This is a glossary
of philosophical terms as they are generally used
in the commonsense philosophical realism of
Aristotle, Aquinas, and those in this
NOTE: In the case of
qualified words, always look for the word or noun
qualified. For example, in seeking for "Absolute
Accident," look for "Accident, Absolute,"
Absolute. The unconditioned, the ultimate
ground of all reality.
Absolute Statement, Fallacy of. A fallacy
in which one argues from a statement which is
generally true (absolute statement) to a specific
Absolute Supposition. The use of a term
to designate merely the nature as such, without any
reference to the individuals who are the bearers of
Absolutism, Epistemological. See
Abstract Idea. An idea which expresses a
nature or determining attribute considered (by the
mind) as separated from the subject in which it
Abstraction. A process in which the mind
fixes its attention upon one or the other
characteristic of a thing or upon one element
common to many things, excluding others which are
joined to it in the real order.
Idea. An idea which is formed of objects by
some means other than their immediate
perception. Synonym: Mediate.
Fallacy of. A fallacy which arises from a false
accent or false emphasis in speech. Synonym:
Fallacy of Prosody.
Accident. A being
whose nature it is to exist in another as in a
Accident, Absolute. An accident which
confers a real perfection upon its subject.
Accident, Extrinsic. An accident which
does not affect the being of its subject, but
modifies the subject's immediate surroundings.
Accident, Fallacy of. The fallacy which
confuses the accidental and essential
characteristics of a thing, so that what is
affirmed of something as adventitious to a thing is
also applied to the subject itself.
Accident, Intrinsic. An accident which
affects the being of its subject in some
Accident, Modal. The definite disposition
or determination of an indifferent and determinable
accidental entity in such a manner that it does not
confer any positive and new entity upon the
Accident, Relative. An accident that has
its being in a subject only because of the bearing
which one thing has to another.
Accident, Strictly Absolute. An accident
which confers upon its subject some positive and
Accidental Definition. An explanation of
a thing based on characteristics which are neither
essential nor necessarily connected with the
Acosmism. The doctrine which denies or
doubts the validity of our experiential knowledge
concerning the existence and reality of a material
Act. Any entity of whatever kind and
nature which perfects and determines a thing in its
Act, Mixed. An
act that in some form or other has an admixture of
Act, Non-Pure. See Act,
Act, Primary. An act that is the first in
a series of acts.
Act, Pure. An act that is without the
least admixture of potentiality.
Act, Secondary. An act that presupposes
another act in a definite series, so that it
proceeds from a primary act.
Action. The exercise or operation of an
operative potency. The production of an effect.
Immanent. The activity through which a living
being perfects itself and makes itself the goal for
the acquired actuality or perfection.
Activity, Transient (Transeunt,
Transitive). The activity which tends to change
Activity, Vital. See Activity,
proposition which consists of two propositions
united in opposition to each other by conjunctions
like "but," "although," "yet." Synonym:
Affection. A relatively transient quality
which produces, or results from, some accidental
Agnosticism. The doctrine which denies
the constitutional ability of the mind to know
reality and concludes with the recognition of an
Alteration. The change of a being from
one qualitative state to another.
Amphiboly, Fallacy of. The ambiguous use
of a phrase or of a complete sentence.
Analogous Term. A term which applies to
unlike, but related, things.
Analogy. That reasoning process whereby
the mind concludes from the known characteristics
of one thing or group of things to the unknown
characteristics of another thing or group of things
because of a recognized resemblance existing
Analysis. The scientific method which
passes from the concrete to the abstract, from the
complex to the simple, from the particular to the
universal, from the application of a principle to
the principle itself, from the phenomena to the
underlying general law, from the effects to the
cause. Synonym: A posteriori method.
Proposition. A proposition in which either the
predicate is contained in the comprehension of the
subject, or the subject is contained in the
comprehension of the predicate. Synonyms:
Necessary, essential, a priori.
Annihilation. The reduction of an
existing being to nonexistence.
A Posteriori. Argument drawn from
effects, consequents, or fact.
Appetency. The tendency of one thing
Appetency, Concupiscible. The propensity
to enjoy a good.
Appetency, Irascible. The propensity to
fight an evil.
Appetency, Rational. The will.
Appetency, Sensuous. The power in virtue
of which a sentient being tends toward a
consciously apprehended sensuous good and away from
a consciously apprehended sensuous evil.
A Priori. Argument drawn from definitions
formed or principles assumed, or which infers
effects from causes previously known.
Argumentation. The verbal expression of a
The system of thought which in general follows the
principles and teachings of Aristotle.
Associationism. In the problem of
necessary judgments, the doctrine which holds that
the necessity of first principles is due to the law
of associations as a form of mental compulsion.
Attention. The direction of the cognitive
process toward an object, an activity, or a
Attributes, Transcendental. The supreme
modes necessarily connected with every being, which
are different phases of the same fundamental being,
but are not explicitly contained in its concept as
Augmentation. The change of a being from
one quantitative state to another.
Axiological Ethics. Any ethics which
makes the theory of obligation entirely dependent
on the theory of value, by making the determination
of the rightness of an action wholly dependent on a
consideration of the value or goodness of
something, e.g. the action itself, its motive, or
its consequences, actual or probable. Opposed to
-- Top of Page
Beauty. The attribute of a thing in
virtue of which the thing pleases when perceived. A
blending of the unity, truth, and goodness in a
thing, characterized by completeness, proportion,
and clarity of presentation in an
intellectual-sensuous form, so as to produce a
disinterested emotional pleasure in a rational
the Question. A fallacy in which the very
conclusion (question) to be proved is, in some form
or other, assumed to be true; or, one in which the
conclusion is proved by a principle whose truth
depends on the truth of the conclusion itself.
Synonym: Petitio principii.
Behaviorism. The doctrine that psychology
should restrict itself exclusively to observations
and concepts relating to behavior.
Being. That which exists or can exist,
the existible; whatever is not nothing.
Being, Absolute. A being which can be
thought of or can exist without reference to
Being, Accidental. See Accident.
Being, Actual. Anything that really
exists at the present moment in the physical or
Being, Contingent. A being whose
nonexistence is possible.
Being, Contraction of. See
Being, Finite. A being whose reality is
limited in perfection.
Being, Infinite. A being which has no
limit in its entity or perfection.
Being, Logical. Anything that has
objective being only in the mind.
Being, Necessary. A being whose
nonexistence is impossible.
Being, Possible. Anything that does not
actually exist, but is capable of existence.
Being, Real. Anything that has, or can
have, existence independent of man's actual
Being, Relative. A being which can be
thought of or can exist only in reference to
Being, Substantial. See Substance.