While browsing the tvtropes.org entry for Archetypal Characters, this sentence jumped out at me:

A related concept is the 'ectype', a distorted or flawed version of the archetype.

Ectype does not appear in my local dictionary and online searches seem to provide a completely different definition:

ectypal — Copied, as contrasted with an archetypal original. Has a specialized sense when used by the philosopher George Berkeley. (wiktionary)

This does not seem to be a common word and I get the feeling that it is still jargon from one field or another. The tvtropes article considers an ectype a specifically flawed copy; the dictionary definitions don't mentioned the quality of the copy. I have no idea what Berkeley's philosophies are — is this something he coined?

1 Answer 1


In his dissertation "Archetypal and ectypal ideals in Kant's practical philosophy," Ryan Showler asserts:

There is no doubt that the distinction between archetype and ectype is at least inspired by Plato's theory of Forms wherein eternal universal concepts are deficiently copied in the visible world.

Showler goes on to state that the British empiricists Locke, Berkeley, and Hume found the distinction between archetype and ectype useful, and appears to credit ectype to Locke. (Follow the link for the full flavor.)

  • Kant + tvtropes = unworldly awesomeness. Brilliant answer. Commented May 30, 2014 at 10:10

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