Fun with Philosophy

I was disappointed with the philosophy skill on the German tree. So I thought I'd add some fun German philosophy terms. My favorite one is probably:


It means "wanting (wollen) to have (haben) a conscience (Gewissen)"

Alienation: Entfremdung

Authenticity: Eigentlichkeit

Concept: Begriff

Critique: Kritik

Critique of Pure Reason: Kritik der reinen Vernunft

Freedom: Freiheit

Humanity: Menschheit

I-hood: Ichheit

Knowledge of the self: selbsterkenntnis

Notness: Nichtheit

Personality: Persönlichkeit

Self-consciousness: Selbstbewußtein

Stoics: Die Stoiker

These are just a few.

March 23, 2018


But many of these terms make only sense in the scope of a certain "school" of Philosophy. I had never heard or seen "Gewissenhabenwollen" as one word, but a Google search convinced me that this is a Heidegger term.

Heidegger was great at inventing his own language (thus making generations of poor students rack their brains ;-)).

So I'd suggest that you add the name of the philosopher that belongs to each term. "Entfremdung" is Karl Marx, as far as I know, "Kritik der reinen Vernunft" is Immanuel Kant,

March 23, 2018

Very good. Heidegger, Kant and Marx. And now for Nietzsche: übermensch! "Ich lehre euch den Übermenschen." But many important philosophy terms were coined by philosophers. Even the word "philosophy" was coined by Pythagoras. Schönes Wochenende.

March 23, 2018


This is why I flippin love german.

March 23, 2018

Although German is arguably the language of pre-modern philosophy (English is probably the language of modern and post-modern philosophy) and the Germans are still sometimes called "the most philosophical people in Europe", our contemporary understanding of philosophy is rather stunted, and I can understand that Duolingo wouldn't want to entfremden people who are studying German for practical reasons, such as taking a vacation in Germany (in which context people probably don't discuss Gewissenhabenwollen very frequently) or wanting to study or work in Germany (where people would only use such concepts if they study or work specifically in this field). I love German philosophy and the classical German writings on the subject (I consider Kant's Kritik der reinen Vernunft to be one of the most important books ever written), but I can understand that most people here learning German with Duolingo would probably find such words a bit mis-targeted. Bearing in mind that Duolingo only brings you to around the A2 or B1 level at most, I suspect that most people learning German at that level are still struggling to remember words like "Geschwindigkeitsbegrenzung" and are not fantastically keen on learning words like "Wahrhaftigkeit". :)

March 24, 2018

While your point is most certainly true of Duolingo learners in general, there are the rare exceptions here as well. I'm learning German specifically to read Heidegger, and at present know more philosophical terms than anything else (though German is currently on the back-burner for me Duolingo-wise). My Chinese sexagenarian professor decided to take up German in retirement so he could compare Lu Xun's translations with the German translations he translated them from. Even when helping out a friend decipher some of Jean-Luc Nancy's essays, I found that every few words would switch back to the German terminology, making her firm grasp of French still insufficient to the task!

Granted, these kinds of learners will be few and far between, and Duolingo not specifically catering to us makes perfect sense and is a wise move. But just wanted to note that there are some folks here who do want to learn this.

Thanks for the post, Deutsche-Lerner!

March 24, 2018

I mostly agree with you, but I think that "Wahrhaftigkeit" is not the best example for a word that can be left out. "Gewissenhabenwollen" would be much better suited for this purpose.

"Wahrhaftigkeit" is "truthfulness, veracity", and I think this is an immensely important concept especially in these days of clickbaits and fake information.

March 24, 2018

I see what you mean. I am not a native German speaker but I don't really perceive Germans as using this word very often; they may discuss whether something is "wahr" or whether something "stimmt", but I don't think I have ever heard someone use the word "Wahrhaftigkeit" in any context. I perceive this word as rather having a more abstract, philosophical meaning that people don't use in everyday speech, but maybe that is my own misconception. Thank you for the rejoinder, however; this is one reason why I love German. :)

March 24, 2018

Well, it seems you've never met me ;-) Indeed, I consider "Wahrhaftigkeit" one of my core goals. I can never be sure if what I say is really "wahr" because, as a human, I can simply be wrong.

But I strive to tell the truth to the best of my knowledge and skills, not to deceive anyone -- ich strebe also nach Wahrhaftigkeit.

(Not to be confused with Wahnhaftigkeit LOL)

March 24, 2018

Ah, forgotten ideals! That is indeed most noble of you, but I think that even among Germans, those most conscientious of people, das Streben nach Wahrhaftigkeit is something of a lost value, something that people don't pay too much attention to. At least, that is my impression, but maybe I am just too cynical and jaded by life. Kudos to you for your efforts to be authentic; I know it's difficult in this world of ours. By the way, allegedly the English "LOL" (laughing out loud) is "LL" (laut lachend) in German; I'm going to start using this here on Duolingo and see if it catches on. =)

March 24, 2018

Laut lachend!

March 24, 2018

What about GG for "großes Grinsen" (big smile)?

March 26, 2018


March 24, 2018
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