Author Topic: ἐξουσία -> ability, power, permission, authority  (Read 4391 times)

Myron Shank

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Re: ἐξουσία -> ability, power, permission, authority
« Reply #15 on: 03 Aug, 2014, 22:58:29 »
Thank you. Your comment gets me further than I have been able to get on my own. I will see what I can do with the references you cited.


Myron Shank

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Re: ἐξουσία -> ability, power, permission, authority
« Reply #16 on: 04 Aug, 2014, 02:51:51 »
I have managed to track down the complete citation (Collinge, Nigel E. The Senate and the Essence: Gerousia and Ousia. Glotta: Zeitschrift für griechische und lateinische Sprache 49:218-229; 1971.), but that seems to be as far as I can get with that line.

Myron Shank

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Re: ἐξουσία -> ability, power, permission, authority
« Reply #17 on: 04 Aug, 2014, 23:34:49 »
I am rereading your comments, with emphasis upon οὐσία as the present participle of εἰμί. In what sense would ἐξουσία be "(that which is) out of (the) being" or "(that which is ) out of (what is) existing?"

Should ἐξουσία, therefore, be understood as "status" or "rank," in the sense of being "from the nature" or "out of the essence," If so, would it be proper to speak of the ἐξουσία of a slave, which is to be under the master, or the ἐξουσία of those who are under rulers, which is to be subordinate? Is this the sense of the centurion's comments in Matthew 8:9 and Luke 7:8, where he places himself "under" the same hierarchy that encompasses his soldiers and his slave?

I note that the English word "essence" is said to be derived "in imitation of Greek ousia 'being, essence'" from the Latin noun, essentia, "'being, essence,' abstract noun" formed "from essent-, present participle stem of esse 'to be,' from PIE *es" (Online Etymology Dictionary, http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=essence, accessed August 4, 2014). This sounds very much like your derivation of ουσία. The etymology of the Latin essentia, itself, seems relevant here:  Aristotle's use of "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...presented such difficulties for his Latin translators that they coined the word essentia (English 'essence') to represent the whole expression." (Essence. (2014, May 19). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20:02, August 4, 2014, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Essence&oldid=609170379). The later is similar to your derivation of οὐσία, so it strikes me that Aristotle is not said to have used οὐσία, but a phrase, to express this concept. Why, would he use a phrase, if the word οὐσία had the meaning he sought (as your derivation seems to imply)?

I note that ἐχουσία is also "authority, right" (Vocab 10 flashcards | Quizlet). Is there any chance that ἐξουσία could be derived from an elision of ἐκ + ἔχουσα--in other words, the feminine present participle of ἔχω, what one has (Of course, that would not explain the ί before the α, unless ἔχουσα and ἐξουσία "blended")?
« Last Edit: 04 Aug, 2014, 23:50:23 by Myron Shank »


