ENTELECHY: Notes on The ACORN-TO-OAK
July  2008
POTENT QUOTES DEPARTMENT*
en-TEL-uh-kee noun; from Late Latin ‘entelechia’, from Greek ‘entelecheia’, from ‘enteles’ (complete), from ‘telos’ (end, completion) + ‘echein’ (to have)]
NOTE: I was first exposed to the Aristotelian notion of “entelechy” in a brilliant lecture by Dr. Jean Huston at The Parliament of World Religions (Centennial), in Chicago, 1997. It was referenced with respect to theories of the 20th century French visionary-philosopher, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. This resonated deeply with my own core intuition that the Major Arcana of Tarot was really a cosmographic map that revealed the “entelechy” of higher consciousness. I went on to develop TNP with this principle in mind, coupled with the very similar philosophic construct of ‘finality’ as postulated by C.G. Jung. (See also my notes posted on “Absolute Knowledge” from Jungian Robert Aziz on Jung’s theory of ‘finality).
For Aristotle entelechy was effectively the “end within” — the potential of living things to become themselves, e.g., what a seed has that makes it become a plant, namely, actuality rather than what might later be fruitfully expressed. In Aristotle’s use: “The realization or complete expression of some function; the condition in which a potentiality has become an actuality’’ (The Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford University Press, London, 1933).
1. Perfect realization as opposed to a potentiality.
2. In some philosophies, a vital force that propels one to self-fulfillment.
I believe the term is used like this: “In the entelechy of the acorn lies the oak.”
3. “It concerns our final end, our entelechy, the purpose of our existence, where we are going to go.” Gray Henry; The First Prophet; Parabola (New York); Spring 1996.
4. A term from philosophy of biology, introduced by Hans Driesch, to explain the appearance of life. This reflects an episode in the history of biology when it was debated whether life arises from biological complexity alone, or whether a non-material entity needs to be added to organic material to produce a living being.
5. Entelechy is considered to be an inherent regulating and directing force in the development and functioning of an organism, the actualization of form-giving cause as contrasted with potential existence (with which future orientation is strongly associated).
“Derived from the Greek word for having a goal, entelechy is a particular type of motivation, need for self-determination, and an inner strength and vital force directing life and growth to become all one is capable of being. Gifted people with entelechy are often attractive to others who feel drawn to their openness and to their dreams and visions. Being near someone with this trait gives others hope and determination to achieve their own self-actualization.” (Deirdre Lovecky, “Warts and Rainbows: Issues in the Psychotherapy of the Gifted”, Advanced Development, Jan., 1990)
VIII STRENGTH: “Strength of character, natural confidence, basic trust; vitality, libido, chi, shakti (creative power), the life force; the regenerative power of the feminine, taming the beast, beauty and the beast; also the triumph of intelligence over brutality, Leo vanquished by Virgo. Kindness, the “charm offensive,” soft muscle, aggression subdued by diplomacy (“We confide in our strength without boasting of it; we respect that of others, without fearing it” Thomas Jefferson); incorporation of one’s “instinctive” side, sympathetic magic, homeopathy, akaido, fortitude, endurance, regeneration, courage to take risks; overcoming obstacles; (reversed) psychic weakness, fear of the unknown, machismo, bullying, cowardice, or else (subjectively) inner strength, natural intelligence.”