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Calling Philosophers NamesOn the Origin of a Discipline$
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Christopher Moore

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691195056

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691195056.001.0001

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Introduction: The Origins of Philosophia

Introduction: The Origins of Philosophia

A History of Philosophia, Not of Philosophy

(p.1) 1 Introduction: The Origins of Philosophia
Calling Philosophers Names

Christopher Moore

Princeton University Press

This introductory chapter presents a brief overview of the history of philosophia—the Greek name, and the discipline that it came to name. It shows that, beginning around 500 BCE, the coinage of a “love of wisdom” was met with a wry verbal slight. But a century and a half later, the term is revealed in the maturity of an institution that is continuous with today's departments of philosophy. This phenomenon—accommodating a name-calling name and consolidating a structured group around it—recurs through history, as the cases of the Quakers, Shakers, Freaks, and queer activists illustrate. A norm-policing name, at first distasteful, gets appropriated, facilitates a new and ennobling self-understanding, and then governs a productive and tight-knit social enterprise. The chapter argues that such is the origin of philosophia.

Keywords:   philosophia, philosophy, etymology, philosophos, ancient Greece, philosophoi, Pythagoras, Heraclides

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