In philosophy, essence is the property or set of properties that make an entity or substance what it fundamentally is, and which it has by necessity, and without which it loses its identity. Essence is contrasted with accident: a property that the entity or substance has contingently, without which the substance can still retain its identity. The concept originates rigorously with Aristotle (although it can also be found in Plato)[1], who used the Greek expression to ti ên einai (τὸ τί ἦν εἶναι,[2] literally meaning "the what it was to be" and corresponding to the scholastic term quiddity) or sometimes the shorter phrase to ti esti (τὸ τί ἐστι,[3] literally meaning "the what it is" and corresponding to the scholastic term haecceity) for the same idea. This phrase presented such difficulties for its Latin translators that they coined the word essentia (English "essence") to represent the whole expression. For Aristotle and his scholastic followers, the notion of essence is closely linked to that of definition (ὁρισμός horismos).[4]

In the history of western thought, essence has often served as a vehicle for doctrines that tend to individuate different forms of existence as well as different identity conditions for objects and properties; in this logical meaning, the concept has given a strong theoretical and common-sense basis to the whole family of logical theories based on the "possible worlds" analogy set up by Leibniz and developed in the intensional logic from Carnap to Kripke, which was later challenged by "extensionalist" philosophers such as Quine.

Ontological status

In his dialogues Plato suggests that concrete beings acquire their essence through their relations to "Forms"—abstract universals logically or ontologically separate from the objects of sense perception. These Forms are often put forth as the models or paradigms of which sensible things are "copies". When used in this sense, the word form is often capitalized.[5] Sensible bodies are in constant flux and imperfect and hence, by Plato's reckoning, less real than the Forms which are eternal, unchanging and complete. Typical examples of Forms given by Plato are largeness, smallness, equality, unity, goodness, beauty and justice.

Aristotle moves the Forms of Plato to the nucleus of the individual thing, which is called ousia or substance. Essence is the ti of the thing, the to ti en einai. Essence corresponds to the ousia's definition; essence is a real and physical aspect of the ousia (Aristotle, Metaphysics, I).

According to nominalists (Roscelin of Compiègne, William of Ockham, Bernard of Chartres), universals aren't concrete entities, just voice's sounds; there are only individuals: "nam cum habeat eorum sententia nihil esse praeter individuum [...]" (Roscelin, De gener. et spec., 524). Universals are words that can to call several individuals; for example the word "homo". Therefore, a universal is reduced to a sound's emission (Roscelin, De generibus et speciebus).

John Locke distinguished between "real essences" and "nominal essences". Real essences are the thing(s) that makes a thing a thing, whereas nominal essences are our conception of what makes a thing a thing.[6]

According to Edmund Husserl essence is ideal. However, ideal means that essence is an intentional object of consciousness. Essence is interpreted as sense (E. Husserl, Ideas pertaining to a pure phenomenology and to a phenomenological philosophy, paragraphs 3 and 4).


Existentialism was coined by Jean-Paul Sartre's endorsement of Martin Heidegger's statement that for human beings "existence precedes essence." In as much as "essence" is a cornerstone of all metaphysical philosophy and of Rationalism, Sartre's statement was a repudiation of the philosophical system that had come before him (and, in particular, that of Husserl, Hegel, and Heidegger). Instead of "is-ness" generating "actuality," he argued that existence and actuality come first, and the essence is derived afterward. For Kierkegaard, it is the individual person who is the supreme moral entity, and the personal, subjective aspects of human life that are the most important; also, for Kierkegaard all of this had religious implications.[7]

In metaphysics

"Essence," in metaphysics, is often synonymous with the soul, and some existentialists argue that individuals gain their souls and spirits after they exist, that they develop their souls and spirits during their lifetimes. For Kierkegaard, however, the emphasis was upon essence as "nature." For him, there is no such thing as "human nature" that determines how a human will behave or what a human will be. First, he or she exists, and then comes property. Jean-Paul Sartre's more materialist and skeptical existentialism furthered this existentialist tenet by flatly refuting any metaphysical essence, any soul, and arguing instead that there is merely existence, with attributes as essence.

