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Power

(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…

State and Religion

(2,721 words)

Author(s): Besier, Gerhard | Herms, Eilert | Kleine, Christoph
[German Version] I. The Problem

Embryo Research

(1,142 words)

Author(s): Schwinger, Eberhard | Herms, Eilert
[German Version] I. General Considerations – II. Ethics I. General Considerations The results of research carried out on animal embryos have greatly changed animal husbandry. Totipotent embryonic cells can be extracted from embryos at a very early stage (2nd–8th cellular stage). These individual cells divide anew to form functional embryos which do not differ from normally developed embryos. Pa…

Ethics

(18,301 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert | Antes, Peter | Otto, Eckart | Horn, Friedrich Wilhelm | Leicht, Reimund | Et al.
[German Version] I. Concept and Scope – II. Religious Studies – III. Bible – IV. Judaism – V. As a Theological Discipline – VI. As a Philosophical Discipline (Business Ethics, Discourse Ethics, Economic Ethics, Ethics, Bio-Medical Issues, Ethics Commissions, Ethics Education, Ethics of Conviction, Ethics of Duty, Ethics of Goods, Ethics of Responsibility, Evolutionary Ethics, Fraternal Ethics, Individual Et…

Ethics of Goods

(568 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] I. can refer to a sub-discipline of ethics: reflection on consequences, on interaction within an ethos and its contribution to the bonum commune/proprium. This task is indispensable because actions have consequences (Consequence/Inherent consequences of actions), which – depending on knowledge and ability – can be foreseen, intended and brought about with varying degrees of certainty so that acting acquires task-specific competence (authority) and responsibility. Ethics of goods contributes to the perception of these consequences as an “ethics of responsibility” (Max Weber). In addition, it must have access to the pertinent technological knowledge and to the pertinent criteria for the preference of attainable goals (and of means and intermediate objectives). A formal criterion requires a goal to preserve or improve the quality of the moment of action. It can only be applied, however, if a content criterion of preference is also at hand: a material understanding of what perfects the present, ultimate…

Contingency/Chance

(2,299 words)

Author(s): Russell, Robert John | Mörth, Ingo | Schütt, Hans-Peter | Herms, Eilert
[German Version] I. Natural Sciences – II. Religious Studies – III. Philosophy – IV. Systematic Theology I. Natural Sciences The concept of contingency/chance occurs in various contexts and meanings in the natural sciences. In the simplest case, contingency denotes an event, a process or a property, the finality of which exists without an immediately discernible or determinable cause. Although we inaccurately assert that something happened by chance, the latter really implies the lack …

System

(1,872 words)

Author(s): Angehrn, Emil | Danz, Christian | Herms, Eilert
[German Version] I. Philosophy A system (from Gk σύστημα/ sýstēma

Metaethics

(628 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] The triumph of the sensualistic restriction of the recognizable and real to what exists in sensory perception – which was not hindered but actually encouraged by I. Kant's transcendental philosophy (contrary to its intention) owing to the fact that the latter also viewed sensory perception as a necessary prerequisite for many different types o…

Understanding

(1,637 words)

Author(s): Figal, Günter | Herms, Eilert
[German Version] I. Philosophy It was not until the modern period that the concept of understanding became philosophically important. It gained currency by denoting the special kind of of knowledge in the humanities (Epistemology). What is understood is “historical material” (J.G. Droysen, ¶ Grundriss der Historik, 1868, §9; ET: Outline of the Principles of History, 1967) and any expression of human life. Thus the term “understanding” is used in contrast to explanation, which is used in connection with scientifi…

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 …

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…
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