A well-defined body brings to mind bulging biceps, prominent pectorals or washboard abs. This expresses the concept that the body has a variety of muscles and that with special training each muscle can be consciously developed, identified, and named.
But when we try to isolate a particular muscle and draw its boundaries, we begin to run into problems. If we take a surgeon’s knife and try to delineate the boundaries of the muscle, we would find it necessary to sever some connective tissue, to decide where muscle ends and tendon begins, or decide if perhaps the tendon is a part of the muscle. If the tendon, then why not the bone to which it is attached?
Should we succeed in “defining” the muscle with our knife, we would end up with what we define to be the muscle but it would be severed from the body and quite different from the undefined muscle in place attached to a living body.
Trainees do not try to define the muscle apart from the body; the use of a knife would obviously mutilate the muscle and destroy the body in the process. We are stuck with an impossible problem. The well defined muscle cannot be treated as a finite entity with definite boundaries. It is de-finite. Yet we find the indefinite words of biceps and abs are useful.
Similarly, when words are severed from a living idea by making a finite definition, they become dead instead of alive. Words are of value only when they are alive. Books are worthless until taken up by a living being and given life. I like the term “sleeping word” which my friend Kay Parke coined to refer to the printed word.
Be cautious! When we speak words, we are prone to mutilate ideas. Keeping this in mind will help us navigate an ocean of infinity, alert to miss some unforeseen dangers.
My book, The Answer Is A Question, is my attempt to provide words to guide us as we live at the interface between the finite and the infinite.