"Zeitgeist" (pronounced Audio-IPA|De-zeitgeist.ogg| [ˈt͡saɪtgaɪst] ) is a German language expression literally translated: Zeit, "time"; Geist, "spirit", meaning "the spirit of the age and its society". The word zeitgeist describes the intellectual, cultural, ethical and political climate of an era or also a trend. In German, the word has more layers of meaning than the English translation, including the fact that Zeitgeist can only be observed for past events."


The concept of "Zeitgeist" goes back to Johann Gottfried Herder and other German Romantics such as Cornelius Jagdmann, but is best known in relation to Hegel's philosophy of history. In 1769 Herder wrote a critique of the work "Genius seculi" by the philologist Christian Adolph Klotz and introduced the word "Zeitgeist" into German as a translation of "genius seculi" (Latin: "genius" - "guardian spirit" and "saeculi" - "of the century").

The German Romantics, habitually tempted to reduce the past to essences, treated the "Zeitgeist" as a historical character in its own right, rather than a generalized description for an era.


"Zeitgeist" refers to the ethos of an identified group of people, that expresses a particular world view which is prevalent at a particular period of socio-cultural progression.

Zeitgeist is the experience of a dominant cultural climate that defines, particularly in Hegelian thinking, an era in the dialectical progression of a people or the world at large. Hegel's main contribution to the formulation of the concept of "Volksgeist" is the attribution of a historical character to the concept. The spirit of a nation is one of the manifestations of "World Spirit" ("Weltgeist"). That Spirit is essentially alive and active throughout mankind's history. Now, the spirit of a nation is an intermediate stage of world history as the history of the World Spirit. The World Spirit gives impetus to the realization of the historical spirits of various nations ("Volksgeister').

The spirits of individual nations are both the articulations ("Gliederungen") of an organization and its realization. The spirits of individual nations represent a segment of the World Spirit out of which emerges the unlimited universal spirit. A comparison is introduced here between the status of an individual and that of a nation's spirit. In the process of his formation the individual undergoes various changes without, however, losing his identity. As a part of world history, a nation—exhibiting a certain trend expressed in its "Volksgeist"— plays its part in the total process of world history. But once it contributes its share to world history it can no longer play a role in the process of world history. The submersion in the total process prevents a people's cultural rebirth, because it has exhausted its creativity in the historical growth of its guiding spirit. It is for this reason that one of Hegel's disciples, Michelet, considered the idea of a renaissance of the Jewish people as philosophically impossible.


* "Whoever marries the zeitgeist will be a widower soon or in the near future." - August Everding
* "Opinions that deviate from the ruling zeitgeist always aggravate the crowd." - Anne Louise Germaine de Staël
* "The product of paper and printed ink, that we commonly call the book, is one of the great visible mediators between spirit and time, and, reflecting zeitgeist, lasts as long as ore and stone." - Johann Georg Hamann

ee also

* Collective consciousness
* Meme
* Noosphere
* Vox populi
* Social identity

External links

* [http://www.historikertag2002.uni-halle.de/druck/halle_geschichte/klotz.shtml Christian Adolph Klotz]
* [http://susi.e-technik.uni-ulm.de:8080/Meyers2/seite/werk/meyers/band/9/seite/0859/meyers_b9_s0859.html#Klotz Christian Adolf Klotz] in: Meyers Konversations-Lexikon, 4. Aufl., 1888, Vol. 9, Page 859
* [http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/cgi-local/DHI/dhi.cgi?id=dv4-74 Zeitgeist, History of Ideas]
* [http://www.thezeitgeistmovement.com/ The Zeitgeist Movement]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Zeitgeist — Zeitgeist  немецкое слово, означающее «дух времени». Дух времени  философская концепция из области истории философии. «Дух времени» (англ. The Zeitgeist Movement)  общественное движение. «Дух времени» (англ. Zeitgeist,… …   Википедия

  • zeitgeist — (n.) 1848, from Ger. Zeitgeist, lit. spirit of the age, from Zeit time (see TIDE (Cf. tide)) + Geist spirit (see GHOST (Cf. ghost)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • Zeitgeist — (izg. cȁjtgajst) m DEFINICIJA sociol. fil. opće intelektualno i duhovno stanje ili duhovno kretanje i ukus koji karakterizira neko vrijeme i područje; duh vremena [Wagnerov antisemitizam je odvratan, ali je i Zeitgeist Njemačke u drugoj pol. 19.… …   Hrvatski jezični portal

  • Zeitgeist — В буквальном смысле «дух времени». Термин обозначает идеи, цвнпости и направления развития, доминирующие в данной культуре в определенный момент ее истории. В социальной психологии Zeitgeist рассматривается как встречное воздействие на поведение… …   Большая психологическая энциклопедия

  • Zeitgeist — eit geist , n. [G.; zeit time + geist spirit. See {Tide}, n.; {Ghost}, n.] The spirit of the time; the general intellectual and moral state or temper characteristic of any period of time. [Webster 1913 Suppl.] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Zeitgeist — Zeitgeist, die zu gewissen Zeiten in größeren Kreisen herrschende Denkart u. Handlungsweise der Menschen …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Zeitgeist — (Genius saeculi), im Sinne des metaphysischen Idealismus eines Hegel u. a. der in der Geschichte sich entfaltende objektive Geist, der in allen einzelnen Erscheinungen eines Zeitalters wirksam ist. Allgemeiner die Summe herrschender Ideen, die… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Zeitgeist — Zeitgeist, die zu einer bestimmten Zeit vorherrschende Stimmung bei den europäischen Hauptvölkern …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • Zeitgeist — [Al] literalmente, el espíritu de la época, un clima de opinión, convención en el pensamiento o lo que implícitamente se da por supuesto. Diccionario Mosby Medicina, Enfermería y Ciencias de la Salud, Ediciones Hancourt, S.A. 1999 …   Diccionario médico

  • Zeitgeist — ↑Moderne …   Das große Fremdwörterbuch

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