Wealth ( ancient Greek δύναμις dýnamis , Latin potentia ) is a central concept of ancient, especially Aristotelian, philosophy . In Aristotle it describes the property of a substance to be able to bring about or enable a certain kind of change in itself or in something else. The point is that the change, if it occurs, creates something new and thus “is able” to come into existence (hence “ability”). In this way, something becomes reality that previously only existed potentially - as a mere possibility . In the sense of the distinction made by Aristotle between act and potency , the faculty is the potency - the possibility of existence - in contrast to the act ( ἐνέργεια enérgeia ), the realization.
Depending on the type of change effected, a distinction is made between different capacities. The psychic faculties are particularly significant for Aristotelian doctrine and tradition. They are the subject of property psychology, a philosophical presentation and interpretation of psychological phenomena that is linked to the Aristotelian theory of the soul. In wealth psychology, “ability” is understood to mean an ability or power that is ascribed to the soul or the psychic. However, modern psychology has given up the concept of mental faculties in the sense of an independent elementary force as inexpedient. In modern psychology one speaks instead of disposition .
As a property of a thing, a property has the peculiarity of being fundamentally unobservable, in contrast to other properties. Only the occurrence of the effect attributed to it is perceptible, not the existence of the property itself. It is therefore often disputed that the term “property” is suitable for explaining causal relationships . Critics believe that this term only serves as a provisional designation for a causal relationship that has not yet been seen through.
The starting point of the ancient concepts of wealth and possibilities is the pre-philosophical term dynamis . For the pre-Socratics , this expression describes the ability to achieve or to suffer. In this sense Thales calls the divine moving force, which he imagines permeating the primary material water, dynamis . Parmenides conceives light and darkness as two complementary principles and forces to which he traces the world of appearances; they are given as determining factors "according to their ability" in all things. In the theory of numbers of the Pythagoreans , the expression is used to denote a fortune in certain numbers. The best-known example of this is the Tetraktys (quartet, group of four): The number four contains the ten “according to ability” because the first four numbers add up to ten. Thanks to this ability, four “creates” ten.
In Plato , dynamis has the main meaning of an active faculty or ability with the connotation of strength or power. In Dialog Politeia he defines dynamis as “a species of beings, thanks to which we can do what we can do as well as everything else that can do something”. He cites visual and hearing as examples. In comparison to opinion (dóxa ), he describes knowledge or knowledge ( episteme ) as the highest or most powerful of all faculties.
In Plato's ethics the dynamis appears as a faculty of the soul. It is the property that enables its bearer to carry out will-controlled activity, as far as external circumstances permit. In the Hippias minor dialogue, a definition of “wealthy” (dynatós) is given: wealthy is “everyone who does what he wants, then when he wants it”. For example, Hippias can write the name of Socrates whenever he wants, and those who are able to tell the truth can also knowingly lie. Thus there is an ambivalence in the general availability of wealth. But this is abolished by Plato in the doctrine of virtues insofar as, according to a Socratic principle, no one intentionally does anything bad. Bad - that is, unjust - action is always the result of ignorance and inability. Knowledge is a sufficient condition for good action. The possibility of acting badly exists for the knowledgeable only mentally, not practically, because he cannot want such an action.
In addition to the active ability, Plato also knows a passive one, such as the ability of the sense objects to be perceived or the Platonic ideas to be recognized. In the Politeia , light is valued as the “nobler bond” through which “the sense of seeing and the ability to be seen are linked”.
According to the Aristotelian understanding, something exists in the mode of being of possibility if it is thought of as a potential being from the point of view of its realization, which gives the possibility the direction of its movement. For example, a carving is included “if possible” in the piece of wood from which it is made.
For Aristotle, every active faculty of one who can bring about a certain change corresponds to a passive faculty of the thing in which this change can take place. The object has the ability to undergo the change. An active asset is, for example, the ability of a builder to modify certain building materials so that they become a house. This corresponds to the passive ability of the materials to be processed in this way. Every active asset is targeted and designed to be realized. In biology it can be observed that a reproductive organism produces a seed that is a mediator of the " form " - the shape and quality - of the species in question; the new living being is contained in the seed as far as possible; its future shape is determined by the seed. The ability to reproduce is an active faculty common to different species of living beings. It has its equivalent in the passive malleability of living matter .
Furthermore, Aristotle distinguished between senseless and rational faculties. The ability of fire to heat something is irrational, for example. Such a faculty can only ever produce one of two opposing effects; fire cannot cool an object. Reason-bound wealth, on the other hand, is characterized by the fact that it enables its owner to produce both a certain effect and its opposite . For example, a doctor has the power to both cure a patient and make him sick.
