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Do Concepts Change?

Leonard Peikoff wrote, on page 104 of OPAR, “a concept, once formed, does not change.” This means a concept, once formed, cannot be expanded, cannot be narrowed and cannot be given a figurative sense. Is he correct?

Consider the evidence.

Can a concept, once formed, be expanded? Well, according to Ayn Rand, not only can it be done, a child can do it. She gives the example of widening the concept “animal”.


Transforming a Concept

It is possible to think of a concept as a Rock of Gibraltar—something that has seemingly been around forever. We don’t tend to think of one as dynamic, still being developed.

But a concept is man-made. It is a tool of human thought and someone somewhere had to invent it. The concept optimism, for instance, dates back less than three centuries. Where did it come from, and more interestingly, why did it change? Because it certainly did change.