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I’ve made my New Year’s Resolution. I hereby resolve that I will not participate in arguments based upon definitions.
A definition, by definition, defines. More precisely, it de-fines. Note the prefix. If you look up “de-” in a dictionary, you’ll find it means to remove, reduce, lower… In other words, definitions narrow any discussion. They shift the focus from lived experience to someone else’s wisdom, frozen into print.
Once, in an early essay, I used the phrase “by definition.” My instructor scribbled, “Whose definition?”
Because definitions change.
Many people, I suspect, don’t realize the un-examined definitions they’re working with.
A friend yearns for mystical experiences. It won’t happen. Because, under pressure, he admits that an encounter with God requires getting knocked senseless, blinded -- or at least blind-sided -- and ordered by a disembodied voice like Paul Robeson’s to change his life.
Categories: Soft Edges
Tags: Liberal, Definitions, Haidt, conservative