In the anthropology of late medieval scholasticism , the Aristotelian doctrine of the faculties of the soul (Latin potentiae animae ) was adopted and expanded, but also critically discussed. A distinction was made between the vegetative soul faculties common to all earthly living beings (nutrition, growth, reproduction), the sensitive faculties of the "sensory beings" animal and human (including sleeping, perception, local movement) and the intellectual faculties of the rational soul reserved for humans. In scholasticism up to the early modern period, the question whether the faculties are real properties of the soul substance and differ from it in terms of being, as Thomas Aquinas put it ("realistic" position), or whether they are only on the conceptual level , was controversial in scholasticism can be distinguished without anything real corresponding to these terms.
In the early modern period, criticism of the philosophical explanations through faculties began. They were suspected of being empty. Molière made fun of it with a joke in his 1673 comedy The Conceited Sick : A medical student explains the soporific effect of opium by stating that this substance has a “soporific ability” (virtus dormativa) . René Descartes turned against the "realistic" use of the term . He admitted that the human mind (mens) , understood as substance, had various facultates , but emphasized that these were not parts of the mind. The mental states and acts proceeded from the whole soul; they were not realizations of individual faculties that were really different from one another and from the substance. David Hume stated that the concept of wealth does not correspond to anything in reality.
In the 18th century, wealth was discussed above all in relation to the soul and in connection with Aristotle. Different answers were given to the question of whether a corresponding faculty must be assumed for every psychological change that relates to a new object, or whether the faculties of the soul are so similar to one another that a single faculty of the soul "for everything" can be assumed.
Christian Wolff rejected the real different faculties of the soul. He said that mental changes are brought about by imagination alone . A fortune is a way of doing something. In contrast to forces, wealth is not a cause of change and therefore no real property. The term “ability” is only needed as long as the principles underlying the workings of the soul have not yet been seen through. By recognizing the laws to which the imagination is subject, the assumption of individual faculties is superfluous. Christian August Crusius , like Wolff, differentiated between forces and capacities, but was of the opinion that the human soul has more than one basic force.
Immanuel Kant included the concept of wealth among the predicables . He used it to describe the ability of a substance, understood as a real property, to bring about a change in itself or in other substances. According to Kant's definition, a human capacity is the inner principle of the possibility of an action. As such, it is a real quality in the acting subject. All changes in the human mind - according to Kant - can be traced back to three causes: the capacity for knowledge , the capacity for desire and the feeling of pleasure and displeasure. The distinction between the three possibilities arises from the respective relation of the idea that the subject has to its object. When an imagination is related to an object from the point of view of harmony or conformity, there is an activity of imagination. The ability of desire is the ability of the subject to be the cause of the reality of the objects of these representations through his representations, i.e. to enter into a causal relationship to the objects of the representation. If it is an idea that relates to the subject itself and influences it by intensifying or inhibiting its vital forces, then the feeling of pleasure and displeasure is the active faculty.
In his work The Principle of Hope, Ernst Bloch differentiated ability as an “active possibility”, as “inner, active ability” or potency from the “possibility in the passive sense”, which he called potentiality and described as “external, passive ability to be done”. Let these two kinds of possibility be intertwined; there is "no active ability of the fortune and its active 'investment' without the potential in a time, environment, society, without the useful maturity of these external conditions". In politics, the possibility as an asset is "being able to do differently", the possibility as objective potential is "being able to become different". A meeting of the two is the prerequisite for a “redefinition”, for the realization of the “objectively real possible”. Bloch was particularly concerned with the “realm of freedom that develops as a socialist possibility in history” and with people as “the real possibility of everything that has become of them in their history, and above all with unrestricted progress can be". For these considerations Bloch resorted to Aristotle's concept of dynamis. Aristotle was "the first to recognize the realiter possibility in the world itself".
In more recent debates, assets are discussed in the discourse on dispositional predicates . These are predicates whose conditions of use can only be specified in material conditionalities . Such conditionals are "dispositional statements". These are usually interpreted as counterfactual conditionals . They indicate what an object would do under certain circumstances. The statement “S has the ability to do A if C” applies if and only if: “If C were the case, then SA would do”. Often an attempt is made to either reduce or eliminate dispositional predicates: the talk of assets is either reduced to the talk of files or eliminated to the talk of microphysical states. However, both approaches encounter considerable difficulties. The difficulty with reducing to files is that any number of situations can be imagined that prevent the assets from being updated. Thus, the dispositional statement would have to be supplemented by an infinitely long list of additional conditions. But then the truth conditions of the conditional could no longer be given. When eliminating by referring back to the discussion of microphysical states, one encounters the problem that a description of these states without using dispositional terms is difficult. The question of whether there are irreducibly dispositional properties remains open; likewise the question of whether assets are causally relevant and whether they play an explanatory role.
General overview displays
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- Klaus Sachs-Hombach : assets; Wealth Psychology. In: Historical Dictionary of Philosophy . Volume 11, Schwabe, Basel 2001, Col. 728-731.
- Thomas Schirren : dynamis. In: Christoph Horn , Christof Rapp (Hrsg.): Dictionary of ancient philosophy. Beck, Munich 2002, ISBN 3-406-47623-6 , p. 117 f.
