Translational roots of western essentialism

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This chapter explores the translational processes which, in a range of languages historically influenced by Latin, have led to the strong entrenchment of the concepts of SUBSTANCE and ESSENCE. Expression such as “essential characteristics” or “a substantial contribution” reveal a linguistic worldview in which defining qualities are conceptualized as objects of inherent possession. It is argued that emergence and spread of this worldview may be connected to particular interpretation of a key Aristotelian term ousia, translated into Latin as substantia and essentia, in the course of religious debates. The translational journey of ousia in dominant Western metaphysics demonstrates the power of translation in propagating worldviews which, once sufficiently entrenched, are not easily challenged.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLanguages - Cultures - Worldviews
Subtitle of host publicationFocus on translation
EditorsAdam Głaz
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9783030285098
ISBN (Print)9783030285081
Publication statusPublished - 08 Dec 2019


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