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logos


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(Greek, statement, principle, law, reason, proportion)

In Heraclitus, the cosmic principle that gives order and rationality to the world, in a way analogous to that in which human reason orders human action. In Plato and Aristotle a similar function is performed by nous. In Stoicism the seminal reason (logos spermatikos) is the cosmic source of order; its aspects are fate, providence, and nature. Subordinate logoi seem to perform something of the function of Plato's forms. Logos also has another aspect: it is what enables us to apprehend the principles and forms, i.e. it is an aspect of our own reasoning. The view becomes fused with Christian doctrine when logos is God's instrument in the development (redemption) of the world. The notion survives in the idea of laws of nature, if these are conceived of as independent guides of the natural course of events, existing beyond the temporal world that they order.

Subjects: Linguistics.


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