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St. Gregory Palamas does not hold that the divine energies "lay outside of the godhead"; instead, he teaches that they are the manifestation of God outside of the divine essence. In fact as St. Gregory Palamas said, "When we speak of one Godhead, we speak of everything that God is, namely, both essence and energy." [St. Gregory Palamas, Capita Physica, no. 126; see The Philokalia, vol. 4, page 406] In other words, the divine energies are God as He manifests Himself in the world.

See my essay: Book Review: The Doctrine of the Trinity in the Theology of Gregory Palamas

You're right. I've removed the offending section. It didn't represent anything that resembles Palamas's teaching, and its meaning was hard to extract, as well. —Preost talk contribs 18:59, 27 June 2006 (UTC)

ousia is an abstract noun[edit]

Lucaas, please cite your source that ousia is a past participle. Also the pre-philosophical use of the term was property, plus you reintroduced a fragment of a sentence. Zeusnoos 02:53, 27 November 2006 (UTC)

Well it wasnt pre-philosophical since it was philosophy/theology that took up this meaning from it when it was translated in the middle ages to latin. What do you think an abstract noun of a verb is? A participle. Fragments ok, especially in a telegraph. --Lucas

You put back a statement that ousia is a past participle and some strange statements about 'has been' - please tell me the source for this statement. Sure, participles are technically abstract nouns, but not all abstract nouns are participles, and ousia is not any of the known and taught participles. Not even LSJ lists it as a participle.
A good work on the history of ousia is G. Christopher Stead, Divine Substance, Oxford University Press, 1977 (reprinted I think in 2000). He, of course, calls it as it is - an abstract noun.
Ousia originally meant property or possessions - substance as "stuff" one owns. This is absent in this article even though it is all over Greek works before and independent of Plato. Zeusnoos 19:50, 27 November 2006 (UTC)

"Not even LSJ"? Well, that is just a very old dictionary, 19th Century, with only few words in it. An abstract noun is an abstraction from what? "Ousia originally means property", well that is news, I thought the whole point of giving an etymology was to give an original meaning. Originally ousia is the feminine participle of the Greek verb "to be", Einai. Check any good dictionary or any source willing to tell you from where this abstraction comes. When Aristotle calls ousia the most basic being (as form + matter), I don't think he was referring just to people's individual items of clothes and houses, though ousia had come to be used in that sense colloqually. Here is a quote from the etymology of ousia in the Oxford English Dictionary:

< ancient Greek ousia, from, ont-, stem of present participle of einai, to be (see BE v.) + ia-.


I think I'm beginning to understand why you're not understanding my point - you seem to be calling every noun that is derived from a verb 'participle'. If this were the case then most Greek nouns would be classified as participles though they certainly are not. Truly LSJ is imperfect but at the very least it reckons all possible forms cataloged in texts. Disparaging it as an 'old dictionary' is just plain silly since it has been updated a number of times and there is presently no replacement. I have heard some classicist recently discussing this issue - the next best thing would be an annotated index of a particular ancient author, that would offer more depth but is not same thing.
Back to the issue, I would like the source of the statement that it is a "past participle" - do you mean aorist active? perfect active? aorist passive? Is it an attributive, supplementary or circumstantial participle? In participles, the ending -sia is not a form in usage. This word ousia had simply been used as a noun (as I said, earlier as property) and only with Plato and Aristotle does it begin to be used as a word for 'being'. Plato had a strong interest in etymology - etymology was all the rage in his time and since they did not know the origins of many of their words, and they did not use the techniques of 'scientific' etymology developed in the 19th C., they often made up etymologies based on phonetic or graphic resemblance. The origin of this word was probably guessed (by Plato or in his time) as related to einai because it resembles one of the legitimate participles of einai. There is no reason to think that it is the equivalent of a known participle of einai such as the feminine present active ousa. Participles still have a verbal quality - for instance, a participle might be used to say "those who were leaving", "the ones tying ribbons" etc. An einai participle might be "The women being cold, put on a cloak" - in Greek something like 'e( gune^ psukhre^ ousa, ...' Ousia is not used in this way. For all we know, it might really have been a diminitive plural of ousan - little ropes! So maybe substance was the stuff conceived metaphysically of little connecting threads that give something its being! (I kid).
At any event, I would still like a credible reference that this is a past participle. Beside that, the opening paragraph is poorly written. fragment not ok. substantia, essentia are Latin not English so you shouldn't say "in Latin and English" Zeusnoos 02:47, 28 November 2006 (UTC)
For the credible reference, I repeat the Oxford English Dictionary etymology quote:
< ancient Greek ousia, from, ont-, stem of present participle of einai, to be (see BE v.) + -ia

Here the participle stem ont- is added to the noun forming suffix -ia. Being feminine, it gives us ous- instead of ont-.

