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(2,620 words)

Author(s): Zenkert, Georg
[German Version] I. Concept – II. History and Theoretical Development – III. Current Situation and Evaluation I. Concept Ever since its first appearance, the concept of Marxism has stood less for a fixed teaching than for a movement within the various socialist groupings. It is accordingly characterized by a primarily polemical meaning that was decisively shaped by Mikhail Aleksandrovich Bakunin during the controversies surrounding the First International. Initially, however, the term “Marxists” was only used …

Natural Condition

(553 words)

Author(s): Zenkert, Georg | Lohmann, Friedrich
[German Version] I. Philosophy The natural condition is to be understood as a state of pre-political individual freedom (V). The concept has its roots in ancient philosophy, but only comes to play a prominent role in the context of modern political thought, in the interpretation of the normative foundations of society and the state. The category serves, particularly in connection with natural law, as a means of extrapolating from concrete social conditions and of obtaining a basis for the evaluation…


(15,718 words)

Author(s): Grethlein, Christian | Zenkert, Georg | Harich-Schwarzbauer, Henriette | Fox, Michael V. | Klauck, Hans-Josef | Et al.
[German Version] I. Concept – II. Philosophy – III. Greco-Roman Antiquity – IV. Bible – V. Church History – VI. Ethics – VII. Practical Theology and Pedagogy – VIII. Judaism – IX. Islam I. Concept Traditionally, “education” has denoted the intentional interaction of adults with the younger generation in order-usually-to influence them positively; whether it makes sense to speak of education when negative goals are deliberately pursued is …

Comte, Auguste

(434 words)

Author(s): Zenkert, Georg
[German Version] (Isidore Auguste Marie François Xavier; Jan 19, 1798, Montpellier – Jul 5, 1857, Paris), French philosopher and sociologist who acted as secretary to C.H. de Saint-Simon and as an examination coach in Paris, and who became known primarily through his public lectures. Comte is the founder of modern sociology, which owes him both its name and its systematic definition, and is considered one of the leading representatives of positivism along …


(4,291 words)

Author(s): Langewiesche, Dieter | Graf, Friedrich Wilhelm | Zenkert, Georg | Gräb, Wilhelm
[German Version] I. History – II. Philosophy – III. Social Sciences and Ethics – IV. Religion I. History 1. General Since the 18th century, European liberalism has fought for a civil society, demanding three kinds of civil rights: (1) equality before the law, guaranteed by the rule of law; (2) equal opportunity for political participation, made possible by the right to vote and free access to the public arena; (3) provision of basic social opportunities. Legal equality was the first of these demands put forward…

Burke, Edmund

(131 words)

Author(s): Zenkert, Georg
[German Version] (Jan 1, 1729, Dublin – Jul 9, 1797, Beaconsfield), British politician and publisher, who with effective rhetoric defended the interests of the American colonies. Burke came to prominence as the author of an empiricist-sensualist aesthetics ( A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, 1757). With his Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790) he became a leading critic of the French Revolution and the founder of European conservatism. Burke …


(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…


(1,829 words)

Author(s): Zenkert, Georg | Graf, Friedrich Wilhelm
[German Version] I. Philosophy The term first appears in controversies about Italian Fascism, but in theoretical discussions it is also applied to Bolshevism (Communism) (see II below). When the National Socialists (National Socialism) seized power it became a central theme of political theory. The term became popular because the traditional categories of tyranny and despotism were inadequate to define the rising political deformations of the 20th century. Whereas political science attempted to defi…

Marx, Karl

(605 words)

Author(s): Zenkert, Georg
[German Version] (May 5, 1818, Trier – Mar 14, 1883, London), socialist theoretician, co-founder with F. Engels of historical materialism (see also Marxism). In his philosophical thinking Marx was particularly indebted to G.W.F. Hegel and the left-wing Hegelians, from whom, however, he soon distanced himself. Marx found his own perspective above all by thorough investigation of L. Feuerbach's criticism of religion. Against Hegel's interpretation of the Christian religion, Feuerbach held that human…


(1,490 words)

Author(s): Zenkert, Georg | Sparn, Walter | Stock, Konrad | Dober, Hans Martin
[German Version] I. Philosophy - II. Dogmatics - III. Ethics - IV. Practical Theology I. Philosophy The term “alienation,” made particularly prominent through the influence of Marxist literature, takes its philosophical sense from the work of G.W.F. Hegel. Etymologically, it derives from Lat. alienatio and Gk. ἀλλοτρίωσις/ allotriōsis. Besides “estrangement” in general, it can also denote a legal transfer of title (Aristotle, Rhet. 1361 a 22). The term occurs in various contexts in Christian theology, denoting both …

Optimism and Pessimism

(1,311 words)