Thus, in existentialist discourse, essence can refer to physical aspect or property to the ongoing being of a person (the character or internally determined goals), or to the infinite inbound within the human (which can be lost, can atrophy, or can be developed into an equal part with the finite), depending upon the type of existentialist discourse.

Marxism's essentialism

Karl Marx was a follower of Hegel's thought, and he, too, developed a philosophy in reaction to his master. In his early work, Marx used Aristotelian style teleology and derived a concept of humanity's essential nature. Marx's Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 describe a theory of alienation based on human existence being completely different from human essence. Marx said human nature was social, and that humanity had the distinct essence of free activity and conscious thought.

Some scholars, such as Philip Kain, have argued that Marx abandoned the idea of a human essence, but many other scholars point to Marx's continued discussion of these ideas despite the decline of terms such as essence and alienation in his later work.


Within the Madhyamaka school of Mahayana Buddhism, Candrakirti identifies the self as:

an essence of things that does not depend on others; it is an intrinsic nature. The non-existence of that is selflessness.

— Bodhisattvayogacaryācatuḥśatakaṭikā 256.1.7[8]

Buddhapālita adds, while commenting on Nagārjuna's Mūlamadhyamakakārikā,

What is the reality of things just as it is? It is the absence of essence. Unskilled persons whose eye of intelligence is obscured by the darkness of delusion conceive of an essence of things and then generate attachment and hostility with regard to them.

— Buddhapālita-mula-madhyamaka-vrtti, P5242, 73.5.6-74.1.2[8]

For the Madhyamaka Buddhists, 'Emptiness' (also known as Anatta or Anatman) is the strong assertion that all phenomena are empty of any essence, and that anti-essentialism lies at the root of Buddhist praxis and it is the innate belief in essence that is considered to be an afflictive obscuration which serves as the root of all suffering. However, the Madhyamaka also rejects the tenets of Idealism, Materialism or Nihilism; instead, the ideas of truth or existence, along with any assertions that depend upon them are limited to their function within the contexts and conventions that assert them, possibly somewhat akin to Relativism or Pragmatism. For the Madhyamaka, replacement paradoxes such as Ship of Theseus are answered by stating that the Ship of Theseus remains so (within the conventions that assert it) until it ceases to function as the Ship of Theseus.

In Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamakakarika Chapter XV examines essence itself.


In understanding any individual personality, a distinction is made between one's Swadharma (essence) and Swabhava (mental habits and conditionings of ego personality). Svabhava is the nature of a person, which is a result of his or her samskaras (impressions created in the mind due to one's interaction with the external world). These samskaras create habits and mental models and those become our nature. While there is another kind of svabhava that is a pure internal quality — smarana — we are here focusing only on the svabhava that was created due to samskaras (because to discover the pure, internal svabhava and smarana, one should become aware of one's samskaras and take control over them). Dharma is derived from the root dhr "to hold." It is that which holds an entity together. That is, Dharma is that which gives integrity to an entity and holds the core quality and identity (essence), form and function of that entity. Dharma is also defined as righteousness and duty. To do one's dharma is to be righteous, to do one's dharma is to do one's duty (express one's essence).[9]

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ "The Internet Classics Archive | Euthyphro by Plato". Retrieved 2018-06-12.
  2. ^ Aristotle, Metaphysics, 1029b
  3. ^ Aristotle, Metaphysics, 1030a
  4. ^ S. Marc Cohen, "Aristotle's Metaphysics", Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, accessed 20 April 2008.
  5. ^ "Chapter 28: Form" of The Great Ideas: A Synopticon of Great Books of the Western World (Vol. II). Encyclopædia Britannica (1952), p. 526-542. This source states that Form or Idea get capitalized according to this convention when they refer "to that which is separate from the characteristics of material things and from the ideas in our mind."
  6. ^
  7. ^ The Story of Philosophy, Bryan Magee, Dorling Kindersley Lond. 1998, ISBN 0-7513-0590-1
  8. ^ a b Translations from "The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path of Enlightenment", Vol. 3 by Tsong-Kha-Pa, Snow Lion Publications ISBN 1-55939-166-9
  9. ^

