Sociology Index

Zeitgeist

Zeitgeist is the spirit of the age. Zeitgeist is the trend of thought or feeling in a period, especially as reflected in its literature, art, etc. Zeitgeist is the spirit of the time. Zeitgeist is the taste and outlook characteristic of a period or generation.

"Traditionally, every era has manifested a unitary organizational strategy called a zeitgeist, or spirit of the times. Architecture has always had the capacity to both mirror and be driven by the zeitgeist...What characterizes the Rome of Sixtus V, Hausmann's Paris, or the work of Le Corbusier, whether mirroring or transforming, is that their plans derived from a singular body politic, an operating and animating principle where a unitary world view was possible. - There is no one body politic and, thus, no single zeitgeist." - Peter Eisenmann, "Confronting the Double Zeitgeist", Architecture, October 1994.

Eisenman continues in his essay to describe today's world in terms of a double zeitgeist, where "two spirits of the times" co-exist as separate entities. He describes the first zeitgeist as a traditional one based on land, industry, and people. Examples include the newly formed nations, such as Serbia and Slovakia that have been formed based on land, language, culture and specific ethnic identities. The second zeitgeist is based on information, communications, and technology, and include the emergence and increasing use of jet airplane travel, fax machines and the World Wide Web.

Thus, with the first zeitgeist, there exists a tendency to concentrate on the particular local conditions and place, whereas with the second zeitgeist there exists a tendency to concentrate on the global and general. 

Co-teaching as opposition can be one expression of the double zeitgeist, in this case it expresses the different attitudes of our times to design and building. This opposition manifests itself in the concurrent teaching of at least two very different design philosophies in one design studio. Such an opposition took place in the teaching of graduate design students at the University of California at Berkeley. The double (or triple) zeitgeist was expressed in the rather different views of the faculty who taught this course. - Double Zeitgeist In Architecture: Co-Teaching As Opposition To The Sound Building Design Studio.