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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…

Politics

(7,247 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert | Hutter, Manfred | Schieder, Rolf | Thiemann, Ronald | Badry, Roswitha | Et al.
[German Version] I. Social Sciences Since its Greek origins, politics has meant (a) an action with a specific object, aiming to achieve the best way for all the inhabitants of the ancient city-state ( pólis) to live together and hence achieve the common good of the ¶ community ( koinón), and (b) the theory of this action (Sellin; see also Political science). Given that we no longer live in small urban societies but in large, open, and functionally complex societies (Society), politics includes – but cannot be limited to – the system of state g…

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 …

Brandström, Elsa

(93 words)

Author(s): Herms Eilert
[German Version] (Mar 26, 1888, daughter of the Swedish ambassador in St. Petersburg – Mar 4, 1948, Cambridge, MA) served in Siberia during World War I as a Red Cross delegate for German and Austrian prisoners of war. She worked there during the typhoid epidemic, organizing help efforts. After the war she founded sanatoria for former prisoners of war (Marienborn, Schreibermühle) and a home for war orphans (Neusorge/Mittweida) with American aid. Eilert Herms Bibliography E. Brandström, Unter Kriegsgefangenen in Rußland und Sibirien, 1921 E. Juhl et al., Elsa Brandström, 1962.

Will

(3,711 words)

Author(s): Markschies, Christoph | Loos, Fritz | Herms, Eilert | Hühn, Lore
[German Version] I. History of the Term The development and spread of the term will go hand in hand with the history of Christian theology. Classical Greek had no single, distinct term like will denoting an independent mental faculty. The voluntative dimension was contained in the terms used for rational deliberation, decision-making, willingness, and non-rational desire. For Aristotleβουλή/ boulḗ is conation (Striving) that ensues after deliberation and hence is guided by reason based on knowledge ( De anima III 10, 433a ¶ 20–23). In the Bible, especially in Paul, the phenom…

Intuition

(740 words)

Author(s): Enskat, Rainer | Herms, Eilert
[German Version] I. Philosophy – II. Systematic Theology I. Philosophy Intuition is a term used in epistemology and refers to a special, successful cognitive act. Accordingly, and following the typology of G. Ryle, “intuition” is thus a (cognitive) success word, but it also designates a special cognitive faculty. In many contexts, a performative quality is reserved for the intuitive act, as expressed by the characteristic feature that was probably first noted in Epicurean circles: its instantaneousness (ἀϑρόα/ athróa). Inasmuch as this instantaneousness is understood i…

Creation

(11,110 words)

Author(s): Friedli, Richard | Janowski, Bernd | Herrmann, Klaus | Wischmeyer, Oda | Gunton, Colin E. | Et al.
[German Version] I. History of Religion – II. Old Testament – III. Judaism – IV. New Testament – V. History of Theology – VI. Creation and Preservation – VII. Religious Education – VIII. Islam – IX. Science – X. Art History I. History of Religion 1. Fundamentals Life, nature, the environment, the passage of time – these are everyday experiences for any society. But reality also includes the danger that this world may be imperiled or perilous. Chaos and death are part …

Geismar, Eduard

(204 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] (Feb 12, 1871, Randers, Denmark – May 14, 1939, Copenhagen) served as a pastor in Copenhagen from 1899 until 1921, when he became professor of systematic theology. Sensitized by the Student Christian Movement and the Church's Urban Office for Social and Political Questions, he took an active part in founding Danmarks Retsforbund (Justice Party/Single-Tax Party), a party backing social reform. Influenced by S. Kierkegaard, he espoused an ethics of the individual conscience bound by…

Teleology

(3,738 words)

Author(s): Evers, Dirk | Hewlett, Martinez J. | Angehrn, Emil | Herms, Eilert
[German Version] I. The Concept The word teleologia was a neologism coined in 1728 by C. Wolff ( Philosophia rationalis sive logica, 1728, §85) to denote the domain of natural philosophy that explains things on the basis of their end (Gk τέλος/ télos, “end, goal”; Ends and means); it was soon borrowed by other languages. In substance, however, the concept had an extensive prehistory. In the work of Aristotle, examination of phenomena on the basis of their “for-the-sake-of-which” (οὗ ἕνεκα/ hoú héneka) was one of the four forms of causality, which the Latin Middle Ages called causa finalis: …