External links

Aether (classical element)

According to ancient and medieval science, aether (Ancient Greek: αἰθήρ, aither), also spelled æther or ether and also called quintessence, is the material that fills the region of the universe above the terrestrial sphere. The concept of aether was used in several theories to explain several natural phenomena, such as the traveling of light and gravity. In the late 19th century, physicists postulated that aether permeated all throughout space, providing a medium through which light could travel in a vacuum, but evidence for the presence of such a medium was not found in the Michelson–Morley experiment, and this result has been interpreted as meaning that no such luminiferous aether exists.

Bach flower remedies

Bach flower remedies (BFRs) are solutions of brandy and water—the water containing extreme dilutions of flower material developed by Edward Bach, an English homeopath, in the 1930s. Bach claimed that dew found on flower petals retain imagined healing properties of that plant. Systematic reviews of clinical trials of Bach flower solutions have found no efficacy beyond a placebo effect.


A codec is a device or computer program for encoding or decoding a digital data stream or signal. Codec is a portmanteau of coder-decoder.A coder encodes a data stream or a signal for transmission or storage, possibly in encrypted form, and the decoder function reverses the encoding for playback or editing. Codecs are used in videoconferencing, streaming media, and video editing applications.

Cultural feminism

Cultural feminism is the view that there is a "female nature" or "female essence" or related attempts to revalidate attributes ascribed to femaleness. It is also used to describe theories that commend innate differences between women and men.

Essence (magazine)

Essence is a monthly magazine for African-American women between the ages of 18 and 49. First published in 1970, it is the only magazine that focuses on reaching an audience of black women, revolves around the black woman experience, and has remained for a long period of time. The magazine covers fashion, lifestyle and beauty, with an intimate girlfriend-to-girlfriend tone, and its slogan "Fierce, Fun, and Fabulous" suggests the magazine's goal of empowering African-American women. The topics the magazine discusses range from celebrities, to fashion, to point-of-view pieces addressing current issues in the African-American community. A number of its readers engage closely and personally with the publication, and it claims to be the magazine "for and about Black women".

Essence Engine

Essence Engine is a game engine developed by Relic Entertainment for video game Company of Heroes.

Essence Music Festival

The Essence Festival, known as "the party with a purpose", is an annual music festival which started in 1995 as a one-time event to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Essence, a magazine aimed primarily towards African-American women. It is the largest event celebrating African-American culture and music in the United States. Locally referred to as the Essence Fest, it has been held in New Orleans, Louisiana since 1994 except for 2006, when it was held in Houston, Texas due to Hurricane Katrina's effect on New Orleans. It was also held in Durban, South Africa in 2016. It features artists simultaneously performing on a main stage as well as four standing-room only superlounge stages.

In 2008, for the first time since its 1995 inception, the festival was not produced by the original producer team. Instead, Essence Communications, owner of the festival and the Essence magazine, contracted Rehage Entertainment Inc. A new main stage facelift was designed by production designer Stefan Beese.

Starting 2013, Solomon Group became the Producer of Essence Festival.In 2013, MSNBC broadcast live from the Essence Festival. MSNBC returned for the 2014 festival.

Essence of Life (The Outer Limits)

"Essence of Life" is an episode of The Outer Limits television show. It first aired on 23 July 1999, during the fifth season.

Essence–energies distinction

The essence–energies distinction is an Eastern Orthodox theological concept that states that there is a distinction between the essence (ousia) and the energies (energeia) of God. It was formulated by Gregory Palamas of Thessaloniki (1296–1359), as part of his defense of the Athonite monastic practice of hesychasmos against the charge of heresy brought by the humanist scholar and theologian Barlaam of Calabria.Orthodox theologians generally regard this distinction as a real distinction, and not just a conceptual distinction. Historically, Western Christian thought has tended to reject the essence–energies distinction as real in the case of God, characterizing the view as a heretical introduction of an unacceptable division in the Trinity and suggestive of polytheism.


