etymological argument

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etymological argument (plural etymological arguments)

  1. (philosophy, linguistics) Explanation and analysis—often considered controversial—of one or more concepts or linguistic terms by means of an exposition of their linguistic origins.
    • 1877, Valerie Z. Nollan (translator), Vladimir Sergeyevich Solovyov (author), The Philosophical Principles of Integral Knowledge (2008 Eerdmans edition), ISBN 9780802860934, p. 58:
      But it goes without saying that this etymological argument in and of itself has no significance, since a word taken from a dead language may resultantly assume a meaning independent of its etymology.
    • 1970, Josiah B. Gould, The Philosophy of Chrysippus[1], ISBN 9780873950640, page 148:
      Nothing need be said about the etymological argument except perhaps that it was characteristic of Stoic philosophers to think such an argument could be used with force, because they believed that language is not conventional, but natural.
    • 1998, Rachel Barney, "Socrates Agonistes: The Case of the Cratylus Etymologies" in Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy: Volume XVI, ISBN 9780198238157, p. 68:
      And if we look to post-Platonic texts, etymological argument for philosophical positions seems to become common practice.
    • 2005, Roy Harris, The Semantics of Science[2], ISBN 9781847143488, page 19:
      Aristotle also throws in a dubious etymological argument: this is why it has the name ‘money’ (nomisma)—because it exists not by nature but by law (nomos) and it is in our power to change it and make it useless. (Nicomachean Ethics 1133a30-31)
    • 2013, Graham Harman, Tool-Being: Heidegger and the Metaphysics of Objects[3], ISBN 9780812697735, page 111:
      In support of this supposed brotherhood between ready-to-hand and present-at-hand, Bernasconi offers the fashionable but shaky etymological argument that both terms contain the word “hand,” the organ which is traditionally regarded as the instrument of production.