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…

Human Dignity

(1,961 words)

Author(s): Cancik, Hubert | Herms, Eilert
[German Version] I. Historical Background – II. Theology I. Historical Background 1. Important terminology of modern legal culture was formed in antiquity: natural law , freedom , equality , justice , etc. Some terms, however, appeared in a different context in antiquity, or were less central and widespread than in the modern period. This is true of human rights ( ius humanum), freedom of religion ( libertas religionis), person ( persona; self), as well as human dignity ( dignitas hominis; dignity, dignity of life). The latter expression first appears in Cicero ( De officiis I 30.106;…

Dogmatics

(10,340 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert | Lange, Dietz
[German Version] I. History – II. Systematics – III. Glaubenslehre (Doctrine of the Faith) I. History The term “dogmatics,” first used in the 17th century, refers to one of the oldest branches of theological endeavor: a coherent account of the content of the Christian proclamation, which in turn takes its orientation from the standard (“canonical”) paradigms of confession and proclamation. Other terms – “An exact exposition of the orthodox faith” (John of Damascus), “Sentences” (Peter Lombard), Summa Theologiae (Thomas Aquinas), Institutes of the Christian Religion (Calvin), L…

Media

(1,138 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert | Grethlein, Christian
[German Version] I. Concept and Scope – II. Practical Theology I. Concept and Scope In its broad sense, the term media denotes all the material conditions that enable coexisting individuals (individual persons and social systems) to be effectively present to each other and to respond effectively. Media in this broad sense are the material conditions for intersubjectivity. Even archaic, undifferentiated societies are characterized by a – likewise undifferentiated – complex of media. Social differentiation leads to…

Ethos

(716 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] The word ethos combines the meanings of Gk ἔϑος/ éthos (“custom”) and ἦϑος/ ḗthos (“natural stopping place, what is usual there, inner nature, character”); it always denotes a specific way in which individual living creatures deal regularly with others of their species and the challenges of their environment. The authority of the rules governing this behavior is somehow fixed in the internal milieu …

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…

Dignity

(409 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] renders the Latin dignitas and, like it, refers to a relationship, the unity of the being of “a” for “b” and the determination of “b” by “a,” that is: the being of the one who has dignity for his addressee and, at the same time, the latter's being as determined by the being of the one who has dignity for him. Three elements of this relationsh…

Self-assertion

(415 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] Self-assertion can involve (1) individuals and (2) groups. 1. Self-assertion of an individual person is his or her effort to maintain the constitution he has achieved in the course of his personal formation as a self, guided and motivated a particular self-image, endowed with certain faculties of experience, processing of experience, and action, against demands for change made in the course of his development from the dimension of his relationship to the environment, his self, and the wor…

Interim Ethics

(403 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] If there are objective or subjective reasons to regard a life-orienting certainty concerning the nature (essence), origin and destiny of the world and humanity and the rules of action derived from it as valid for only a limited time, one speaks of an interim ¶ ethics. More properly, it should be referred to as an interim ethos or an interim morality. Examples include (a) the ethos of Jesus and (b) the “provisional morality” of R. Descartes ( Discours de la méthode, 1637; ET: Discourse on Method, 1960). a. A. Schweitzer first described Jesus' ethos as an “interim eth…

Certainty

(3,343 words)

Author(s): Künne, Wolfgang | Herms, Eilert
[German Version] I. Philosophy – II. Fundamental Theology – III. Dogmatics – IV. Ethics I. Philosophy Certainty may be either objective or subjective (Goclenius: certitudo rei cognitae or certitudo hominis cognoscentis). Objective certainty is expressed by “It is certain that p,” subjective certainty by “The epistemic subject S is certain that p.” Objective and subjective certainty are logically independent: one can be certain that p although it is not certain that p; and it can be certain th…

Morals

(937 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] The term “morals” designates all aspects of a rule-complying and thus relatively stabilized form of interaction that is founded on motivating and guiding certainties (or convictions) and, accordingly, on affective pursuits and interests with the fundamental decisions resulting therefrom. As such, it is equivalent to “ethos” (though emphasis on the individual may be stronger than in the social focus of “ethos”); there is a corresponding equivalence between “moral philosophy” and “e…
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