Philosophically Important Ancient Greek Terms

This version last revised May 19, 2006

Questions? Contact: Dr. Jan Garrett

I represent the eta, or Greek long "e," with "ê," the omega, or Greek long "o," with "ô"

archê -- beginning, rule, principle, cause

[cf. monarch]
anthrôpos -- human being
[cf. anthropology]
theos -- god, deity

logos -- discourse, explanation, ratio, proportion, . . . [eventually] reason

[cf. logic, theology, biology]
theogonia -- birth or emergence of the gods

genesis -- coming to be, generation (origination of a new living being)

phthora -- passing away (the opposite of "genesis")

morphê --shape, form

[cf. anthropomorphism]
gunê -- woman
[cf. English root gyne-]
anêr (root of some forms: "andr-") -- man (male of the human species)
[cf. polyandry]
paidion -- child

paideia -- education

[cf. pedagogy]
monos -- sole, alone
[cf. monotheism, monopoly, monism]
polu -- many
[cf. English root poly-, polytheism]

theologos -- one who talks or sings of the gods, e.g. Homer or Hesiod

muthologos -- a story teller, largely overlaps with theologos

kosmos -- order, arrangement, world-order

[cf. cosmetics, cosmology]

peras -- limit, boundary

[cf. perimeter]
apeiron -- unlimited, boundless, indefinite, infinite
[Note: "a-" is a negative prefix in Greek as well as English]
atomon -- that which cannot be divided [from "a-" and "temnein," to cut]
     an "atom" (Democritus), an individual (Aristotle)

sophos -- wise

philein (verb) -- love, like

philosophia -- pursuit of wisdom

oligoi (plural) -- few

[cf. oligarchy]
kratos -- might, power; (Homeric) sway, sovereignty

dêmos (singular) -- people

[cf. democracy]
aristos (singular) -- best
[cf. aristocracy]
nomos -- law, custom, convention
[cf. metronome]
phusis -- nature
[cf. physiology, physical]

pathos -- feeling, passion; also, in other contexts: suffering, undergoing

[cf. pathology]
agathos -- good

kalos -- beautiful, noble, admirable, fine

aretê -- virtue, excellence

kakia -- vice

eu (adverb) -- well

eudaimonia -- happiness, the good life, flourishing life

poiêisis -- making, production

[cf. poet]
technê -- art, craft, skill
[cf. technique, pyrotechnics]
epistêmê -- understanding, knowledge, (eventually) science
[cf. epistemological]
nous -- mind, intellect, understanding

doxa -- opinion

[cf. paradox, from "para" (contrary [to]) + doxa]
praxis -- conduct, (interpersonal) action, including political activity

phronêsis -- prudence, practical wisdom
     (capacity for deliberating well, leading to good decisions)

pneuma -- breath (ordinary Greek meaning);

          -- a dynamic force field (Stoic physics)

pneuma holds unified beings together; expresses itself differently in humans, nonhuman animals, plants, and cohesive material objects
bios -- life, in Stoic physics the principle of plant life
[cf. biology]
psuchê -- soul, principle of animal life
[cf. psychological]
sôma -- body
[cf. psychosomatic]
eidos -- form (as in physical form or Platonic Form),
     species when contrasted with the genos

genos -- kind or type, genus (species are subclasses of genera)