“The names that can be name are not the eternal name”, “The name possible to express runs counter to the constant name” or “Names can be named, but not the eternal name”. The reader may recognize this thought from the Tao Te Ching. Words being used as symbols detached from truth is nothing new. “Doublespeak”, is very common in our political dialogue not an imagined dystopian future. This is the nature of words, they are much like flag lapel pins. They are useful but limited and it is good to be aware of their limitations.
Words lack precision, they are very much unlike numbers in this way. No matter how much we try to define them and limit their usage, they get away and create their own usage. We forget they are only tools to be used to exchange ideas and feelings. They have no shape, meaning or reality on their own, they only gain meaning through usage. Words can not confine us or define us. They are fragile and amorphous things. Yet we often forget this, so the same word will often mean a dozen different things depending on who is hearing that word, who is using that word or how someone uses a word. In this section I explore a few different words and try to strip away some of their many layers of ossification.