Hypostasis (Greek: ὑπόστασις, ''hypóstasis'') is the underlying state or underlying substance and is the fundamental reality that supports all else. In Neoplatonism the hypostasis of the soul, the intellect (''nous'') and "the one" was addressed by Plotinus. In Christian theology, the Holy Trinity is consisted of three ''hypostases'': Hypostasis of the Father, Hypostasis of the Son, and Hypostasis of the Holy Spirit.

Ancient Greek philosophy

Pseudo-Aristotle used ''hypostasis'' in the sense of material substance. Neoplatonists argue that beneath the surface phenomena that present themselves to our senses are three higher spiritual principles, or hypostases, each one more sublime than the preceding. For Plotinus, these are the Soul, the Intellect, and the One.''Neoplatonism (Ancient Philosophies)'' by Pauliina Remes (2008), University of California Press , pp. 48–52.

Christian theology

The term hypostasis has a particular significance in Christian theology, particularly in Christian Triadology (study of the Holy Trinity), and also in Christology (study of Christ).

Hypostasis in Christian Triadology

In Christian Triadology (study of the Holy Trinity) three specific theological concepts have emerged throughout history, in reference to number and mutual relations of divine hypostases: * monohypostatic (or miahypostatic) concept advocates that God has only one hypostasis; * dyohypostatic concept advocates that God has two hypostases (Father and Son); * trihypostatic concept advocates that God has three hypostases (Father, Son and the Holy Spirit).

Hypostasis in Christology

Within Christology, two specific theological concepts have emerged throughout history, in reference to the Hypostasis of Christ: * monohypostatic concept (in Christology) advocates that Christ has only one hypostasis; * dyohypostatic concept (in Christology) advocates that Christ has two hypostases (divine and human).

History of use

In early Christian writings, hypostasis was used to denote "being" or "substantive reality" and was not always distinguished in meaning from terms like ''ousia'' ('essence'), substantia ('substance') or qnoma (specific term in Syriac Christianity). It was used in this way by Tatian and Origen, and also in the anathemas appended to the Nicene Creed of 325. It was mainly under the influence of the Cappadocian Fathers that the terminology was clarified and standardized so that the formula "three hypostases in one ousia" came to be accepted as an epitome of the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity. Specifically, Basil of Caesarea argues that the two terms are not synonymous and that they, therefore, are not to be used indiscriminately in referring to the godhead. He writes: This consensus, however, was not achieved without some confusion at first in the minds of Western theologians since in the West the vocabulary was different. Many Latin-speaking theologians understood ''hypo-stasis'' as "sub-stantia" (substance); thus when speaking of three "hypostases" in the godhead, they might suspect three "substances" or tritheism. However, from the middle of the fifth century onwards, marked by Council of Chalcedon, the word came to be contrasted with ''ousia'' and used to mean "individual reality," especially in the trinitarian and Christological contexts. The Christian concept of the Trinity is often described as being one God existing in three distinct ''hypostases/personae/persons''.

See also

* Haecceity – a term used by the followers of Duns Scotus to refer to that which formally distinguishes one thing from another with a common nature * Hypokeimenon * Hypostatic union * Hypostatic abstraction * Instantiation principle * Noema – a similar term used by Edmund Husserl * Prakṛti – a similar term found in Hinduism * Principle of individuation * Prosopon or persona * Reification (fallacy) * Substance theory



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