Present, Presentation and Representation

  • Title: Contemplations, Present, Presentation and Representation.
  • Author: Arvindus.
  • Publisher: Arvindus.
  • Copyright: Arvindus, 2020, all rights reserved.
  • Index: 202001031.
  • Edition: html, second edition.


The English word 'presence' is generally defined as "[t]he fact or condition of being present", "the state of being before, in front of, or in the same place with a person or thing", and as "being there".1 The word is by academic etymology thought to stem from the Latin 'praesens', carrying similar meanings, which can be derived from 'praesens' consisting of the prefix 'prae', meaning 'before' or 'in front of', and 'esse', meaning 'being'.2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 'Praesens' however also carries the meaning of 'momentary', giving thus also rise to the English time predicate 'present'.8, 9 Etymosophically 'presence' can also be traced back to the Latin 'praesentiō', meaning basically 'before sensed'.10 This word consists of the prefix 'prae', meaning here 'before', and the word 'sentiō', referring to sense perception.11 This meaning still resounds in the English word 'present' when it is used to refer to a surprise gift. Considering all of the above a presence then can etymosophically be understood as a sense-less being here and now.

Such a presence differs from what is called a 'presentation', which is generally understood as "[t]he action of presenting".12 The postfix 'ation' denotes an action, a process or a formation being applied to the referent of the word to which it is attached. A presentation basically is the bringing of what is sense-less here and now to form. In a presentation the present is presented.

Such a presentation differs from a representation, which is generally understood as "[t]he fact of expressing or denoting by means of a figure or symbol" or "symbolic action or exhibition".13 The prefix 're' denotes a repetition or a return being applied to the referent of the word to which it is attached.14 A representation thus is basically a return to a presentation through means of symbolism.

So a presence is presented as a representation. Or said otherwise; being is formalized as a symbol. This thought corresponds to Heidegger's philosophy where being is disclosed as a thing.15 Being is the source of things, however in so far as things are disclosed as such, being itself is not disclosed. Similarly being is the source of symbols, however in so far as symbols are formalized as such, being itself is not formalized. And also similarly presence is the source of representation, however in so far as representation is presented as such, presence itself is not presented. That it is however possible to present presence as such and to formalize being as such Heidegger indicates in his concepts of authenticity and enownment [Ereignis]. An authentic created thing may become a piece of great art, disclosing being as such, instead of itself as a thing. And similarly an authentic presentation may lead to a representation disclosing presence, instead of itself as a symbol.

Now realizing that presence, presentation and representation regard a threefold, immediately Hegel's philosophy may come to mind. And the three aforementioned concepts then may well be structured according to Hegel's threefold of 'on itself' (or 'by itself'), 'for itself' (or 'before itself') and 'on and for itself'.16 Presence there is 'on itself' because a presence stands subjectively on its own. In a representation this presence is objectified in a form and placed 'before itself'. And these two are then synthesized in a presentation where the presence basically is formalized as it is, and thus placed 'on and before itself'.

Such a threefold is of course also reminiscent of Alice Bailey's philosophy, which considers the duality of spirit and matter with their mediating principle of consciousness.17 In this structure presence corresponds to spirit because both regard pure being. Representation as a symbol here corresponds to matter because both regard formality. And presentation as formation then corresponds to consciousness because both regard the intermediary faculty between being and form.

May thus presence be presented in the representation.