary language as well as in almost all academic disciplines. Particularly in philosophy, psychology and cognitive sciences the term is much used and much discussed. WordNet defines concept: "conception, construct ". However, the meaning of the term concept is much...

 of world spirit. Hegel later based his philosophy of history on it.

Others


Geist is a component of several German loanword
Loanword
A loanword is a word borrowed from a donor language and incorporated into a recipient language. By contrast, a calque or loan translation is a related concept where the meaning or idiom is borrowed rather than the lexical item itself. The word loanword is itself a calque of the German Lehnwort,...

s such as Zeitgeist
Zeitgeist
Zeitgeist is "the spirit of the times" or "the spirit of the age."Zeitgeist is the general cultural, intellectual, ethical, spiritual or political climate within a nation or even specific groups, along with the general ambiance, morals, sociocultural direction, and mood associated with an era.The...

, the spirit of the time or collective unconscious
Collective unconscious
Collective unconscious is a term of analytical psychology, coined by Carl Jung. It is proposed to be a part of the unconscious mind, expressed in humanity and all life forms with nervous systems, and describes how the structure of the psyche autonomously organizes experience...

, and poltergeist
Poltergeist
A poltergeist is a paranormal phenomenon which consists of events alluding to the manifestation of an imperceptible entity. Such manifestation typically includes inanimate objects moving or being thrown about, sentient noises and, on some occasions, physical attacks on those witnessing the...

, the mischievous ghosts that are believed to make noises.

In Christian theology
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

, the term Heiliger Geist (heilig = holy) is the German translation of Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of the Hebrew Bible, but understood differently in the main Abrahamic religions.While the general concept of a "Spirit" that permeates the cosmos has been used in various religions Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of...

.

Geisteskrank is a German word literally meaning "of an ill mind" and is sometimes used to describe someone suffering from mental illness. In professional psycho-scientific language, however, the term is obsolete nowadays.

Geistlos refers to being mindless or without spirit.

See also



  • Georg Lukács
    Georg Lukács
    György Lukács was a Hungarian Marxist philosopher and literary critic. He is a founder of the tradition of Western Marxism. He contributed the concept of reification to Marxist philosophy and theory and expanded Karl Marx's theory of class consciousness. Lukács' was also an influential literary...

    ' conception of class consciousness
    Class consciousness
    Class consciousness is consciousness of one's social class or economic rank in society. From the perspective of Marxist theory, it refers to the self-awareness, or lack thereof, of a particular class; its capacity to act in its own rational interests; or its awareness of the historical tasks...

  • Psyche
    Psyche (psychology)
    The word psyche has a long history of use in psychology and philosophy, dating back to ancient times, and has been one of the fundamental concepts for understanding human nature from a scientific point of view. The English word soul is sometimes used synonymously, especially in older...


Links

  • Hegel.net -- an overview in English of Hegel's various uses of the term "Geist"