- Hermann Weidemann : dynamism / wealth, possibility. In: Otfried Höffe (Hrsg.): Aristoteles-Lexikon (= Kröner's pocket edition . Volume 459). Kröner, Stuttgart 2005, ISBN 3-520-45901-9 , pp. 139-144.
- Gilles Deleuze : Kant's Critical Philosophy. The doctrine of wealth. Merve, Berlin 1990, ISBN 3-88396-073-X .
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- Stefan Heßbrüggen-Walter: The soul and its faculties: Kant's metaphysics of the mental in the critique of pure reason. Mentis, Paderborn 2004, ISBN 3-89785-423-6 .
- Klaus Sachs-Hombach: assets; Wealth Psychology. In: Historical Dictionary of Philosophy. Volume 11, Basel 2001, Col. 728-731.
- Stefan Heßbrüggen-Walter: Fortune. In: Petra Kolmer, Armin G. Wildfeuer (Hrsg.): New manual of philosophical basic concepts. Volume 3, Freiburg 2011, pp. 2321-2333, here: 2321.
- Horst Seidl : Possibility. In: Historical Dictionary of Philosophy. Volume 6, Basel 1984, Col. 72-92, here: 74.
- Plato, Politeia 477C.
- Plato, Politeia 477e.
- Plato, Hippias Minor 366b-c.
- Jörn Müller : Fortune / Possibility (dynamis). In: Christian Schäfer (Ed.): Platon-Lexikon , Darmstadt 2007, pp. 304–306, here: 304.
- Plato, Politeia 507e-508a.
- Thomas Schirren: dynamis. In: Christoph Horn, Christof Rapp (Hrsg.): Dictionary of ancient philosophy. Munich 2002, p. 117 f., Here: 118.
- Hermann Weidemann: dynamis / fortune, possibility. In: Otfried Höffe (Ed.): Aristoteles-Lexikon. Stuttgart 2005, pp. 139-144, here: 140; Thomas Schirren: dynamis. In: Christoph Horn, Christof Rapp (Hrsg.): Dictionary of ancient philosophy. Munich 2002, p. 117 f., Here: 118.
- Hermann Weidemann: dynamis / fortune, possibility. In: Otfried Höffe (Ed.): Aristoteles-Lexikon. Stuttgart 2005, pp. 139–144, here: 140 f .; Matthias Haase: Assets. In: Hans Jörg Sandkühler (Ed.): Encyclopedia Philosophy. Volume 3, Hamburg 2010, pp. 2891–2893, here: 2893.
- Theodor W. Köhler : Foundations of the philosophical-anthropological discourse in the thirteenth century. Leiden 2000, pp. 291-294, 329-331.
- Stefan Heßbrüggen-Walter: Fortune. In: Petra Kolmer, Armin G. Wildfeuer (Hrsg.): New manual of philosophical basic concepts. Volume 3, Freiburg 2011, pp. 2321-2333, here: 2325.
- Matthias Haase: Fortune. In: Hans Jörg Sandkühler (Ed.): Encyclopedia Philosophy. Volume 3, Hamburg 2010, pp. 2891–2893, here: 2891 f .; Stefan Heßbrüggen-Walter: Fortune. In: Petra Kolmer, Armin G. Wildfeuer (Hrsg.): New manual of philosophical basic concepts. Volume 3, Freiburg 2011, pp. 2321-2333, here: 2325 f.
- Stefan Heßbrüggen-Walter: Fortune. In: Marcus Willaschek u. a. (Ed.): Kant-Lexikon. Volume 3, Berlin 2015, pp. 2481–2484, here: 2482; Stefan Heßbrüggen-Walter: Fortune. In: Petra Kolmer, Armin G. Wildfeuer (Hrsg.): New manual of philosophical basic concepts. Volume 3, Freiburg 2011, pp. 2321-2333, here: 2326.
- Stefan Heßbrüggen-Walter: Fortune. In: Marcus Willaschek u. a. (Ed.): Kant-Lexikon. Volume 3, Berlin 2015, pp. 2481–2484, here: 2482 f.
- Stefan Heßbrüggen-Walter: Fortune. In: Marcus Willaschek u. a. (Ed.): Kant-Lexikon. Volume 3, Berlin 2015, pp. 2481-2484; Gilles Deleuze: Kant's Critical Philosophy. The doctrine of wealth. Berlin 1990, p. 23 f.
- Ernst Bloch: The principle of hope. Chapters 1–37. Frankfurt am Main 1959, pp. 267-271.
- Matthias Haase: Fortune. In: Hans Jörg Sandkühler (Ed.): Encyclopedia Philosophy. Volume 3, Hamburg 2010, pp. 2891–2893, here: 2892.
- Matthias Haase: Fortune. In: Hans Jörg Sandkühler (Ed.): Encyclopedia Philosophy. Volume 3, Hamburg 2010, pp. 2891–2893, here: 2892 f.