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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 …

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…

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 …

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 …

Anthropomorphism - Philosophical

(370 words)

Author(s): Jörg Splett
Part of Anthropomorphism: 1. Philosophical 2. Biblical To think of God with human form and qualities (anthropomorphism) appears at first sight merely as an instance of the general structure of knowledge, which is to assimilate the thing known to the knower (“quidquid recipitur ad modum recipientis recipitur”), with all the attendant risks and benefits. The advantage is that man draws closer to God, whom be knows not just as a vague and unattainable being or perhaps as the silence or demonic strangeness…

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 …

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…

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…

Principle

(1,139 words)

Author(s): Jörg Splett
1. Definition. Principle, ἀρχή in Greek, means literally beginning, origin, and designates in general that from which something proceeds in some way. Hence if we are speaking of really existent things, the principle is the cause of something that comes to be, or of an event, though it may also be the inward centre of a being, by which it lives and acts (“vital principle”). So too principle is used to designate the elements of which a whole is composed, such as the ontological constituents of con…

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 enco…

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…

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…

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 centred on man as the irreplaceable individual. Hence…

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…

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…

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…

Decision

(1,496 words)

Author(s): Jörg Splett
1. Introduction. Freedom is the self-determination nation which stems from the transcendental openness of the spirit for the absolute and unconditional. Hence it appears essentially as freedom from outside coercion and thus as freedom or indifference with regard to possibilities that are open to it. It is liberum arbitrium, the power of choosing. This does not mean that the possibilities of choice are always of equal value. In the most important choice to be made by finite freedom, the choice between good and evil, one particular course is comman…

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…

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 holy given in religious worship and in myth ceased to be sufficient. Plato was the first Western thinker to deal with the holy, after the struggles of the p…

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. …
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