The German Language as a Path to Mental Understanding

Those interested in learning more about the human mind and spirituality might consider acquiring an additional language such as ancient Greek or Sanskrit. This section shall argue that they should also consider studying German. If you want to learn the German language from Nagpur city then the best way is to join the best German class in Nagpur.

The German language can provide access to the writings of some of the world’s most influential intellectuals. Sure, these works can be read in translation, but something is always “lost in translation.” We will demonstrate some concrete examples when the translations can be unclear or lose part of the meaning initially in the German text.

Famous German-language writers

The German Language as a Path to Mental Understanding

Let us look at four famous German-language writers whose writings will provide insights into the human mind and spirituality: Herman Hesse, Carl Jung, Sigmund Freud, and Arthur Schopenhauer.

Hesse, Hermann

Herman Hesse was a Swiss author of German origin who won the Nobel Prize in literature. The individual’s search for authenticity, self-knowledge, and spirituality is recurring in several of his writings.

Siddhartha, a book set in ancient India where the protagonist is on a quest for self-discovery and spiritual accomplishment, is perhaps Herman Hesse’s most well-known work. The protagonist meets the historical Buddha, Gotama, during this mission.

Reading ancient Hindu literature, as well as his acquaintance with psychologist Carl Jung, inspired Herman Hesse.

Jung, Carl

Carl Jung was a prominent psychiatrist, psychotherapist, and novelist born in 1875 in the German-speaking portion of Switzerland.

Jung created the term “collective unconscious” (Kollektives Unbewusstes) to refer to unconscious mind structures shared by organisms of the same species.

For example, cats’ collective unconscious contains an intense dread of snakes. You’ve probably heard that cats are terrified of cucumbers (google it if you have never heard about this). The sight of cucumbers can make a house cat dread snakes, even if the cat has never seen one.

Based on Carl Jung’s typologies, a personality test is the Myers-Briggs type indicator (MBTI).

‘Erinnerungen, Träume, Gedanken’ (Memories, Dreams, Reflections), initially published in German in 1962, is an excellent place to start reading Jung’s writings.

Freud, Sigmund

Freud, who was born in the German-speaking Austrian Empire in 1856, is regarded as the father of psychoanalysis. He researched dream interpretation, which he saw as a path to understanding the unconscious side of the mind (das Unbewusste).

Freud devised a three-part mental model: das Es, das Ich, and das Über-Ich ( the id, the ego and the super-ego). Something has been lost in translation here. The following English translations do not capture the concept as well as the original German terms:

The “das Über-Ich” (the super-ego) is the part of us that seeks to act in a socially acceptable manner by managing our sense of right and wrong, as well as our sensation of guilt. Über-Ich is a German phrase that directly translates to “that is above the ego.” The verticality conveyed by the original German phrase is lost in the English translation (the super-ego). However, the concept of verticality is critical to the meaning of the phrase Über-Ich, since the above indicates that it pulls down, represses, and regulates.

Books to read include: ‘Die Traumdeutung’ (The Interpretation of Dreams) was first published in German in 1899.

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Schopenhauer, Arthur

Arthur Schopenhauer was a German philosopher who lived from 1788 to 1860. He researched ancient Indian books such as the Upanishads before forming his views.

Consider the following quote by Shopenhauer: “Der Mensch kann zwar tun, aber er kann nicht wollen, was er tun kann.” This statement makes excellent sense if you understand German. The English version, on the other hand, is perplexing and awkward: “A man may do what he wants, but he cannot want what he wants.”

Indeed, the infinitive form of the word wollen in the German phrase differs sufficiently from the conjugated form in which it occurs. The infinitive and conjugated form of the verb ‘to wish’ in the English sentence is so near that the sentence becomes quite unclear.

Consider the following famous Schopenhauer quote: “All truth passes through three stages.” First, it is mocked. Second, it is diametrically opposing. Third, it is seen as self-evident.” That is virtually always how it is translated into English.

Take a peek at the original German version: “Alle Wahrheit führt über drei Stufen.” Initially, she will be made ludicrous or destroyed. Then she will be fought. And, eventually, she will be accepted as a given.”

If you know German, you’ll notice something was lost in translation: “oder verzerrt” is missing from this standard English version. The complete translation would be: […] It is first mocked or misrepresented.

A portion of the meaning is omitted to make this popular English translation seem pleasant and flow easily. Indeed, according to Schopenhauer, a new truth may be mocked at first, but it may also be perverted and misinterpreted.

These examples demonstrate the benefits of reading the original material rather than translating it.

‘Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung’ is a work that should be read (The World as Will and Representation)


If you are studying psychology at university or want to learn more about how the human mind works, you should learn German. It will provide you with access to certain fundamental books, which you will be able to read in their entirety.

Even the most excellent translators can inadvertently introduce minor distortions since some words and phrases do not have exact equivalents from one language to another. Nuances are crucial in subjects such as psychology and philosophy.

By reading these materials in their original German, you may be sure that no translation mistakes interfere with the author’s intended meaning.

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