Methexis (Greek μέθεξις " participation", rarely with " participation " translated ) is a term of ancient philosophy. It is used in metaphysics to describe the relationship between things and their regulations or generally have between ontological entities that are common used. The associated verb is called metéchein (share have to participate, literally: with - have ). The word Methexis comes from everyday language, its philosophical meaning it has received from Plato. Latin it is reproduced with participatio, English with participation. Therefore, one also speaks of "participation", but this word has other meanings that have nothing to do with Methexis in the philosophical sense.

Ontological requirements

In the hierarchical ontological systems of Plato and the Platonists, the General is generally senior to the particular and individual. A relationship between a more general and more specifically, based on the fact that the more general archetype and generating instance is that More specific relatively imperfect its image and product and as such. Is a participatory relationship between them. The participation ratio between the involved players will have specifically and more generally, to which it has " Share" means, characterized in that the More specific to certain limitations including the nature of the more general and thus somehow " involved" in its nature. But since it does not have that nature in its entirety but only on relatively incomplete, imperfect way, and also because it also has other provisions, it is with that in which it participates, not essentially similar or identical.

The particular Higher-tier brings the Lower forth by letting him get certain aspects of his own nature, as far as the limited nature of recording and realization ability of Lower permits. This means that the Lower participates in the Higher. Participation refers to the fact that the ontological Lower the Higher owes its existence.

The participation concept in Plato's theory of ideas

Plato needed to represent his doctrine of ideas methexis the terms and metechein, with a preference for the verb. He thus describes the relationship of the individual things of the physical world to the Platonic ideas. "Things" in this sense are not only material objects, but also events and actions. The ideas are in accordance with the doctrine of ideas not mere representations in the human spirit, but form an independent, objective existing metaphysical reality. They are the archetypes according to which individual things are designed in the sensible world. You owe the things the whole of their properties. For example, is a great thing not due to its own nature large, but through his participation in the idea of ​​the size. As images partake of their archetypes things, and indeed every thing on several ideas and every idea a variety of things. Every thing is constituted by its various participatory relationships. It has participated in so many ideas on how it has properties. The extent of participation is different, it depends on the nature of the sharers. In addition, the participation of a thing is at a particular idea in some cases, not constant, it can grow by changes in the sharers and remove, start and end. There is a kind of participation, which is the essence of a thing inseparable ( for example, the participation of the immortal soul alive ), and only a temporary participation that arises or is deleted ( for example, participation of a body at rest or movement).

The notion of participation is to make the connection between the ideas and the things of the physical world understandable. However, this concept leads to a number of problems discussed in Plato's dialogue Parmenides, but can not be solved. It does not work there for the time being to answer the question of the nature of the participation of the phenomenal datum in the ideas consistent. In late dialogues Plato used for the ratio of things to ideas no longer the term participation, but characterized it as an imitation ( mimesis ).

While in terms of participation on the part of sharers is a purely passive reception of properties that occurs in humans when he participates in the ideas of individual virtues, an active role of the sharers into play as far as being able to seek the attainment of virtue.

Another type of participation relates to similarities between entities, where there is no question that something participates ontologically Lower the Higher. From this kind similarities between the ideas are themselves Such relationships also viewed Plato as participation ratios, where he also assumes mutual partaking. In these cases, also of communion (koinonia ) of the question. This raises the specific issue of the participation of an idea to yourself ( " self-predication "). The self-predication ( for example, the statement " The idea of ​​beauty itself is beautiful " ) leads to difficulties of the theory of ideas, which are known as argumentation of the "third man."

The conception of Aristotle

Aristotle rejects the doctrine of ideas of his teacher Plato, do without the associated notion of participation. He said that it was the part have not a philosophical concept, as there is no clean definition for it. The term is useless for a philosophical argument that it was only an empty word and a poetic metaphor, the meaning of Plato have not been studied. Nevertheless, Aristotle sometimes uses the verb metechein (proportion have ). In his Topik he defines it as " the definition of that is what part to take in itself." What is meant is that all the features that the notion of what is taken, make up, also features the sharers are. For example, the kind of " man " in the genus " being" component, because all of the features that make the term " living beings ", also features the people. Conversely, however, the genus " being" not the type "man" share because not all features of humans are their characteristics. According to the teaching of Aristotle can only Niederes something with more features Furnished on higher, some have less features determinate, for example, an individual on its type or a type of a genus.

In the opinion of Aristotle, the creatures reproduce, "that they may, to the extent they are able, to participate in the eternal and divine ." To such participation the individuals as such are not able to since they are transient, but they can at least make their way continuance.


In Neo-Platonism Plato's concept of participation is being taken. Plotinus returns all the similarities between different things that they share in each case on the same idea. The participation reproduced the characteristic that belongs to them jointly, and thus enables its widespread occurrence. Thus, all beings share in being, which Plotinus identifies with the cosmic Nous ( reason in the world ), and all beautiful things are beautiful by their participation in the idea of beauty; This inclusion causes them to match each other in this respect. In sharers is that in which it participates, currently. The principle that the part -to-do of that the being to which it participates and that is so far present in him, must have, for Plotinus theodicy of importance. He points out that the whole sensible cosmos of the deity that was present in him participation. Therefore, its essence can not be the nature of the Godhead opposite fundamental. Thus, the cosmos can not be bad. In it, could not resist divine principle prevail, such as the Gnostics believed, fights the teaching of a bad inherently cosmos Plotinus.

Plotinus' student Porphyry, who incorporates the Aristotelian logic in the Neo-Platonic doctrine, indicated in his Isagoge, a textbook of logic, the membership of individuals in a way as participation in it.

The influential late antique Neoplatonist Proclus establishes the principle that the nature and extent of participation depends on the respective sharers. This principle is later picked up by Boethius and thus familiar in medieval philosophy. Proclus takes next to the sharers and the one in which it participates, a third, higher-ranking element that Unpartizipierte (to améthekton ). It is ontologically the Partizipierbaren on which participates in the part -to-do. With this model, Proclus encountered objections to the Methexis doctrine. The Platonic idea itself he considers unpartizipierbar, the Partizipierbare serves as a link between it and the part -to-do things.

In Christian theology in particular linked to the influential late antique writers Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite on to the Neoplatonic concept of participation. With him is participation of creatures in the Creator.