billberg23

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Re: ἐξουσία -> ability, power, permission, authority
« Reply #18 on: 05 Aug, 2014, 03:10:10 »
I am rereading your comments, with emphasis upon οὐσία as the present participle of εἰμί.
There seems to be a misunderstanding here.  Oὐσία is not the present participle of εἰμί;  the present participle (feminine) is οὖσα.  Both the noun oὐσία and the feminine participle οὖσα are formed from the root *es ("be") which, when combined with endings –ntsa or –ntsja is contracted into ou.  So the formations are analogous, but the meanings are not identical.
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In what sense would ἐξουσία be "(that which is) out of (the) being" or "(that which is ) out of (what is) existing?"
"Out of" in the sense of "based on" what is at hand?  Hence power, possibility?  I was hoping you might have access to a library where you could find Collinge's article and read it for us.  But perhaps you're as far from such a resource as I am.
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Should ἐξουσία, therefore, be understood as "status" or "rank," in the sense of being "from the nature" or "out of the essence," If so, would it be proper to speak of the ἐξουσία of a slave, which is to be under the master, or the ἐξουσία of those who are under rulers, which is to be subordinate? Is this the sense of the centurion's comments in Matthew 8:9 and Luke 7:8, where he places himself "under" the same hierarchy that encompasses his soldiers and his slave?
This would be a misinterpretation of ἐξουσία.  The ἐξουσία belongs to the master, not to the slave.  Eξουσία does not mean "status."  The centurion says he is under (ὑπὸ) someone else's authority (ἐξουσίαν).
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I note that the English word "essence" is said to be derived "in imitation of Greek ousia 'being, essence'" from the Latin noun, essentia, "'being, essence,' abstract noun" formed "from essent-, present participle stem of esse 'to be,' from PIE *es" (Online Etymology Dictionary, http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=essence, accessed August 4, 2014). This sounds very much like your derivation of ουσία. The etymology of the Latin essentia, itself, seems relevant here:  Aristotle's use of "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...presented such difficulties for his Latin translators that they coined the word essentia (English 'essence') to represent the whole expression." (Essence. (2014, May 19). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20:02, August 4, 2014, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Essence&oldid=609170379). The later is similar to your derivation of οὐσία, so it strikes me that Aristotle is not said to have used οὐσία, but a phrase, to express this concept. Why, would he use a phrase, if the word οὐσία had the meaning he sought (as your derivation seems to imply)?
Υou'd really have to ask Heidegger!  (-:  Seriously, Aristotle habitually shies away from abstract words and concepts, especially when discussing "reality."  It seemed more reasonable for him (and especially for his students, who were taking these notes) to talk of the "what is it" and the "what it turned out to be" than to talk of "is-ness" (οὐσία), especially when that word, by his time, had already come to mean "property."
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I note that ἐχουσία is also "authority, right" (Vocab 10 flashcards | Quizlet). Is there any chance that ἐξουσία could be derived from an elision of ἐκ + ἔχουσα--in other words, the feminine present participle of ἔχω, what one has (Of course, that would not explain the ί before the α, unless ἔχουσα and ἐξουσία "blended")?
No.  That " ἐχουσία" is a common misprint.  There is no such word.  Sloppy publishers, like elementary Greek students, often confuse ξ with χ.  Flash cards are, in any case, not a great way to learn ancient Greek.  I recommend Allen's First Year of Greek.  You can download it here, free:  http://books.google.com/books/about/The_First_Year_of_Greek.html?id=G5AXAAAAIAAJ
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Myron Shank

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Re: ἐξουσία -> ability, power, permission, authority
« Reply #19 on: 05 Aug, 2014, 06:56:59 »
You are correct. ἐχουσία is not a valid word.

Thank you for also catching my misidentification of οὐσία as the present participle of εἰμί.

My reply somehow was posted while I was working on Aristotle's problematic use of οὐσία and his distinct use of δύναμις, not ἐξουσία, to indicate potentiality (Cohen, S. Marc, "Aristotle's Metaphysics", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2014 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <Aristotle's Metaphysics (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy/Summer 2014 Edition).):

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In Metaphysics Ζ, Aristotle introduces the distinction between matter and form synchronically, applying it to an individual substance at a particular time. The matter of a substance is the stuff it is composed of; the form is the way that stuff is put together so that the whole it constitutes can perform its characteristic functions. But soon he begins to apply the distinction diachronically, across time. This connects the matter/form distinction to another key Aristotelian distinction, that between potentiality (dunamis) and actuality (entelecheia or energeia). This distinction is the main topic of Book Θ.

Aristotle distinguishes between two different senses of the term dunamis. In the strictest sense, a dunamis is the power that a thing has to produce a change. A thing has a dunamis in this sense when it has within it a “source of change in something else (or in itself qua other)” (Θ.1, 1046a12; cf. Δ.12). The exercise of such a power is a kinêsis—a movement or process. So, for example, the housebuilder's craft is a power whose exercise is the process of housebuilding. But there is a second sense of dunamis—and it is the one in which Aristotle is mainly interested—that might be better translated as ‘potentiality’. For, as Aristotle tells us, in this sense dunamis is related not to movement (kinêsis) but to actuality (energeia)(Θ.6, 1048a25). A dunamis in this sense is not a thing's power to produce a change but rather its capacity to be in a different and more completed state. Aristotle thinks that potentiality so understood is indefinable (1048a37), claiming that the general idea can be grasped from a consideration of cases. Actuality is to potentiality, Aristotle tells us, as “someone waking is to someone sleeping, as someone seeing is to a sighted person with his eyes closed, as that which has been shaped out of some matter is to the matter from which it has been shaped” (1048b1–3).

