In philosophy, essence is the attribute or set of attributes that make an entity or substance what it fundamentally is, and which it has by necessity, and without which it loses its identity. Essence is contrasted with accident: a property that the entity or substance has contingently, without which the substance can still retain its identity. The concept originates with Aristotle, who used the Greek expression to ti ên einai, literally 'the what it was to be', or sometimes the shorter phrase to ti esti, literally 'the what it is,' for the same idea. This phrase presented such difficulties for his Latin translators that they coined the word essentia (English "essence") to represent the whole expression. For Aristotle and his scholastic followers the notion of essence is closely linked to that of definition (horismos).

In the history of western thought, essence has often served as a vehicle for doctrines that tend to individuate different forms of existence as well as different identity conditions for objects and properties; in this eminently logical meaning, the concept has given a strong theoretical and common-sense basis to the whole family of logical theories based on the "possible worlds" analogy set up by Leibniz and developed in the intensional logic from Carnap to Kripke, which was later challenged by "extensionalist" philosophers such as Quine.

Read more about Essence:  Ontological Status, Existentialism, In Metaphysics, Marxism's Essentialism, Buddhism, Hinduism

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Famous quotes containing the word essence:

    What essence is to generation, that truth is to belief.
    Plato (c. 427–347 B.C.)

    The True is the whole. But the whole is nothing other than the essence consummating itself through its development. Of the Absolute it must be said that it is essentially a result, that only in the end is it what it truly is; and that precisely in this consists its nature, viz. to be actual, subject, the spontaneous becoming of itself.
    Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831)

    Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being.
    Albert Camus (1913–1960)