What is Etiology

Etiology is the study if causation or the study of the origin or the cause of a certain thing. It traces its origins from Ancient Greece which when loosely translated means ‘giving a reason for’. In the modern world, the world is closely associated with the medical field and philosophical studies. It is used to give reference to studies involving why things occur or why things are the way they are. It is a term used in reference to various phenomena in the medical field as well as the philosophical field.

To fully understand what etiology is, a look at the usage of the word under the different fields mentioned above is important. First of all, we will look at the usage o the word under the medical field. In medicine, the term etiology refers to the causes of diseases or the origin of pathologies. If the origin or the cause is not found, then the occurrence or the disorder is supposed to be idiopathic. Before the idea of disease causing microorganisms was put into place then the origin of disease was attributed to the ‘evil eye’ in ancient times. It was the belief of the ancient world that diseases were as a result of someone wishing bad luck to befall another person. In the modern world, etiology of diseases has more significant foundations that are based on actual studies proven beyond reasonable doubt. For example, smoking and lung cancer have a casual relationship; several line of evidence point to this relationship. However there is a need t differentiate between causation and statistical correlation. Events can occur together by mere chance, bias or confounding. It is therefore necessary to make a clear distinction between chance and actual causation when looking into the etiology of diseases and pathogens in medicine.

Etiology also has its roots in mythology. The origin of a myth or etiology myth is a fable that is intended to explain the origins of cult practices in the human society. It can also be used to explain natural phenomena, proper names and other things that fall in the realm of myths. A good example is the origin of the name ‘Delphi’. Folklore holds that the name originates from a Greek deity, Apollon Delphinos. The deity, as explained in the Homeric Hymn, carried Cretans over the sea in the shape of a dolphin, or delphis, to make them priests. But on the other hand the name Delphi is closely related to the word ‘Delphus’ loosely translated to ‘womb’. This shows how many etiological myths are based on folklore rather than actual facts. The same principal is also applied in eh philosophical field when it comes to identifying the existence of a certain culture or trend.

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