Word: ExplicationAn explanation to end all explanations.

Word: ExplicationAn explanation to end all explanations.

  • Words Daphnée Denis
  • Photograph Paul Rousteau

Etymology: No, it isn’t French for “explanation.” Instead, the word “explication” refers to a cognitive method used by analytical philosophers and scientists. It was most famously defined by German-born American philosopher Rudolf Carnap in 1950 as a way to transform “an inexact prescientific concept, the explicandum, into a new exact concept, the explicatum.” In that sense, explicating goes beyond explaining. An explication has the power to change the way we understand the world by replacing a lack of data—or vague, incorrect notions—with scientifically proven facts.

Meaning: An event that has been widely accepted as an explication is when, in 2006, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) published a definition of “planet.” Until then, nine bodies orbiting arou...

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