I find it interesting that the French expression avoir raison shares an etymology with the English words "reason" and "rational". In a post-truth political era, it is refreshing that the French expression for "being right" is at least etymologically rooted in reason. I wonder, moreover, whether there are connotations of rationality when the French say j'ai raison. In American politics, the words "I'm right" have no connotations of rationality.

Politics aside, the French expression and the English words all derive from the Latin root ratio, rationis. The question I have for this forum is whether the word ratio was frequently used in Roman philosophy, and whether it was used to translate the Greek word λόγος in translations of Greek philosophy. I know what the word means, but I just want to double-check that it's the same word that Roman philosophers used for reason.

Furthermore, are there many Greek and Latin words for "reason" (as, for example, there are many words for "love") or was one word predominantly used to describe this concept?

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    Two remarks: (1) In Italian we have avere raggione for the French avoir raison. I wonder if other Romance languages share the idiom. (2) The word sapientia comes to mind for "reason". Perhaps also mens or animus could work, but I'm not familiar with philosophical use. I can write up a partial answer later, but I'm happy if someone beats me to it – especially since I can only answer partially. – Joonas Ilmavirta Sep 20 '17 at 22:15
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    @JoonasIlmavirta Interesting! That begs the question of whether there was a similar Latin idiom for "I am right", but since you did not mention it I doubt there is one (or maybe it developed in later Latin). I just found on Wikipedia that ratio was indeed used to translate λόγος, but I still wonder if this was universal to all translations and whether it has the same resonance in Roman culture that it had in Greek culture. – ktm5124 Sep 20 '17 at 22:19
  • @JoonasIlmavirta I would give you +2 if I could for the chiasmus which ends your comment. – ktm5124 Sep 20 '17 at 22:21
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    @JoonasIlmavirta 1) Spanish razón works like raggione and raison: tener razón=to be right. 2) ratio is what philosophers use for reason AFAIK. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas use it that way, as well as translations from Aristotle. As for the classics, judging from L&S, meaning II.B.2 ss., Cicero and Seneca use it, but I can't rule out alternative terms. – Rafael Sep 21 '17 at 1:10
  • I wonder if the Romance idiom comes from Latin at all? Perhaps late Latin, if not classical Latin. – ktm5124 Sep 21 '17 at 2:38

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