consilience

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Latin con- (prefix indicating a being or bringing together of several objects) + saliō (to bound, jump, leap) (modelled after resiliēns (rebounding)) +‎ -ence, influenced by concurrent. The word was coined by English philosopher and theologian William Whewell (1794–1866) in his book The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences (1840).[1][2]

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

consilience (countable and uncountable, plural consiliences)

  1. (logic) The concurrence of multiple inductions drawn from different data sets. [from 1840]
    Synonym: coincidence
    • 1840, William Whewell, “Of the Logic of Induction”, in The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences, Founded upon Their History. [...] In Two Volumes, volume II, London: John W[illiam] Parker, []; Cambridge: J. and J. J. Deighton, OCLC 1003958306, paragraph 4, pages 242–243:
      Indeed in all cases in which from propositions of considerable generality, propositions of a still higher degree are obtained, there is a convergence of inductions; and if in one of the lines which thus converge, the steps be rapidly and suddenly made in order to meet the other line, we may consider that we have an example of Consilience.
  2. The agreement, co-operation, or overlap of academic disciplines.
    • 1998, Edward O[sborne] Wilson, “To What End?”, in Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, New York, N.Y.: Knopf, →ISBN; 1st Vintage Books edition, New York, N.Y.: Vintage Books, April 1999, →ISBN:
      For centuries consilience has been the mother's milk of the natural sciences. Now it is wholly accepted by the brain sciences and evolutionary biology, the disciplines best poised to serve in turn as bridges to the social sciences and humanities. [] The central idea of the consilience world view is that all tangible phenomena, from the birth of stars to the workings of social institutions, are based on material processes that are ultimately reducible, however long and tortuous the sequences, to the law of physics.

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References[edit]

  1. ^ William Whewell (1840), “Of the Logic of Induction”, in The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences, Founded upon Their History. [...] In Two Volumes, volume II, London: John W[illiam] Parker, []; Cambridge: J. and J. J. Deighton, OCLC 1003958306, paragraph 4, page 230:
    Accordingly the cases in which inductions from classes of facts altogether different have thus jumped together, belong only to the best established theories which the hisory of science contains. And as I shall have occasion to refer to this peculiar feature in their evidence, I will take the liberty of describing it by a particular phrase; and will term it the Consilience of Inductions.
  2. ^ consilience, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1893.
  • consilience” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2019.

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