eidos

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eidos

the general features and characteristics of the ideas and, by extension, the main social institutions and activities, of a particular society. This relatively uncommon term was introduced by Gregory BATESON (1936), and also used by Charles Madge (1964).

Eidos

 

a term that was originally used in ancient philosophy and literature to designate the visible, or “that which is seen,” but that gradually acquired a deeper meaning—”concrete manifest-ness,” or “physical or plastic givenness in thought.”

For Homer the term meant “outward appearance,” and primarily “beautiful outward appearance.” In ancient natural philosophy (Empedocles and Democritus) eidos was interpreted almost exclusively as “image.” Parmenides, however, regarded it as the essence, or truth, that is visible in one way or another. Plato’s eidos had different meanings, such as “the external,” “the internal,” or even the characteristically Platonic “substantial idea.” Aristotle used eidos to mean “form” as well. In Stoicism and Neoplatonism the term ranges in meaning from “body appearance” to “independent substantial idea.”

In the phenomenology of E. Husserl, eidos, or rather its Latin translation species, designates the highest intellectual abstraction that is nonetheless a concrete, obvious, and entirely independent given.

REFERENCES

Losev, A. F. Ocherki antichnogo simvolizma i mifologii. Moscow, 1930. Pages 135–281.
Losev, A. F. Istoriia antichnoi estetiki [vol. 3]: Vysokaia klassika. Moscow, 1974. Pages 318–361.
Ritter, C. Neue Untersuchungen über Platón. Munich, 1910. Pages 228–336.
Hartmann, N. Zur Lehre vom Eidos bei Platon und Aristoteles. Berlin, 1941.

A. F. LOSEV