[lit-ideas] "Raison D'Etre" (Was: "Ratio Essendi")

  • From: Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 3 Sep 2004 11:17:44 EDT

 
 
In a message dated 9/3/2004 12:16:07 AM Eastern Standard Time,  
JimKandJulieB@xxxxxxx writes:
You  people on this list have a raison d'etre.  
You are the escapism which  keeps me sane.  Feel better now?


-------
 
Mmm. Interesting.
 
I wonder why the English language sometimes uses _French_ expressions (of  
all languages). I suppose the French are prone to seeing things in a 'raison  
d'etre' perspective. It could be that the literal translation (as given by the  
OED, "reason of being") is too _crude_? 
 
Interestingly, the thing may have originated with Leibnitz (a German  
philosopher), who distinguished between ratio essendi (reason d'etre) and ratio 
 
cognoscendi (reason de connaitre) -- reason to be and reason to know or 
believe.  
This dichotomy seems artificial to me: why not reason to _love_, too, reason 
to  sing, reason to act (ratio agendi) ...
 
Cheers,
 
JL
 
---
 
From the OED
 
raison d'etre: -- 'reason of beingâ??; rational ground for existence. 

1864 J S  Mill Let. 18 Mar. (1910) II. 3 
 
Modes of speech  which have a real raison d'être. 
 
1867 MORLEY Burke 208 
 
Plunder in three  forms..was the very raison d'être of the power of the [East 
India]  Company. 
 
1880 Standard 29 Nov., 
 
The Royal Society  has almost ceased to have a raison d'être. 
 
1889 A. JAMES  Diary 14 Dec. (1964) 67 
 
The French ladies of  the 18th century..whose whole raison d'être was the 
graceful, and the  light. 
 
1927 C. CONNOLLY Let. 5 May in Romantic  Friendship (1975) 301 
 
With Desmond gone I  have no raison d'être. 
 
1959 J BRAINE Vodi vii. 102 
 
There were a few  trees and fields, and even a small colony of expensive 
privately-built houses,  which was rare for a place for which the raison 
d'être 
now was Rimelby Main  [colliery]. 
 
1975 J G EVANS Environment  Early Man Brit. Isles v. 104 
 
A possible raison  d'être for these sites was the chert, a desirable raw 
material.



 
(http://0-dictionary.oed.com.csulib.ctstateu.edu/cgi/entry_main/00196643?query_type=word&queryword=raison+d'etre&edition=2e&first=1&max_to_show=10&single=1
&sort_type=alpha&case_id=B626-riLqU0-6051&p=0&sp=0&qt=1&ct=0&ad=0&d=1-D#top) 



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