As to etymology only becoming scientific in the 19th century, this is naive, underestimating Greek knowledge and overestimating 19th views, though I note your quote marks around the word science.
As to the term participle, and you are right I do consider a participle to be a word formed from a verb. How do you define it?

By the way OED gives it is as present not past. The past participle of einai is not given, however. Mention of "past" was in the article before I edited it.

In fin, maybe the best thing to say in the article is that it is a noun formed on the participle. I think the term abstract is better avoided since it connotes a more original meaning. A meaning which I think you propose, however as OED states this is the original etymology and came to be used as something like possessions but it was also used and not only by Plato to mean being. You might fail also in trying to uncover a "real" Greek meaning that has nothing to do with the verb "to be", when in fact their intellectual activity is just or more important to us now, as it was to the Romans, though I agree they over intellectualised it, but there is still the "real" or ordinary meaning of "to be".
It is too obvious that substantia and essentia come to English from Latin to have to state it.
By the way, "ous" is given not only as "rope" but "ear" and "handle" (thats an interesting mix, like button-holing someone), so if substance is little ropes, it may also be little ears held together by their smaller handles. I think if you read the long material on Being and Nothingness from pre-Socratics and the extensive use of it in Plato's "Sophist" you'll see it as more likely from "to be", nor would I think that Plato and the rest were neologising, since they are so didactic and usually explain everything first.
Something that is derived from a participle is not a participle itself. As I said, ousia is not used in a participial way in ancient Greek. OED derives Greek language information from LSJ, btw.
Etymology in the time of Plato did not use the same methods as modern etymology - they could have derived ousia from ship ropes (as I did, for example) simply because it shares a bit of commonality. They weren't looking at grammar and parts of words as was Aristotle and the grammarians after him. I'm not being naive since I have looked at a number of ancient examples. There is plenty of secondary literature on this topic as well.
The rewrite is better - at least that strange statement about past "has been" is removed. I disagree on 'abstract' but would be ok with it left out. Grammar could still be scrubbed.
"nor would I think that Plato and the rest were neologising, since they are so didactic and usually explain everything first."
You do know I was joking about to ouson to make a point about how etymology was thought in Plato's time? Most philosophical vocabulary is based on altering the meaning of 'ordinary' words. By the way, ousia is used as possessions in Plato as well as the first recorded use of ousia as a 'being' word, though Aristotle took it up more systematically for his own concept. If you can come up with a pre-Platonic example, let me know. Zeusnoos 14:55, 1 December 2006 (UTC)

ontic and ousia: "its analogues are the English participle being, and the Greek ontic"[edit]

I'm not an ontologist, but I think there are some clarifications to be made about ousia and ontic. At least I am confused by it, as it sort of clashes with my school knowledge. The following is more or less how my Philosophy and Greek teachers explained the stuff to me:

  1. When you read the old texts, you do not find "ontic" (ontikos / ontikè) in there. It's almost always τα οντα / ta onta (Nom.Pl. of the Neuter), which would probably best translate as "the things that exist" / "what exists", i.e. the subject of existence.
  2. ousia is the abstract noun, the state or fact of existence itself.
  3. Looking at the relationships between the different terms syntactically, e.g. in the sentence "A is B", then A would be "ta onta", and the concept of "is" would be "hè ousia".

So you really can't have a sentence like "its analogues are the English participle being, and the Greek ontic" in the general introduction, can you? It's certainly not an analogue to the "Greek ontic", whatever that would be. Can somebody help clarify this part? Trigaranus (talk) 22:13, 24 August 2008 (UTC)

I tried to fix this by claiming that it is a modern philosophical term. Rursus dixit. (mbork3!) 11:30, 29 June 2010 (UTC)


So The Godhead is one machine with three execution modes, executing in parallel at three different places (hypostases/local realities), completely equal as regards to qualities (ousiai) only differed by XYZ (although the hypostasis René Descartes was defined later on)?? Said: Rursus () 16:31, 21 November 2008 (UTC)

No way! Hypostases ≠ local realities. Rursus dixit. (mbork3!) 11:15, 29 June 2010 (UTC)

merge required?[edit]

Can someone explain the reason we have separate articles for essence, substance theory, accident (philosophy) and ousia?--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 10:43, 28 March 2011 (UTC)

definition of Ousia doesn't match LSJ[edit]

I added a dispute warning because the meaning and derivation of Ousia is disputed here, and the first section needs references. These references do not seem to agree with the first paragraph.

