So everybody seems pretty familiar with logos these days. In fact, product branding has made some logos more recognizable to children than the faces of their grandparents.
But I want to talk about the oldest of all logos… the ancient Greek word ΛΟΓΟΣ (LOGOS). One of the most pliable of all those pliable ancient terms, logos can mean word, speech, account, study, reason, etc. We have the term in the name of almost every science or technical expertise from biology to hematology, psychology to mixology.
When I was growing up in Waxahachie, Texas, we were told that when you see the suffix -logy, you should “read” that as “science.” So biology is the science of life, hematology the science of blood, psychology the science of the soul, and mixology the science of mixing alcoholic beverages.
Okay… the last one is a new turn for describing a bartender who has become a master of the craft. But Mix-o-technics does not flow as well off the tongue. Besides, most folks were schooled like myself. -Logy is “science.”
Of course, it is not. Only insofar as “science” means a sustained accounting of how things are what things seem to be does logos lend itself to that notion.
The term, for us in the 21st Century, translates better as “accounting for…” So biology tries to account for how life is possible and what life is. Mixology accounts for which alcohol goes best with which mixer and even which foods. Someone who is a -logist has to be able to account for the field of study as well as his/her particular research within that field.
In philosophy as academic practice, we commonly separate the field of study up into four basic accounts:
- Logic: accounting for kinds of statements & their validity.
- Ontology: accounting for kinds of being & their processes.
- Epistemology: accounting for kinds of knowledge & their organization.
- Axiology: accounting for kinds of values & their effectiveness.
Naturally, as in every other academic arena, philosophy’s basic divisions break up into sub-disciplines and those into further sub-sub-divisions. Yet even logic–which we might be excused in believing has levels of difficulty but not necessarily separate kinds of logic–has been given over to extreme specialization.
Over the next couple of weeks, I will go into the other three fields of investigation to talk about how the area of research brands the kinds of accounts that can be put forward.