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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.


References in periodicals archive ?
Therefore, we refer to it as a nonexistent laboratory-effects model.
For most taxpayers, properly categorizing assets and identifying nonexistent, nontaxable, overvalued or obsolete assets will result in substantial property tax savings.
Fake prizes - Perpetrator tells an elder that he or she has won a nonexistent prize and either asks the elder to send a check to pay the taxes on this nonexistent prize or obtains the elder's credit card or checking account number to pay for shipping and handling charges for the prize.
In other tissues, however, the chemical was almost nonexistent.
Workshops of this kind are nearly nonexistent in France," commented D-A-C voice instructor Pasqualino Frigau of the specificity of the Avignon school.
Biebesheimer & Sons stole approximately $300,000 over a period of several years by writing payroll checks to nonexistent employees and then inflating accounts receivable in order to hide the theft.
Telemarketing and mail fraud -- Perpetrator persuades an elder to buy a valueless or nonexistent product, donate to a bogus charity or invest in a fictitious enterprise.
NBI spokesman Cecilio Zamora said Tuesday the addresses provided the Securities and Exchange Commission when the NGOs applied for registration were "manufactured or nonexistent.
That issue is otherwise nonexistent on television," says Berlanti.
With the arrival of freshman Jordan Farmar and the return of senior Cedric Bozeman, minutes at point guard figured to be nonexistent for Walcott, who said in the spring he was considering a transfer.
Ahmed Hoke, the series' creator, is a graffiti artist with a style that is almost surreal, emphasizing facial expressions, the elongation and distortion of bodies, and sketchy to nonexistent backgrounds.
The Corps noted that reverse bid auctions may have significant potential when used to procure commodity goods or very simplistic services where the critical issue of variability is very small or nonexistent.