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Humanism - Anthropocentrism

(722 words)

Author(s): Jörg Splett
Part of Humanism: 1. General 2. Anthropocentrism God as the Creator is likewise the goal of all that he has called into being. Creation is therefore theocentric, and this finality of the visible world is at its most intense and expressive in man, who is called to bring the objective and material glory of God to its perfection by the conscious acts which make it subjective and formal. But this radical self-dedication is only possible to a being which can possess itself completely, dispose of itself, be present to itself and be at one with itself. The more fully transcendence “comes to itself”, as…

Good

(2,081 words)

Author(s): Jörg splett
1. Introduction. The good is “the end which is the object of all desire”, according to Aristotle, who puts this description forward as traditional ( Eth. Nic.,1, l-1094a). Scholasticism took over the definition (e.g., Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I, q. 5, a. 1). The primordial reality of the good allows of definition as little as does the notion of desire. It can only be described on the basis of the experience of the good, that is, on the basis of the self-experience of desire, and classified in the frame-work of this descrip…

Relativism

(1,022 words)

Author(s): Jörg Splett
1. Notion and forms. In the tradition of philosophical thought, knowledge is described as the coming together of the knower and the known (“in cognitione cognoscens et cognitum in actu sunt [fiunt] idem”). The truth brought about (“actuated”) in this act is due both to the known object (in the widest sense) and to the knowing subject (“quidquid recipitur ad modum recipientis recipitur”). If the subjectivity of knowledge is isolated and made dominant, and truth determined only by the knower, the various forms of relativism ensue. Metaphysical relativism would be the denial of any …

Principle

(1,139 words)

Author(s): Jörg Splett

Existence - Philosophy of Existence and Existential Philosophy

(2,851 words)

Author(s): Jörg Splett
Part of Existence: 1. Concept of Existence 2. Philosophy of Existence and Existential Philosophy 3. “The Existential” 1. The term. The term “Existentialism” covers various forms of present-day philosophical thinking which all have one thing in common: existence is not the actualization of an essence, as the Scholastics understood existentia, but the actual being of man and, above all, the active realization of man’s existence, which is in each case an individual act. This way of thinking is…

Holy - History of Problems

(776 words)

Author(s): Jörg Splett
Part of Holy: 1. History of Problems 2. Phenomenology and Philosophy 3. The Holy in Revelation Through the writings of E. Durkheim, N. Söderblom and R. Otto, “the holy” became a central concept in comparative religion. But the unique and primordial notion of the holy has always been part, not only of human experience but of man’s conscious convictions. It became a major subject of thought as soon as the interpretation of the…

Symbol

(1,957 words)

Author(s): Jörg Splett
1. Term and concept. Etymologically, the word “symbol” comes from certain usages in ancient law. Two parts of a ring, staff or tablet served, when they were brought together συμ-βάλλειν, to identify legitimate guests ( tessera hospitalitatis), messengers and partners. Thus the word came to have the meaning of “treaty”, and in ecclesiastical language could designate the common profession of faith, the fixed and obligatory formulas or creeds (the “symbols”) and then the instruments, images and acts in which the faith was expressed. Through the study of religion, psychology, art, literature, the theory of science and logic, the concept has been extended and varied so considerably th…

Thought-Forms

(1,350 words)

Author(s): Jörg Splett
The problems set by the “forms (or modes) of thought” have been treated under various names and from various viewpoints since the beginning of modern times. Differences in thought and styles of culture came to be consciously noted and analysed, and the experiences of the wars of religion led to human thought and knowledge being considered as something relative. This relativist view celebrated its greatest triumphs after the collapse of German Idealism into historicism in the 19th century. Comte speaks of various stages in man’s view of the world and concept of science, Brenta…

Agnosticism

(1,088 words)

Author(s): Jörg Splett
While general scepticism doubts on principle the possibility of true knowledge, agnosticism is a particular form of scepticism which declares that there can be no knowledge of anything beyond the reach of the senses and hence denies the existence of metaphysics as a science, and in particular the knowability of God. The word was introduced by T. H. Huxley (1825–1895) to distinguish his position from metaphysics (that of the “Gnostics”). In the strict sense, the representatives of all forms of positivism, pragmatism and materialism are agnostics. Against these, the…

Superstition - Magic

(2,010 words)

Author(s): Jörg Splett
Part of Superstition: 1. The Problem 2. Magic 3. Astrology The word “magician” comes from the Persian Magus, of unknown meaning, which was first applied to a caste or tribe of priests among the Medes (cf. the Levites) (Herodotus, History, I, 101). From his associations with the Babylonian priesthood, the Magus was then understood as an astrologer, an interpreter of dreams and a wizard. Magic then came to mean the art of enchantment, sorcery, the mysterious power of producing marvellous effects by compelling the aid of preternatural forces. 1. History of religion. The exact definition of magic, its distinction from religion or its place within religion, has been and still is debated. Certain actions are supposed to bring about directly, by compulsion, certain (preternatural) results. More precisely, according to A. Bertholet, they are the direct means of hastening, or bringing to a head, such results. The actions in question are simply the putting in practice of a dynamistic view of the world, and this is probably the kernel of the definition of magic (cf.

