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Geist (Template:IPA-de) is a German word depending on context translated as English mind, spirit, or ghost, covering the semantic field of these three English nouns. Some English translatorsTemplate:Who resort to using "spirit-mind" to help convey the meaning of the term.
The word is etymologically identical to English ghost (from a Common Germanic *gaistoz) but has retained its full range of meanings while some of the applications of English ghost have become obsolete by the 17th century, replaced with the Latinate spirit. Related terms in other languages include the Greek word πνεύμα (pneuma), the Latin animus and anima, and the Chinese medical 神 shen.
It is a central concept in Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit (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 philosophising about history. Weltgeist is effected in history through the mediation of various Volksgeist ("Folk Spirits"), the great men of history, such as Napoleon, are the "concrete universal".
This has led some to claim that Hegel favoured the great man theory, although his philosophy of history, in particular concerning the role of the "universal state" (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 utilised 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 principle of history, a principle which allows Hegel to re-read all the history of philosophy as culminating in his philosophy of history.
The Weltgeist Edit
Weltgeist, the world spirit concept designates an idealistic 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, Plato and Aristotle all paid homage, amongst other things, to the concept of world spirit. Hegel later based his philosophy of history on it.
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.
In Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft a type of creature is called "Geist". In the German version of the game, the creature's name is "Spuk", which is German for spook and also a synonym for ghost.
Busch Gardens Williamsburg features a roller coaster named "Alpengeist", meaning "Ghost of the Alps."
See also Edit
- Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit
- Georg Lukács' conception of class consciousness
- German idealism
- ↑ as observed by Alexander Gil, The sacred philosophie of the holy scripture: laid downe..in..the apostles (1635): "The word Ghost in English [...] is as much as athem, or breath; in our new Latine language, a Spirit."Spenser in 1590 could still say No knight so rude, I weene, As to doen outrage to a sleeping ghost (Faerie Queene II. viii. 26), by "sleeping ghost" referring to the sleeping mind of a living person, not the ghost of a deceased one.
- Of Spirit: Heidegger and the Question, by Jacques Derrida. Translation by Geoffrey Bennington & Rachel Bowlby, Chicago University Press, 1989 (ISBN 0-226-14317-1) and 1991 (ISBN 0-226-14319-8)
- Faith and Folklore of the British Isles, by William Carew Hazlitt, Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 0-7661-4808-4
- Hegel.net -- an overview in English of Hegel's various uses of the term "Geist"