To define is to limit, to set the bounds to mark out. In common parlance it is usual to say that we define things or ideas when we use words to describe them. But actually things are already defined by the fact of their existence. What we really define when we use words to describe or indicate things is to set the limits to application of the words or terms. We don’t define things & events. We set the limits to application of terms. A ‘word definition’ is ‘an indication of a word’s limit of application’.
A sculptor may actually define the form of a statue with a chisel, but when we use words to draw attention to a form, we do so only because we have already defined the limit of application of those words. The word ‘triangle’ is limited in its application to three-sided figures. The word ‘circle’ is limited in application to a figure described by a line all parts of which are equidistant from a centre; and so on. Basic geometrical forms are used to give an approximate idea of all kinds of things. We talk about round or square faces, conical hats, spherical door knobs, triangular trowels, etc.
We cannot define what has no boundaries. Thus as sentience or consciousness is not a something round which we can draw a line, we cannot define consciousness as such. But when any formal content or object appears in consciousness then we can define this content or object. We define, not consciousness, but its content or object, by applying words the meanings of which we have already fixed.
Where there is no defined object in sentience, although sentience is that which feels or knows, yet what it feels or knows is not an objective matter of Truth. This is why we have difficulty in accepting a vague undefined feeling as ‘true’. A thing or idea is ‘true’ only insofar as it is clearly defined.
See also ‘Truth’
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