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Some Key Terms and Definitions


The ancient (Platonic) thought believed that the 'things' we see around us are mere imperfect copies of a higher reality. This idea of the 'idea' (Greek: ιδέα) probably derives from the notion of a 'bed' (as in 'test-bed'?), in the sense that manufacturers produce products from templates or originary 'forms'. This is based on an industrial metaphor in which the craftsperson uses a template ('deigma') from which to make a faithful copy. The highest original copy ('paradeigma') was assumed to have come from God.

After the 17th century (John Locke) we begin to assume that 'ideas' can originate in the human mind. Hence Locke defined an 'idea' as an "object of understanding when a man thinks”. Thus, 'forms' and 'ideas' have been associated over several thousand years of western thought.

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