A philomath... is a lover of learning, from Greek philos (“beloved,” “loving”) + Greek manthanein, math- (“to learn,” as in polymath). It is similar to but distinguished from philosophy in that “soph,” the latter suffix, specifies “wisdom” or “knowledge.”
“Philomath” is not synonymous with “polymath.” A philomath is a seeker of knowledge and facts, while a polymath is a possessor of knowledge in multiple fields.
The shift in meaning for “mathema” is likely a result of the rapid categorization during the time of Plato and Aristotle of their “mathemata” in terms of education: arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music, which the Greeks found to create a “natural grouping” of mathematical (in our modern usage; “doctrina mathematica” for theirs) precepts.
03 September 2009
Word for the day: "philomath"
Labels: English language