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Becoming

(440 words)

Author(s): Rese, Friederike
[German Version] “Becoming” ( Werden) is the antithetical concept to “being” ( Sein). The distinction between these concepts has been attributed to the different philosophical approaches of Heraclitus (“Becoming”) and Parmenides (“Being”). Although this categorization finds strong support in the descriptions of the philosophy of the Heracliteans and of Parmenides in Plato's Theaetetus (179d–181b), it is in fact questionable, since this distinction is already heralded in the two sections of P…

Capacity,

(373 words)

Author(s): Rese, Friederike
[German Version] the power or ability to do something. Plato distinguished between a “capacity to effect something” (δύναμις τού ποιείν/ dýnamis toú poieín) and a “capacity to suffer something” (δύναμις τού πάσχειν/ dýnamis toú páschein; Soph. 247e–248e). Aristotle ¶ adopted this distinction between two types of capacity and expanded upon it by adding the distinction between “capacity” or “possibility” (δύναμις) and “reality” (ἐνέργεια/ enérgeia; act and potency). As an active or passive “principle of change or movement” ( Metaph. V 12, 1019b19–20), a capacity mani…

Ends and Means

(1,194 words)

Author(s): Rese, Friederike
[German Version] I. Philosophy – II. Ethics I. Philosophy The expression e nds and means has its origin in the connection between the praxis and poiesis of action and production. Ends signifies the goal that is aimed at, while means signifies that which is applied or done to achieve the goal. The concept of the ends is already found in Plato, as “that for the sake of which” (οὗ ἕνεκα/ hoú héneka), i.e. that which provides orientation for human life and conduct, and the goal of human striving. In the Republic, this concept is related to the idea of the good ( Rep. VI 505 e 1). However, …

Praxis and Poiesis

(573 words)

Author(s): Rese, Friederike
[German Version] Praxis and Poiesis, Gk πρᾶξις/ποίησις ( práxis/ poíēsis), “acting/producing.” Plato already mentioned the difference between praxis and poiesis ( Charmides 162e7–164c5), defining the latter as “whatever is the cause of the transition of something from non-being into being” ( Symposium 205b7–c1; Soph. 265b8–10). Aristotle was the first to advance specific terminology: as activities, poiesis and praxis stand in contrast to passive “suffering” (πάσχειν/ páschein; cf. Arist. Metaph. IX 1, 1046a15–29; Eth. Nic. II 5, 1106b16–28). Unlike the activity of th…

Participation

(500 words)

Author(s): Rese, Friederike
[German Version] is a term used by Plato (μέθεξις/ méthexis), first, to explain the relation of ideas to appearances (Phenomenon) that participate in ideas, and secondly, to explain the relation that ideas may have to one another, where one may participate in another. In applying the term in the second sense, the term “fellowship” (κοινωνία/ koinōnía) is also used ( Soph. 254b8–c5). The concept of participation implies that the one participating has a lower rank of being than the one in which it participates ( Symposion 211b1–5), but the term “fellowship” does not imply any such…

Appearance

(432 words)

Author(s): Rese, Friederike
[German Version] The concept of appearance presupposes a distinction between appearance (Phenomenon) and that which appears. Depending on how this distinction is interpreted – i.e. whether that which appears is visible in the phenomenon, or not –, the appearance is either revelatory or deceptive. These two concepts of “appearance” have left their mark on the history of philosophy. In Plato, appearance is already marked by a measure of ambiguity. In the Dialogues of his middle period, especially in the parable of the cave in the Republic, he ascribes a lesser ontological rank to …

Phronesis

(277 words)

Author(s): Rese, Friederike
[German Version] (Gk “practical good sense”) was already important for the dramatists of antiquity, especially for Sophocles; in Plato’s dialogues it is one of the four cardinal virtues. The fact that, in Plato, phronesis can be replaced by sophía (cf. Rep. IV 10, 433b7–c2) shows that, unlike Aristotle at a later date, Plato has not yet distinguished between practical and theoretical capacity for thought. Aristotle gives the term phronesis the status of a philosophical term. Alongside the three other dianoetic virtues of skill ( téchnē), science ( epistḗmē), and philosophical wis…

Sophistic School

(1,021 words)

Author(s): Rese, Friederike
[German Version] a school of Greek philosophy (I) in the 5th and 4th centuries bce. After the pre-Socratics, who were more interested in natural philosophy, and prior to Socrates, the Sophists turned their attention to political life. They thought of themselves as teachers who would be paid to teach young Greek men faculties they could employ to gain political influence, especially the faculty of “speaking well” (εὖ λέγειν/ eú légein) but also the faculty of political virtue (Virtues; ¶ ἀρετή/ aretḗ ). This classic era of Sophistics was followed by a second phase during th…

Unmoved Mover

(153 words)

Author(s): Rese, Friederike
[German Version] For Aristotle the unmoved mover is the primal origin (Origins) and ground of the movement of everything that exists ( Phys. VIII 5–9; Metaph. XII 6–10; Being). It is itself unmoved, inasmuch as it is not moved by anything else. It does not persist in inactivity, however, but sets other things in motion. Aristotle describes the movement initiated by the unmoved mover as circular and uniform movement, belonging to the type of ἐνέργεια/ enérgeia, and explains it as the thinking of a mind thinking of itself ( Metaph. XII 9, 1074b, 34–35). He calls the unmoved mover mind (νοῦς/ noús…

Essence

(1,160 words)

Author(s): Rese, Friederike | Zachhuber, Johannes
[German Version] I. Philosophy – II. Philosophy of Religion I. Philosophy Essence, from Lat. essentia, “being, essence,” is an abstract noun formed in imitation of Gk ousia, “being, essence,” ¶ that which is characteristic of something, that which makes it what it is. In Plato's writings, the essence of a matter is under consideration when we ask what something is (τι ἔστι/ ti ésti). Here, the essence of a matter is that which is immutable, that which remains the same when appearances change: the …

Perception

(2,808 words)

Author(s): Ulrich, Rolf | Rese, Friederike
[German Version] I. Natural Science and Psychology Perception refers in general to the gathering of information in the central nervous system from the surrounding environment or from within the body itself. The primary function of perception consists in the gathering of vital information from our environment; this information is needed in particular for the steering of motor activity. A distinction is frequently drawn between sensation and perception, going back to the theory of structuralism formulated by W. Wundt in the 18th century. According to thi…

Structuralism

(1,443 words)

Author(s): Rese, Friederike | Heidermanns, Frank | Figl, Johann
[German Version] I. The Term The term structuralism is a collective name for an intellectual movement that shaped the human sciences and intellectual life in general, especially in France, in the 1950s and 1960s. Inspired by Ferdinand de Saussure’s linguistic studies, proponents of structuralism analyzed the enormous diversity of phenomena perceptible to the senses, seeking to define their common invariant structures. Just as the term structure is derived from Latin structura, a fabric of different but interrelated elements, the structuralists examined phenomena p…