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"E" proposition

In the traditional notation for categorical logic, a proposition that is both universal and negative.

Example: "No reptiles are insects."

This proposition affirms that no individual is both a reptile and an insect. Its contradictory is an "I" proposition with the same subject and predicate terms.

Eckhart, Johannes ("Meister") (1260-1327)

German Dominican theologian whose Von unsagbaren Dingen and other writings and sermons identified the being and intellect of a unified deity that could be apprehended only through mystical apprehension of the divine through an inner spark [scintilla animae] of the soul. Condemned as pantheistic in his own time, Eckhart's doctrines were a significant application of neoplatonic thought.

Recommended Reading: Meister Echkart, Selected Writings, ed. by Oliver Davies (Penguin, 1995) {at}; Bernard McGinn, The Mystical Thought of Meister Eckhart: The Man from Whom God Hid Nothing (Crossroad, 2001); and Passion for Creation: Earth-honoring Spirituality of Meister Eckhart, ed. by Matthew Fox (Inner Traditions, 2000) {at}.

Also see IEP, Rudolf Steiner, The Eckhart Society, ColE, Paul Harrison, CE, ELC, Stephen Shanks, and BIO.

Eco, Umberto (1932- )

Italian novelist, critic, and philosopher; author of Opera aperta (The Open Work) (1962) {at}, Trattato di semiotica generale (A Theory of Semiotics) (1976) {at}, and Semiotica e filosofia del linguaggio {at} (Semiotics and the Philosophy of Language) (1984) {at}. A serious scholar of semiotics, Eco examines the use of signs, both in literary texts and — as in "Travels in Hyperreality" (1991) {at} — in popular culture. His novels, Il Nome della Rosa {at} (The Name of the Rose) (1980) {at}, Foucault's Pendulum (1988) {at}, and The Island of the Day Before (1994) {at} offer the kind of postmodern entertainment, deliberately open to re-interpretation at many different levels, that he had proposed in Apocalittici e integrati (Apocalyptic Postponed) (1964) {at}.

Recommended Reading: Umberto Eco, The Limits of Interpretation (Indiana, 1994) {at}; Umberto Eco, Misreadings (McClelland & Stewart, 1994) {at}; Umberto Eco, Six Walks in the Fictional Woods (Belknap, 1995) {at}; Reading Eco: An Anthology, ed. by Rocco Capozzi (Indiana, 1997) {at}; Literary Philosophers: Borges, Calvino, Eco, ed. by Jorge J.E. Garcia and Carolyn Korsmeyer (Routledge, 2002) {at}; Michael Caesar, Umberto Eco: Philosophy, Semiotics and the Work of Fiction (Blackwell, 1999) {at}; and Out of Chaos: Semiotics: A Festschrift in Honor of Umberto Eco, ed. by William E. Tanner, Anne Gervasi, and Kay Mizzel (Liberal Arts, 1992) {at}.

Also see LiberLiber, ColE, Martin McMesser, Dan Bucsescu, the Libyrinth, Bohemian Ink, and BIO.


Belief that human violation of the natural world is an extension of the prevalent patriarchy of Western culture. On this view, efforts to protect the environment at large are feminist in spirit, since they challenge systemic male domination of the other.

Recommended Reading: Ecofeminism: Women, Culture, Nature, ed. by Karen Warren and Nisvan Erkal (Indiana, 1997) {at}; Carol J. Adams, The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory (Continuum, 1999) {at}; Kristin Shrader-Frechette, Environmental Justice: Creating Equality, Reclaiming Democracy (Oxford, 2002) {at}; Ivone Gebara, Longing for Running Water: Ecofeminism and Liberation, tr. by David Molineaux (Fortress, 1999) {at}; Val Plumwood, Environmental Culture: The Ecological Crisis of Reason (Routledge, 2002) {at}; Ecofeminism: Women, Animals, Nature, ed. by Greta Claire Gaard (Temple, 1993) {at}; and Beneath the Surface: Critical Essays in the Philosophy of Deep Ecology, ed. by Eric Katz, Andrew Light, and David Rothenberg (MIT, 2000) {at}.