Since Aristotle was talking extensively about the nature of οὐσία and what derives from it, it seems odd that he would use δύναμις, not ἐξουσία, to indicate "potentiality," if ἐξουσία meant "a permitted being" or "'a being possible/permitted,' i.e. 'a (state/condition/process of) being possible/permitted' — in other words, a potential or potency."

In addition, apparently, not everyone believes that οὐσία "by his [Aristotle's] time, had already come to mean 'property,'" at least not exclusively. Citing the same source:

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...the Categories begins with a strikingly general and exhaustive account of the things there are (ta onta)—beings. According to this account, beings can be divided into ten distinct categories. (Although Aristotle never says so, it is tempting to suppose that these categories are mutually exclusive and jointly exhaustive of the things there are.) They include substance, quality, quantity, and relation, among others. Of these categories of beings, it is the first, substance (ousia), to which Aristotle gives a privileged position.

Substances are unique in being independent things; the items in the other categories all depend somehow on substances.

In addition to "that which is one's own, one's substance, property," "real property, immovables," "freq. of estates in Egypt," Liddel and Scott give additional definitions for οὐσία: "in Philos., like Ion. φύσις (with which it is interchanged in various uses" has the submeanings of "stable being, immutable reality," "substance, essence," "true nature of that which is a member of a kind," "the possession of such a nature, substantiality," "in the concrete, the primary real, the substratum underlying all change and process in nature," "in Logic, substance as the leading category," (Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert. A Greek-English Lexicon. οὐσί-α http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.04.0057:entry=ou%29si/a).

They also give the following definitions for ἐξουσία: "power, authority to do a thing," "abuse of authority, licence, arrogance," "poetic licence [sic]," "office, magistracy," "abundance of means, resources," and "pomp." (http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/morph?l=e%29cousi%2Fa&la=greek&can=e%29cousi%2Fa1&prior=magistrates#lexicon)

It seems to me that the meaning of ἐξουσία reflects something that which one has or is.  Even if ἐξουσία is derived from ἐκ + εἰμί, rather than from ἐκ + οὐσία, its uses seem to extend beyond "authority," "power," or even "potential," as we understand them, and include "abundance of means, resources," and "pomp," both of which are at least logically related to the noun οὐσία. Could the meaning of ἐξουσία at least have been influenced by οὐσία? Is it unreasonable to think that it may have at least included the meanings "the property of," or "that which belonged or pertained to," even if the latter can include the "essence" of someone or something?

billberg23

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Re: ἐξουσία -> ability, power, permission, authority
« Reply #20 on: 07 Aug, 2014, 20:01:06 »
if ἐξουσία meant "a permitted being"
It's really not possible, gramatically, linguistically, or etymologically, to understand ἐξουσία this way.  Stick with "a being permitted," derived from the impersonal ἔξεστι (ἔξ + ἐστι), "it is permitted."
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In addition, apparently, not everyone believes that οὐσία "by his [Aristotle's] time, had already come to mean 'property,'" at least not exclusively.
You're quite right.  To be clearer, I should have written "especially when that word, by his time, had already come to mean 'property,' among its more basic meanings."
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Even if ἐξουσία is derived from ἐκ + εἰμί, rather than from ἐκ + οὐσία
Eξουσία is not "derived from" ἐκ + οὐσία;  it is ἐκ + οὐσία, and that noun is derived from ἐκ + εἰμί, or, more accurately, the impersonal ἐκ + ἐστί.
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Could the meaning of ἐξουσία at least have been influenced by οὐσία? Is it unreasonable to think that it may have at least included the meanings "the property of," or "that which belonged or pertained to," even if the latter can include the "essence" of someone or something?
"Influenced by" may not exactly describe the situation.  "Related to" seems more accurate, since both οὐσία and ἐξουσία derive from εἶναι (the infinitive form, which I prefer to the finite first person εἰμι, or third person ἐστι), "is."
« Last Edit: 07 Aug, 2014, 22:50:58 by billberg23 »
Τί δέ τις; Τί δ' οὔ τις; Σκιᾶς ὄναρ ἄνθρωπος. — Πίνδαρος