8. Essence and existence



  1. Essence

   The word “essence” means something main, radical, basic, belonging to things.


   Philosophers say that essence is the reason for which something is that thing and no other. In other words, essence is what makes something to be what it is and without which it would not be what it is. For instance: man is animal and rational. The essence of man is to be a rational animal. There are another animals (dogs, horses), but they are not rational and not human. There are another rational beings (angels) but they are not animals and not human.


   Men are distinguished from each other due to several characteristics, such as the colour of their skin, their height, weight, age, etc.; however, all of those things are not essential, but accidental. All men are men and their essence is the same: rational animal.

  A. Choose the right letter: a, b, c. (If the letter turns into red the answer is correct)

  1. Essence means something:

    a. secondary
    b. accidental
    c. main

  2. What makes something to be what it is, is:

    a. essence
    b. accident
    c. secondary

 3. Rational animal is:

    a. horse
    b. man
    c. angel

 4. Who is animal but not human?

    a. horse
    b. man
    c. angel

 5. Who is rational, but not human?

    a. dog
    b. angel
    c. horse

 6. Weight, height and colour are:

    a. essences
    b. existences
    c. accidents




  2. Existence

   We can see many things that exist: a ball pen, a pen, a book, John, etc. because we see them. We can think about essence (rational animal) to be potentially and when it becomes actually, it actualizes as John, a man.

 What exist are essences with existence. It exists what is individual and particular, what act. Essences or potential ideas do not exist apart from things. They are, but do not exist. Things in act have existence.

   Existence is something common to every being. All existent beings (ball pen, pen, book, John) have existence, but do not belong to the same essence. The ball pen is essentially different from the pen, the book and John. They have different essences, but all of them exist.

  B. Choose the rigth letter: a, b, c.

  1. We can see:

    a. things that exist
    b. essences
    c. existence in general

  2. What is potentially?

    a. existence
    b. essence
    c. accident

 3. What is actually?

    a. essence
    b. accident
    c. existence

 4. John is:

    a. potentially
    b. essentially
    c. actually

 5. What have in common every being?

    a. existence
    b. essence
    c. accident

 6. What is different among beings?

    a. existence
    b. essence
    c. act






  3. Existencialism

   It defends that human existence is the primary and radical being which all depends on. Man has not an essence, but only an existence. Something is making itself through acting and behaving, conquering its essence. It is said that human existence has no need to be subjected to any norm or law. It can be developed in any direction. This leads to atheism and high-mindedness. This theory is rejected by many philosophers.

  C. Choose the right letter: a, b, c.

  1. For man is primary:

    a. essence
    b. existence
    c. the accidental

  2. According to existencialism man has not:

    a. essence
    b. existence
    c. accidents

 3. An object of conquest is:

    a. existence
    b. accidents
    c. essence

 4. Man has only got:

    a. existence
    b. essence
    c. accidents

 5. Man has no obligation to subject to:

    a. essence
    b. accident
    c. norms

 6. This type of thinking leads to:

    a. morality
    b. atheism
    c. dignity

  4. Consequences

   On the contrary, we consider man as an animal essentially rational and so he has to live and exist in a rational way.

   Man has freedom to behave freely, but cannot and should not do absolutely what he wishes, such as steal, kill, cheat, etc.

   Men’s life must realize into a rational setting. The life can offer plenty of variety, but the essence of man has to be respected: their rationality, the freedom of will, the duty to follow the moral law, the personal dignity, etc.





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| Educational applications | Philosophy |
For young |In Spanish | To print |

®Arturo Ramo García.-Record of intellectual property of Teruel (Spain) No 141, of 29-IX-1999
Plaza Playa de Aro, 3, 1º DO 44002-TERUEL