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For the Roman Client Queen of the Bosporan Kingdom, see Dynamis (Bosporan queen).

Dunamis or dynamis (Greek δύναμις) is an Ancient Greek word meaning "power", "capability", or "force". It is the root of the English words "dynamic", "dynamite", and "dynamo". The word "dunamis" is sometimes seen untranslated in English texts because of its importance in philosophy. In Latin the word is translated as potentia which is the root of the word potential (see Aristotle's Actus et potentia).


The word dunamis appears in Aristotle's works as a term for what is or has a certain potency. The word can be translated by such terms as dynamic, force, power, capacity, potential, potency, capability and faculty (ability, skill, or power). The term relates to Michel Foucault's pouvoir in French: the able-to-do. Aristotle contrasted dunamis with energeia or entelecheia. Jacques Derrida uses the term in "The Strange Institution Called Literature," where Derrida writes, "...poetry and literature have as a common feature that they suspend the 'thetic' naivety of the transcendent reading. This also accounts for the philosophical force of these experiences, a force of provocation to think phenomenality, meaning, object, even being as such, a force which is at least potential, a philosophical dunamis--which can, however, be developed only in the text like a substance" (Derrida 46).


In Christian theology "Dunamis" is sometimes used in conjunction with the Holy Spirit.[1] It describes the activities of the Holy Spirit as believers receive Him (Acts 1:8, 10:38).


The word "dunamis" was mistranslated from Euclid as "power", giving the modern terminology for exponentiation.[1]

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  1. Advanced Modern Algebra, Joseph Rotman, pg 55.

ja:デュナミス pl:Potencja (filozofia) pt:Dunamis sk:Potencia (filozofia) fi:Dynamis

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