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Allison Parrish @aparrish

til that Theophrastus at least used the word "therapeia" to refer to cultivation of plants, which made me consider the word "cultivation." the word "therapy" ultimately derives from the ancient greek word for attendant, where as cultivation < PIE *kʷel-, "turn"—used in latin specifically to refer to tilling and agriculture. (*kʷel- is right there in agriCULTure too)—how something that is uncultivated, by extension, is low-class, uncivilized, wild

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the ancient greek reflex of the same root gives us the prefix "tele-", acting at a distance, which is in complete contrast to the idea of attendant care in therapeia. because of course "cultivation" shouldn't be a prerequisite for caring for something, or for being cared for.

now imagining if "therapy" was the metaphor for how we interact with nature, instead of "cultivation"... we'd have a Department of Natural Therapy instead of a Department of Agriculture

the other reflex of *kʷel- in ancient greek is telos ("end")—cultivation and agriculture do have a specific telos (i.e., the total domination or taming of nature) whereas therapy I think is thought of as non-telic, by nature cooperative and continuous without a specific endpoint

(all of this inspired by like one page in Leggott's "Reading Zukofsky's 80 Flowers" btw, thank you mastodon for letting me pretend that I know literally anything about classics for a few minutes every once in a while)

@aparrish Drive by observation

We word people may be more susceptible than most to the effects of language construction upon the range of thoughts a human will and won't communicate, act on, or even have

I dunno what the context of your two posts is, but armchair etymology is a jam of mine :)

@NathanHawks etymology is useful I think as sort of a fossil record of metaphor

@aparrish Yep, although I have to operate on the constant awareness that I lack the depth to know what people of a time would have considered obviously poetic enough to scan

@NathanHawks true, I think it's useful to remember and point out occasionally that etymological hermeneutics like this is only intended as a way to get at how concepts and ideas exist in dialogue with each other—I'm definitely not doing social science here on what people in other eras said or thought

@aparrish I love this thread because it illustrates how language shapes how we interact with the world, which of course is tied to the idea that words are magic.