Reason

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1. WHAT IS REASON?

Essence is the property or set of properties that make an entity or substance what it fundamentally is 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 of Essence originates rigorously with Aristotle (although it can also be found in Plato), who used the Greek expression to ti ên einai (τὸ τί ἦν εἶναι, 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, 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.

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. 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.

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. According to Edmund Husserl essence is ideal. However, ideal means that essence is an intentional object of consciousness. Essence is interpreted as sense.

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.

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.

2. WHAT IS THE ESSENTIAL DIALECTIC OF REASON?

The Essential Dialectic of Reason is:

{Theoretical-Speculative ⇆ Speculative-Theoretical ⇵ Theoretical-Theoretical} ↻ Speculative-Speculative

3. WHAT IS THE COMPLETE DIALECTIC OF REASON?

The Complete Dialectic of Reason is:

{Speculative ⇆ Theoretical ⇅ Practical} ↻ Judicial

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4. WHAT IS THE EQUIVALENCY DIALECTIC OF ESSENCE?

The Equivalency Dialectic of Essence is:

{Reason ⇆ Substance ⇅ Category} ↻ Transcendental

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