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Thursday, August 11, 2005

Words Mean Things

I have maintained that part of what feuls the controversy and discord in for what passes as public discourse on controversial topics these days is the imprecise and shifting definitions of words, including "argument," "theocracy," "life," and "person." Fr. Edward Oakes illustrated a similar sense late last month in a Zenit interview (scroll down) with respect to "evolution" and "creationism." Now add two more from David Phelps of PowerBlog to the list.

He first demonstrated the shifting definitions of the word "value." Recently he noted the same phenomenon with "poverty." Given the fundamental nature of some of these words, is it any wonder why for public discourse "we get the kind of shrill emotivism that leads self-styled Troglodytes to grumble... as they shuffle back to the cave." Such imprecision is a common relativist tactic. Thus, clarity is the proper response to the fallacies of definition. Yes, clarity, boys. Clarity.

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