Also see Cathleen McGuire, Gloria Orenstein, SEP, Stacy Alaimo, Karen J. Warren, Susan Feldman, and Steve Best.

effect {Ger. Wirkung}

An event that is taken to result from or to be produced by another event, with which it stands in a causal relationship.

efficient cause

The agent or event that produces some change in the accidental features of a thing; one of Aristotle's four causes.

Recommended Reading: Aristotle, Physics, tr. by Robin Waterfield and David Bostock (Oxford, 1999) {at}.


Belief that human conduct is governed by self-interest. Psychological egoism holds that all human beings are, as a matter of fact, motivated to act only in pursuit of their own (at least apparent) advantage, never for the sake of others. Ethical egoism is the normative theory that right conduct can be defined in terms of (an enlightened notion of) one's own welfare. Though often held jointly, the distinction between fact and value clearly renders the two views distinct: some might argue that human beings ought to act on their own behalf even though they don't always do so, while others could suppose that they invariably do act selfishly even though they ought not.

Recommended Reading: Robert William Shaver, Rational Egoism: A Selective and Critical History (Cambridge, 1998) {at} and Kim-Chong Chong, Moral Agoraphobia: The Challenge of Egoism (Peter Lang, 1996) {at}.

Also see SEP, IEP, ISM, Lawrence Hinman, ColE, and Hugh LaFollette.

eidos [eidos]

Greek term for what is seen—figure, shape, or form. In the philosophy of Plato, the eidos is the immutable genuine nature of a thing, one of the eternal, transcendent Forms apprehended by human reason {Gk. nouV [nous]}. Aristotle rejected the notion of independently existing Forms and understood them instead as abstract universals. By extension, Husserl used the term "eidetic" for the phenomenological apprehension of essences generally.

Recommended Reading: F. E. Peters, Greek Philosophical Terms: A Historical Lexicon (NYU, 1967) {at}.

Also see PP.

eikasia [eikásia]

Greek term used by Plato, to signify human imagination, which is focussed exclusively on a temporal appearance or image {Gk. eikwn}.

Also see PP.

Einstein, Albert (1879-1955)

German physicist. Einstein's combination of simple thought-experiments with complex mathematical formulae transformed twentieth-century conceptions of matter, space, and time and earned him the Nobel Prize for physics in 1921. His Special and General Theories of Relativity (1905, 1915) emphasized the role of the observer in determining the content of our observations of the natural world. Although he assisted the careers of several of the logical positivists, his own philosophical reflections emphasized the independence of theory-formation from empirical evidence.

Recommended Reading: Albert Einstein, Relativity: The Special and the General Theory (Crown, 1995) {at}; Albert Einstein, Out of My Later Years: The Scientist, Philosopher and Man Portrayed Through His Own Words (Outlet, 1993) {at}; Richard Feynman, Six Not-So-Easy Pieces: Einstein's Relativity, Symmetry, and Space-Time (Perseus, 1998) {at}; Øyvind Grøn, Einstein's Theory: A Rigorous Introduction for the Mathematically Untrained (Ad Infinitum, 2002) {at}; and Albrecht Folsing, Albert Einstein: A Biography (Penguin, 1998) {at}.

Also see Einstein Online, SEP on Eintsein's philosophy of science and General relativity, ELC, BIO, WSB, Bartleby, ColE, and Christoph von Mettenheim.


Presocratic philosophers, including Parmenides and Zeno, who used dialectical methods to argue that reality is a unified whole within which no motion or change is possible.

Recommended Reading: The Cambridge Companion to Early Greek Philosophy, ed. by A. A. Long (Cambridge, 1999) {at}.

Also see John Burnet and ColE.


Belief that language should be purged of all reference to the (non-existent) things of a certain kind; the most extreme variety of reductionism. Thus, while a reductive materialist may hold that pains are really just activities of the central nervous system, an eliminative materialist proposes that we speak only of brain-states.

Also see Lyle Zynda, Steven Stich, Louis Caruana, and DPM.

Elizabeth of Bohemia (Elisabeth von der Pfalz) (1618-1680)
Princess Elizabeth

German princess. In her extensive correspondence with Descartes, Elizabeth deftly identified the impossibility of genuine interaction between mental and physical substances as the central difficulty with mind-body dualism.

