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By Alain Rey; Juan C Sager

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This latter definition is fairly close to Kant: for the Ger­ man philosopher, as is well known, the concept (Begriff) is an intersection of judgements. The traditional and ancient definitions of concept in terminology are how­ ever convenient and useful for establishing definitions, especially as far as tech­ nology is concerned. But their psychological character which is realist — in the medieaval sense of the word — obviously condemns them to remaining opera­ tionally weak; the range of their presuppositions stretches from a pseudoAristotelian position to genuine Platonism.

On the one hand, and from a theoretical point of view, it should express the relevant features of the term, while, on the other, it should reflect those of the notion or concept; it can therefore only be applied to a pure term which is readily translatable into all languages and to a perfectly coherent and consistent terminological system in which each concept is built clearly and univocally. Such a requirement can be ex­ emplified by the case of mathematical or logical theories, some exceptionally co­ herent theoretical constructions about natural objects and the most scientific nomenclatures.

For practitio­ ners of applied descriptive terminology — for which in 1977 I suggested the name terminography1 — an activity comparable to lexicography, this subject may appear somewhat superfluous because practising terminographers usually consider any attempt at generalisation by reference to a theory as the source of obscurity and unnecessary complications. Without a theoretical basis, however, even an implicit one, one cannot even speak of terminology, or terminography for that matter. The relevant activities would be attributed to other well-recognised and known disciplines, namely standardisation and language planning, lexicography, nomenclature and taxon­ omy, document analysis and information processing, translation, systematic pedagogy (didactics), etc.

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