Entries linking to raison d'etat
c. 1200, resoun, "the intellectual faculty that adopts actions to ends," also "statement in an argument, statement of explanation or justification," from Anglo-French resoun, Old French raison "course; matter; subject; language, speech; thought, opinion," from Latin rationem (nominative ratio) "reckoning, understanding, motive, cause," from ratus, past participle of reri "to reckon, think" (from PIE root *re- "to reason, count").
Meaning "sanity; degree of intelligence that distinguishes men from brutes" is recorded from late 13c.; that of "that which recommends itself to enlightened intelligence, a reasonable view of a matter" is from c. 1300.
The sense of "grounds for action, motive, cause of an event" is from c. 1300. The Middle English sense of "meaning, signification" (early 14c.) is preserved in the phrase rhyme or reason. Phrase it stands to (or with) reason is from 1520s. A reason of state (1610s) is a purely political grounds for action.
The Enlightenment gave reason its focused sense of "intelligence considered as having universal validity ... so that it is not something that belongs to any person, but is something partaken of, a sort of light in which every mind must perceive" [Century Dictionary]. Reason itself has long been personified, typically as a woman. Age of Reason "the European Enlightenment" is first recorded 1794 as the title of Tom Paine's book.
Reason is never a root, neither of act nor desire.
[Robinson Jeffers, "Meditation on Saviors"]
The sense of "a semi-independent political entity under a federal authority, one of the bodies politic which together make up a federal republic" is from 1774. The British North American colonies occasionally were called states as far back as 1630s; the States has been short for "the United States of America" since 1777; also of the Netherlands. State rights in U.S. political sense is attested from 1798; form states rights is first recorded 1858. Church and state have been contrasted from 1580s. State-socialism attested from 1850.
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updated on April 07, 2021