from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The word existence ( Latin existentia "existence, Dasein") designates in philosophy the existence of a thing without further determination of whether it is a material or ideal object. In existential philosophy and existentialism , the term is often used synonymously for “human existence ”.

Colloquially, existence also describes the economic livelihood of a person , for example in the form of an economic operation (commercial business, law firm or the like).

In the predicate logic , the condition for a predicate assignment is marked with existence .

Concept history

The Latin existo (“I exist”) goes back to the Greek existemi ( ek-histemi ) and is often confused with the similarly sounding exeinai , which actually means “to be ”. existemi, on the other hand, means “to lay out, set up, stand out”, ie “to be spatially present”. In a philosophical context the term appears Existentia first time in Marius Victorinus as a translation of the Greek (360) Hyparxis here and is the substantia (Greek ousia faced). While Existentia denotes the pure presence of something, in contrast, the essence of a thing is denoted with essence ( Essentia ).

In medieval philosophy , existence was not considered a fact. The focus of the investigations was on the nature of things, their essence, as the possibility of existing things, while the real existence of a state of affairs was reproduced with subsistence in the sense of an ontological realism . The view was similar in the philosophy of rationalism ( Descartes , Spinoza , Leibniz ), where the reason for the existence of a thing was assumed in its essence. Thinking or defining things leads to their existence.

The existence of an object is given a different meaning in empiricism and in the doctrine of the two tribes of knowledge in Kant , in that from experience the things (in Kant as appearance) were assigned their own existence (see thing in itself ). In contrast, Hegel saw the unity of essence and appearance, of essence and existence, as that which constitutes reality .

Above all, Kierkegaard objected to Hegel that the individual, non-divisible life of the individual human being is limited to his existence. The self is a relationship that relates only to itself and is not absorbed in another, for example an absolute. With this view, Kierkegaard is considered the founder of existential philosophy . Heidegger took up this determination of existence in Being and Time : Being itself, to which Dasein can relate one way or another and always relate somehow, is what we call existence. (Being and time, 12). Based on the Latin radical word "ex - sistere", Heidegger also defines existence as the being of that being that is open to the openness of being in which it stands by "standing out" .

This view was made even more acute in the existentialism of Jean-Paul Sartre , for which existence precedes the being, the essence, man is referred to himself alone, i.e. only has the perspective of subjectivity.

The term “existence” is to be distinguished from Heidegger's term “ existential ”.

Math / logic

In classical mathematics, there are several options for proving the existence of a mathematical object (a proof of existence ):

  • the explicit specification of this object,
  • instructions for construction from existing objects,
  • the proof that the assumption of the non-existence of this object leads to a contradiction (an indirect proof of existence ).

In other conceptions of mathematics ( intuitionism , constructive mathematics ) the indirect proof of existence is rejected by bringing about contradictions from the assumption of nonexistence if an infinite number of objects are to be examined (see tertium non datur ). According to this, an object only exists if it is specified explicitly, or if an algorithm can be specified with which it can be constructed (with intuitionism in a finite number of steps).

In the modern discussion of the fundamentals of mathematics, the question of the universal dispute was taken up again in principle. The assumption of the independent existence of numbers and geometrical figures in classical mathematics is called Platonism and corresponds to the position of realism in the universals. Constructivism has its counterpart in the idea of conceptualism . Hilbert's axiomatic mathematics, on the other hand, regards mathematics as a purely formal human creation ( formalism ) and thus corresponds to nominalism .

Evolutionary biology

As existence ( Existence of Evolution ) is designated in the evolutionary biology is a fundamental theorem after it the evolution actually are. The term is no longer in use today due to its trivial meaning, but was extremely significant in Darwin's time.

The existence (of evolution) was assumed even before Darwin, including by Jean-Baptiste de Lamarck . Darwin was able to prove it for the first time through his observations and thus develop an expanded and consistent theory. But Darwin died of cancer before he could finish his research.


In philosophy there are basically three types of existences:

  • Necessary existence: is the existence that is the cause of everything else and underlies everything. She is also called God in some philosophies.
  • Unnecessary existence: All the existences that other existences are not dependent on.
  • Impossible Existence: Existences that contradict Necessary Existence. An example in a philosophy that sees an almighty God as a necessary existence would be a stone that is heavier than God could lift it. (This cannot exist and the Almighty cannot create it either, although he can do everything, because the existence of this stone is impossible - that is, in contradiction to the Almighty God.)

From a philosophical point of view, existence is posed with the question: Is something there just because we perceive it ?

There is no clear answer to this question. When you see an object , you can imagine it. This possible imagination can apparently be refuted by using other sense organs . A seemingly safe way to rule out non-existence is to interview another person. However, there is the possibility that the same biological processes take place in every human being that allow them to perceive an object even though it does not exist.

Another phenomenon related to this is mental illness . When a schizophrenic person asks his counterpart whether an object exists in order to verify his perception, as in the first case, he may be talking to a person he has imagined. Thus it cannot be assumed that the object is not also imagined.

In continuation of this thought, it is only possible to be aware of your own existence. It cannot be proven whether a universe or a world outside of one's own consciousness is real or exists. Only one's own existence is then certain, but not the existence of people, the environment and the universe itself, since one can only be (intuitively) certain of one's own existence in the form of consciousness. Even one's own existence as a human being cannot be proven, since one can only perceive one's own consciousness as definitely existing.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. Martin Heidegger : What is metaphysics? Vittorio Klostermann Frankfurt, 10 1969; P. 15 on tax "Existence as a metaphysical concept".

Web links

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