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Logos  is a term in Western philosophy, psychology, rhetoric, and religion derived from a Greek word variously meaning “ground”, “plea”, “opinion”, “expectation”, “word”, “speech”, “account”, “reason”, “proportion”, and “discourse”. It became a technical term in Western philosophy beginning with Heraclitus (c.  535 – c.  475 BC), who used the term for a principle of order and knowledge.

Ancient Greek philosophers used the term in different ways. The sophists used the term to mean discourse. Aristotle applied the term to refer to “reasoned discourse” or “the argument” in the field of rhetoric, and considered it one of the three modes of persuasion alongside ethos and pathos. Pyrrhonist philosophers used the term to refer to dogmatic accounts of non-evident matters. The Stoics spoke of the logos spermatikos (the generative principle of the Universe) which foreshadows related concepts in Neoplatonism.

Within Hellenistic Judaism, Philo (c.  20 BC – c.  50 AD) adopted the term into Jewish philosophy. Philo distinguished between logos prophorikos (“the uttered word”) and the logos endiathetos (“the word remaining within”).

The Gospel of John identifies the Christian Logos, through which all things are made, as divine (theos), and further identifies Jesus Christ as the incarnate Logos. Early translators of the Greek New Testament such as Jerome (in the 4th century AD) were frustrated by the inadequacy of any single Latin word to convey the meaning of the word logos as used to describe Jesus Christ in the Gospel of John. The Vulgate Bible usage of in principio erat verbum was thus constrained to use the (perhaps inadequate) noun verbum for “word”, but later Romance language translations had the advantage of nouns such as le mot in French. Reformation translators took another approach. Martin Luther rejected Zeitwort (verb) in favor of Wort (word), for instance, although later commentators repeatedly turned to a more dynamic use involving the living word as felt by Jerome and Augustine. The term is also used in Sufism, and the analytical psychology of Carl Jung.

Despite the conventional translation as “word”, logos is not used for a word in the grammatical sense; instead, the term lexis (λέξις, léxis) was used. However, both logos and lexis derive from the same verb légō (λέγω), meaning “(I) count, tell, say, speak”.


The writing of Heraclitus (c. 535 – c. 475 BC) was the first place where the word logos was given special attention in ancient Greek philosophy, although Heraclitus seems to use the word with a meaning not significantly different from the way in which it was used in ordinary Greek of his time. For Heraclitus, logos provided the link between rational discourse and the world’s rational structure.

This logos holds always but humans always prove unable to ever understand it, both before hearing it and when they have first heard it. For though all things come to be in accordance with this logos, humans are like the inexperienced when they experience such words and deeds as I set out, distinguishing each in accordance with its nature and saying how it is. But other people fail to notice what they do when awake, just as they forget what they do while asleep.

— Diels–Kranz, 22B1

For this reason it is necessary to follow what is common. But although the logos is common, most people live as if they had their own private understanding.

— Diels–Kranz, 22B2

Listening not to me but to the logos it is wise to agree that all things are one.

— Diels–Kranz, 22B50

What logos means here is not certain; it may mean “reason” or “explanation” in the sense of an objective cosmic law, or it may signify nothing more than “saying” or “wisdom”. Yet, an independent existence of a universal logos was clearly suggested by Heraclitus.

Aristotle identifies two specific types of persuasion methods: artistic and inartistic. He defines artistic proofs as arguments that the rhetor generates and creates on their own. Examples of these include relationships, testimonies, and conjugates. He defines inartistic proofs as arguments that the rhetor quotes using information from a non-self-generated source. Examples of these include laws, contracts, and oaths.


The Essential Dialectic of Reason is:

{Substance-Reason ⇆ Reason-Substance ⇵ Substance-Substance} ↻ Reason-Reason


The Complete Dialectic of Reason is:

{Reason ⇆ Substance ⇅ Category} ↻ Transcendence



The Equivalency Dialectic of Reason is:

{Noumenal ⇆ Reason ⇅ Philosophy} ↻ Metaphysics