Sunday, September 03, 2006

Word of the Day: Hypokeimenon

Hypokeimenon

"Hypokeimenon is a term in metaphysics which loosely means the "underlying thing" or the substratum. To search for the hypokeimenon is to search for that substance which persists in a thing going through change—its essential being. It is conceptually similar to Spinoza's "substance" and Kant's concept of the noumenon in The Critique of Pure Reason."

I believe few people would say such a thing does not exist. Yet, is this not God?

Is not God the hypokeimenon of the universe, however imprecisely it is defined?

29 comments:

B. Spinoza said...

existence as it really is without being filtered by human perception?

Nature would be existence filtered by human pereption.

God of religion would be existence personified i.e. as if existence had a personality.

This is my approach lately

Billie Jean said...

Interesting idea.

Personally I think that when people say nature it's just a way of saying God without saying "the G word". Keeps the atheists happy, but throughout scientific literature it just looks like someone's done search and replace.

david guttmann said...

it sounds that you equate nature with God. Dangerous. If you can know it and define it it is not God.

Billie Jean said...

I didn't say that at all. I said that people say nature when they mean God, which is totally different from me saying that I think that nature and God are the same thing.

Billie Jean said...

Or to be more precise, they say nature when they mean "a greater force that we can't really understand".

Some Guy said...

Hmmmm. I thought Hypokeimenon was some kind of Japanese cartoon with flying pink rabbits that shoot lasers out of their navels, or something. Guess I was wrong...

B. Spinoza said...

on a related topic check out the discussuion on r2jb

B. Spinoza said...

>If you can know it and define it it is not God.

Interesting take by a person who calls his blog "yediah". I guess you really mean Not yedia.

Jewish Atheist said...

Is not God the hypokeimenon of the universe, however imprecisely it is defined?

It seems to me that calling it "God" does a disservice to both words. Why can't you use a word that doesn't already mean something completely different to billions of people?

Orthoprax said...

Spinoza,

"existence as it really is without being filtered by human perception?"

Not exactly. It could be Existence in terms of that which doesn't even reach human senses to be filtered in the first place.

"God of religion would be existence personified i.e. as if existence had a personality."

Yeah, I actually like that approach.


JA,

"It seems to me that calling it "God" does a disservice to both words. Why can't you use a word that doesn't already mean something completely different to billions of people?"

God means something different to a lot of different people. Even within Judaism the God of Maimonides is a far cry from the God of Yehuda HaKohen or from that described in the Torah or from what you find in Kabbalah.

I think even theists would agree that ultimate reality is synonymous with God - they would only disagree on the details of such an ultimate reality.

Jewish Atheist said...

It just seems that you're doing a verbal sleight-of-hand. There has to be some minimum set of features that a "God" would have. Call yours the Source or the Matrix or the Essence or the Ground or something. God it ain't.

Orthoprax said...

JA,

Just because the term 'God' has taken on a series of popular anthropomorphic features does not mean I have abandon the term to the ignorant masses.

"Call yours the Source..."

Actually, the Neo-platonic Source (which is similar to the Hypokeimenon) was historically identified by many monotheists (Christians, Jews, and Muslims) as God.

Different words, yet they all mean the same thing.

B. Spinoza said...

>Not exactly. It could be Existence in terms of that which doesn't even reach human senses to be filtered in the first place.

I meant existence from an objective or absolute perspective and not from a human/subjective perspective. Existence viewed from this perspective is by definition outside of the realm of our senses

alex said...

Wouldn't 'soul' fit, just as well as 'God'?

XGH said...

> I believe few people would say such a thing does not exist. Yet, is this not God?

No, it isn't. By 'God' people mean a conscious entity, which actively Created the world for some purpose, takes an interest in our lives, and ultimately will reward or punish us (and hopefully give us all eternal life). You may think that is all a bunch of baloney, but that's what God means. Attempts to pretend that God could be existence (as in B Spinoza - the blogger), or the substratum, or whatever, don't add any value to the conversation at all.

XGH said...

> Just because the term 'God' has taken on a series of popular anthropomorphic features does not mean I have abandon the term to the ignorant masses.

Funny. Get rid of ALL the anthropomorphic features and what are you left with? Nothing at all. Hence David Guttman's problem.

XGH said...

> Wouldn't 'soul' fit, just as well as 'God'?

Flying Spaghetti Monster too.

Orthoprax said...

Spinoza,

Ok, gotcha.

Alex,

"Wouldn't 'soul' fit, just as well as 'God'?"

Soul of the universe? I've heard that term used to refer to God too.


XGH,

"No, it isn't. By 'God' people mean a conscious entity..."

See my response to JA.

"Funny. Get rid of ALL the anthropomorphic features and what are you left with? Nothing at all. Hence David Guttman's problem."

