Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Police Etymology

 I can tell you the etymology of police, but that's not really important. Language is a very poor way to communicate ideas and concepts as it is abstracted by our minds in order to understand them. There are many things you should know about language itself prior to attempting this inquiry.

Language is the only way we can relate to each other through time and space. It's a very crude, imperfect means of communication.

You can tell me all about the history of police, but that doesn't mean I'll really understand it. You must be aware of this as a philosopher.

Let's begin with the etymology of police. The word has been around for a very long time, and it comes from the French language.

Police comes from the French 'poliscien' which is derived from Latin. It means 'city dweller'. But this implies more than just living in a city, but rather an urbanite.

The term 'urbanite' is used by sociologists and economists to describe people who live in cities. Urbanites are the most liberal, open-minded and tolerant of all other types.

I have decided to respond to this question using a format that is more commonly used in response to riddles. The best way I can think of explaining it would be to compare the situation of uncivilized society with organized crime.

In uncivilized society, there exists a complex social system of trust and honor. This is in stark contrast with the much more rigid structure found in organized crime.

While citizens of uncivilized society are in a sense 'hired' by their leaders, they remain free to do as they please with the exception that no one may harm another citizen. The same is not true for members of organized crime.

Leaders or members of organized crime are expected to carry out certain tasks, and if they do not complete them as instructed by their superiors, they will suffer the consequences.

In uncivilized society, it is not uncommon for members to leave the tribe if they do not feel that their needs are being met or if they simply find themselves in a better situation elsewhere.

In organized crime, this is not the case. If a member of organized crime chooses to leave his or her organization, they are marked for death. The same holds true if they wish to switch organizations.

The word "police" is derived from the French words "Policier" and/or "Polizei". The word was first used by Nicolas de Condorcet in 1793. There are two possible origins of the term:


1) a combination of French words 'pouvoir ("power") and sécurité ("security"), which would mean that it originated as an attempt to unify various powers into one centralized power for security purposes; or, 2) from Latin root polis, meaning city, where it was used to refer to everything associated with public order. By 1829 police had acquired its modern connotation with Sir Robert Peel when he formed the London Metropolitan Police Service.

So, the word "police" as we know it today was first used in 1793. The word has changed meaning over time, but can be traced back to a specific point in time. It is interesting that the earliest use of the term in French history occurred during an era where France had seen two decades of political turmoil and revolutions.

The English word "police" is derived from the French and Latin words of similar meaning. The origin of these terms in their respective languages can be traced back to specific points in time.

Interestingly, "police" is a word that has existed since the 1790's. The term was first used by Nicolas de Condorcet in 1793, at the time of the French Revolution. The original meaning of the term referred to an organized system for maintaining public order and security.

The term has evolved over time to the modern definition of "the civil police". The word itself is derived from French words and Latin roots. While not a particularly long or complex word, it's interesting how the meaning has changed slightly over time.

The word police, in its original meaning, meant nothing more than 'political community', from the Greek πολιτεία (politeia), which is composed of πόλις and λόγος. By this definition, a society without politics would not have a 'police' as we usually understand it. Because human beings are political animals by nature (as Aristotle observed) they need to organize themselves into some sort of authority structure.

The word police is also related to the Greek πόλις (polis, city-state) and its Latin variant 'civitas', both of which are derived from κοινός (koinós), meaning a group or community. We can see how these words relate in their etymologies by replacing the suffix -politia with that for people: poli(t)-ci.

The word Polis, which means the city-state to us today, is derived from poli(t), meaning people. The suffix -ci is used for making a noun out of an adjective or verb in Latin.

So, the word police has its origin in (1) a community of people organized into some sort of authority structure and (2) to use that authority for the common good. It is also interesting to note that politics used to refer specifically to 'the process through which power was distributed within an organization or state' (Oxford Dictionary).

So, politics originally referred to the process of distributing power within a community (city-state), and only later did it come to mean governing. The same is true for police - they used to be involved in political affairs, but today they are more involved in enforcing laws.

That's my take on it.

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