Justification

This word demonstrates one of the important aspects of evolution of meaning.  Sometimes words don’t lose or corrupt their meanings over time, but through a process of analogy, take on deeper (and often fuzzier) significance.

‘To justify’ is to show that something is just or right, to produce a demonstration of the correctness of a thing.  ‘Just’ and ‘right’ have the same conceptual roots:  they both originally referred to the act of setting building materials at a ninety-degree angle, and when people justified, they were making sure that things were aligned to the correct standard.

To be ‘right’ is to be correct, and ‘right’ angles are the ones desired in buildings.

The key concept at the heart of the word is the establishment of a similarity between an implementation or manifestation and an absolute, objective standard.  From this we derive concepts such as justice and justification across many diverse and seemingly-unrelated fields.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: