entelechy

entelechyacrylic texture and paint, collage on w/c paper,11 X 12″

en-TEL-uh-kee, from the Greek, a vital agent/force directing growth and life

I’ve been collecting words lately, perhaps because so many seem to have fallen away through the widening holes in my memory stores.  Word and name retrieval has slowed down at this point in my life, to the speed of a dial up modem. For that reason words have become more precious.

Like entelechy, which I’ve never actually heard in normal speech, but read somewhere.  In the yogic tradition, which I am most familiar with, I believe the translation to Sanskrit would be something like Shakti or Prana, but I am no scholar.  Entelechy – it sounds like intelligence or key to intelligence.  Perhaps it is the key that will unlock my memory stores – gently I hope.

In the tradition of Aristotle entelechy meant the condition of a thing whose essence is fully realized (as opposed to a potentiality).  This reminds me of my paints.  In their bottles and jars they are in potential form, but as soon as I create an art  piece, I have achieved entelechy and what is left is to discover the essence embodied in the form of the image.

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3 comments

  1. I love this piece of art, the word ENTELECHY, and the connections you made between the two.

    I thought you would enjoy this: (http://www.bizcharts.com/stoa_del_sol/imaginal/imaginal1b.html) Jean Houston is someone I have admired and followed for decades.

    As a teenager, the spiritual philosopher Jean Houston was privileged to have made the acquaintance of the great Jesuit scientist, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. During one of their walks, Teilhard presented to her the definition of “entelechy.” He noted that “it is inside of you, like the butterfly is inside of the caterpillar.” Then he asked the young teenager: ‘What is the entelechy of Jeanne? A great word *entelechy.* It means the dynamic purpose that is coded in you…”

    Years later Houston wrote:
    [We need] “to attempt to tap into a symbolic or archetypal expression of the entelechy principle operating in our lives. Entelechy is all about the possibilities encoded in each of us. For example it is the entelechy of an acorn to be an oak tree, of a baby to be a grown-up, of a popcorn kernel to be a fully popped entity, and of you and me to be God only knows what. It is possible to call upon the entelechy principle within us in such a way that it becomes personal, friendly, and even helpful. This entelechy principle can be expressed symbolically as a god or a guide. We feel its presence as the inspiration or motivation that helps us get life moving again after times of stress or stagnation. There are many ways to engage the symbolic forms of the entelechy principle…” [Jean Houston, THE HERO AND THE GODDESS: THE ODYSSEY AS MYSTERY AND INITIATION, Ballantine Books, 1992, p. 62.]

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  2. Such timing you have. I had just decided to make Entelechy the theme for my Muse group that started last night. I was going to read from Jean Houston about her Great Story concept, which is so applicable to the art we do in these groups. And two hours before the class I read your comment and was able to share it in the group.
    I am a bit confused by the language in these quotes however, because they talk about the potentiality coded within, whereas the definition which I found is that entelechy refers to the actuality as opposed to the potentiality of life (this from Aristotlian philosophy, but I guess subsequent philosophers have their own take on it!) Doesn’t matter – it still works to inspire the crossover to greater awareness of life’s possibilities!

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