On Thu, Jul 19, 2007 at 08:41:26AM +0900, Hal Fulton wrote:
> Chad Perrin wrote:
> > On Thu, Jul 19, 2007 at 05:55:51AM +0900, Hal Fulton wrote:
> >> Marc Heiler wrote:
> >>> SPS: btw "daemons" is not the same as "demons" 
> >> What do you mean? How is the spelling significant?
> > 
> > The term "daemon" is primarily a variant of "daimon", which is (in the
> > words of the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language) an
> > "inferior deity", or an "attendant spirit; a genius".  Meanwhile, a
> > "demon" is (in the same dictionary) an "evil supernatural being; a
> > devil".  There's some vagueness in the delineation, however, because of
> > the fact that the term "demon" grew out of the early Christian tradition
> > of turning good things in "competing" religions into terms for bad things
> > in Christian religions.  Just as Baal, a term that essentially meant
> > "lord", and Ba'al, which referred to the lord of heaven, was in Christian
> > tradition turned into the name of a duke of Hell, so too did "daimon" get
> > turned into "demon", and become synonymous with "devil", in Christian
> > terms.
> > 
> > I refer of course to the cultural history of these terms, and in this
> > case suggest no value judgments about the various involved religious
> > philosophies themselves.
> > 
> 
> Certainly correct. But it's a question of meaning and usage.
> 
> "Daemon" was an older spelling of "demon"; any modern attempt
> to ascribe different meanings to the different spellings is
> strictly arbitrary in my book.

No, not really.  "Daemon" is particular to the Greek meaning, as it
specifically referenced that usage, whereas "demon" is associated with
the Christian cultural usage.  The difference is similar to the
difference between "camber" and "chamber", which have (even more)
distinct meanings despite deriving from the same etymological source and
having strikingly similar spellings.  Just as "demon" is entrenched as a
Hell-denizen, a spirit of evil and torment in service to the devil, and
"daemon" is primarily a helper "entity" (in modern usage, composed of
electrons rather than whatever spiritual stuff composed the daimons of
old), so too are camber and chamber distinct terms with differing
meanings that originated, as words, in the same etymological ancestry.

There is a reason separate words, with separate spellings, derived from
the same ancestral origin, exist at the same time in the same language.
One is not simply the kewler spelling than the other.  The cultural
ignorance of some people looking for an excuse to be offended by the use
of the term "daemon" in no way implies that it's meaning is identical to
that of "demon".

It would take a pretty extreme linguistic descriptivist to try to argue
otherwise, armed with a complete disregard for much evidence to the
contrary.

-- 
CCD CopyWrite Chad Perrin [ http://ccd.apotheon.org ]
Kent Beck: "I always knew that one day Smalltalk would replace Java.  I
just didn't know it would be called Ruby."