Enthusiasm

Enthusiasm

Enthusiasm ( _gr. ἐνθουσιασμός "enthousiasmos") originally meant inspiration or possession by a divine afflatus or by the presence of a god. Johnson's Dictionary, the first comprehensive dictionary of the English language, defines "enthusiasm" as "a vain belief of private revelation; a vain confidence of divine favour or communication." In current English vernacular the word simply means intense enjoyment, interest, or approval.

Historical usage

Originally an enthusiast was a person possessed by a god. Applied by the Greeks to manifestations of divine possession, by Apollo, as in the case of the Pythia, or by Dionysus, as in the case of the Bacchantes and Maenads, the term enthusiasm was also used in a transferred or figurative sense. Thus Socrates speaks of the inspiration of poets as a form of enthusiasm.

Its uses were confined to a belief in religious inspiration, or to intense religious fervour or emotion. Thus a Syrian sect of the 4th century was known as the Enthusiasts. They believed that by perpetual prayer, ascetic practices and contemplation, man could become inspired 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. Several Protestant sects of the 16th and 17th centuries were called enthusiastic. During the years immediately following the Glorious Revolution, "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 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 bylaws stipulated that any person discussing religion or politics at a Society meeting was to be summarily ejected for being an "enthusiast."Fact|date=September 2007 During the 18th century, popular Methodists such as John Wesley or George Whitefield were accused of blind enthusiasm (i.e. fanaticism).

Modern usage

In contemporary usage, enthusiasm has lost its religious significance. It now signifies a whole-hearted devotion to an ideal, cause, study or pursuit, or merely being visibly excited about what one's doing. Sometimes, in a deprecatory sense, it implies partisan devotion blind to difficulties and objections.

Science-fiction writer Thomas M. Disch once suggested that the mystical experiences of writer Philip K. Dick might be described as a form of "enthousiasmos".Fact|date=July 2008

The Enthusiast also refers to the "Type Seven" personality type (not to be confused with the "Type Three"/"Type A" personality) Harv|Daniels|Price|2000. People 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 embrace life for its varied joys and wonders and truly live in the moment but, at their worst, they dash frantically from one new experience to another, too scared of disappointment to actually enjoy themselves. Enthusiasts fear being unable to provide for themselves or to experience life in all of its richness.

References

* Citation
last= Daniels, M.D. |first= D.
last2= Price, PhD |first2= V.
title= The Essential Enneagram
place = New York
publisher = HarperCollins
year = 2000

Further reading

* Ronald Knox. "Enthusiasm". Oxford: The Clarendon Press
* John Locke. "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

* [http://www.english.upenn.edu/~mgamer/Etexts/hume.superstition.html David Hume, Of Superstition and Enthusiasm]
* [http://www.ronaldknoxsociety.com/enthus.html The Ronald Knox Society of North America]
* [http://www.bartleby.com/61/14/E0161400.html "The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language": enthusiasm]
* [http://gbgm-umc.org/UMHistory/Wesley/sermons/serm-037.stm John Wesley, The Nature of Enthusiasm]


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  • Enthusiasm — En*thu si*asm, n. [Gr. ?, fr. ? to be inspired or possessed by the god, fr. ?, ?, inspired: cf. enthousiasme. See {Entheal}, {Theism}.] 1. Inspiration as if by a divine or superhuman power; ecstasy; hence, a conceit of divine possession and… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • enthusiasm — index ardor, compulsion (obsession), emotion, industry (activity), interest (concern), life …   Law dictionary

  • enthusiasm — c.1600, from M.Fr. enthousiasme (16c.) and directly from L.L. enthusiasmus, from Gk. enthousiasmos divine inspiration, from enthousiazein be inspired or possessed by a god, be rapt, be in ecstasy, from entheos divinely inspired, possessed by a… …   Etymology dictionary

  • enthusiasm — fervor, ardor, *passion, zeal Antonyms: apathy Contrasted words: impassivity, phlegm, stolidity (see under IMPASSIVE): unconcern, detachment, aloofness, indifference (see corresponding adjectives at INDIFFERENT) …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • enthusiasm — [n] keen interest, excitement activity, ardency, ardor, avidity, conviction, craze, dash, devotion, eagerness, earnestness, ecstasy, élan, emotion, energy, exhilaration, fad, fanaticism, feeling, fervor, fever, fieriness, fire, flame, flare,… …   New thesaurus

  • enthusiasm — ► NOUN 1) intense enjoyment, interest, or approval. 2) an object of such feelings. 3) archaic, derogatory religious fervour supposedly resulting directly from divine inspiration. ORIGIN Greek enthousiasmos, from enthous possessed by a god …   English terms dictionary

  • enthusiasm — [en tho͞o′zē az΄əm, enthyo͞o′zē az΄əm; intho͞o′zē az΄əm, inthyo͞o′zē azəm] n. [Gr enthousiasmos < enthousiazein, to be inspired, be possessed by a god, inspire < enthous, entheos, possessed by a god < en , in + theos, god: see THEO ] 1.… …   English World dictionary

  • enthusiasm — noun ADJECTIVE ▪ burning, enormous, extraordinary, immense, passionate, tremendous ▪ considerable, great ▪ little …   Collocations dictionary

  • enthusiasm — en|thu|si|as|m W3 [ınˈθju:ziæzəm US ınˈθu: ] n [Date: 1500 1600; : Greek; Origin: enthousiasmos, from entheos filled (by a god) with sudden strong abilities , from theos god ] 1.) [U] a strong feeling of interest and enjoyment about something and …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • enthusiasm — n. 1) to arouse, kindle, stir up enthusiasm 2) to demonstrate, display, show; radiate enthusiasm 3) to dampen smb. s enthusiasm 4) boundless, great, unbounded, unbridled, wild enthusiasm 5) enthusiasm for 6) the enthusiasm to + inf. (they had… …   Combinatory dictionary


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