Emerson's Chapter V and "Words are Finite Actions of an Infinite Mind"

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As stated in the title of this post, Emerson has a line that reads "Words are finite organs of the infinite mind."

We listened to Woolf discuss words in another class today, we are harped to looked things up in dictionaries, documents and contracts are dissolved over words choice, Emerson makes this statement, and we have this whirlwind of science and philosophy and rationalism and this means that and that means this and in truth, words themselves fail to capture the true meaning.

Take "Joy"
According to dictionary.com, "Joy" means the emotion of great delight or happiness...source of cause of keen pleasure or delight... yada yada.

But like every other word, "joy" is defined by other words. One cannot learn the definition of a word simply by picking up a dictionary. A person, when learning a language, must form some kind of basic vocabulary through relations and experiences centered around exposure to certain words. For example, one might learn what a "truck" is by attending an autoshow and making the connection that every time a vehicle shows up with a cab and a large empty back, it is labeled as a "truck."
In a sense, one cannot understand "catalyst" if they don't understand "chemical" and they cannot understand "chemical" if they do not understand "substance."
Words are built off other words that have different interpretations.

In the end, Emerson's text is a desperate attempt to explain the unexplainable, because how can we really ever know anything?

What a world we live in.

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This page contains a single entry by PatrickSchober published on September 29, 2010 1:41 PM.

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