over 13 years ago

Date: Fri, 12 Jun 1998 10:40:44 -0400
Reply-To: Discussion List on the History of Mathematics , John Conway
From: John Conway
Subject: Re: alogon Comments: To: Jim Propp
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On Fri, 12 Jun 1998, Jim Propp wrote:
> How is the word "alogon" (used by Proclus to describe irrationals, as I recall) > best translated? "Unutterable", "illogical", "unmeasurable"? > > That is to say, What was the meaning of "logos" in the context of non-Christian > fifth century Greek philosophy/mathematics?
I continue: it then seems to have acquired the particular sense of "a collection of words There's a long-standing connection between reason and ratio or proportion, and "analogy" is somewhere around here. "alogon" seems to mean something like "unreasonable", "irrational". JHC ", (Gk "lexis"), as in "Lexicon" (original meaning: phrase-book). Latin "Lex" for law, and so the English words like "legal", come off around here. I might mention also "dialectics".
From here we get "writings", passing into "theory" or "study", as in the English "-logy" words. This in turn led to "reasoning", and in particular the English word "logic".

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