Hypostasis (philosophy and religion)

Hypostasis (Greek: ὑπόστασις) is the underlying state or underlying substance and is the fundamental reality that supports all else. In Neoplatonism the hypostasis of the soul, the intellect (nous) and "the one" was addressed by Plotinus.

In Christian theology, a hypostasis is one of the three hypostases (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) of the Trinity.[1]

Ancient Greek philosophy

Pseudo-Aristotle used hypostasis in the sense of material substance.[2]

Neoplatonists argue that beneath the surface phenomena that present themselves to our senses are three higher spiritual principles, or hypostases, each one more sublime than the preceding. For Plotinus, these are: the Soul, the Intellect, and the One .[3][4]

Christian theology

In early Christian writings, hypostasis is used to denote "being" or "substantive reality" and is not always distinguished in meaning from ousia ('essence' or 'substance'). It was used in this way by Tatian and Origen, and also in the anathemas appended to the Nicene Creed of 325.

Trinitarian definitions

It was mainly under the influence of the Cappadocian Fathers that the terminology was clarified and standardized so that the formula "three hypostases in one ousia" came to be accepted as an epitome of the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity.[5] Specifically, Basil of Caesarea argues that the two terms are not synonymous and that they, therefore, are not to be used indiscriminately in referring to the godhead. He writes:

The distinction between ousia and hypostases is the same as that between the general and the particular; as, for instance, between the animal and the particular man. Wherefore, in the case of the Godhead, we confess one essence or substance so as not to give variant definition of existence, but we confess a particular hypostasis, in order that our conception of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit may be without confusion and clear.[5]

This consensus, however, was not achieved without some confusion at first in the minds of Western theologians since in the West the vocabulary was different. Many Latin-speaking theologians understood hypo-stasis as "sub-stantia" (substance); thus when speaking of three "hypostases" in the godhead, they might suspect three "substances" or tritheism. However, from the middle of the fifth century onwards, marked by Council of Chalcedon, the word came to be contrasted with ousia and used to mean "individual reality," especially in the trinitarian and Christological contexts. The Christian concept of the Trinity is often described as being one god existing in three distinct hypostases/personae/persons.[6]

See also


  1. ^ The Encyclopedia of Christianity Volume 5 by Erwin Fahlbusch, Jan Milic Lochman and John Mbiti (February 1, 2008) ISBN 080282417X page 543
  2. ^ Pseudo-Aristotle, De mundo, 4.19.
  3. ^ "Who was Plotinus?".
  4. ^ Neoplatonism (Ancient Philosophies) by Pauliina Remes (2008), University of California Press ISBN 0520258347, pages 48–52.
  5. ^ a b González, Justo L. (1987). A History of Christian Thought: From the Beginnings to the Council of Chalcedon. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press. p. 307. ISBN 0-687-17182-2.
  6. ^ González, Justo L (2005), "Hypostasis", Essential Theological Terms, Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, pp. 80–81, ISBN 978-0-664-22810-1


Accident (philosophy)

An accident, in philosophy, is an attribute that may or may not belong to a subject, without affecting its essence.Aristotle made a distinction between the essential and accidental properties of a thing. Thomas Aquinas and other Catholic theologians have employed the Aristotelian concepts of substance and accident in articulating the theology of the Eucharist, particularly the transubstantiation of bread and wine into body and blood. In this example, the bread and wine are considered accidents, since at transubstantiation, they become incidental to the essential substance of body and blood.

In modern philosophy, an accident (or accidental property) is the union of two concepts: property and contingency. Non-essentialism argues that every property is an accident. Modal necessitarianism argues that all properties are essential and no property is an accident.


Hypokeimenon (Greek: ὑποκείμενον), later often material substratum, is a term in metaphysics which literally means the "underlying thing" (Latin: subiectum).

To search for the hypokeimenon is to search for that substance which persists in a thing going through change—its basic essence.


