Goenuel A Suggested New Word for the English Language 11/9/2008

A suggested new word for the English language

Gönül just another word like taboo, Schadenfreude or hybris or a path to an international  understanding?

Learning and understanding how people of different cultures perceive reality is the quickest way of learning about human beings. In the following, I will attempt to explain the Turkish word ‘gönül’ which is pronounced guernuel  or gyonyul   in English.

Although an easy word to understand for any Turkish speaker, it is rather difficult to define its precise meaning in other languages, being a little more complex than the words ‘taboo’ or ‘hybris’. However,  I feel strongly that in present times and also for the future, it’s a much needed terminology for universal usage.

I will try to outline the word with help from a brief description of the “Gönül Philosophy” of Prof. A. Inam explained during our discussions in Urla in August 2008 in a Symposium about gönül.

The word gönül is unique to Turkish like “Taboo” from the Polynesians. The use of the word ‘taboo’, is derived from tapu (Tonga or tabu in the Fijian Islands), and dates back to 1777 when Captain Cook visited the islands.

Since then it is a word that is used in every major language around the world.

The German word “Schadenfreude” is used to express the smug satisfaction that one sometimes feels for another’s failure. Though everyone knows the feeling the German language  has a word for it.

A standard Turkish dictionary broadly defines gönül as mind, soul, body and heart. It is also part truthfulness, part openness and part a state of mind. The nearest single English word to it is I believe soul – like in soulmates or the sourceplace, the fountain within our soul but transcending the personal.

I understand it as self with open boundaries very close to empathy, natural wisdom or wit and hence a very important step, the missing link  towards common sense.

Prof Inam defines gönül as a common denominator of

1.1 Soma (??µ?)- corpus,  body

1.2 Thymos (??µ??) – emotion, soul, Angst Freude, affection

1.3 Nous (???? or ????)- mind, intellect

1.4 Oikos (?????)- the house or the place where we live within an environment including attention, alertness to what is going on.

Gönül has according to Inam 2.1 Openness, clearness or the readiness for clarification, receptivity and straightforward directness (suggest the use of open or closed gönül) Being open to people and ideas.

2.2 Truthfullness (Wahrhaftigkeit, Lauterkeit) or the readiness to search for truth (suggest the use of doing something from gönül much like volunteering for something in a wholehearted way), willingness, also sincerity.

2.3 eros (????) love, desire, fervor, willingness, the sum of life-preserving instincts that are manifested as impulses to gratify basic needs, as sublimated impulses, and as impulses to protect and preserve the body and mind. For example love is not only the physical addictive need for another  but also the unison of two gönüls the togetherness, the unambigous decision for one another with a taste of “puppy love” combined with a very grown up wholehearted decision for one another or for a cause. A unison of gönüls can be between two or more people or between different nations. There is also the crazy gönül which is the craze within oneself.

2.4 autonomy, independence, self- sufficiency, and

2.5 docility, humbleness, contrary to hybris (?ß???) cultural alertness, respect  and hence  readiness for coexistence, decency, properness,  humility that knows no boundaries.

So understanding from gönül. Having an open gönül for empathy (accompanied by the four other points made above, that is, empathy with truthfulness, fervor, autonomy, and decency) or a closed one.

Contrary to the above given examples of  taboo and Schadenfreude or hybris which are predominantly defensive words the word gönül is a wholesome,  proactive and constructive term which I hope will contribute enormously to coexistence and understanding of cultures.

We naturally are only able to perceive our world in terms of us and them or from the very first cell on in self and non-self. All our senses and perceptions are a sum and extrapolation of a multitude of this input.  Different philosopies have resulted and different cultures. We seem to end up in the need for a balance as yin and  yang, love and hate  are realities and specialisiation and adoring or glorifiying or studying one does not make the other become less of a reality. Neither does  despising or ignoring  any one of the components. The duality of body and soul is another result of our basic capability of perception. The word gönül simply a word which transcends the so called  duality of mind  and soul but also that of body and soul.

Urla  Sept 11.  2008 Dr. M.Tolon

Thanks to all who have contibuted from gönül to this article esp. to Nadine Kemp, Jutta Tolon, Günseli Aksoy. Further reading  : pls see Prof Inam’s webpage and his various books and work:  http://www.metu.edu.tr/~www41/ahmet-inam/tez.htm

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