In a previous posting I discussed the difficulties of translating the Greek word «νοητός». Another blogger (harisheiz) addressed the issue from a different point of view, which seems interesting and quite innovative: Well… sorry, ladies and gentlemen (native speakers of English): I don’t mean to offend you (or anything of the sort) but you simply do not have a similar word in English, that corresponds satisfactorily to «νοητός» (pronounced «no-eeh-tOs»). So, what can we do?
Well, according to harisheiz, it looks like we are forced to introduce an… innovation in the English language, which is (yet) another Greek word; conveniently internationalised (like so many others): The new word which must be included in future English dictionaries, is «noetic», derived from the Greek «nous» (meaning «Mind»).
No matter how hard you try, I do not think it’s possible to find an English word that corresponds precisely to «noetic».
If we wish to translate «νοητός» precisely, we have to use a phrase, e.g. «Created inwardly by the Mind». The proposed new word «noetic» is vaguely similar (but not at all identical) to the word «virtual» (as in «virtual reality»). However, there is a big difference between «noetic» and «virtual»:
«Noetic» is a deliberate, conscious ability of the Mind, akin to meditation or «mentation» (in Buddhist philosophy), in the context of the Mind’s natural capacity for creative visualisation, whereas «virtual» (in the sense of «virtual reality»; no longer «realistic» nor «essential») is a kind of artificial simulation (as in a computer game) of Reality, referring to a «simulacrum» (in Jean Baudrillard‘s sense of the word).
Something which is «virtual» is a kind of artefact imposed on the mind from the outside (e.g. by computers). Neither «virtual», nor «intelligible», nor any other English word corresponds precisely to «Noetic».
In fact, the meaning of the word «virtual» has virtually (pun intended) changed a lot, ever since «virtual reality» was created. In Greek it’s translated as «εικονικός» (i.e. «iconic»), which -roughly- means «illusory»; existent (only) as a simulation or as an icon (another Greek word). There is some inaccuracy in the Greek translation of «virtual», but… not so great, compared to the severe difficulty of translating «νοητός» in English.
I was surprised to (re-)discover the original meaning of the English word «virtual», in the context of this discussion: After so many years in Greece (and even more years in Computer Science) perhaps I was influenced too much by the corresponding Greek buzzword «εικονικός» (i.e. «iconic»); sometimes forgetting what harisheiz reminded us about the original meaning of the English word «virtual»:
- «Virtual» in English used to mean «realistic» or «essential», except that it refers to something not (yet) materialised.
Here is the Semantic Space of the word «virtual» in the (wordnet-based) visual dictionary «Visuwords«:
As a matter of fact, this «Visuwords» definition, which is taken from «Wordnet» ( dated from the time before virtual reality was invented) is no longer correct. A better English definition of the word «virtual» exists in Wikipedia, as follows: (to see the lemma click HERE)
The term virtual is a concept applied in many fields with somewhat differing connotations, and also, differing denotations. Colloquially, ‘virtual’ has a similar meaning to ‘ quasi-‘ or ‘pseudo-‘ (prefixes which themselves have quite different meanings), meaning something that is almost something else, particularly when used in the adverbial form e.g., «He’s virtually [almost] my boyfriend». The term recently has been defined philosophically as, that which is not real, but may display the full qualities of the real.
In contrast, I would say that «noetic» is quite real; as real as reality itself: -It refers to the Mind’s capacity to create, perceive or visualise (or all at the sime).
E.g. in the poetry of Odysseus Elytis (here), or in the «Third Axiom of Multiple Form Logic« – a new theory proving that Logic is a direct trivial consequence of the Mind’s NOETIC capacity; i.e. the capacity to visualize and/or perceive Reality.
Hence (or otherwise):
- «Noetic», a new English word was born. I rest my case.🙂