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Doxa

The meaning of «doxa»

Doxa (Ancient Greek: δόξα; from verb δοκεῖν, dokein, 'to appear, to seem, to think, to accept')[1] is a common belief or popular opinion. In classical rhetoric, doxa is contrasted with episteme ('knowledge').

The term doxa is an Ancient-Greek term (δόξα) that comes from the verb dokein (δοκεῖν), meaning 'to appear, to seem, to think, to accept'.[1]

Between the 3rd and 1st centuries BC, the term picked up a new meaning from that of the Greek, when the Biblical-Hebrew word for 'glory' (כבוד‎, kavod) was translated by the Septuagint as doxa. Not only was this translation of the Hebrew Scriptures used by the early church, the effects of this new meaning of doxa as 'glory' is made evident by the ubiquitous use of the term throughout the New Testament and in the worship services of the Greek Orthodox Church, where the glorification of God in true worship is also seen as true belief. In that context, doxa reflects behavior or practice in worship, and the belief of the whole church rather than personal opinion.

It is the unification of these multiple meanings of doxa that is reflected in the modern terms orthodoxy[2] and heterodoxy.[3][4] This semantic merging in the word doxa is also seen in Russian word slava (слава), which means 'glory', but is used with the meaning of belief or opinion in words like pravoslavie (православие), meaning 'orthodoxy' (or, literally, 'true belief').

In his dialogue Gorgias, Plato presents the sophists as wordsmiths who ensnared and used the malleable doxa of the multitude to their advantage without shame.[5] In this and other writings, Plato relegated doxa as being a belief, unrelated to reason, that resided in the unreasoning, lower-parts of the soul.[6]

This viewpoint extended into the concept of doxasta in Plato's theory of forms, which states that physical objects are manifestations of doxa and are thus not in their true form.[7] Plato's framing of doxa as the opponent of knowledge led to the classical opposition of error to truth, which has since become a major concern in Western philosophy. (However, in the Theaetetus and in the Meno, Plato has Socrates suggest that knowledge is orthos doxa for which one can provide a logos, thus initiating the traditional definition of knowledge as "justified true belief.") Thus, error is considered in as pure negative, which can take various forms, among them the form of illusion.

Aristotle, Plato's student, objected to Plato's theory of doxa. Aristotle perceived that doxa's value was in practicality and common usage, in contrast with Plato's philosophical purity relegating doxa to deception. Further, Aristotle held doxa as the first step in finding knowledge (episteme), as doxa had found applications in the physical world, whereby those who held it had a great number of tests done to prove it and thus reason to believe it.[8] Aristotle clarifies this by categorizing the accepted truths of the physical world that are passed down from generation to generation as endoxa.[9] Endoxa is a more stable belief than doxa, because it has been "tested" in argumentative struggles in the Polis by prior interlocutors. The term endoxa is used in Aristotle's Organon, Topics and Rhetoric.

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