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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a synonym for being—the being of matter and of consciousness—in dialectical materialist philosophy. Throughout the history of philosophy, the concept of existence has usually been applied to a thing’s external being, which, in contrast to a thing’s essence, is comprehended by experience rather than by thought. Scholasticism perceived the duality of essence and existence as reflecting a fundamental dichotomy in the natural, or created, universe—a dichotomy sublated only in god: the existence of a thing is not deducible from its essence but is ultimately determined by the creative will of god.

The British empiricists of the 17th and 18th centuries, such as Locke and Hume, recognized the reality of isolated facts, whose existence cannot be deduced in any way and which are determined by sense experience, the source of all knowledge. Modern rationalism, as taught by Descartes, Spinoza, Fichte, and Hegel, bases its interpretation of existence on the unity of thought and being. Essentially, these philosophers regard existence as something reasonable, or rational. Leibniz and Kant attempted to reconcile these two viewpoints.

Leibniz recognizes two kinds of truth: the eternal truths of reason and the truths of fact. According to Leibniz, however, the distinction between the two exists only within human reason, which is finite; in divine reason the distinction is sublated. Kant recognizes the ontological significance of the existence of the unknowable “thing-in-itself”: such existence, in principle, is not logically deducible, since it is impossible logically to deduce the existence of any sense phenomenon. Reason provides formal connections only, while the senses furnish the material for reason.

With Kierkegaard, the category of existence acquires a basically new meaning. In contraposition to rationalism—Hegel’s, in particular—Kierkegaard proposes that existence be understood as that human reality which is apprehended directly. Existence, according to Kierkegaard, is unique, personal, and finite. Finite existence has its own destiny and is historical in nature, for in Kierkegaard’s view history is inseparable from the finiteness of existence, from its nonrepeatability—that is, from destiny.

In the 20th century, Kierkegaard’s concept of existence has been revived and plays a central role in the existentialism of K. Jaspers, M. Heidegger, J.-P. Sartre, and G. Marcel. In this school of thought, existence (from which the term “existentialism” derives) is correlated, as it were, with transcendence—that is, with man’s extension beyond his own limits. According to existentialism, both the link between existence and transcendence, which is inaccessible to thought, and the finiteness of existence are revealed by the very fact of existence. On the other hand, the finiteness of existence, or mortality, is not merely the empirical fact of the end of life; rather, it is a principle determining the structure of existence and permeating all human life. Hence the existentialists’ characteristic interest in “borderline” situations, such as suffering, dread, guilt, or anxiety, which throw light on the nature of existence.

Marxist philosophy, opposing all forms of idealism, regards existence as the objective reality of matter in its diverse forms and as that being—in the sociohistorical sense—which determines man’s position in society.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The absense of training more than doubled the percentage of companies that fell short of productivity targets.
In the absense of ongoing studies, some Love Canal refugees have been keeping track of the former residents on their own.
TEHRAN (FNA)- Blocking a draft UNSC resolution on Palmyra liberation can be regarded as the absense of interest from the West in the Syrian peace process.
Maintain contact - Even if you are unable to see them throughout the work week, staying in touch can overcome this physical absense. Send them a short message, if you are out of the country take time out for a five-minute online video conference with them.
Making up for his absense in the first three periods were ace guard Ceasar Java, center Arnold Arguelles, Ricardo Sotto and Ibrahim Naif who keyed an 8-1 run midway of the second quarter to build an 11 point lead, 64-53, 4:19 minutes left.
"People look at me in awe like I'm from the circus, but it doesn't bother me." Let's just take a moment to reflect in wonder at the complete absense of irony in that last sentence, shall we?
0151 707 1050 WAXX 90S HOUSE PARTY With sets from Mr Paul, Jimmy Allen, Projekt 1, Absense, Dalema, Danko and Lauren Lo Sung.
If Krul does fail to make it, Newcastle will need to call on ex-Charlton keeper Rob Elliot, who would make his debut for the club in the absense of Steve Harper, who continues to struggle with a knee problem.
But he believes the Baggies model, along with the one he built at previous club Hibernian, is one to take on board as he attempts to restore the Teesside club to the top flight following their two year absense. The depth of feeling towards Mowbray was felt two months ago when he was given the warmest of welcomes at kit man Dave Matthews' 50th anniversary dinner.
But the absense of the 91-year-old did not stop the 1,581 artists from enthralling the crowd - at least half of whom disappointingly missed out on proceedings after arriving late to the 85,000-capacity venue.
Chris Brunt and Jerome Thomas offer width on the left or right wing, while Di Matteo, right, will also get a first chance to see James Morrison and Giles Barnes at full pelt given their absense of pre-seasons last year.