Essence

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In philosophy, essence is the property or set of properties that make an entity or substance what it fundamentally is, and which it has by necessity, and without which it loses its identity. Essence is contrasted with accident: a property that the entity or substance has contingently, without which the substance can still retain its identity. The concept originates rigorously with Aristotle (although it can also be found in Plato) [1] , who used the Greek expression to ti ên einai (τὸ τί ἦν εἶναι, [2] literally meaning "the what it was to be" and corresponding to the scholastic term quiddity) or sometimes the shorter phrase to ti esti (τὸ τί ἐστι, [3] literally meaning "the what it is" and corresponding to the scholastic term haecceity) for the same idea. This phrase presented such difficulties for its Latin translators that they coined the word essentia (English "essence") to represent the whole expression. For Aristotle and his scholastic followers, the notion of essence is closely linked to that of definition (ὁρισμός horismos ). [4]

Philosophy intellectual and/or logical study of general and fundamental problems

Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental questions about existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. The term was probably coined by Pythagoras. Philosophical methods include questioning, critical discussion, rational argument, and systematic presentation. Classic philosophical questions include: Is it possible to know anything and to prove it? What is most real? Philosophers also pose more practical and concrete questions such as: Is there a best way to live? Is it better to be just or unjust? Do humans have free will?

Substance theory, or substance–attribute theory, is an ontological theory about objecthood positing that a substance is distinct from its properties. A thing-in-itself is a property-bearer that must be distinguished from the properties it bears.

In philosophy, metaphysical necessity, sometimes called broad logical necessity, is one of many different kinds of necessity, which sits between logical necessity and nomological necessity, in the sense that logical necessity entails metaphysical necessity, but not vice versa, and metaphysical necessity entails physical necessity, but not vice versa. A proposition is said to be necessary if it could not have failed to be the case. Nomological necessity is necessity according to the laws of physics and logical necessity is necessity according to the laws of logic, while metaphysical necessities are necessary in the sense that the world could not possibly have been otherwise. What facts are metaphysically necessary, and on what basis we might view certain facts as metaphysically but not logically necessary are subjects of substantial discussion in contemporary philosophy.

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In the history of western thought, essence has often served as a vehicle for doctrines that tend to individuate different forms of existence as well as different identity conditions for objects and properties; in this logical meaning, the concept has given a strong theoretical and common-sense basis to the whole family of logical theories based on the "possible worlds" analogy set up by Leibniz and developed in the intensional logic from Carnap to Kripke, which was later challenged by "extensionalist" philosophers such as Quine.

Rudolf Carnap was a German-language philosopher who was active in Europe before 1935 and in the United States thereafter. He was a major member of the Vienna Circle and an advocate of logical positivism. He is considered "one of the giants among twentieth-century philosophers."

Saul Kripke American philosopher

Saul Aaron Kripke is an American philosopher and logician. He is a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and emeritus professor at Princeton University. Since the 1960s, Kripke has been a central figure in a number of fields related to mathematical logic, philosophy of language, philosophy of mathematics, metaphysics, epistemology, and set theory. Much of his work remains unpublished or exists only as tape recordings and privately circulated manuscripts. Kripke was the recipient of the 2001 Schock Prize in Logic and Philosophy.

Willard Van Orman Quine American philosopher and logician

Willard Van Orman Quine was an American philosopher and logician in the analytic tradition, recognized as "one of the most influential philosophers of the twentieth century." From 1930 until his death 70 years later, Quine was continually affiliated with Harvard University in one way or another, first as a student, then as a professor of philosophy and a teacher of logic and set theory, and finally as a professor emeritus who published or revised several books in retirement. He filled the Edgar Pierce Chair of Philosophy at Harvard from 1956 to 1978. A 2009 poll conducted among analytic philosophers named Quine as the fifth most important philosopher of the past two centuries. He won the first Schock Prize in Logic and Philosophy in 1993 for "his systematical and penetrating discussions of how learning of language and communication are based on socially available evidence and of the consequences of this for theories on knowledge and linguistic meaning." In 1996 he was awarded the Kyoto Prize in Arts and Philosophy for his "outstanding contributions to the progress of philosophy in the 20th century by proposing numerous theories based on keen insights in logic, epistemology, philosophy of science and philosophy of language."

Ontological status

In his dialogues Plato suggests that concrete beings acquire their essence through their relations to "Forms"abstract universals logically or ontologically separate from the objects of sense perception. These Forms are often put forth as the models or paradigms of which sensible things are "copies". When used in this sense, the word form is often capitalized. [5] Sensible bodies are in constant flux and imperfect and hence, by Plato's reckoning, less real than the Forms which are eternal, unchanging and complete. Typical examples of Forms given by Plato are largeness, smallness, equality, unity, goodness, beauty and justice.

