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Unformatted text preview: 69 The Etymology of Design: Pre-Socratic Perspective 1 Kostas Terzidis Design is a term that differs from, but often is confused with, plan- ning. While planning is the act of devising a scheme, program, or method worked out beforehand for the accomplishment of an objec- tive, design is a conceptual activity involving formulating an idea intended to be expressed in a visible form or carried into action. Design is about conceptualization, imagination, and interpretation. In contrast, planning is about realization, organization, and execu- tion. Rather than indicating a course of action that is specific for the accomplishment of a task, design is a vague, ambiguous, and indefinite process of genesis, emergence, or formation of something to be executed, but whose starting point, origin, or process often are uncertain. Design provides the spark of an idea and the formation of a mental image. It is about the primordial stage of capturing, conceiving, and outlining the main features of a plan and, as such, it always precedes the planning stage. Etymologically, the verb design is derived from the prefix de and the Latin verb signare , which means to mark, mark out, or sign. The prefix de is used not in the derogatory sense of opposition or reversal, but in the constructive sense of derivation, deduction, or inference. In that context, the word design is about the derivation of something that suggests the presence or existence of a fact, condi- tion, or quality. In Greek, the word design is o (pronounced schedio ), which is derived from the root (pronounced sche- don ), which means nearly, almost, about, or approximately. Thus, from its Greek definition, design is about incompleteness, indefinite- ness, or imperfection, yet it also is about likelihood, expectation, or anticipation. In its largest sense, design signifies not only the vague, intangible, or ambiguous, but also the strive to capture the elusive. 1 Traveling further back into the origin of the Greek word (pronounced schedon ), one may find that it is derived from the word (pronounced eschein ), 2 which is the past tense of the word (pronounced eho ), which in English means to have, hold, or possess. Translating the etymological context into English, it can be said that design is about something we once had, but have no longer. The past tense in the Greek language is referred to as indefi- nite ( ) and, as such, it is about an event that did occur at an unspecified time in the past, hence it could have happened anytime between a fraction of a second and years ago. So, according 1 Precisely, the root of (pronounced schedon ) is derived from (pronounced eschein ), which is the past tense of the verb (pronounced eho ), that is to have. Therefore, design literally is about the reminiscence of a past possession, at an indefinite state, and at an uncertain time. indefinite state, and at an uncertain time....
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