Author(s): Gilhus, Ingvild Sœlid | Zenkert, Georg
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. Philosophy I. Religious Studies Optimism (from Lat. optimus, “best”) and pessimism (from Lat. pessimum, “worst”) are used in the history of religions to characterize attitudes towards the world and this life. Some religions (e.g. Judaism) are described as having an optimistic view of life, while others have been characterized as pessimistic, as for instance religions which originated in India in the 7th to 5th centuries bce: Upanishadic religions (Upanisạds), Jainism, and Buddhism. Also Neoplatonism and Gnostic varieties …


(5,784 words)

Author(s): Zenkert, Georg | Preul, Reiner | Schweitzer, Friedrich | Leschinsky, Achim
[German Version] I. Terminology – II. History – III. Philosophy – IV. Philosophy of Religion, Dogmatics, Ethics – V. Practical Theology and Education – VI. Social History I. Terminology This article deals with formative education, corresponding to the German term Bildung (cf. Fr. formation). (The related article education deals with the subject area of Erziehung, covering education and training. Bildung or formation may be considered more general, with cultural overtones, while Erziehung places more emphasis on schooling.) ¶ Even in its earliest form, OHG bildunga (“creat…

Montesquieu, Charles-Louis de Secondat

(527 words)

Author(s): Zenkert, Georg
[German Version] (baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu; Jan 18, 1689, La Brède – Feb 10, 1755, Paris), prominent political philosopher of the Enlightenment. The publication of his Lettres persanes (1721; ET: Persian Letters, 1722; many later ¶ eds.), a satirical epistolary novel criticizing conditions in France from a fictitious Persian perspective, rapidly brought Montesquieu fame as a witty proponent of the Enlightenment. His style is characterized by a sober historical perspective, as documented in his Considérations sur les causes de la grandeur des Romains et de leur decadence (…

Tocqueville, Alexis de

(287 words)

Author(s): Zenkert, Georg
[German Version] ( Jul 29, 1805, Paris – Apr 16, 1859, Cannes), major French political thinker. He recorded his insights during an extended stay in the United States in a comprehensive series of studies De la démocratie enAmérique (4 vols., 1835/1840; ET: Democracy in America, trans. A. Goldhammer, 2004 [Politics: III, 3]), which immediately made him famous. In them he examines both the Constitution and the institutions of the country as well as the customs, beliefs, and manners of its citizens. The work is more than a description of co…

Community and the Individual

(5,279 words)

Author(s): Williame, Jean-Paul | Görg, Manfred | Popkes, Wiard | Zenkert, Georg | Thomas, Günter | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. Old Testament – III. New Testament – IV. Philosophy – V. Dogmatics – VI. Sociology, Ethics – VII. Practical Theology I. Religious Studies In the context of their understanding of God and related obligations, human beings make connections of solidarity and feel, with more or less intensity, that they are members of the same community. Religion brings people closer together and creates social ties: the umma of the Muslims, Christian brotherhood and ecumeni…


(3,097 words)

Author(s): Stroumsa, Guy G. | Casadio, Giovanni | Zenkert, Georg | Dierken, Jörg
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. Church History – III. Philosophy – IV. Philosophy of Religion and Dogmatics I. Religious Studies Thomas Hyde seems to have coined the term dualism, which he used in his Historia religionis veterum Persarum (Oxford 1700) to describe the essential theological objectives of Zoroastrianism (Zarathustra/Zoroastrianism). The term comes into Western European languages between the mid-18th and …

Mill, John Stuart

(420 words)

Author(s): Zenkert, Georg
[German Version] (May 20, 1806, London – May 8, 1873, Avignon), English philosopher, famous as the polymath author of influential works on logic, moral philosophy, economics, and politics. His authoritative study on the methodological principles of scientific research ( A System of Logic, Ratiocinative and Inductive, 1843) stands in the tradition of English Empiricism, pioneered by D. Hume, which Mill, inspired by A. Comte, developed into an English variant of Positivism. His program represents a critique of Rationalism and pure speculatio…

Philosophy, Political

(531 words)

Author(s): Zenkert, Georg
[German Version] Political philosophy is a discipline within philosophy that focuses on the ordering of human life in community. Plato provided its crucial initial stimulus, while Aristotle was responsible for laying its systematic and methodological foundations. Political philosophy has its own field of study: human interaction and the constitution of different forms of community. According to Aristotle, it rests on methodological principles that differ from those of theory, for political philoso…


(266 words)

Author(s): Zenkert, Georg
[German Version] G.W.F. Hegel's works of the Jena period name diremption (splitting, division) as the impetus for and starting point of all philosophy. Diremption is a characteristic of that education (Education/Formation: III) shaped by intellect in which the Absolute, the epitome of knowledge and the knowable, is finitized through distinctions and therefore partially compre…

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…
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