Body

(2,389 words)

Author(s): Jörg Splett
1. The phenomenon. The body is the most immediate and proximate object of our experience. It is always with us, inseparable from us, the means whereby alone, along the “ways” of its senses, we attain the world in its manifold aspects and dimensions. But before this, and concurrently, the body is not merely an object with which man is confronted, it is something which he himself is: the pleasure and the pain of the body are his own pain and pleasure. The world too is not just opposed to the body as the space outside it: it is rather its and hence our “extension”, and is only there insofar as it is seen, heard, and so on — down to the atmosphere which is our breath. Therefore, just as there is a distinction between the self and the body, as between the body and the world (man is not simply body [alone]), so too there is such a unity that we must affirm: man is really and truly corporeal in all his dimensions. …

Play

(1,474 words)

Author(s): Jörg Splett
1. Introduction: Homo ludens. In keeping with the usual contrast between the playful and the serious, play is primarily thought of in connection with childhood, of which it is thought to be the typical activity. Thus it is explained as excess of energy (H. Spencer), as rest after strain, or as practice and self- education for the serious matters of life (K. Groos), though subjectively stemming from the urge to activity and motivated by “delight in functioning”. E. Haigis, however sees it as an encounter with the risks of l…

Saints - History of Saints

(3,170 words)

Author(s): Jörg Splett
Part of Saints: 1. History of Saints 2. Veneration of Saints 3. Canonization 4. Hagiography 1. In the history of religions. Among those forms in which the holy can be present, man has a central place: men in general, men in special circumstances or situations (children, the dying), men in special offices and functions (priest, prophet, warrior, king), and finally any individual, the saint, in whom the divine power is experienced in some special way (especially through miracles). This presence of divine power seems to have been understood at first not as something related to personal morals but to magical influence. According to van der Leeuw, “in the first place, a saint is a person whose body possesses divinely potent attributes”, indeed, he is primarily revered “as a corpse or part of one”, being thus more easily accessible. Saints are the mighty dead, whose tombs and relics are important. This is especially true in Buddhism and also in Greece (Oedipus at Colonus). But the divine power can also appear in the living man, though there are no discernible preconditions for such a presence; it may …

Progress

(1,629 words)

Author(s): Jörg Splett
1. Introduction. The tension between the traditional order of things and the changes of the present times gives rise to the alternatives of preserving tradition or of renouncing it in “revolution”. The problem affects the realm of individual relationships (“the generation gap”) as well as the social and political spheres. But wherever it occurs, the choice must not be seen too much in black and white. The alternatives present themselves not so much on a grand scale as in the form of a; series of …

Aristotelianism - Historical Influence

(1,732 words)

Author(s): Jörg Splett
Part of Aristotelianism: 1. The Philosophy of Aristotle 2. Historical Influence In antiquity. In the philosophy of antiquity the differences between Plato and Aristotle made themselves felt in the formation of opposing schools. But the general attitude was so eclectic that it is hard to define exactly the influence of Aristotle. His logic was very generally adopted and developed, particularly by the Stoa, with regard to the logic of propositions. The real successor to Aristotle was the Peripatetic school, which continued to exist down to the 3rd century A.D. Its last great figure w…

Meaning

(4,736 words)

Author(s): Jörg Splett
A. Introduction The discussion of “meaning” may well begin from one of its synonyms: “sense”, where the difference between the subjective (“feeling”, “opinion”, “discernment”) and the objective stands out at once — “that which is reasonable” — as in the common phrase: “that makes sense”. So too “meaning” can be either subjective — “that which is in the mind or thoughts” — or objective, “that which has significance” or purpose, as in the phrase once so common as the title of books — “the meaning of…

Idea

(1,234 words)

Author(s): Jörg Splett
1. History. The idea, throughout all its changes of meaning, whether accepted or rejected, is one of the basic terms of Western thought, whose Unity and differentiation it displays in the most concentrated form. ’Ιδέα means first of all appearance, form, character. Plato uses it for the essence, first for that of the virtues in contrast to their distinctive modes of realization in the concrete, then for virtue as such and for the good in itself and the true reality of all beings. These essences (…

Concept

(1,381 words)

Author(s): Jörg Splett
A concept is the representation of an object (a thing or a state of things) in a general way. The general character is not due to a certain obscurity and vagueness, as in “general” sensible representations. It is due to the drawing out (abstraction) by the intellect of something that is common as such to several objects — a “whatness” or essence about the existence of which no affirmation at all is immediately made. Abstraction takes place in the “light” of the “active” intellect ( intellectus agens) which manifests the intelligible element in the sensible thing present. Thus the concept li…

Immortality

(1,587 words)

Author(s): Jörg Splett
By immortality is meant, in general, endless life. It is said absolutely of a being who cannot die (gods, God) and then of a being who survives in a changed form after death. This survival can be thought of as personal or impersonal (supra-personal), as bodiless or in some way bodily, as a lower or a higher plane of existence. 1. Comparative religion. Belief in life after death is attested, even before the funeral rites and the cult of the dead in primitive religions, by the burial procedures of the earliest cultures. In view of the burial gifts, the “book…
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