- Hyphenation: pres'·ence
- The fact or condition of being present.
- The part of space within one's immediate vicinity.
- A quality of poise and effectiveness that enables a performer to achieve a close relationship with his audience.
- Something (as a spirit) felt or believed to be present.
- A company's business activity in a particular market.
- The state of being closely focused on the here and now, not distracted by irrelevant thoughts
The concept of the metaphysics of presence is an important consideration within the area of deconstruction. The deconstructive interpretation holds that the entire history of Western philosophy and its language and traditions has emphasized the desire for immediate access to meaning, and thus built a metaphysics or ontotheology around the privileging of presence over absence.
Deconstructive thinkers, like Jacques Derrida, describe their task as the questioning or deconstruction of this metaphysical tendency in philosophy. This argument is largely based on the earlier work of Martin Heidegger, who in Being and Time claimed the parasitic nature of the theoretical attitude of pure presence upon a more originary involvement with the world in concepts such as the ready-to-hand and being-with. Friedrich Nietzsche is a more distant, but clear, influence as well.
The presence to which Heidegger refers is both a presence as in a "now" and also a presence as in an eternal, always present, as one might associate with God or the "eternal" of laws of science. This hypostatized belief in presence is undermined by novel phenomenological ideas — such that presence itself does not subsist, but comes about primordially through the action of our futural projection, our realization of finitude and the reception or rejection of the traditions of our time.
Divine presence, presence of God, or simply presence is a concept in religion, spirituality, and theology that deals with God's omnipotent abilities to be "present" with human beings. God is understood to be capable of interfacing with the natural world, and more importantly, with human being, such that He would be able to hold some influence with each and all human being(s).
According to the common theological view, God is omnipresent and telepathic —He can read, see, interpret, evaluate, and understand all human thought and concept, and can project his will in various ways. Such ways are commonly said to be quite subtle (cf. divine illumination), but religious texts typically deal with important occurrences wherein God deals directly with particular beings.
There are three distinct but related concepts of divine presence:
- God's presence in nature
- God's presence among all human beings
- God's presence in each human being
In theological terms, God's presence in nature is irrelevant next to his presence among humanity. Such presence could be in the mind, but an unseen being that influences human perception would be perceived by human beings as an external, environmental, or natural entity.
The concept is shared by many religious traditions, is found in a number of independently-derived conceptualizations, and each of these has culturally distinct terminology. Some of the various relevant concepts and terms are:
- Shekhinah - Judaism's term for a presence in a holy place (Tabernacle), and due to the symbolism of the tabernacle as representational of the human body or being, it likewise refers to the presence of God in the human being.
- The Holy Spirit - (See also spirit, holiness) - Christianity
- Numen - Latin term for "presence", used historically to refer to a Roman religious concept
- Theophany - the overt appearance of God to a person
- Aum - The Buddhist and Hindu (Indian religions) name that has evokes the concepts of the Oneness of God and the universal omnipresence of the creator deity.
- Presence of God (Catholicism)
- Light (theology) - an aspect of divine presence with qualities of illumination: thought, intellect, knowledge, insight, wisdom, being, divine love
- Brahman - Hinduism, the superpresent properties of the creator deity, Brahma, understood to manifest itself as "light" within the human being.
- Inner light - term used in various religions to refer to the presence of God as a "light". The Religious Society of Friends regards this concept as a fundamental belief.
- Immanence - related term used in religious mysticism