Also see ELC.


That which inevitably flows outward from the transcendental central principle of reality ("the One") in the neoplatonic philosophy of Plotinus. Individual things, including human beings, are therefore presumed to be nothing more than the faint ripples left by a primordial big splash. The timeless reality of a central intelligence, Plotinus held, inexorably results in the formation of both soul as an active principle of organization and, eventually, inert matter.

Recommended Reading: Plotinus, The Enneads, ed. by John Dillon and Stephen MacKenna (Penguin, 1991) {at} and The Cambridge Companion to Plotinus, ed. by Lloyd P. Gerson (Cambridge, 1996) {at}.

Also see IEP, ColE, and ISM.

emergent property

An irreducible feature (now commonly called supervenient) of a complex whole that cannot be inferred directly from the features of its simpler parts. Thus, for example, the familiar taste of salt is an emergent property with respect to the sodium and chlorine of which it is composed.

Recommended Reading: Jaegwon Kim, Mind in a Physical World: An Essay on the Mind-Body Problem and Mental Causation (Bradford, 2000) {at}; William Hasker, The Emergent Self (Cornell, 1999) {at}; Benjamin Pinkel, Consciousness, Matter, and Energy: The Emergence of Mind in Nature (DeVorss, 1992) {at}; and Robert W. Batterman, The Devil in the Details: Asymptotic Reasoning in Explanation, Reduction and Emergence (Oxford, 2001) {at}.

Also see DPM, SEP, Stephen C. Pepper, Meehl and Sellars, and Michael Huemer.

Emerson, Ralph Waldo (1803-1882)

American essayist and anti-slavery activist. Emerson's enthusiastic celebration of the individual person expressed a prominent element of nineteenth-century optimism in his Essays {at} — First Series (1841) and Second Series (1844). Among his best-known philosophical works are "The American Scholar" (1837), a speech on American intellectual values, and the confidently humanistic essay, "Self-Reliance" (1841). Influenced by German Romanticism, Emerson helped to establish a lasting American taste for non-theistic spirituality.

Recommended Reading: Ralph Waldo Emerson: Essays and Lectures, ed. by Joel Porte (Library of America, 1983) {at}; The Essential Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. by Brooks Atkinson and Mary Oliver (Modern Library, 2000) {at}; The Portable Emerson, ed. by Malcolm Cowley (Viking, 1987) {at}; Selected Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. by Brooks Atkinson (Modern Library 1992) {at}; and The Cambridge Companion to Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. by Joel Porte and Saundra Morris (Cambridge, 1999) {at}.

Also see Robert Sarkissian, SEP, ColE, Bartleby, BIO, and ELC.

emotion, appeal to (argumentum ad populum)

The informal fallacy of persuading someone to accept (or reject) a conclusion by arousing favorable (or unfavorable) emotions toward it or by emphasizing its widespread acceptance (or rejection) by others.

Example: "Nobody with an ounce of common sense or a single shred of integrity believes that our President is truly an effective leader. Therefore, the President is not an effective leader."

Recommended Reading: Douglas Walton, Appeal to Popular Opinion (Penn. State, 1999) {at}.

Also see FF and GLF.

emotive meaning

Attitudes and feelings associated with the use of a word, phrase, or sentence, in contrast with its literal significance.


The meta-ethical theory according to which the meaning of moral language is exhausted by its expression, evocation, or endorsement of powerful human feelings. Thus, for example, saying "Stealing is wrong," is just an especially strong way of reporting that I disapprove of stealing, evoking a similar disapproval from others, and thereby attempting to influence future conduct—both mine and theirs. Although its origins lie in the non-cognitivist morality of Hume, emotivism reached its height early in the twentieth century, with the work of the logical positivists and Stevenson.

Recommended Reading: Charles L. Stevenson, Ethics and Language (Yale, 1944); J. O. Urmson, The Emotive Theory of Ethics (London, 1968) {at}; and Stephen Satris, Ethical Emotivism (Martinus Nijhoff, 1987) {at}.

Also see Steven Darwall and ISM.


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Last modified 7 August 2002.
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