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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Geisteswissenschaft (more frequently used in plural form Geisteswissenschaften) is a traditional division of faculty in German Universities that included subjects such as Philosophy, Theology, and Jurisprudence. Most of its subject matter would come under the much larger Humanities faculty in the typical English speaking University, but it does not contain any arts.

The concept dates back to eighteenth- and nineteenth-century German idealism, in particular to Hegel's concept of a "Volksgeist", the alleged common "spirit," or rather, mind, of a people. The historian, philosopher and sociologist Wilhelm Dilthey argued that the emerging field of sociology should be considered a Geisteswissenschaft rather than a Naturwissenschaft (natural science), and that its methodology should reflect this classification. His arguments were very influential in the theories of the prominent German sociologist Max Weber. Other authors, including Husserl and Rudolf Steiner, used the term Geisteswissenschaft in a historically quite distinct sense to actually refer to "Spiritual Science" or "Science of Spirit."

Example Usage

From Kulturgeschichte Frankreichs, Suchanek-Fröhlich, S. p 633:

Man hat Taine vorgeworfen, dass er, dessen Hauptziel die Einführung naturwissenschaftlicher Methoden in die Geisteswissenschaften war, selbst nicht induktiv, sondern deduktiv vorging.


Some reproach Taine in that he himself, whose goal was the introduction of the methods of natural science into the Geisteswissenschaften, proceeded from methods which were not inductive but rather deductive.


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Geisteswissenschaft f. (genitive Geisteswissenschaft, plural Geisteswissenschaften)

  1. humanities (the branch of learning that includes the arts, classics, philosophy and history etc.)

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