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Understanding

(1,637 words)

Author(s): Figal, Günter | Herms, Eilert
[German Version] I. Philosophy It was not until the modern period that the concept of understanding became philosophically important. It gained currency by denoting the special kind of of knowledge in the humanities (Epistemology). What is understood is “historical material” (J.G. Droysen, ¶ Grundriss der Historik, 1868, §9; ET: Outline of the Principles of History, 1967) and any expression of human life. Thus the term “understanding” is used in contrast to explanation, which is used in connection with scientific, explicable nature. W. Dilthey made…

Deeds and Consequences

(2,134 words)

Author(s): Grund, Alexandra | Herms, Eilert
[German Version] I. Bible – II. Systematic Theology I. Bible 1. The deeds-and-consequences link is the idea, found especially in the Old Testament and in ancient Near Eastern wisdom literature, but also in the New Testament, of a correspondence between (good/evil) action and the consequences for the doer. What is controversial is the manner in which deeds and consequences take …

Ideal

(1,690 words)

Author(s): Mirbach, Dagmar | Herms, Eilert
[German Version] I. Philosophy – II. Ethics I. Philosophy The term ideal derives from Lat. idealis, idealiter, first used by Martianus Capella ( ad ideam pertinens); from the 13th century on, it was used in two senses: (1) as existing in the Platonic “idea” or “archetypally” in the divine spirit ( esse exemplariter), and (2) as existing only as a model in the mind ( esse in intellectu). Systematically, the ideal lies between the poles of ideas and empirical reality. The ideal differs from the universality of ideas inasmuch as it individualizes an idea in a sin…

Obligation

(801 words)

Author(s): Brandt, Reinhard | Herms, Eilert
[German Version] I. Dogmatics – II. Ethics I. Dogmatics From a Protestant perspective, obligation (in the sense of binding authority) is assigned only to the Word of God (VI), the self-revealing power of which can lead to deeper insights and to “new Decalogues” (Luther); the latter must be examined by the church as a community with strict reference to the canon. The articles of faith assert binding authority insofar as they are based on Scripture as “the only rule and guiding principle” (BSLK 767, 15), and, at a further remove, insofar as agreement is rea…

Maxim

(511 words)

Author(s): Steinmann, Michael | Herms, Eilert
[German Version] I. Philosophy – II. Ethics I. Philosophy The term originated in the expression propositio maxima, the designation of the major premise in a syllogism. It can denote an axiom or a practical principle. It attained relevance in I. Kant's moral philosophy. Kant describes any subjective motivation to initiate an action as a maxim, in contrast to the objectively valid, general law (Law and legislation). The categorical imperative requires that only those maxims be allowed which can also count as laws ( Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten, Akademieausgabe, vol. IV, 4…

Reproductive Science

(1,215 words)

Author(s): Schwinger, Eberhard | Herms, Eilert
[German Version] I. Medicine Reproductive medicine encompasses research into female and male sterility and its treatment. The importance of reproductive medicine has greatly increased in recent years owing to the introduction of new diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. It has long been known that various morphological changes (e.g. malformations of the uterus, occlusions of the Fallopian tubes and seminal ducts) lead to male and female sterility. One possible therapy is attempted correction of the…

Reason

(3,956 words)

Author(s): Neijenhuis, Jörg | Herms, Eilert
[German Version] I. Philosophy Traditional epistemology considers reason primarily to be a discursive faculty (Gk διάνοια/ diánoia; λόγος/¶ lógos; Lat. ratio), in part to distinguish it from intellect as an intuitive faculty (Capacity). This distinction also implies a ranking: the discursive faculty either proceeds syllogistically as “demonstration” (ἀπόδειξις/ apódeixis) based on ultimate principles that cannot themselves be deduced by reasoning (Arist. Eth. Nic. 1139b) or else leads to them, roughly in the sense of movement from the presuppositions made…

Intention/Intentionality

(1,594 words)

Author(s): Gander, Hans-Helmuth | Herms, Eilert
[German Version] I. Philosophy – II. Ethics I. Philosophy In the context of action theory, intention/ intentionality (from Lat. intentio) usually denotes an aim or purpose. Intentionality is understood both in the sense of the will that initiates actions and in the sense of the motive or motivation that guides both volition and action. In other philosophical contexts, the prevailing understanding of intentionality goes back to the turn of the 20th century in the work of E. Husserl, who drew in turn on his teacher F. Brentano. In his major work Psychologie vom empirischen Standpunkt, vo…

Evolution, Law of

(1,993 words)

Author(s): Kubon-Gilke, Gisela | Herms, Eilert
[German Version] I. History of Science – II. Dogmatics – III. Ethics I. History of Science A fundamentally new understanding of human beings and nature from the end of the 16th century prepared the way for evolutionary thinking. In the new paradigm, which is regarded as one of the greatest scientific revolutions, a world without a final cause and which developed and changed ad infinitum was presumed. Since C.R. Darwin, the mechanism of evolution has been described as variation and natural selecti…

Democracy

(2,082 words)

Author(s): Letto-Vanamo, Pia | Herms, Eilert
[German Version] I. Concept and History – II. State and Governmental Forms – III. Presuppositions for Democracy. – IV. Democracy as a Universal Ideal of Life in Society – V. Democracy from a Christian Perspective. I. Concept and History “Democracy” designates a particular mode of legitimate political dominion. The literal translation of Gk δημοκρατία/ dēmokratía is “power/dominion of the people.” The prototype is ancient Greece, especially Athens. Aristotle understood democracy as a …

