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Wolff, Christian

(1,301 words)

Author(s): Stolzenberg, Jürgen
[German Version] (Jan 24, 1679, Breslau – Apr 9, 1754, Halle), son of a tanner. He first attended the Lutheran Elisabeth Gymnasium in Breslau, where he not only received thorough training in traditional scholastic philosophy, but also took an active part in the controversies between Protestantism and Catholicism. From 1699, at his father’s wish, he studied theology at the University of Jena, but devoted himself mainly to philosophy, mathematics and physics. In 1702 he passed the Master’s examinati…

Term and Concept

(494 words)

Author(s): Stolzenberg, Jürgen
[German Version] Normal use of language includes general expressions or terms used to denote something that several individual objects have in common. The meaning of such a general expression is a concept. The meaning of a concept is called its intension, whereas its extension or scope is the set of all objects that come under it. The classical way in which concepts and terms are defined is represented by hierarchical classification systems, i.e. systems of concepts and terms for genera, species, …


(3,560 words)

Author(s): Stolz, Fritz | Clayton, Philip | Stolzenberg, Jürgen | Rosenau, Hartmut
[German Version] I. Religious Studies 1. Since time immemorial, the use of the term spirit has been influenced by Christian usage, especially by the concept of the Holy Spirit, including connotations of Latin spiritus and Greek πνεύμα/ pneúma. Spirit has a wide range of meaning; it can denote both a spiritual and a mental attitude, dynamic, or quality ascribed to an individual and a projection of such phenomena into the external world. An anthropomorphic concretion of such projections can then refer to “beings” that in earlier times might have been called “trolls” or the like. 2. In religi…


(424 words)

Author(s): Stolzenberg, Jürgen
[German Version] A postulate is an unproved premise (the possibility of a proof being left open) for thoughts and actions. The term goes back to the art of disputation in antiquity, where it denoted a statement made the basis of an argument without the need for the partner in dialogue to have recognized its truth (VII). According to Aristotle, a postulate is a principle assumed without proof but provable, which “conflicts with the opinion of the learner” (Arist. Poet. I, 10.76b 31–34; see also Top.). Probably the most famous postulates are those in Euclid’s Elements (Gk τὰ στοιχεῖα/ tá stoic…


(388 words)

Author(s): Stolzenberg, Jürgen
[German Version] “Cause” is one of the central concepts of philosophy. In its logical or epistemological significance (Logic, Epistemology), “cause” refers to aa statement that serves to justify the truth claims of judgments or the performance of actions. In its ontological significance, the term “cause,” in the sense of the real basis or effective cause, refers to a real condition ¶ under which a real state or a real event occurs (Causality), while that which explains the essence of a matter is described as the ground of its being. The Aristotelian doctr…

Science, Theory of

(677 words)

Author(s): Stolzenberg, Jürgen
[German Version] The term Wissenschaftslehre (“theory of science” or perhaps better “theory of scientific knowledge”) was introduced into the technical language of philosophy by J.G. Fichte, who used it to describe his project of establishing systematic philosophy following I. Kant; its first formulation was his Grundlage der gesammten Wissenschaft of 1794/1795. Starting with a system of principles, the first principle being the statement “I am,” he aimed to derive the a priori conditions of Knowledge in a unified deductive chain encompassing both theoretical and p…


(1,891 words)

Author(s): Stolzenberg, Jürgen
[German Version] I. Forms of Idealism – II. German Idealism The term Idealism is used as a category in classifying philosophical theories and systems. Its opposite is materialism. A philosophical theory is Idealistic if it seeks to defend at least one of the following theses: (1) there are mental processes (Ideas) that are not reducible to material entities; (2) the objects of the physical world exist only in the mode of subjective ideas; (3) the objects of the physical world are accessible epistemically …

“I” (Ego)

(415 words)

Author(s): Stolzenberg, Jürgen
[German Version] The “I” or ego did not become a central concept of philosophy until the modern era. According to R. Descartes, the term denotes a substantial thinking being ( res cogitans) with immediate and indubitable knowledge of its own existence, on the basis of which it can be made the foundation of philosophy and all branches of knowledge. Since this certainty is attained without any knowledge of material bodies, it follows that the substance of the mind ( res cogitans) differs in reality from material substance ( res extensa). The question of the ontological status of the e…


(1,209 words)

Author(s): Stolzenberg, Jürgen | Schröder, Markus
[German Version] 1. Johann Gottlieb (May 19, 1762, Rammenau – Jan 29, 1814, Berlin). As the son of a ribbon-weaver, Fichte grew up in economically limited, rural conditions. With the support of Ernst Haubold v. Miltitz, Fichte was able to attend the Latin school in Meißen and from 1774 to 1780 the princes' school in Pforta near Naumburg. From 1780 to 1784, Fichte studied, principally theology, in Jena, Leipzig, and Wittenberg. Years as tutor in Zurich, Leipzig, and Krokowa near Gdansk followed. In 17…

Absolute, The

(937 words)

Author(s): Stolzenberg, Jürgen | Rosenau, Hartmut
[German Version] I. Philosophy – II. Philosophy of Religion I. Philosophy Etymologically, the word “absolute” means something separate from and independent of everything that is only relative. In this sense, the absolute can be understood ontologically as substance, logically as principle. If the absolute is taken as a singulare tantum, then it refers to something apart from which there is nothing that exists independently. This raises the question of how to conceive the …