Volume IX – “The Essence of Life”

“ESSENCE (from Latin “quidditas”) is the property or set of properties that make an object what it fundamentally is, a substantial core of independent things existent. Sometimes it is considered to be self-sufficient things in existence. In this case, we are talking about “essences” that interact with each another, influence each another and so on.”

The Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2010.


“ESSENCE (from Latin ‘essentia’) is the side of particular thing that defines all its other sides. For example, E. of an atom is a charge number, E. of an organism is a genotype. The object’s side that defines E. is called phenomenon, manifestation or form of E. manifestation. The object itself, including both E. and all forms of its manifestation, is called the existence form of E. For example, the forms of carbon existence are coal, graphite and diamond.

 The first historical implication of the term “E”. differs fundamentally from the modern one. Aristotle considered E. in the same way as it was represented “in the basic, initial and obvious meaning”, or the first E. — an individual object in all its inner diversity, “e. g., a particular person or a horse” (Aristotle. Categories. 2а). Aristotle differed the first and the second E. — the latter are features, types and sorts of objects. Thomas Aquinas was of the same meaning as Aristotle. He asserted that E. of an object is nothing more than its definition. Thomas Hobbes also stuck to the same pint of view: “E. represents such accidents of the body that give certain name for it.” (Т. Hobbes. Writings. V. 1. М., 1989. P. 148). The definition contains these accidents. Baruch Spinoza differentiated such concepts as E. and features. For him, essence is something “essential, and both thing and this something cannot exist separately and cannot be represented without one another” (B. Spinoza. The Collected Works. V. 1. М., 1957. P. 402). John Locke came close to the modern understanding of this word: E. of an object is “the basis of its inextricably connected properties”. (John Locke. The Selected Philosophical Writings. V. 1. М., 1960. P. 417). Thus, any E. is a property, but not any property — E. for example, an ordinary man and a clockmaker indicate the common property of all tower clocks. But only clockmaker indicates its E.

 Other peculiarities of E. result from Locke’s definition. First of all, stability. Stability against external influence allows atomic number not only determines all other sides of it, but also exists during all lifecycle of an atom. An object itself cannot exist without essence. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel meant exactly the same when saying that E. is an object’s certainty, which is identical to its existence.

 The E.’s stability indicates one more peculiarity that is repeatability.   As a result of external immunity, E. not only exists during the lifecycle of an object, but also occurs in many other objects.  

E. is the inner side of an object and not in spatial, but in epistemological sense: individual doesn’t see it during cognition, it only “hints” at its existence through the forms of manifestation. The analysis of the forms of E. manifestation allows to discover it, and the knowledge of E. will help to explain these forms. The cognitive process beginning from the outer, open and ending with the inner, hidden sides of an object doesn’t always coincide with passing from the secondary to the main components inside it: the external appearance of prehistoric animal could once be contemplated directly, and nowadays the paleontologist reconstructs it, using the remaining bones.

 According to R. Descartes, to find the E. of a natural phenomenon is nothing else than to explain it by the laws of mechanics. In essentialism (worldview), the category of “E.” is the form of thinking, this trend and mechanism became one and the same thing. The XIX century discovery of electromagnetic phenomena marked the collapse of mechanism. At the same time, essentialism was “driven out” of the science methodology. The term “E.” was identified then as obscurantism. Positivists and the authors of this methodological upheaval defined the task of science as description of the functional dependencies between phenomena that can be empirically analyzed. Postpositivism partially renewed the category of E. by K. Popper, for example, it propagates “a modified essentialism” in contrast to both traditional essentialism and positivism (K. Popper. Objective knowledge: Evolutionary approach. M., 2002. P. 190). His speculations indicate that essentialism must be brought into the line with the results of modern science for the ultimate renewal of “E.”.

The Encyclopedia: Epistemology and Philosophy of Science.

М.: “Canon+”, RSDP “Rehabilitation”. I. Т. Kasavin. 2009.


“ESSENCE (in philosophy) is internal substance of an object in its exterior forms of existence.”

Russian Definition Dictionary by Ozhegov.