Plato Classical Greek philosopher

Plato was an Athenian philosopher during the Classical period in Ancient Greece, founder of the Platonist school of thought, and the Academy, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. He is widely considered the pivotal figure in the history of Ancient Greek and Western philosophy, along with his teacher, Socrates, and his most famous student, Aristotle. Alfred North Whitehead once noted: "the safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato."

Aristotle moves the Forms of Plato to the nucleus of the individual thing, which is called ousia or substance. Essence is the ti of the thing, the to ti en einai . Essence corresponds to the ousia's definition; essence is a real and physical aspect of the ousia (Aristotle, Metaphysics , I).

Aristotle philosopher in ancient Greece

Aristotle was a philosopher during the Classical period in Ancient Greece, the founder of the Lyceum and the Peripatetic school of philosophy and Aristotelian tradition. Along with his teacher Plato, he is considered the "Father of Western Philosophy". His writings cover many subjects – including physics, biology, zoology, metaphysics, logic, ethics, aesthetics, poetry, theatre, music, rhetoric, psychology, linguistics, economics, politics and government. Aristotle provided a complex synthesis of the various philosophies existing prior to him, and it was above all from his teachings that the West inherited its intellectual lexicon, as well as problems and methods of inquiry. As a result, his philosophy has exerted a unique influence on almost every form of knowledge in the West and it continues to be a subject of contemporary philosophical discussion.

Ousia philosophical and theological term, originally used in Ancient Greek philosophy

Ousia is a philosophical and theological term, originally used in Ancient Greek philosophy, and also in Christian theology. It was used by various Ancient Greek philosophers, like Plato and Aristotle, as a primary designation for philosophical concepts of essence or substance. In contemporary philosophy, it is analogous to English concepts of being and ontic. In Christian theology, the concept of θεία ουσία is one of the most important doctrinal concepts, central to the development of trinitarian doctrine.

<i>Metaphysics</i> (Aristotle) work by Aristotle

Metaphysics is one of the principal works of Aristotle and the first major work of the branch of philosophy with the same name. The principal subject is "being qua being," or being insofar as it is being. It examines what can be asserted about any being insofar as it is and not because of any special qualities it has. Also covered are different kinds of causation, form and matter, the existence of mathematical objects, and a prime-mover God.

According to nominalists (Roscelin of Compiègne, William of Ockham, Bernard of Chartres), universals aren't concrete entities, just voice's sounds; there are only individuals: "nam cum habeat eorum sententia nihil esse praeter individuum [...]" (Roscelin, De gener. et spec., 524). Universals are words that can to call several individuals; for example the word "homo". Therefore, a universal is reduced to a sound's emission (Roscelin, De generibus et speciebus).

William of Ockham English medieval Franciscan friar and scholastic philosopher and theologian

William of Ockham was an English Franciscan friar and scholastic philosopher and theologian, who is believed to have been born in Ockham, a small village in Surrey. He is considered to be one of the major figures of medieval thought and was at the centre of the major intellectual and political controversies of the 14th century. He is commonly known for Occam's razor, the methodological principle that bears his name, and also produced significant works on logic, physics, and theology. In the Church of England, his day of commemoration is 10 April.

Bernard of Chartres was a twelfth-century French Neo-Platonist philosopher, scholar, and administrator.

John Locke distinguished between "real essences" and "nominal essences". Real essences are the thing(s) that makes a thing a thing, whereas nominal essences are our conception of what makes a thing a thing. [6]

John Locke English philosopher and physician

John Locke was an English philosopher and physician, widely regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers and commonly known as the "Father of Liberalism". Considered one of the first of the British empiricists, following the tradition of Sir Francis Bacon, he is equally important to social contract theory. His work greatly affected the development of epistemology and political philosophy. His writings influenced Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, many Scottish Enlightenment thinkers, as well as the American revolutionaries. His contributions to classical republicanism and liberal theory are reflected in the United States Declaration of Independence.

According to Edmund Husserl essence is ideal. However, ideal means that essence is an intentional object of consciousness. Essence is interpreted as sense (E. Husserl, Ideas pertaining to a pure phenomenology and to a phenomenological philosophy, paragraphs 3 and 4).

Existentialism

Existentialism was coined by Jean-Paul Sartre's endorsement of Martin Heidegger's statement that for human beings "existence precedes essence." In as much as "essence" is a cornerstone of all metaphysical philosophy and of Rationalism, Sartre's statement was a repudiation of the philosophical system that had come before him (and, in particular, that of Husserl, Hegel, and Heidegger). Instead of "is-ness" generating "actuality," he argued that existence and actuality come first, and the essence is derived afterward. For Kierkegaard, it is the individual person who is the supreme moral entity, and the personal, subjective aspects of human life that are the most important; also, for Kierkegaard all of this had religious implications. [7]

In metaphysics

"Essence," in metaphysics, is often synonymous with the soul, and some existentialists argue that individuals gain their souls and spirits after they exist, that they develop their souls and spirits during their lifetimes. For Kierkegaard, however, the emphasis was upon essence as "nature." For him, there is no such thing as "human nature" that determines how a human will behave or what a human will be. First, he or she exists, and then comes property. Jean-Paul Sartre's more materialist and skeptical existentialism furthered this existentialist tenet by flatly refuting any metaphysical essence, any soul, and arguing instead that there is merely existence, with attributes as essence.

