I often get the impression that philosophy is about replacing words (concepts) with others. If that's the case, then why not create more words, more concepts?

  • Kant discusses this very matter somewhere in the first Critique. His justification for using already-current words is obscure, and since he uses combinations of words that hardly anyone ever thought of before, perhaps he missed his own point. I myself have found that neologisms can be useful when marking out relatively specific functions/objects, but that more general terms are better expressed using more established wordings. And then there are the joke names (philosophers and set theorists are actually pretty good at those kinds of jokes, it has turned out). Commented Jul 9, 2023 at 5:19
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    The question seems to imply that philosophy is already creating more words. In that context, it makes no sense to ask "why not create more words".
    – tkruse
    Commented Jul 9, 2023 at 10:10

2 Answers 2


I think your question is an excellent one. Many of the questions you will find on this site arise because philosophers use equivocal language. A word such as 'exist' for example, has many shades of meaning, and confusing them leads to no end of questions such as 'does a perfect circle exist?' and so on. Perhaps if we used entirely new words- rather than introducing additional meanings for words that are already over-worked- we might reduce the scope for muddled thinking.

  • we condemn ourselves... it's such a shame
    – Olandelie
    Commented Jul 10, 2023 at 3:47

Philosophers do indeed create lots of words and concepts. Here are some, and there are many more.

Proposition, argument, validity, entailment, satisfaction, reference, valuation, model, inference, identity, axiom, theory, interpretation, a priori, categorical, speech act, nominalism, libertarian, dualism, monism, conventionalism, essence, accident, idealism, realism, nominalism, phenomenon, noumenon, analytic, percept, skepticism, abstraction, praxis, holism, imperative, behaviourism, sense data, physicalism, naturalism, disposition, ontology, essentialism, determinism, positivism, reduction, supervenience, teleology, synthesis, empiricism, utilitarianism, altruism, relativism, atomism, compatibilism, functionalism, dialetheism, fallibilism, reductionism, qualia, representation, maxim, atomism, dialectic, emergence, intentionality, contingency, semiotics, token.

Bear in mind that philosophers are trying to make sense of the world about them, so it is necessary to relate what they are saying to the ordinary use of language. Philosophical language cannot float entirely free of ordinary words, or else it would be impossible to understand it.

Also, there is no point introducing new terms without good reason. A good piece of terminology should have explanatory value and make a distinction where a real difference exists and avoid making a distinction where no difference exists.

  • An excellent answer. I would give it multiple upvotes if I could. Commented Jul 10, 2023 at 4:18

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