Voluntarism

(950 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert | Schröder-Field, Caroline
[German Version] I. Philosophy of Religion Voluntarism is a descriptive category in the history of ideas and society that came into use in Germany in the 1880s (first by F. Tönnies, VWPh 7, 1883, 169), and from there spread to the French- and English-speaking worldareas. The term can be applied to very different historical phenomena: to the behavior of individuals or groups, metaphysical views, and psychological models (Psychology). In politics it denotes procedures, attitudes, plans and programs that, regardless of current c…

Behaviorism

(1,343 words)

Author(s): Loder, James E. | Herms, Eilert
[German Version] I. Concept – II. Practical Theology – III. Ethics I. Concept Behaviorism has tried, like its historical antecedents, to explain human nature on the model of the animal or the machine. In 1913, John-Broadus Watson (1878–1958) established behaviorism as a modern research trend in psychology. Following Darwinist evolution theory, behaviorism argues that we can understand and control a…

Achievement

(1,279 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert | Nipkow, Karl E.
[German Version] I. Ethics – II. Education – III. Practical Theology I. Ethics With regard to processes in general, “achievement” refers to their efficacy. Ethics, however, speaks of achievement only with regard to actions (Action) – and not actions in general, but only actions that are ethically justified. This is possible only when two conditions are met. First: It must be possible …

Coherence

(1,778 words)

Author(s): Grube, Dirk-M. | Herms, Eilert
[German Version] I. Philosophy of Religion – II. Fundamental Theology – III. Ethics I. Philosophy of Religion Coherence is essentially a syntactic relation that exists between various propositions, but not between propositions and reality. This relation is typically defined as an absence of contradictions between various propositions. More appropriate, however, is another definition of coherence as the logically and conceptually consistent integrability of certain propositions into a more comprehensive system of propositions. In a coherence theory of truth, truth is u…

Order

(2,247 words)

Author(s): Kather, Regine | Sieckmann, Jan-R. | Herms, Eilert
[German Version] I. Philosophy – II. Law – III. Dogmatics – IV. Ethics I. Philosophy The concept of order (Gk τάξις/ táxis, κόσμος/ kosmos; Lat. ordo) is employed in natural philosophy, epistemology, and cultural anthropology. It refers to an arrangement of elements that stand in a particular relationship to one other and form the structure of a larger whole. The concept of order is particularly fundamental to cosmology: for Hesiod, the genesis of the cosmos takes place within “theogony,” and for Plato ( Tim.) through the transition from an undifferentiated primal state to a w…

Infallibility

(2,805 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert | Baumann, Urs | Hünermann, Peter
[German Version] I. Fundamental Theology – II. Dogmatics and History of Doctrine – III. Ethics – IV. Catholic Understanding I. Fundamental Theology Infallibility, understood as unswerving inerrancy or being held unshakably in the truth, is a theme of both Reformation and Roman Catholic theology. Both traditions of Western theology affirm the NT statement that the Holy Spirit will guide the faithful and the community of believers into all truth (John 14:16; 16:13) and that the church is therefore “the pillar and bulwark of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15). 1. Reformation theology sees he…

Elite

(1,367 words)

Author(s): Münch, Richard | Jödicke, Ansgar | Herms, Eilert
[German Version] I. Sociology – II. Comparative Study of Religions – III. Ethics I. Sociology “Elite” – from Lat. eligere “to elect” – designates a select group of persons who stand out from the crowd by virtue of distinctive features such as consanguinity, age (Old age), power, wealth, knowledge, technical, organizational or artistic skills (Competence), …

Power

(2,465 words)

Author(s): Zenkert, Georg | Herms, Eilert | Seiferlein, Alfred
[German Version] I. Philosophy In philosophical usage, the term power is perhaps more protean than any other. Its spectrum of meanings extends from subtle influence to threat backed by naked violence; it therefore encompasses such diverse phenomena as intellectual and spiritual power, the modern media, the economy, technology, political institutions, and military might. These attributions are arbitrary until the ¶ term is defined more precisely. Power is defined too broadly as possession of technical or technological tools and the ability to employ them…

State and Religion

(2,721 words)

Author(s): Besier, Gerhard | Herms, Eilert | Kleine, Christoph
[German Version] I. The Problem In Western societies, the relationship between the state and religion is determined less by religion’s constitutional status – freedom of religion is a fundamental constitutional right everywhere – than by historical tradition. Where the major confessional bodies were (or still are) state churches, there is still a hierarchy of religions. Without regard to actual religious life, the state gives traditional religions a special status, materially and ideally. In the publ…

System

(1,872 words)

Author(s): Angehrn, Emil | Danz, Christian | Herms, Eilert
[German Version] I. Philosophy A system (from Gk σύστημα/ sýstēma, “combination”) is a structured entity made up of parts; the term can refer to all reality as well as to science and philosophy themselves. In an objective sense, the idea of an ordered arrangement was used in various domains in antiquity – the cosmos (World: II), organisms, medicine, music,ethics, politics. In a methodological sense, the term is important in the history of modern philosophy, dominated in particular by two central themes: …
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