help with rules of grammar please

 

From: Joel Wendt
Date: Mon Feb 2, 2004 10:44 am
Subject: help with rules of grammar please

Dear Friends,

I could use some help with what seems to me to be basic rules of grammar, but which at the same time are so "present" that their significance might be overlooked.

For example, we have a term "anthroposophical", which involves the change from the noun "anthroposophy" to what I assume is an adjective ("anthroposophical"), by the dropping of the letter "y" and the adding of the letters "ical". Is there some general rule for this process?

For the German readers among us - where in English I might read the term "anthroposophical", what would be going on in German? The same process, a noun being made into an adjective? What noun and what adjective?

As an adjective ("anthroposophical") - how would we define its meaning? For example, I have seen translations where the following is written "anthroposophical spiritual science". I have always assumed that anthroposophy equals spiritual science, but perhaps these are different. How is "spiritual science" modified by the adjective "anthroposophical" in such a sequence of words?

I have other questions, but defer them to first becoming more grounded as regards the above.

warm regards,
joel

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From: Daniel Hindes
Date: Tue Feb 3, 2004 8:30 am
Subject: Geisteswissenschaft

Joel,

I can attempt an answer to your question on the gramatical level, namely how adjectives are built from nouns, but this doesn't really answer your question.

The derivation of proper adjectives from proper nouns can be quite complex in English. Without going into all the details, how the adjective is built will differ depending on a large number of factors, including the ending and whether the word is a Latinate derivative (borrowed into English from the Latin) or a Greek derivative.

"Anthroposophy" is built by compounding the Greek words "Anthropos" with "sophia". In English the result is "Anthroposophy" in German, "Anthroposophie". Deriving the adjectival form is done based on the rules of the respective language, so in German the ending "ie" becomes "ische" for "anthroposophische". In English two options are valid: you can simply drop the "y" and use "anthroposophic" or you can replace the "y" with "al" to make "anthroposphical". Or of you are on the WC list, you substitute the word "Steinerite".

But your real question is "What does 'anthroposophical' mean?" This is really a subject for a whole essay. More narrowly, if Steiner said "...anthroposophische geisteswissenschaft..." translated as "anthroposophical spiritual science" then I suppose he wanted to indicate that there might be other spiritual sciences that are not anthroposophical. But let us take a closer look at this word "Geisteswissenschaft, aka spiritual science".

The word "Geisteswissenschaft" (created by compounding the word "Geist" - meaning "spirit" - with "Wissenschaft" meaning "science/research/scholarship") is not one that Steiner made up. It is in general use in German, but primarily in one specific phrase: "in der Geisteswissenschaft tätig sein" where it means, "to work in research". "Wissenschaft" is built off the German verb "wissen" to know. The word "Wissenschaft" is actually also an obscure English word, borrowed from the German, and in English means "the systematic pursuit of knowledge, learning, and scholarship (especially as contrasted with its application)" according to the New Oxford Dictionary of English, 2002 edition. This really gets at the nuances of the word in German, even if every German-English dictionary lists the first meaning as "science". My Langescheit's German-English dictionary also lists "research" as a secondary meaning, along with "scholarship" and "academia". So "Wissenschaft", the first part of the compound, indicates the attempt to systematize knowledge. This is modified by appending "Geistes" (translated "spirit") to make "systematized knowledge of or research into the spirit". "Wissenschaft" can also be modified by other nouns, such as "Natur" (nature) where it means "natural science" or "systematized knowledge of or research into the natural world". In many cases where the translation "spiritual science" is used, I tend to think "systematic knowledge of the spirit" would be better. In light of this, anthroposophical systematic knowledge of the spirit would then be differentiated from other systematic knowledge of the spirit, say, the Theosophical (and there are important differences).

Daniel Hindes

PS: The next word in the German dictionary is also interesting: "Wissenschaftsgläubigkeit" - blind faith in science. Leave it to the German language to have one word for that.

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From: Frank Thomas Smith
Date: Wed Feb 4, 2004 10:16 am
Subject: RE: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] Geisteswissenschaft

Daniel wrote:

The word "Geisteswissenschaft" (created by compounding the word "Geist" - meaning "spirit" - with "Wissenschaft" meaning "science/research/scholarship") is not one that Steiner made up. It is in general use in German, but primarily in one specific phrase: "in der Geisteswissenschaft tätig sein" where it means, "to work in research". "Wissenschaft" is built off the German verb "wissen" to know. The word "Wissenschaft" is actually also an obscure English word, borrowed from the German, and in English means "the systematic pursuit of knowledge, learning, and scholarship (especially as contrasted with its application)" according to the New Oxford Dictionary of English, 2002 edition. This really gets at the nuances of the word in German, even if every German-English dictionary lists the first meaning as "science". My Langescheit's German-English dictionary also lists "research" as a secondary meaning, along with "scholarship" and "academia". So "Wissenschaft", the first part of the compound, indicates the attempt to systematize knowledge. This is modified by appending "Geistes" (translated "spirit") to make "systematized knowledge of or research into the spirit". "Wissenschaft" can also be modified by other nouns, such as "Natur" (nature) where it means "natural science" or "systematized knowledge of or research into the natural world". In many cases where the translation "spiritual science" is used, I tend to think "systematic knowledge of the spirit" would be better. In light of this, anthroposophical systematic knowledge of the spirit would then be differentiated from other systematic knowledge of the spirit, say, the Theosophical (and there are important differences).

Although true that "Geisteswissenschaft" has a more ample meaning in German than in English (it can refer to the arts or humanities in general - though I doubt it is still often used that way by contemporary Germans.) With this in mind, "anthroposophische Geisteswissenschaft" clearly differentiates it from other activities which use (used?) that term. However, I think I can safely say that there is no difference in the contemporary meaning of the words "Wissenschaft" and "science", except that science is derived from Latin (scientia, from scire= to know), whereas Wissenschaft is Germanic, in which the root "Wissen" = to know, is apparent without knowing anything but German. Therefore if Wissenschaft implies "systematic knowledege", so does "science". So, imo, to complicate "spiritual science" by calling it "systematic knowledge of the spirit" is, to put it mildly, not helpful.

Frank

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