what the hell does the phrase "the human spirit" actually mean?
December 10, 2003 12:40 PM   Subscribe

what the hell does the phrase "the human spirit" actually mean? is it just a term created by publishers and marketing departments to sell material or does it imply something more?
posted by Stynxno to Writing & Language (9 answers total)
 
Do you mean the "indominitable" human spirit? Or just the plain kind?

It's a rhetorical invention to help humans feel good about themselves. It means whatever you want it to mean.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 12:50 PM on December 10, 2003


And what about the "human condition"? Is the human spirit what enables us to endure the human condition?
posted by trharlan at 1:42 PM on December 10, 2003


i think you've hit on it, trharlan. both constructs are useful as diversions, similar to the display of shiny trinkets while stealing baby's candy.
posted by quonsar at 1:50 PM on December 10, 2003


How about this? If that's not mind over matter, I dunno what is.
posted by scarabic at 2:12 PM on December 10, 2003


I don't know about the actual origins of the word, but I bet there are some seriously parallels between "the human spirit" and doing anything to prevent one's own demise. Is the human spirit simply to live?
posted by mathowie at 2:16 PM on December 10, 2003


I think the human spirit motivates us to answer here : >
posted by amberglow at 3:34 PM on December 10, 2003


Is the human spirit simply to live?

I think it's more complex than the maintenance of biological life - for example, think of someone who, while stricken with a terminal illness, creates art that endures long after his or her death. This can be seen as transcending death, in a way. Or, think of someone who chooses to die rather than give up a family member under interrogation. In this case, I suppose the 'human spirit' is an appeal to see certain traits or values as universally laudable.

Of course, the phrase is most often nothing more than a sickly cliche, intended to make us feel that kitschy, tear-jerking movies and books are more profound than they are.
posted by stonerose at 3:56 PM on December 10, 2003


I don't know about the actual origins of the word, but I bet there are some seriously parallels between "the human spirit" and doing anything to prevent one's own demise. Is the human spirit simply to live?

Are you saying that THIS MAN was a great example of the human spirit?

(more seriously, survival instinct doesn't strike me as a particularly exclusive human trait.)
posted by kaibutsu at 4:42 PM on December 10, 2003


I always internally translate "the human spirit" to mean hope, as in "hope springs eternal." Tacky but there you have it.

"The Human Condition" I take to mean death, in the sense of the foreknowledge of our own death. So yeah, I'd say that the human spirit helps us to deal with the human condition.
posted by muckster at 8:14 PM on December 10, 2003


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