Essentialism is the view that every entity has a set of attributes that are necessary to its identity and function. In early Western thought Plato's idealism held that all things have such an "essence"—an "idea" or "form". In Categories, Aristotle similarly proposed that all objects have a substance that, as George Lakoff put it "make the thing what it is, and without which it would be not that kind of thing". The contrary view—non-essentialism—denies the need to posit such an "essence'".

Essentialism has been controversial from its beginning. Plato, in the Parmenides Dialogue, depicts Socrates questioning the notion, suggesting that if we accept the idea that every beautiful thing or just action partakes of an essence to be beautiful or just, we must also accept the "existence of separate essences for hair, mud, and dirt" . In biology and other natural sciences, essentialism provided the rationale for taxonomy at least until the time of Charles Darwin; the role and importance of essentialism in biology is still a matter of debate.

In gender studies the essentialist idea that men and women are fundamentally different continues to be a matter of contention.

Existence precedes essence

The proposition that existence precedes essence (French: l'existence précède l'essence) is a central claim of existentialism, which reverses the traditional philosophical view that the essence (the nature) of a thing is more fundamental and immutable than its existence (the mere fact of its being). To existentialists, human beings—through their consciousness—create their own values and determine a meaning for their life because the human being does not possess any inherent identity or value. That identity or value must be created by the individual. By posing the acts that constitute them, they make their existence more significant.The idea can be found in the works of philosopher Søren Kierkegaard in the 19th century, but was explicitly formulated by philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre in the 20th century. The three-word formula originated in his 1945 lecture "Existentialism Is a Humanism", though antecedent notions can be found in Heidegger's Being and Time.


Homoiousios (Greek: ὁμοιούσιος from ὅμοιος, hómoios, "similar" and οὐσία, ousía, "essence, being") is a Christian theological term, coined in the 4th-century by a distinctive group of Christian theologians who held the belief that God the Son was of a similar, but not identical, essence (or substance) with God the Father. Homoiousianism arose as an attempt to reconcile two opposite teachings, homoousianism and homoianism. Following Trinitarian doctrines of the First Council of Nicaea (325), homoousians believed that God the Son was of the same (ὁμός, homós, "same") essence with God the Father. On the other hand, homoians refused to use the term οὐσία (ousía, "essence"), believing that God the Father is "incomparable" and therefore the Son of God can not be described in any sense as "equal" or "same" but only as "like" or "similar" (ὅμοιος, hómoios) to the Father, in some subordinate sense of the term. In order to find a theological solution that would reconcile those opposite teachings, homoiousians tried to compromise between the essence-language of homoousians and the notion of similarity, held by homoians. Their attempt failed, and by the First Council of Constantinople (381) homoiousianism was already marginalized.

Proponents of this view included Eustathius of Sebaste and George of Laodicea.


Homoousion (; Greek: ὁμοούσιον, translit. homooúsion, lit. 'same in being, same in essence', from ὁμός, homós, "same" and οὐσία, ousía, "being" or "essence") is a Christian theological term, most notably used in the Nicene Creed for describing Jesus (God the Son) as "same in being" or "same in essence" with God the Father (ὁμοούσιον τῷ Πατρί). The same term was later also applied to the Holy Spirit in order to designate it as being "same in essence" with the Father and the Son. Those notions became cornerstones of theology in Nicene Christianity, and also represent one of the most important theological concepts within the Trinitarian doctrinal understanding of God.


