Radical

Definition

rad·i·cal adjective \ˈra-di-kəl

  1. of, relating to, or proceeding from a root; designed to remove the root of a disease or all diseased and potentially diseased tissue
  2. very basic and important; of or relating to the origin: fundamental
  3. very new and different from what is traditional or ordinary
    • favoring extreme changes in existing views, habits, conditions, or institutions
    • associated with political views, practices, and policies of extreme change
    • advocating extreme measures to retain or restore a political state of affairs

[adapted from Merriam Webster's definition]

History

Etymology of "Radical" (adjective):

late 14c., in a medieval philosophical sense, from Late Latin radicalis "of or having roots," from Latin radix (genitive radicis) "root" (see radish). Meaning "going to the origin, essential" is from 1650s. Radical sign in mathematics is from 1680s.

Political sense (via notion of "change from the roots") is first recorded 1802 (n.), 1817 (adj.), of the extreme section of the British Liberal party (radical reform had been a current phrase since 1786); meaning "unconventional" is from 1921. U.S. youth slang use is from 1983, from 1970s surfer slang meaning "at the limits of control." Radical chic is attested from 1970; popularized, if not coined, by Tom Wolfe. Radical empiricism coined 1897 by William James (see empiricism).

[adapted from the Online Etymology Dictionary: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=radical]

Usage

Members are 'radical' in being committed to helping build a more free, democratic and egalitarian society. Members of Radstats are concerned at the extent to which official statistics reflect [corporate or] governmental rather than social purposes. Our particular concerns are:

  • The mystifying use of technical language to disguise social problems as technical ones
  • The lack of control by the community over the aims of statistical investigations, the way these are conducted and the use of the information produced
  • The power structures within which statistical and research workers are employed and which control the work and how it is used
  • The fragmentation of social problems into specialist fields, obscuring connectedness

Radstats members believe that statistics can be used as part of campaigns for progressive social change – just as they were used to support measures that led to improvements in public health in the 19th century.

[adapted from From Radical Statistics Group: http://www.radstats.org.uk/about-radical-statistics/]

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