The most unusual word of the day: Epistemological

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There is nothing to be surprised about with the word “epistemological,” but you don’t usually hear it from the mouth of a Turkish politician.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu uttered the scholarly-sounding word during his speech at the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) congress on Aug. 27, where he was elected the party’s new chair as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan prepared to ascend to the presidential seat.

“This new cultural awakening is a universal call to civilization to all humanity, in an era when humankind faces existential and epistemological problems regarding its core values,” the academic-turned-politician Davutoğlu said.

From Adnan Menderes to Süleyman Demirel, right-wing politicians throughout Turkish history have been proud to stress that they use “the people’s language” while challenging their “elitist,” sometimes left-wing, but almost always secular political opponents in the past. Profanities frequently fly in Turkish Parliament, but words like epistemological are almost unheard of.

After Davutoğlu, who became a full-time professor in 1999, uttered the word today, “epistemological” became one of the most searched words on Google.

A combination of the Greek words for knowledge and study, epistemology is the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and scope of knowledge.

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