Essence is the attribute or set of attributes that make an object or substance what it fundamentally is, and which it has by necessity, and without which it loses its identity. Essence is contrasted with accident, a property that the object or substance has contingently without which the substance can still retain its identity.
Essence has often served as a vehicle for doctrines that tend to individuate different forms of existence as well as different identity conditions for objects and properties. In this eminently logical meaning, the concept has given a strong theoretical and common sense basis to the whole family of logical theories.
In existentialist discourse, essence can refer to physical aspect or attribute, to the ongoing being of a person (the character or internally determined goals), or to the infinite inbound within the human (which can be lost, can atrophy, or can be developed into an equal part with the finite), depending upon the type of existentialist discourse.
In metaphysics, essence is often synonymous with the soul, and some existentialists argue that individuals gain their souls and spirits after they exist, and that they develop their souls and spirits during their lifetimes.
The English word “essence” comes from the Latin essentia, which was coined from the Latin esse, “to be” by ancient Roman scholars in order to translate the Ancient Greek phrase “to ti en einai” (literally, “what it is for a thing to be”), coined by Aristotle to denote a thing’s essence.