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Thing is a term also used in the judiciary and in philosophy , which in its oldest meaning from the Germanic legal language denoted a dispute with an adversary . Later the source, the nature, the reason for a dispute or the judicial prosecution were also referred to as a thing , as well as the offense , the offense or the guilt . In further development, a thing is also something that someone has to represent, accomplish, do, his mission , his task , his duty .


The word thing comes from the Old High German sahha ("persecution, dispute, war, trial, litigation"), first mentioned in 765. This later developed into Middle High German sache (“thing, thing, cause, case, matter, dispute, legal trade”). The word originally comes from the Gothic sakan , sôk , sakans ("arguing").

Judiciary and Law

The word meaning "cause of a dispute" is finally expanded: the word becomes a term for any matter which gives rise to any negotiation or discussion and which is or could become the subject of a dispute . Thing is therefore used today in a similar way to the terms object and object as well as thing - which originally meant " judgment " ( Thing ).

Due to its Gothic origin ("argument"), the term is still often used in the judicial system today in the form of a compound word . The main hearing begins with the "call of the matter", holiday matters were court matters that were also heard during the court holidays. The main proceedings in civil proceedings are the actual litigation proceedings . The clarification of the facts is one of the most important maxims of jurisprudence . Courts are obliged to exhaust the facts submitted to them for decision and to investigate all ambiguities, doubts or contradictions ex officio . In doing so, court-relevant facts are to be taken into account as processes or conditions that can be perceived by the senses. The court case ( Latin "causa forensis iudicialis" ) is the subject of the trial today . The Judicature Act (GVG) mentions the word "thing" often, as in the demands that "during the pendency things can be otherwise made pending by any party" ( § 17 GVG). In the dishes which are subjects in particular according to civil matter or criminal case divided (about § § 119 , § 120 GVG at second instance ), depending on whether it is civil law or criminal law goes. Civil matters include civil disputes, family matters and matters of voluntary jurisdiction ( § 13 GVG).

The old legal meaning of the matter is particularly reflected in many legal terms. Thing as a legal concept indicates in German law a physical object ( § 90 BGB). The trustee is a (legal) lawyer or defense attorney. Today in Germany property law regulates the control of property as part of civil law and civil code . The law of public affairs is part of general administrative law . It does not have special things, but uses or a special status as an object.


Antisthenes understood the term λόγος ( logos ) as the sum of the characteristics of a thing, and each thing had its own peculiar name.

In the German-language philosophical literature of the 17th and 18th centuries, thing takes the place of the res in Latin philosophical literature of the early modern period . "Thing" includes not only "things", but "any circumstances".

According to the philosopher Friedrich Köppen , the thing is seen as a useful means of acquiring philosophical knowledge. The thing is the object of an intuition. According to Karl Ludwig Michelet , the thing (Greek Πράγμα, pragma) is the totality of its properties.

The expression also has specific meanings in Kant and Edmund Husserl :

"Thing" in the sense of Kant

Kant uses the term "thing" for an opposite term to the term person . In contrast to the person, the (mere) thing is a thing that cannot be attributed. This leads to the demand that people not be viewed as things, but always as an end in themselves.

"Thing" in the sense of phenomenology

Edmund Husserl demands in the context of his phenomenology that you have to analyze things yourself . For the intentional consciousness, he regards this as "evident in the how of its givenness".

factual and practical

The adjective factual and the factuality as a positive and relevant impartiality come from the 19th century. New Objectivity was coined as a name for a style in painting, literature and architecture in the 1920s.


There are also numerous other compositions such circumstances , facts , expert , a matter of opinion , main and secondary matter , property relatedness .

See also

Wiktionary: thing  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: factual  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Gerhard Köbler , Etymological Legal Dictionary , 1995, p. 348
  2. ^ BGH, judgment of November 30, 2010, Az .: VI ZR 25/09
  3. ^ Paul Deussen, General History of Philosophy , 1906, pp. 203 f.
  4. So Harald Schnur, Oswald Schwemmer : Thing , in: Jürgen Mittelstraß (Ed.): Encyclopedia Philosophy and Philosophy of Science. 2nd Edition. Volume 7. Stuttgart, Metzler 2018, ISBN 978-3-476-02106-9 , p. 194 with additional information
  5. Friedrich Koeppen, Philosophy of Philosophy , 1840, p. 10
  6. Gottlob Ernst Schulze , Critique of Theoretical Philosophy , Volume 1, 1801, p. 57
  7. ^ Karl Ludwig Michelet, History of the Last Systems of Philosophy in Germany , Volume 2, 1838, p. 735
  8. Harald Schnur, Oswald Schwemmer : thing , in: Jürgen Mittelstraß (Hrsg.): Encyclopedia Philosophy and Philosophy of Science. 2nd Edition. Volume 7. Stuttgart, Metzler 2018, ISBN 978-3-476-02106-9 , p. 194 (195) with further references