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Metaphysics

(1,086 words)

Author(s): Mohn, Jürgen
Sense of Being Human 1. The word ‘metaphysics’ was originally coined simply as a result of the order of certain writings of Aristotle as they were kept in libraries, where some appeared metà ta physiká, ‘after the [writings pertaining to] nature.’ But they form a unit, inasmuch as they all represent a ‘first philosophy,’ or inquiry into being as such. They investigate being's fundamental determinations, divisions, and the mutual relations of the latter. As they especially inquire into ‘the beginning,’ they also pose the question of God in the ancient sense. In the stricter sense, then, ‘metaphysics’ denotes a discipline that has taken shape in the course of the history of European philosophy. In a broader sense, all philosophical or speculative religious systems of concept and meaning can be understood by the word ‘metaphysics.’ In the European philosophical traditions, catalogues of questions have been composed that a metaphysics should have to answer, pertaining to: being as such, and thereby, as well, God, world, soul, determination or freedom, …

Existentialism

(1,194 words)

Author(s): Mohn, Jürgen
1. Existentialism is the colloquial designation of a philosophical current of the twentieth century. The common element of the philosophies in question is the methodological reduction of their content to the existence of the individual person. Existentialism presents a generalizing, alien designation for otherwise quite different philosophical outlines of the world. As a specific designation, the concept is found solely with Jean-Paul Sartre. A synonym antedating Sartre's application is philosophy of existence, which was current as early as 1929, and in German-spea…

Will, Free

(1,426 words)

Author(s): Mohn, Jürgen
1. In general, ‘will’ (in Lat., voluntas; in Ger., Wille; in Fr., volonté) denotes the motivation of an acting subject in the direction of a particular goal. The subject of a will is not necessarily an individual human being, but, in the transferred sense, can also be a collectivity (‘general will,’ Fr. volonté générale

History

(3,583 words)

Author(s): Mohn, Jürgen
Happenings and Histories 1. The word ‘history’ is a translation of the Greek historía (basic meaning: ‘gaining of information,’ ‘investigation,’ ‘narration’). Toward the turn of the eighteenth/nineteenth centuries, this word developed into the latinized form história. Between the ‘happenings’ and (hi-)story, however, four fields of meaning can be distinguished: (1) History means past events, connections or structures, how they change in the temporal succession of their human world and environment, and the history of collective groupin…