Thus, in existentialist discourse, essence can refer to physical aspect or property to the ongoing being of a person (the character or internally determined goals), or to the infinite inbound within the human (which can be lost, can atrophy, or can be developed into an equal part with the finite), depending upon the type of existentialist discourse.

Marxism's essentialism

Karl Marx was a follower of Hegel's thought, and he, too, developed a philosophy in reaction to his master. In his early work, Marx used Aristotelian style teleology and derived a concept of humanity's essential nature. Marx's Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 describe a theory of alienation based on human existence being completely different from human essence. Marx said human nature was social, and that humanity had the distinct essence of free activity and conscious thought.[ citation needed ]

Some scholars, such as Philip Kain, have argued that Marx abandoned the idea of a human essence, but many other scholars point to Marx's continued discussion of these ideas despite the decline of terms such as essence and alienation in his later work.

Buddhism

Within the Madhyamaka school of Mahayana Buddhism, Candrakirti identifies the self as:

an essence of things that does not depend on others; it is an intrinsic nature. The non-existence of that is selflessness.

Bodhisattvayogacaryācatuḥśatakaṭikā 256.1.7 [8]

Buddhapālita adds, while commenting on Nagārjuna's Mūlamadhyamakakārikā,

What is the reality of things just as it is? It is the absence of essence. Unskilled persons whose eye of intelligence is obscured by the darkness of delusion conceive of an essence of things and then generate attachment and hostility with regard to them.

Buddhapālita-mula-madhyamaka-vrtti, P5242, 73.5.6-74.1.2 [8]

For the Madhyamaka Buddhists, 'Emptiness' (also known as Anatta or Anatman) is the strong assertion that all phenomena are empty of any essence, and that anti-essentialism lies at the root of Buddhist praxis and it is the innate belief in essence that is considered to be an afflictive obscuration which serves as the root of all suffering. However, the Madhyamaka also rejects the tenets of Idealism, Materialism or Nihilism; instead, the ideas of truth or existence, along with any assertions that depend upon them are limited to their function within the contexts and conventions that assert them, possibly somewhat akin to Relativism or Pragmatism. For the Madhyamaka, replacement paradoxes such as Ship of Theseus are answered by stating that the Ship of Theseus remains so (within the conventions that assert it) until it ceases to function as the Ship of Theseus.

In Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamakakarika Chapter XV examines essence itself.

Hinduism

In understanding any individual personality, a distinction is made between one's Swadharma (essence) and Swabhava (mental habits and conditionings of ego personality). Svabhava is the nature of a person, which is a result of his or her samskaras (impressions created in the mind due to one's interaction with the external world). These samskaras create habits and mental models and those become our nature. While there is another kind of svabhava that is a pure internal quality — smarana — we are here focusing only on the svabhava that was created due to samskaras (because to discover the pure, internal svabhava and smarana, one should become aware of one's samskaras and take control over them). Dharma is derived from the root dhr "to hold." It is that which holds an entity together. That is, Dharma is that which gives integrity to an entity and holds the core quality and identity (essence), form and function of that entity. Dharma is also defined as righteousness and duty. To do one's dharma is to be righteous, to do one's dharma is to do one's duty (express one's essence). [9]

See also

Notes and references

  1. "The Internet Classics Archive | Euthyphro by Plato". classics.mit.edu. Retrieved 2018-06-12.
  2. Aristotle, Metaphysics , 1029b
  3. Aristotle, Metaphysics, 1030a
  4. S. Marc Cohen, "Aristotle's Metaphysics", Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, accessed 20 April 2008.
  5. "Chapter 28: Form" of The Great Ideas: A Synopticon of Great Books of the Western World (Vol. II). Encyclopædia Britannica (1952), p. 526-542. This source states that Form or Idea get capitalized according to this convention when they refer "to that which is separate from the characteristics of material things and from the ideas in our mind."
  6. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/real-essence/
  7. The Story of Philosophy, Bryan Magee, Dorling Kindersley Lond. 1998, ISBN   0-7513-0590-1
  8. 1 2 Translations from "The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path of Enlightenment", Vol. 3 by Tsong-Kha-Pa, Snow Lion Publications ISBN   1-55939-166-9
  9. Prasadkaipa.com

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