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Idea
(849 words)

[German Version]

Idea, in Greek ἰδέα/idéa or εἶδος/eídos, “form”; in pre-philosophical usage this means particularly the form of a human being (e.g. Plato Prot. 315e; Hom. Il. III 39; V 787; X 316). This also explains philosophical usage: since it is by their form that people are recognized, the idea can be generally that which makes something understandable. To perceive something that makes it what it is means the same as to perceive its idea. Plato uses this expression very early, using “idea” to distinguish between understanding an object and the object's actual existence. Thus Socrate…

Cite this page
Figal, Günter, “Idea”, in: Religion Past and Present. Consulted online on 16 October 2019 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/1877-5888_rpp_SIM_10261>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004146662, 2006-2013



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