New Words

When writing up his researches on electrochemistry, Faraday was faced with a difficulty: he was trying to describe physical processes that nobody had described, or perhaps even though of, before. As his ideas grew, language itself became part of his thinking. He sought precision and faced a particular problem with words that were in common use but had misleading theoretical connotations; the prime example was current, which implied that electricity was a fluid. New words were needed not for their own sake but because existing ones carried theoretical baggage that could constrain one’s thinking.

Leave a Reply