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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…

Adiaphora

(1,901 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] I. Philosophy – II. Theology – III. Social Ethics The expression (Gk ἀδιάφορα semantic equivalents: intermediates, Gk μέση, mesē-, that which is permitted) designates phenomena of human life that are neither positive (good, bonum) nor negative (evil, malum) in the ethical realm (i.e. with regard to the attainment of human destiny). In the strict sense, then, adiaphora occur only in ethical systems whose guiding understanding of humani…

Middle Axiom

(89 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] At the first plenary assembly of the World Council of Churches (Amsterdam, 1948), J.H. Oldham put forward the concept of a “responsible society” as a concrete goal to guide the churches' socioethical involvement in response to the social conditions of the day. He called this the “middle axiom.” The expression became common currency, in the sense of a “medium-range (socioethical) maxim: (II).” Eilert Herms Bibliography J.H. Oldham, “A Responsible Society,” in: The Church and the Disorder of Scoiety, publ. World Council of Churches, 1948, 120–154.

Institution

(1,609 words)

Author(s): Kehrer, Günter | Berger, Wilhelm | Heintel, Peter | Herms, Eilert
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. Social Sciences – III. Theology I. Religious Studies If an institution is understood as a set of norms that regulate action in a precise manner, then, from the perspective of religious studies, a differentiation can be made between institutions that regulate religious action and normative standards that regulate non-religious action but are religiously justified. However, it always needs to be taken into consideration that this distinction is made by the external …

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…

Person

(5,668 words)

Author(s): Cancik, Hubert | Schütt, Hans-Peter | Grube, Andreas | Herms, Eilert | Schmidt, Heinz
[German Version] I. Concept 1. The origin of the Latin word persona (“mask, role, status”) is unknown; it may be Etruscan. The philologist Gavius Bassus (1st cent. bce) traced the “origin” of the word to the function of the ancient theater mask, namely that of a megaphone which concentrated the voice and caused it to “sound through” ( per-sonare; cf. Gellius, Noctes Atticae V 7) in a more sonorous way. The corresponding Greek word is πρόσωπον/ prósōpon, “face, mask, front.” The word “persona” is employed in grammar, rhetoric, jurisprudence, and philosophy. What the mode…

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 …

Creation, Order of

(1,032 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] I. Dogmatics – II. Ethics I. Dogmatics The revelation (V) of Christ discloses to faith that the meaning and truth of Jesus' life for human life in the present is creation in the process of realizing its goal, the consummation of God's kingdom. At the same time, it discloses the mystery of Jesus' person as the incarnate Logos of the Creator and thus the true nature of his work, grounded in the Creator's eternal will for ¶ communion, reconciliation, and consummation (Dogmatics: II): the work of creation that provides human life in the present. Its purpose …

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…

Norms

(2,005 words)

Author(s): Michaels, Axel | Alexy, Robert | Herms, Eilert
[German Version] I. Religious Studies Social norms are the interiorized but controlled rules of conduct of a social group. They include rules and standards for decency and mores, that is, for religious, moral, and right behavior. Unlike ideals or values, norms are mostly specific and concrete. There are various theories of the meaning of norms; most widely accepted is the thesis that norms serve the development of social controls and group solidarity or cultural identity. Validity is generally claimed for religious and moral norms by appeal to a religious authority (go…

Social History

(4,845 words)

Author(s): Kaiser, Jochen-Christoph | Schaper, Joachim | Hezser, Catherine | Leutzsch, Martin | Herrmann, Ulrich | Et al.
[German Version] I. Terminology and Theory In its scientific exploration of the past, all historiography aims at a synthesis in the sense of a valid overview of what has gone before. At best, however, the quest can succeed only paradigmatically and typically, because any reconstruction of an histoire totale is doomed to failure. Nevertheless historiography cannot abandon the ven-¶ ture of viewing history (History/Concepts of history) as a whole, because otherwise the incalculable mass of detail would rule out any interpretation of historical processes. …

Goods

(1,473 words)

Author(s): Himmelmann, Beatrix | Slenczka, Notger | Herms, Eilert
[German Version] I. Philosophy – II. Dogmatics – III. Ethics I. Philosophy A good is something we actively pursue for ourselves (Action: I). Obviously there are different kinds of goods that we pursue: prosperity, health, development of our talents, friendship, professional success, the joy of love, long life, etc. Classically (Plato, Laws 697b, 743e) ¶ goods can be divided into three classes: external goods, goods of the body, such as health, and goods of the soul, such as friendship and justice. Our appetite for goods inevitably leads to confli…

Goods, Assessment of

(401 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] The assessment of goods or benefits is often the last step in the formation of ethical judgments, as when the choice of a course of conduct cannot be derived from a general or specific directive for action. It is necessary when one of the available courses of action is not clearly preferable to others, whether because several appear equally preferable, a temporal sequencing of the goods to be achieved by them is impossible, so that other goods (Good) must be abandoned in favor of …

Free Will

(7,479 words)

Author(s): Markschies, Christoph | Loos, Fritz | Herms, Eilert | Fraenkel, Carlos | Nagel, Tilman
[German Version] I. Terminology – II. Law – III. Church History – IV. Philosophy of Religion – V. Dogmatics – VI. Ethics – VII. Judaism – VIII. Islam I. Terminology Classical Antiquity lacked a term for free will, a concept first popularized by Christians in Late Antiquity. Aristotle discussed the problem in the context of asking in what sense actions lie “within us” (ἐϕ᾿ ἡμῖν/ ephʾ hēmín; Arist. Eth. Nic. III 1, 1110a, 1–3). The Stoics called the concept τὸ αὐτεξούσιον/ to autexoúsion (“self-control”; ¶ cf. Chrysippus [ SVF II, 975–990]), translated into Latin as liberum arbitriu…

Love

(8,725 words)

Author(s): Prohl, Inken | Morgen, Michèle | Stock, Konrad | Steinmann, Michael | Herms, Eilert | Et al.
[German Version] I. History of Religion – II. Bible – III. Dogmatics – IV. Philosophy – V. Philosophy of Religion – VI. Ethics – VII. Practical Theology – VIII. Judaism I. History of Religion The concept of love describes a relationship of affection, tenderness, or devotion between human beings and between humans and God (Love of/for God) or the gods. The Old Testament speaks of the love of God for humanity; in Judaism, the commandment of obedience to God is followed by the commandment to love God (Deut 6:5) and one's fe…

Systems Theory

(3,570 words)

Author(s): Pollack, Detlef | Hesse, Heidrun | Herms, Eilert | Dinkel, Christoph | Evers, Dirk
[German Version] I. Religious Studies Systems theory considers religion one social system alongside others, like the economy, law (Law and Jurisprudence), politics, and education and analyzes it in terms of the function it discharges. The evolutionary approach of systems theory assumes that in primordial local communities the function of religion was nonspecific and was fulfilled in combination with other functions – military, economic, and familial. The transition to modern societies witnessed a dif…

Natural Law

(5,543 words)

Author(s): Zenkert, Georg | Herms, Eilert | Hock, Klaus | Link, Christoph
[German Version] I. Philosophy Natural law is the essence of the legal norms that claim to be binding on all human beings, independent of positive laws and conventions. The term goes back to the distinction between nature( phýsis) and law ( nómos; Law/Natural law), put forward by the Sophists of the 5th century bce in order to challenge the traditional positive laws. According to Antiphon, the precepts of such laws are arbitrary, whereas the precepts of nature, which articulate individual benefit, are necessary (DK, frgm. B 44). Plato presents a v…

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…
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