Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search


Alternative forms[edit]


From Late Latin entelechia, from Ancient Greek ἐντελέχεια (entelékheia), coined by Aristotle from ἐντελής (entelḗs, complete, finished, perfect) (from τέλος (télos, end, fruition, accomplishment)) + ἔχω (ékhō, to have).


  • (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ɛnˈtɛləki/
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: en‧tel‧e‧chy


entelechy (plural entelechies)

  1. (Aristotelian metaphysics) The complete realisation and final form of some potential concept or function; the conditions under which a potential thing becomes actualized.
    • 1821, John Smith; Simon Patrick, Select Discourses: by John Smith, Late Fellow of Queen's College in Cambridge. To which is Added a Sermon, Preached at the Author's Funeral, by Symon Patrick, D.D. then Fellow of the Same College, afterwards Lord Bishop of Ely: Containing a Brief Account of his Life and Death, 3rd corr. edition, London: Printed for Rivingtons and Cochran, in the Strand, →OCLC, pages 114–115 and 500:
      [Pages 114–115] [H]e [Aristotle] tells us expressly, that that which we call the rational soul is [] 'separable from the body,' [] 'because it is not the entelech of any body.' [] [page 500] Wickedness is the form and entelech of all the wicked spirits: it is the difference of a name, rather than any proper difference of natures that is between the devil and wicked men.
    • 1990, Giovanni Reale; John R. Catan, ed. and transl., A History of Ancient Philosophy: II. Plato and Aristotle, Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, →ISBN, page 285:
      Act, as we have already emphasized, is also called by Aristotle an entelechy. [] [A]ct and entelechy bespeak something fulfilled, actualized perfection, or the actualized. The soul, hence, insofar as it is essence or form of the body, is the act and entelechy of the body; and in general all forms of sensible substances are act and entelechy. God, we will see, will be pure entelechy (and just as the other movent Intelligences of the celestial spheres).
    • 2006, Stan A. Lindsay, Psychotic Entelechy: The Dangers of Spiritual Gifts Theology, Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, →ISBN, page 123:
      Simply put, entelechy is any process that has a beginning, middle, and end. The end or goal is the telos; it shows up as the second syllable of the word en-TEL-echy. A simple natural entelechy is the corn entelechy. A kernel of corn when planted begins an entelechy. That is, a process of growth begins as the kernel/seed sprouts roots, then a blade. The growth process continues until it reaches its telos. Its telos is the completion of the process and the resulting production of brand new kernels that look very much like the kernel that began this process. Once that telos or goal has been reached, we say that the process is complete or perfect or teleios. But then what happens? A new entelechy begins. Each of those kernels that were produced in the previous entelechy begins to sprout and produces its own entelechy. In other words, entelechies are often cyclical.
    • 2007, Leonieke Vermeer, “'The Journey to the Summits of Perfection': Moral Evolution as a Utopian Vista in the Dutch Fin de Siècle”, in Mary G. Kemperink; Willemien H. S. Roenhorst, editors, Visualizing Utopia [Groningen Studies in Cultural Change; vol. 27], Leuven: Peeters, →ISBN, page 47:
      But while these forces of chance work both in organic and in inorganic nature, there is an additional principle in organic (living) nature: an organizing principle or entelechie.
    • 2014, Guido Bonino; Greg Jesson; Javier Cumpa, editors, Defending Realism: Ontological and Epistemological Investigations, Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, →ISBN, page 78:
      Aristotleians assumed that rest is the natural state of a body in the terrestrial sphere. If something moves, then this unnatural change in its state requires explanation. Something must be pushing on it, or its motions must derive from some internal teleological "drive" within it – a sort of simple consciousness motivating it. These internal drives were called "entelechies," and Aristotleians held that the entire universe is imbued with entelechies.
    1. (specifically) In the metaphysics of Aristotle (384–322 BCE) and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646–1716): a soul; a monad (Leibniz).
      • , II.12:
        Aristotle [] calleth it [the soul] Entelechy, or perfection moving of it selfe (as cold an invention as any other) for he neither speaketh of the essence, nor of the beginning, nor of the soules nature; but onely noteth the effects of it  [].
      • 2003, Kenneth Burke, William H. Rueckert; Angelo Bonadonna, editors, On Human Nature: A Gathering while Everything Flows, 1967–1984, Berkeley and Los Angeles, Calif.: University of California Press, →ISBN, page 134:
        Both Aristotle's concept of the entelechy and its modified role in Leibnizian "monadology" use the term in ways that could be applied in any being or "substance," such as an amoeba or a tree, or even some one particular pebble viewed as being moved to fulfill the potentialities peculiar to its kind.
      • 2002, Peter Adamson, The Arabic Plotinus: A Philosophical Study of the Theology of Aristotle, London: Gerald Duckworth and Company, →ISBN, page 50:
        Students of Aristotle are familiar with his thesis that soul is the form of the body. In the De Anima Aristotle explains this further by claiming that the soul is the perfection or entelechia of the body (414a26).
      • 2003, Tibor Gánti, quoting Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Chemoton Theory. Volume 2: Theory of Living Systems, New York, N.Y.: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, →ISBN, page 260:
        [T]his first acting principle, this entelechia is a real life principle (principium vitale) which has a perceiving ability as well, and which is imperishable. And this is just what I consider as the soul of animals. [Leibniz, 1710.] [] A body belonging to a monas which is its entelechia or soul, comprises together with the entelechia what we call a living thing, and together with the soul what we call animal. [Leibniz, 1714.]
  2. (chiefly philosophy) A particular type of motivation, need for self-determination, and inner strength directing life and growth to become all one is capable of being; the need to actualize one's beliefs; having both a personal vision and the ability to actualize that vision from within.
    • 2008, Lisa Tenzin-Dolma, Mind & Motivation: The Spirit of Success, U.K.: Phoenix Rising Press, →ISBN, page 64:
      The entelechy is the name given to our inner dynamic purpose. It is the seed of potential that nestles deep within us, containing the fractal image of who we really are and what we can become. The Greek philosopher Socrates first coined the term entelechy, and the great mystic [Pierre] Teilhard de Chardin brought it to public attention. [] The inner sense of purpose that is governed by the entelechy is the driving force behind our lives, helping us to blossom into the fullest expression of ourselves.
    • 2010, Michael Wilkinson; Steven M. Studebaker, editors, A Liberating Spirit: Pentecostals and Social Action in North America [Pentecostals, Peacemaking, and Social Justice; 2], Eugene, Or.: Pickwick Publications, →ISBN:
      Karl Rahner and especially David Coffey, who follows and develops Rahner's theology, point out that the Holy Spirit bears an entelechy toward the Son. An entelechy (as the term is used by Rahner and Coffey) is an internal force or principle that drives a being toward its destiny. When applied to the Holy Spirit it refers to the redemptive purpose that motivates and orients the work of the Holy Spirit in redemption. The philosophical term entelechy helps to express the theology of the biblical description of the Holy Spirit as "the Spirit of Christ."


Related terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Further reading[edit]