LSJ has for Ousia:

οὐσί-α , Ion. A. [select] “-ιη” Hdt.1.92, 6.86.ά, SIG167.26 (Mylasa, iv B. C.); Dor. ἐσσία , ὠσία (qq. v.): ἡ: (ὀντ-, part. of εἰμί sum):—that which is one's own, one's substance, property, Hdt., S.Tr.911 (s. v. l.), E. HF337, Hel.1253 (pl., Fr.354 (s. v. l.)), Ar.Ec.729, Lys.18.17, Pl.R. 551b, SIGl.c., etc.; opp. τὰ σώματα (civil status), And.1.74; “καλῶς . . ἐπεμελήθη τῶν οὐσιῶν ὑπὲρ τοῦ δημάρχου” BSA24.154 (Attica, iv B.C.); εἰ ἐκεκτήμην οὐ. if I had been a man of substance, Lys.24.11; “ὑπὲρ τὴν οὐ. δαπανᾶν” Diph.32.7; “πατρῴαν οὐ. κατεσθίειν” Anaxipp.1.32, cf. Critias 45 D.; φανερὰ οὐσία real property, immovables, And.1.118; opp. ἀφανής, Lys.32.4; freq. of estates in Egypt, PTeb.6.23 (ii B. C., pl.), BGU650.3 (i A. D.), OGI665.30 (i A. D.), etc.\n&d=Perseus:text:1999.01.0167:book=6:section=509b&i=1#lexicon

Middle Liddell has:

οὐσία 1 οὖσα, part. fem. of εἰμι

I. [select] that which is one's own, one's substance, property, Hdt., Eur.\n&d=Perseus:text:1999.01.0167:book=6:section=509b&i=1#lexicon

The meaning of "being" may derive from Neo-platonic readings of Plato in terms of Plotinus, as that alternate meaning is ascribed in these Lexicon from passages in Plato. I believe modern scholarship may not be in full agreement with this and proper recent sources for the meaning in Plato should be provided.

RiceMilk (talk) 19:38, 1 November 2011 (UTC)

I removed the following sentence because it didn't verify, but I've left the ref with the other, (both now at the end of the lede): “which conflicts with the denotation of, given that Aristotle uses symbebekós in showing that inhuman things (objects) also are substantive.”
I did a quick rewrite, for the most part, of the first paragraph in the Ousia#Philosophical and scientific use section. It needs more expansion, it said nothing about Plato, for example. (That second ref in the lede does, BTW). As Plato and Aristotle have distinctive views, it seemed inadequate to say “their denotations are the contemporary philosophic and theological usages”, so I've just removed him for now.—Machine Elf 1735 01:35, 2 November 2011 (UTC)

A suggestion for the pronunciation[edit]

According to the Merriam Webster website (, the pronunciation in English would be one of the following:

\ˈüzēə, ˈüsēə, ˈüzh(ē)ə, ˈüsh(ē)ə\

I am going to edit that in, since it seems routine enough. AthanasiusOfAlex (talk) 20:21, 5 April 2012 (UTC)

The Synod of Antioch and ὁμοούσιος[edit]

Is there a source for the claim that the Synod of Antioch in 268 C.E. condemned the term ὁμοούσιος (homoousios) because it originated in pagan Greek philosophy?

According to J. N. D. Kelly, it was, rather, Paul of Samosata's application of the term that was condemned; not the word itself. In Early Christian Creeds (p.247) he write: "It seems certain that Paul's application of the description homoousios to the relation of the Father and the Son was condemned by his judges." Metatool (talk) 07:02, 6 September 2013 (UTC)

Differed by an "iota"[edit]

The english word "iota" when we say "differs by an iota" comes from this. Because of "homo-ousia" and "homoi-ousia", so it differed by an iota, which was the difference between heresy and non-heresy (talk) 07:38, 27 July 2014 (UTC)