Hypostatic, Hypostasis, or Hypostatization (from the Ancient Greek ὑπόστᾰσις, "under state") may refer to:

Hypostasis (philosophy and religion), the essence, or underlying reality

Hypostatic abstraction (mathematics and logic)

Hypostasis (linguistics), personification of entities

Hypostasis (literature), awareness by a fictional character of the fictional world

Hypostatic gene, as a result of epistasis

Hypostasis or Livor mortis

Hypostatic model of personality, a psychological model, or theory, of personality masks

Hypostatic union, Christian concept

Holding current (electronics) known as the hypostatic

Reification (fallacy) where hypostasis is a technical term to identify a thing which is reified, and hypostatization refers to the thought process

Sediment in a liquid, including:


Object (philosophy)

An object is a technical term in modern philosophy often used in contrast to the term subject. A subject is an observer and an object is a thing observed. For modern philosophers like Descartes, consciousness is a state of cognition that includes the subject—which can never be doubted as only it can be the one who doubts—and some object(S) that may be considered as not having real or full existence or value independent of the subject who observes it. Metaphysical frameworks also differ in whether they consider objects existing independently of their properties and, if so, in what way.The pragmatist Charles S. Peirce defines the broad notion of an object as anything that we can think or talk about. In a general sense it is any entity: the pyramids, Alpha Centauri, the number seven, a disbelief in predestination or the fear of cats. In a strict sense it refers to any definite being.

A related notion is objecthood. Objecthood is the state of being an object. One approach to defining it is in terms of objects' properties and relations. Descriptions of all bodies, minds, and persons must be in terms of their properties and relations. The philosophical question of the nature of objecthood concerns how objects are related to their properties and relations. For example, it seems that the only way to describe an apple is by describing its properties and how it is related to other things. Its properties may include its redness, its size, and its composition, while its relations may include "on the table", "in the room" and "being bigger than other apples".

The notion of an object must address two problems: the change problems and the problems of substances. Two leading theories about objecthood are substance theory, wherein substances (objects) are distinct from their properties, and bundle theory, wherein objects are no more than bundles of their properties.

On the Universe

On the Universe (Greek: Περὶ Κόσμου; Latin: De mundo) is a theological and scientific treatise included in the Corpus Aristotelicum but usually regarded as spurious. Likely published between 350 and 200 BC, the work discusses cosmological, geological, and meteorological subjects, alongside a consideration of the role an independent god plays in maintaining the universe.


A person is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness or self-consciousness, and being a part of a culturally established form of social relations such as kinship, ownership of property, or legal responsibility. The defining features of personhood and consequently what makes a person count as a person differ widely among cultures and contexts.

In addition to the question of personhood, of what makes a being count as a person to begin with, there are further questions about personal identity and self: both about what makes any particular person that particular person instead of another, and about what makes a person at one time the same person as they were or will be at another time despite any intervening changes.

The common plural of "person", "people", is often used to refer to an entire nation or ethnic group (as in "a people"). The plural "persons" is often used in philosophical and legal writing.

Potentiality and actuality

In philosophy, potentiality and actuality are a pair of closely connected principles which Aristotle used to analyze motion, causality, ethics, and physiology in his Physics, Metaphysics, Nicomachean Ethics and De Anima, which is about the human psyche.The concept of potentiality, in this context, generally refers to any "possibility" that a thing can be said to have. Aristotle did not consider all possibilities the same, and emphasized the importance of those that become real of their own accord when conditions are right and nothing stops them.

Actuality, in contrast to potentiality, is the motion, change or activity that represents an exercise or fulfillment of a possibility, when a possibility becomes real in the fullest sense.These concepts, in modified forms, remained very important into the Middle Ages, influencing the development of medieval theology in several ways. Going further into modern times, while the understanding of nature, and according to some interpretations deity, implied by the dichotomy lost importance, the terminology has found new uses, developing indirectly from the old. This is most obvious in words like "energy" and "dynamic"--words first used in modern physics by the German scientist and philosopher, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. Another example is the highly controversial biological concept of an "entelechy".


Pseudo-Aristotle is a general cognomen for authors of philosophical or medical treatises who attributed their work to the Greek philosopher Aristotle, or whose work was later attributed to him by others. Such falsely attributed works are known as pseudepigrapha.

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