  1. I. Ozhegov, N. Yu. Shwedova 1949-1992.


ESSENCE is a philosophical category indicating the basic and stable characteristics of an object that make up its substantial core (its “nature”) in contrast to the changing and secondary features of certain manifestation of this object.”

The Encyclopedia. 2009.



ESSENCE is the essential component of an object, a complex of essential properties, a substantial core of self-existing matter.”

The Beginning of Modern Science.

The Thesaurus. Rostov-on-Don. V. N. Savchenko, V. P. Smagin. 2006.



ESSENCE. It’s internal substance, properties of somebody/something that can be discovered and cognized through different phenomena.”

The Explanatory Dictionary by Ushakov.

  1. N. Ushakov. 1935-1940.



ESSENCE is a crucial complex of the object’s properties, which determine all the other features of it. According to Democritus, E. of an object is inseparable from the object itself and derived from the constituent atoms. According to Plato, E. (“idea”) is of a hypersensitive non-material character, it’s eternal, infinite, and represents the prototype of certain phenomena. As for Aristotle, E. (“the form of things”) exists in few things only but isn’t derived from the “material” the latter are built on. In medieval philosophy, the E. of any ultimate substance has nothing to do with its existence except cases when we are talking about God. J. Locke took an extremely nominalistic position on the question of the general and conceived that scholastic doctrine of E. was unprosperous: as far as we can cognize the E., it’s a purely verbal phenomenon and involves simple finding of a common term.”

Philosophy: Encyclopedic Dictionary.

M.: Gardariki. Edited by A. A. Ivin. 2004.


ESSENCE (from Latin haecceitas – thisness and quidditas – whatness) and PHENOMENON are philosophical categories denoting that E. is a complex of essential properties and qualities of an object, a substantial core of independent things existent; the Self is a tangible characteristic of an object, the demonstration of a sensor free E. In many philosophical systems, E. (“matter-in-itself”) and the Self are firmly opposed (for example, in the teachings of Shankara). In Christianity, opposition of the earthly (“the Self”) and the otherworldly (“E”) origins represent the backbone of the worldview model. According to Kant, the Self is the notion-correlate to “matter-in-itself”, by means of the Self the latter appears to an individual being cognized (the Self as creation of E. inside a transcendental individual). Kant considered E. as objective (as “object-itself”) and infinite in terms of its own original existence. Kant was convinced that something that is an object for us (“phenomenon”) and what it really is (“noumenon”) are fundamentally different characteristics of the world. N. Hartmann interpreted connection between E. and the Self as follows: matter in itself is also in the Self. Otherwise, the Self would be reduced to simple “visibility” for reason. The Selves of objects are the attributes of one’s cognition of the outside world. In modern philosophical systems, “E.” and “the Self” as concepts of representing the world are gradually replaced by such categories as “Meaning” and “Text” (hermeneutics and phenomenology) or “Structure” (structuralist teachings).”

The Dictionary of Philosophy (new edition). 2009.


ESSENCE -s; neuter.

1/ The internal substance (the essence) is the most important and essential inside somebody or something. To go deeply into the essence of problem. To summarize the essence of discussion. To comprehend the essence of life. The class essence of the state. Finally understood his essence of the worst kind!

2/ The internal basis of objects, which determines their deep connections and relations that can be discovered and learned through various phenomena. Phenomenon and E.

In essence, in the meaning of introductory word. In fact, in reality. In fact, you’re wrong. In essence, it’s a lost cause! Essential. The essential characteristic of phenomenon. Essential connections, relations.”

Great Explanatory Dictionary of the Russian Language.

1-st edition: St. Petersburgh: Norint. S. А. Kuznetsov. 1998.


1. The ESSENCE from a philosophical point of view 4

1.1. The definitions of the word ESSENCE by the modern dictionaries 4

1.2. The additional words for deep understanding of the word «ESSENCE» 8

1.3. The ESSENCE is a philosophical basis of the ENTITY 10

1.4. THE ESSENCE is a complex of essential properties 13

2. ESSENCE as a BEING 18

2.1. The main ESSENCES of the human body 29

2.2. The main ESSENCES of the biological species HOMO sapiens 32

3. BEINGS and ESSENCES. The methods to cognize them 35



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