Some Definitions of Terms

From Funk & Wagnall's Standard Desk Dictionary, 1976 Edition:

The branch of theology that defends Christianity.

Don Craig offers the following commentary:

Theology deals with the application of the Word of God to our lives. Since the Bible speaks to all of life, either directly or indirectly, there is no part of our lives which is not affected by theology. Like theology, apologetics also applies to every aspect of our living. The difference between the two is in terms of emphasis. Whereas theology focuses on the application of Scripture to our lives, apologetics focuses on defending what we believe and practice.

There is also a difference between apologetics and evangelism. Evangelism is concerned primarily with the proclamation of the gospel. Apologetics supports and undergirds evangelism by justifying its claims. I have had conversations with atheists where it would have been impossible to intelligently press the claims of Christianity without at least a basic understanding of apologetics.

As we examine the subject of apologetics, we find that two distinct forms of it are in use. One form is called presuppositional apologetics, and the other, evidential apologetics.

From Funk & Wagnall's Standard Desk Dictionary, 1976 Edition:

One who argues in defence of any person or cause.

In particular, some use the term with respect to apologetics.

From Jonathan Ott's Pharmacotheon:

The term entheogen was first suggested by classical scholars Carl A.P. Ruck and Danny Staples, pioneering entheogen researcher R. Gordon Wasson, ethnobotanist Jeremy Bigwood and [Jonathan Ott]. The neologism derives from an obscure Greek word meaning "realizing the devine within," the term used by the ancient Greeks to describe states of poetic or prophetic inspiration, to describe the entheogenic state which can be induced by sacred plant-drugs. This term replaces the pejorative words psychotomimetic and hallucinogenic, with their connotations of psychosis and hallucination, and the orthographically incorrect psychedelic (the correct spelling being psychodelic, as the word commonly rendered in languages other than English), which has become so invested with connotations of sixties' poular culture ("psychedelic" art, music, etc) as to make it incongruous to speak of ancient shamanic use of a psychedelic plant. (p.20)

From Collins Dictionary of Philosophy:

(from the Greek episteme knowledge) the branch of philosophy concerned with the justification of knowledge-claims in the face of two kinds of scepticism, and hence with the nature of knowledge and the things that can be known.

The first kind of scepticism is about being 'any principle of correctness in names other than convention and agreement' (Plato, Cratylus 384d). Is the meaning of 'beauty', 'largeness', 'holiness', and so on, something we can be said to know, or is it something that we decide, by agreeing to use a word a certain way?


Besides the kind of scepticism that is answered with the doctrine (rationalist or empiricist) that there is a reality to which language conforms, there is a second, quite different scepticism. Even if the terms we use have objective reality, can we be sure that what we say, using those terms, is factually correct? Our senses sometimes deceive us. This being so, are we ever justified in claiming to know things about the sensible world? In general, has anything the sort of certainty that would justify knowledge claims?

According to Aristotle, the basic characteristic(s) used to define a thing. For example, although a particular stool might have four legs, not all stools have four legs, and therefore, the number of legs is not an essential characteristic of a stool. Essential qualities are usually very difficult to describe; however, IME, when an argument hinges upon the essence of something, it is usually a sloppy argument.
  1. Of, pertaining to, or based upon a norm, especially one regarded as a standard or rule of usage.
  2. Implying, supporting, or establishing a norm.

Basically, an assumption about "how things should be" is a normative assumption, because it presupposes the existence of a "normal" example that all things should follow.

Occam's Razor
A principle used to decide the most reasonable choice of hypothesis based upon economy of hypothetical premises. This principle was first introduced by William of Occam (aka Ockham). The typical latin wording is: Entia non unt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem or, 'Entities are not be multiplied beyond necessity' (this Latin phrase, however, does not appear in Occam's writings). Simply, the principle is: "Any premise that is not necessary to the explanation of a phenomenon should be eliminated."
One who believes that more than one (perhaps even all) doctrines are true.
Stef's Poly Page defines polyamory thusly:

The theory and practice of openly maintaining multiple sexual and/or romantic relationships.

From Riki Anne Wilchins' Read My Lips:

A movement spawned by French philosopher Jacques Derrida, among others, that proclaimed the end of modern Enlightenment notions of authenticity, truth, and reason as a single grand, eternal narrative by which all things could be fairly judged. Part of its thrust was to open up repressive and monolithic notions of truth to those realities and experiences which are nonrational, small, and local -- even to those which cannot be put into the confines of words. Derrida did this by looking at the hidden, underlying assumptions that allowed varoius truths to operate as capital T Truth (also known as deconstruction). Foucault took a different track, focusing on the political effects -- who gained or lost power -- when notions of sexuality became "natural truths" instead of cultural products. Many academics are busy debunking postmodernism, i.e., explaining why it is dead, pointless or (for the truly creative) both dead and pointless. Such angst roughly translates to the uncomfortable awareness that postmodernism undermines precisely those sorts of authoritative claims to Objective Knowledge that enable academics to get paid for pronouncing it. (p.228)

Copyright © 1996 by B.C. Holmes. Last updated: October 19th, 1997