Impermanence, called anicca (Pāli) or anitya (Sanskrit), is one of the essential doctrines and a part of three marks of existence in Buddhism. The doctrine asserts that all of conditioned existence, without exception, is "transient, evanescent, inconstant". All temporal things, whether material or mental, are compounded objects in a continuous change of condition, subject to decline and destruction. The concept of impermanence is also found in various schools of Hinduism and Jainism.Anicca or impermanence is understood in Buddhism as the first of three marks of existence, the other two being dukkha (suffering, pain, unsatisfactoriness) and anatta (non-self, non-soul, no essence).All physical and mental events, states Buddhism, come into being and dissolve. Human life embodies this flux in the aging process, the cycle of repeated birth and death (Samsara), nothing lasts, and everything decays. This is applicable to all beings and their environs, including beings who have reincarnated in deva (god) and naraka (hell) realms. This is in contrast to nirvana, the reality that is Nicca, or knows no change, decay or death.Impermanence is intimately associated with the doctrine of anatta, according to which things have no essence, permanent self, or unchanging soul. The Buddha taught that because no physical or mental object is permanent, desires for or attachments to either causes suffering (dukkha). Understanding Anicca and Anatta are steps in the Buddhist’s spiritual progress toward enlightenment.

Natural Essence

Natural Essence is the debut album by American saxophonist Tyrone Washington featuring performances recorded in 1967 and released on the Blue Note label.


Om (listen , IAST: Devanagari: ॐ, Tamil: ௐ, Telugu: ఓం, Kannada: ಓಂ), also written as 'Aum', is the most sacred syllable symbol', it's the Sanskrit word for God "Brahman" in Hindu religion. In the English language, the word generally refers to Ultimate reality & mantra in Hinduism, that signifies the essence of the ultimate reality, consciousness or Atman. The Aum sound is the primordial sound, and is called the Shabda-Brahman "Sound of God or the Name of God" (Brahman as sound). It is a syllable that is chanted either independently or before a mantra. It is also found in Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.

Om is part of the iconography found in ancient and medieval era manuscripts, temples, monasteries and spiritual retreats in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. The symbol has a spiritual meaning in all Indian dharmas, but the meaning and connotations of Om vary between the diverse schools within and across the various traditions.

In Hinduism, AUM is one of the most important spiritual sounds. It refers to Atman (soul, self within) and "Para Brahman" (The God) (ultimate reality, entirety of the universe, truth, divine, supreme spirit, cosmic principles, knowledge). The syllable is often found at the beginning and the end of chapters in the Vedas, the Upanishads, and other Hindu texts. It is a sacred spiritual incantation made before and during the recitation of spiritual texts, during puja and private prayers, in ceremonies of rites of passages (sanskara) such as weddings, and sometimes during meditative and spiritual activities such as Yoga.The syllable Om is also referred to as onkara (ओङ्कार, oṅkāra), omkara (ओंकार, oṃkāra), and pranava (प्रणव, praṇava).


Ousia (; Greek: οὐσία) is a philosophical and theological term, originally used in Ancient Greek philosophy, and also in Christian theology. It was used by various Ancient Greek philosophers, like Plato and Aristotle, as a primary designation for philosophical concepts of essence or substance. In contemporary philosophy, it is analogous to English concepts of being and ontic. In Christian theology, the concept of θεία ουσία (divine essence) is one of the most important doctrinal concepts, central to the development of trinitarian doctrine.The Ancient Greek term Ousia was translated in Latin as essentia or substantia, and hence in English as essence or substance.

Outline of industry

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to industry:

Industry – refers to the production of an economic good or service within an economy.


Pravachanasara, is a text composed by Jain monk, Kundakunda, in about the mid-second century BC. It means "Essence of Scriptures" or "Essence of Sermons" or "Essence of Doctrine". In the text, Kundakunda shows how the correct understanding of the duality of self and others leads to that defining characteristic of Digambara mendicant praxis, nudity. It consists of three chapters and 275 verses.

First chapter consists of 92 verses and it describes attributes of Supreme Beings and outlines the first steps in the process of transforming oneself into a Supreme Being. Second chapter consists of 108 verses and it describes laws of interaction between space, time particles, elementary matter particles, compound matter particles, motion and souls in the Cosmos. Third chapter consists of 75 verses and it is aimed at delineating the bases of correct mendicant praxis.

Acharya Jayasena has written a commentary on Pravachanasara titled Tatparyavritti (i.e. the Purport).

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