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DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-A065-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 24, 2024, from

Article Summary

The noun logos derives from the Greek verb legein, meaning ‘to say’ something significant. Logos developed a wide variety of senses, including ‘description’, ‘theory’ (sometimes as opposed to ‘fact’), ‘explanation’, ‘reason’, ‘reasoning power’, ‘principle’, ‘ratio’, ‘prose’.

Logos emerges as a philosophical term with Heraclitus (c.540–c.480 bc), for whom it provided the link between rational discourse and the world’s rational structure. It was freely used by Plato and Aristotle and especially by the Stoics, who interpreted the rational world order as immanent deity. Platonist philosophers gave pre-eminence to nous, the intuitive intellect expressed in logos. To Philo of Alexandria and subsequently to Christian theologians it meant ‘the Word’, a derivative divine power, at first seen as subordinate but eventually coordinated with the Father.

Citing this article:
Stead, Christopher. Logos, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-A065-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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