Philosophy: World Wide Greek Words

Philosophy: World Wide Greek Words

You might not be an avid reader of philosophical books, you might not know a lot about Greek philosophers other than that they wore really long dress-like garments, had beards and ate grapes. Despite that, however, if you are part of the western civilization it means that you have been influenced by classical Greek thinking and philosophy whether you know it or not. Since its first inception back in the 4th and 5th centuries BC, Greek classical thinking gave Western culture its basic understanding of theology, cosmogony, and sciences influencing ideologies in governance, society, and politics. What you might also do not know is that you probably use words in your everyday life that actually derive from Greek philosophy. 

First and foremost, the word philosophy itself, just like a lot of Greek words, finds the perfect way through its parts to describe its actual nature. “Philo,” to love, and “sophia” wisdom are the parts used to describe the word that Pythagoras used for the first time to talk about himself as a person who loves to speculate about things of nature and the truth. 

Then there is Pragmatism. Pragmatism is a whole school of philosophy that favors action over doctrine, experience over fixed principles. You probably use this word to describe someone who “gets things done” or deals with things realistically. Maybe you did not know, though, that it comes from the word “pragma” which means thing in modern Greek and “that which has been done” in ancient Greek.

Anarchy is a political theory, which is skeptical over the concepts of authority and power. Etymologically speaking it comes from the prefix an-, used to mean without in ancient Greek, and “archi” meaning authority. Consequently, the controversial term that is heavily used in most languages literally means “without leadership.” Did you know that?

Analysis has always been at the heart of philosophical method. In its broadest sense it means the process of isolating or working back to what is most fundamental. The ancients Greek word analysis consists of “ana-” throughout and “lyein” to unfasten describing the concept of loosening or cutting something apart. We of course use it everyday to talk about the detailed examination of something. 

What philosophy seems to believe about chaos is that the smallest of changes in a system can result in huge differences in the system’s behavior. The word was used in ancient Greek to describe the abyss, something vast and empty. Hesiod used the word to describe the emptiness of the universe. We use it, nowadays, to describe a state of complete disorder and confusion. Familiar much?

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