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In general usage, appearance is understood to mean different types of appearance or "existence" of an object or the becoming visible or showing of previously unseen or recognizable objects or processes in the environment or an involuntary inner experience of clearly visible visual images that are involved can also include other sensory qualities , particularly often those of an acoustic nature. The "appearance" as a phenomenon in the abstract sense or as an appearance in theatrical understanding can also be named in this way. Appearances in nature are called natural phenomena .

Usually this means a (sudden) appearance in the sense of a change in the observed scene:

  • "An actor appears in the background on a theater stage." (So-called marginal phenomenon)
  • "The train comes out from behind the ridge."
  • "In the film scene, the spaceship materializes right in front of the pilot's window."

Religious meaning

The transitions between "appearances" unterschiedlichster way schemes , the spirit of a dead person, the spirits of the ancestors or ghosts from phantoms or demons vielfältigster shape or of devils and angels of all types to " visions " other content with vocal and then mostly as Experiences conceived of as “ revelations ” or “announcements” are fluid. Of clairvoyance is thereby then spoke when the normal consciousness of seer or visionary get together with the ability remains to stay with the environment in contact, and by visionary experiences, if the concentration of the visionary action is so highly that another no longer respected or is even excluded from the perception and thus from the consciousness of the person concerned. A confusion with hallucinations is obvious, psychological relationships between the different modes of experience are unexplained. Well-known examples are the Marian apparitions , but there were also many angelic apparitions in early modern Protestantism.

A Marxist -oriented interpretation of the religious phenomenon looks Ernst Bloch in appearance than the fore for a better world.


"All science would be superfluous if the appearance and nature of things coincided directly." - Karl Marx

In the history of philosophy , the term "appearance" is used by a variety of philosophers, often with different meanings. It is often differentiated from a “ being ” or “thing in itself”. But it is not always to be equated with “appearance” in the sense of a false, incomplete or misleading picture.

The corresponding term in Greek philosophy is phainomenon , from which the foreign word phenomenon comes. Originally only related to the visible, the term was expanded to include everything sensually perceptible and then described everything that is subjectively experienced in the perception . Already here the distinction between sensual phenomena on the one hand and a "real", "true", "objective" world behind it emerges. This separation reaches its first climax with Plato , who clearly contrasts the sensual appearances with the “ ideas ”. A valuation can also be found in Plato: the appearances are described as secondary, inferior to the ideas.

In scholasticism , too , the appearance of things is contrasted with real being. Here the separation between an outer and an inner world is added. Appearance then denotes the being of a thing in consciousness , while reality lies outside of it. This gap can only be overcome through faith .

According to Immanuel Kant, there is a difference between the “ thing in itself ” and its “appearance”. - The indefinite object of an empirical intuition is called appearance ( KdrV ) appearance is everything that is perceived with our senses and processed with our categories. In this respect, the appearances are subject to the laws of our thinking: they “appear” in space and time, because we necessarily think in space and time. Only these phenomena that are subject to our thinking can be grasped by humans: the thing in itself must always remain unrecognized. The term “appearance” is not intended to be judgmental here: the appearances are entirely subject to subjective truth. Another word for “appearance” is “idea”.

Arthur Schopenhauer combines the Platonic and Kantian philosophy with Buddhist and ancient Indian ways of thinking. In this way he, too, arrives at a possibility of recognizing the essence behind the appearance. The thing in itself, which Kant considered to be unknowable, he identifies with the “ will ”, which one does not recognize, but feels inside. The world “appears” as an idea, it “is” a blind, aimless, irrational will that manifests itself in the appearances, the “veil of the Maya ”.

Friedrich Nietzsche followed Schopenhauer's thinking in his early philosophy: the world is based on a tragic primal pain that expresses itself in opposition to Dionysian intoxication and Appolian beauty. Later he radically rejected this thinking: the separation of the world into a "true" and an "apparent" is hypocritical. There are only sensual “appearances”, which makes the word obsolete; Another, supposedly “true” world “behind” was invented by Plato, Christianity or Kant , for example , in order to make the only one, namely our sensually perceptible world, bad. A "thing in itself" is nonsensical, because nothing can exist separately from other things.

The materialistic dialectic also distinguishes between appearance as a totality of the properties and relationships of an object on the one hand and its "essence" on the other. But the latter can also be recognized for him. The appearance already contains essential features of a thing, but also insignificant things. The investigation must weed out the inessential and get to the essential, which is possible through dialectical thinking.

The phenomenology described by the term "phenomenon" (about the same as appearance) all contents of consciousness. The question of whether these also exist independently of consciousness is excluded. Through phenomenological analysis ( eidetic reduction ) one can get to their "essence". So this is not the opposite of the appearance, but a recognizable part of the phenomenon.



See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Appearance  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. As in shadowy - of seem - with the meaning of shadow, shadow image, illusion, unsubstantial ghost (according to the dictionary of origins , vol. 7 of the "Großer Duden").
  2. ^ Karl Marx: Capital III, MEW 25, 825.
  3. Immanuel Kant: Critique of Pure Reason , Book I, Part One, § 1.