The Double Meanings of "Essence": The Natural and Humane Sciences — A Tentative Linkage of Hegel, Dilthey, and Husserl

Frontiers of Philosophy in China 4 (1):143 - 155 (2009)
Abstract
Early in Aristotle's terminology, and ever since, "essence" has been conceived as having two meanings, namely "universality" and "individuality". According to the tradition of thought that has dominated throughout the history of Western philosophy, "essence" unequivocally refers to "universality". As a matter of fact, however, "universality" cannot cover Aristotle's definition and formulation of "essence": Essence is what makes a thing "happen to be this thing." "Individuality" should be the deep meaning of "essence". By means of an analysis of some relevant Western thoughts and a review of cultural realities, it can be concluded that the difference between the attitudes toward things of the natural sciences and the humane sciences mainly lies in the fact that the former focus on the pursuit of universal regularity, whereas the latter go after the value and significance of human life. The movement from natural things to cultural things is a process in which essence shifts from universality to individuality. It is the author's contention that what should be stressed in the fields of human culture and society is the construction of an ideal society that is "harmonious yet not identical", on the basis of respecting and developing individual peculiarity and otherness. /// "本质" 最早在亚里士多德的用语中包含有两重含义: 是指 "普遍的东 西" ("共相"),一是指 "个体的东西" ("这个")。在西方哲学史上民期占统治 地位的思想片面地认为: "本质" 就是指 "普遍的东西"。但实际上"普遍的东 西" 并不能涵盖亚里士多德对 "本质" 的界定和表述t 本质是使一事物 "恰恰地是 这个事物"的东西。"本质" 的深层含义应是 "个体性"。通过对西方一些相关思 想观点的分析和文化现实的考察,可以得出结论z 自然科学与人文科学对待事物的 态度的区别在于z 前者重普遍性规律的追求,后者重个体性的人生价值意义的追求。 从自然物到文化物是一个由以普遍性为本质到以个体性为本质的转化过程。在人文 社会领域应该强调的是z 在尊重和发扬个人的独特性和差异性的基础上,建立 "和而 不同"的理想社会。.
Keywords natural science   essence   universality   human science   individuality   culture
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