And Maimonides' problem too, eh?

Orthoprax said...

XGH,

Btw, does your visit here mean that you're back to the jblogsosphere? I've heard some rumors of you starting up a new blog.

B. Spinoza said...

>By 'God' people mean a conscious entity, which actively Created the world for some purpose, takes an interest in our lives, and ultimately will reward or punish us (and hopefully give us all eternal life).

yes, this is the popular (exoteric) view of religion in the west.

>Attempts to pretend that God could be existence (as in B Spinoza - the blogger), or the substratum, or whatever, don't add any value to the conversation at all.

Depends on who you are having the conversation with. We are not trying to convert the masses to our ideas. The conversation we are having is not with them. We are talking to people who want to discuss religion intellectually. That is who our conversation is with. Throughout religious history there have been two types of religious conversations. One is the esoteric (secret) type; the other is the exoteric (popular) view. We prefer the former since it makes more sense to us.

The question I have to you, GH, is which conversation do you want to have? Do you want to continue to discuss and criticize exoteric religion or do you want to learn about esoteric religion? The choice is yours

B. Spinoza said...

>Funny. Get rid of ALL the anthropomorphic features and what are you left with? Nothing at all. Hence David Guttman's problem.

So according to your definition of 'God', Rambam, who was one of the most respected Jewish theologins, was an atheist? Doesn't that make you wonder?

Nice Jewish Guy said...

Damn, Some Guy beat me to the funny comment! (Great minds, I guess...)

XGH said...

> Do you want to continue to discuss and criticize exoteric religion or do you want to learn about esoteric religion? The choice is yours

Ha. So esoteric that only you know about it. Esoteric Judaism is kabalah, which has quite an anthro.. view of God. I have no problem at all with this kind of speculation, but to call it 'God' is disingenuous. At least call it the 'God of Spinoza (the blogger)' or something.

XGH said...

> Hmmmm. I thought Hypokeimenon was some kind of Japanese cartoon with flying pink rabbits that shoot lasers out of their navels, or something. Guess I was wrong...

I honestly thought it was going to be about Greek sedarim.

B. Spinoza said...

>Ha. So esoteric that only you know about it

Not really. There are more people than me who think in the same manner.

>Esoteric Judaism is kabalah, which has quite an anthro.. view of God.

Not so sure about that. Kabbalah is not an ideology; it just means religious knowledge that is not known. I think there many schools of thought and they differ in many regards. Some are probably more rational than others. I would say that in general the symbols of Kabbalah are not supposed to be taken literally. They will use physical symbols which are supposed to represent metaphysical ideas. The God of Kabbalah (at least in the Zohar) as I understand it, is supposed to be panentheistic which is certainly not anthropomorphic. It's actually more or less the God I have in mind

alex said...

FWIW, by 'soul,' I just meant the soul of a person.

Orthoprax said...

Alex,

Could one refer to a person's hypokeimenon as their soul? I suppose you could. But then functionally everything has a soul.

Anonymous said...

About "substance" or hypokeimenon, olease read an informative article on:

http://www.radicalacademy.com/philaquinasmdw8.htm

and then especially this sentence (and the following explanation of it, of course):

"Locke and many others have criticized the scholastic theory of substance. Their objections, however, rest on a twofold misconception of what that theory involves... (etc)"

Its all about the history of our own (western) philosophy. The problem of "substance" is, that it first meant "the thing itself", but that his meaning has changed into something like "matter" itself. Those two meanings of the same word have to be distinguised as if they were two different words, otherwise one could mislead him/herself by thinking that some "things" (the core of it being those substances), the material things are more real than other things (like "democracy" or (the science of) "right" or ethics)

Tristan Burt said...

Aristotle offers a definition of the hypokeimenon (derived from ὑπό- (under) and κείμενον (lying)) by suggesting at [1029a] of the Metaphysics that a "strong case can be made that the hypokeimenon (sometimes translated in Aristotle as the "primary subject") is substance to the fullest extent". This makes sense because whatever underlies everything else must, by definition, be the substance from which everything else arises.

Substance then is [again in 1029a] "that which is not predicated itself and is the subject of the predication of other things". Exodus 3:14--where the Name of God is given in Hebrew as "אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה"--is translated in the Septuagint as "ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ὤν". English bibles often translate this Greek as "I am who I am" but word-for-word it means "I am the Being" or, alternatively, "I am Being" recognising that "Being" is nominative.

An earlier post referred to God as "existence personified" and that captures something of the Name of God. However, the specific formulation in the Septuagint meets Aristotle's definition of substance. Being cannot be predicated and the "I" is the subject of the predication of all other things.

Reading the Metaphysics with the Bible, we can say that God is substance to the fullest extent, and--accepting this as the definition of the hypokeimenon--we can say that God is the hypokeimenon.