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Immanence


A term, in modern philosophy and theology, meaning a presence of a being or a power in other entities which is an essential element in the composition of such entities. In Scholastic philosophy, immanence envisions the action or process that is both the beginning and ending with an identical entity.

Immanence is most commonly employed in discussions of the relationship between God and the universe. The idea of God being absolutely immanent in the universe would certainly approach pantheism. Opposing such a concept of pantheism is transcendence, which implies, in an absolute sense, that God is unknowable and unconnected with the universe. Some deities are characterized as being one or the other. One might refer to the Greek god Pan as a pantheistic god and the Voodoo god Gran Met, the Supreme Being, as a transcendent god.

In Christian theology attempts have been made to combing both of these characteristics when viewing God. God is seen as immanent in His actions toward and presence in things apart from Himself, but He is viewed as transcendent in His essence.

Immanentists hold different views of the universe. They generally see the universe as being self-sufficient and self-determined.

Another view is that the universe is inherently determined by qusai-mechanical laws. Still different doctrines describe an universal substance that embodies the principles of actions at all levels of life. Therefore, all beings are seen to encompass each other since they come from the same substance.

When immanentists view human knowledge they stress thought content rather than the mental reaction toward exterior objects. One view is that it is impossible for man to know anything which exists outside of himself; a view which implies an agnosticism in regard to a transcendent reality. An opposing view is there is an inherent force which forces the human toward self-awareness and self-perfection. Accordingly significant thought and action is measured in terms of individual self-fulfillment at any particular time or stage of life. A.G.H.



Source: (Immanence, John T. Ford, C.S.C., The Catholic University of America) 61.