entelechy

entelechy

[en-tel-uh-kee]
noun, plural entelechies.
1.
a realization or actuality as opposed to a potentiality.
2.
(in vitalist philosophy) a vital agent or force directing growth and life.

Origin:
1595–1605; < Late Latin entelechīa < Greek entelécheia, equivalent to en- en-2 + tél(os) goal + éch(ein) to have + -eia -y3

entelechial [en-tuh-lek-ee-uhl] , adjective
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World English Dictionary
entelechy (ɛnˈtɛlɪkɪ)
 
n , pl -chies
1.  (in the philosophy of Aristotle) actuality as opposed to potentiality
2.  (in the system of Leibnitz) the soul or principle of perfection of an object or person; a monad or basic constituent
3.  something that contains or realizes a final cause, esp the vital force thought to direct the life of an organism
 
[C17: from Late Latin entelechia, from Greek entelekheia, from en-² + telos goal, completion + ekhein to have]

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Word Origin & History

entelechy
c.1600, from Gk. entelekheia, from en- "in" + telei, dative of telos "perfection" (see tele-) + ekhein "to have." In Aristotle, "the condition in which a potentiality has become an actuality."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia

entelechy

(from Greek entelecheia), in philosophy, that which realizes or makes actual what is otherwise merely potential. The concept is intimately connected with Aristotle's distinction between matter and form, or the potential and the actual. He analyzed each thing into the stuff or elements of which it is composed and the form which makes it what it is (see hylomorphism). The mere stuff or matter is not yet the real thing; it needs a certain form or essence or function to complete it. Matter and form, however, are never separated; they can only be distinguished. Thus, in the case of a living organism, for example, the sheer matter of the organism (viewed only as a synthesis of inorganic substances) can be distinguished from a certain form or function or inner activity, without which it would not be a living organism at all; and this "soul" or "vital function" is what Aristotle in his De anima (On the Soul ) called the entelechy (or first entelechy) of the living organism. Similarly, rational activity is what makes a man to be a man and distinguishes him from a brute animal.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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