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What are the etymological roots of the word "psychology"?
-- Leila Pallardy (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 24, 2002
The Greek terms psuchÍ and logos. Neither has an adequate translation into English. PsuchÍ is often translated as mind or soul, but both of these carry modern connotations that the Greek term did not carry -- indeed, the meaning of psuchÍ changed fairly dramatically from the time of Homer, when it was merely the whispy, gibbering "shade" of the person that slid down to Hades after bodily death, to the time of Aristotle, who considered it to be the efficient, formal, and final "causes" (aitiai) of the living being (the body itself being the material "cause").
Logos has a similarly complicated history. Early on it meant simply "something said", but later came to mean an account or explanation of an event, or even the event's underlying metaphysical structure. It is often translated simply as "word" (as per the beginning of the Book of John in the New Testament of the Bible), but this grossly underplays the cosmic connotations it carried by that time. In the modern world, it has come to be used widely as a suffix meaning approximately "the scholarly study of" or even "the science of" -- as in theology, geology, sociology, mineralogy, psychology, etc.
-- Christopher Green (email@example.com), January 24, 2002.
A previous thread at
addresses the history of the word.
-- Hendrika Vande Kemp (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 24, 2002.