Thursday, July 5, 2007

Inspiration vs Enthusiasm


Enthusiasm (èn-th¡´zê-àz´em) noun

1. Great excitement for or interest in a subject or cause.
2. A source or cause of great excitement or interest.
3. Archaic. a. Ecstasy arising from supposed possession by a god.
b. Religious fanaticism.

[Late Latin enthúsiasmus, from Greek enthousiasmos, from enthousiazein, to be inspired by a god, from entheos, possessed : en-, in. See EN-2 + theos, god.]

Word History: When the English philosopher Henry More stated in a work published in 1660 that "If ever Christianity be exterminated, it will be by Enthusiasme," he clearly used the word differently from the way we do now. He was also using a meaning that differed from the first sense, "possession by a god," recorded in English (1603).

Enthusiasm and this sense of the word go back to the Greek word enthousiasmos, which ultimately comes from the adjective entheos, "having the god within," formed from en-, "in, within," and theos, "god."

Henry More in 1660 was referring to belief, either mistaken or unsupported by evidence, in one's own inspiration by the Christian god. Enthusiasm, as now most frequently used, has become secularized and at times weakened, so that one can speak of an enthusiasm for fast cars.

Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-82), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. Essays, "Circles" (First Series, 1841).

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