A modern translation of Latin, virtus dormitiva, coined by Molière in The Imaginary Invalid. In the play, he lampoons a group of physicians providing an explanation in macaronic Latin of the sleep-inducing properties of opium as stemming from its "virtus dormitiva".
- (idiomatic, rhetoric, logic, linguistics) A type of tautology in which an item is being explained in terms of the item itself, only put in different (usually more abstract) words.
1988, Doreen Kronick, New Approaches to Learning Disabilities: Cognitive, Metacognitive, and Holistic:
- We note Bateson's (1968) dormitive principle at work in which behaviors are described as traits such as LD, which then are used to explain the behavior.
- 2002, Bradford Keeney, Aesthetics of Change, The Guilford Press, →ISBN, page 33
- If we examine traditional explanations of behavior through the lens of recursion, we will sometimes find what Bateson called "dormitive principles," a form of circular description. A "dormitive principle" is a more abstract repackaging of a description of the item you claim to be explaining. To paraphrase Bateson, this occurs when the cause of a simple action, as for example, when aggression is explained as being caused by an "aggressive instinct" or psychotic symptomatology is attributed to "madness."
2003, Ian Glynn, An Anatomy of Thought: The Origin and Machinery of the Mind:
- And to any intelligent reader, explanation of an 'inherent ability' was reminiscent of Molière's mock explanation of the soporific effects of opium - that it contained a 'dormitive principle'.