Wacky Word Wednesday

Philodox – Wacky Word Wednesday

Have you ever met somebody who couldn’t resist voicing their opinion, whatever the situation? What about someone who did not only that, but subsequently became so enthralled with their own idea that they went on and on, refusing to be dissuaded? At some point we’ve all met such people, frequently at parties where they make listeners gaze longingly at the door. Nobody enjoys their company very much but the ancient Greeks thought far less of them; they thought they were enemies of wisdom! And it’s from the ancient Greeks that we get today’s wacky word—philodox.

 

quo topPhilodox

[FIL-uh-doks]

noun

A person with an excessive interest or love for their own opinion; a dogmatic person.

quo botPhilodox

Today’s wacky word is a compound of the Greek words philo, meaning “love,” and doxa, which means “opinion.” So literally, a philodox is somebody who loves opinion – usually only their own. A philosopher, on the other hand, takes the same prefix (philo) and combines it with sophia, which means wisdom. So a philosopher is a lover of wisdom. Socrates, often called the “father of philosophy,” tried to teach his students to use reason for the pursuit and defense of Truth (the kind that’s capitalized) while the Sophists taught the use of reason for the defense of one’s opinions and fortunately he passed down a way for us to deal with all the philodoxes out there—the Socratic Method.

At its most basic, the Socratic Method is just a manner of asking questions – and getting people to answer them – in a way that reveals the contradictions inherent to their opinions. So the next time you’re at a cocktail party and get stuck listening to someone whose opinions are dearly held but not-so-closely examined, just ask them a few questions. You might learn something and – even better – you may transform a philodox into a philosopher.

As usual, here are a few example sentences putting our wacky word into action:

  • “In effect, a philodoxical thinker can become very good and highly skilled at doubting and critiquing maps other than her own.” Dale Cannon
  • “Our academic postmodern philodoxes are taking themselves out of a credible leadership role in our society.” National Association of Scholars

Join us next week for another exciting edition of Wacky Word Wednesday!

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