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A definition is a statement of the meaning of a word or phrase. The term to be defined is known as the definiendum (Latin: that which is to be defined). The words which define it are known as the definiens (Latin: that which is doing the defining).[1] A definition delimits or describes the meaning of a concept or term. ... Wiktionary (a portmanteau of wiki and dictionary) is a multilingual, Web-based project to create a free content dictionary, available in over 151 languages. ... In linguistics, meaning is the content carried by the words or signs exchanged by people when communicating through language. ...

Contents

Stipulative definitions

There are two types of definitions: A stipulative definition is a type of definition in which a new or currently-existing term is given a new meaning for the purposes of argument or discussion in a given context. ...


A descriptive definition provides to a term a meaning which is in general use.


A stipulative definition of a term carries a meaning which a speaker wants it to convey for the purpose of his or her discourse. Thus, the term may be new, or a stipulative definition may prescribe a new meaning to a term which is already in use.


A descriptive definition can be shown to be "right" or "wrong" by comparison to usage, but a stipulative definition cannot.


A precising definition extends the descriptive dictionary definition (lexical definition) of a term for a specific purpose by including additional criteria that narrow down the set of things meeting the definition. A precising definition is a definition that extends the dictionary definition (lexical definition) of a term for a specific purpose by including additional criteria that narrow down the set of things meeting the definition. ...


C.L. Stevenson has identified persuasive definition as a form of stipulative definition which purports to describe the "true" or "commonly accepted" meaning of a term, while in reality stipulating an altered use, perhaps as an argument for some specific view. Charles Leslie Stevenson (1908-1979) was an American philosopher best known for his work in ethics and aesthetics. ... A persuasive definition is a type of definition in which a term is defined in such a way as to be an argument for a particular position (as opposed to a lexical definition, which aims to be neutral to all usages), and is deceptive in that it has the surface...


Stevenson has also noted that some definitions are "legal" or "coercive", whose object is to create or alter rights, duties or crimes.[2]


Intension and extension

An intensional definition, also called a connotative definition, specifies the necessary and sufficient conditions for a thing being a member of a specific set. Any definition that attempts to set out the essence of something, such as that by genus and differentia, is an intensional definition. Intension refers to the meanings or characteristics encompassed by a given word. ... In metaphysics, extension is, roughly speaking, the property of taking up space. René Descartes defines extension as the property of existing in more than one dimension. ... An intensional definition gives the meaning of a term by giving all the properties required of something that falls under that definition; the necessary and sufficient conditions for belonging to the set being defined. ... This article discusses only the formal meanings of necessary and sufficient causal meanings see causation. ... In mathematics, a set can be thought of as any collection of distinct objects considered as a whole. ... A genus-differentia definition is one in which a word or concept that indicates a species -- a specific type of item, not necessarily a biological category -- is described first by a broader category, the genus, then distinguished from other items in that category by The differentiae of a species are...


An extensional definition, also called a denotative definition, of a concept or term specifies its extension. It is, a list naming every object that is a member of a specific set. An extensional definition gives the meaning of a term by listing everything in its extension -- that is, everything that falls under that definition. ... In any of several studies that treat the use of signs, for example, linguistics, logic, mathematics, semantics, and semiotics, the extension of a concept, idea, or sign consists of the things to which it applies, in contrast with its comprehension or intension, which consists very roughly of the ideas, properties... In philosophy, an object is a thing, an entity, or a being. ... In mathematics, a set can be thought of as any collection of distinct objects considered as a whole. ...


So, for example, an intensional definition of 'Prime Minister' might be the most senior minister of a cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system (; whereas an extensional definition would be simply a list of all past and present Prime Ministers. A prime minister is the most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. ... A prime minister is the most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. ...


One important form of the extensional definition is ostensive definition. This gives the meaning of a term by pointing, in the case of an individual, to the thing itself, or in the case of a class, to examples of the right kind. So you can explain who Alice (an individual) is by pointing her out to me; or what a rabbit (a class) is by pointing at several and expecting me to 'catch on'. This is the manner in which all children initially learn the names of things. The process of ostensive definition itself was critically appraised by Ludwig Wittgenstein.[3] This article needs additional references or sources for verification. ... Wittgenstein redirects here. ...


An enumerative definition of a concept or term is an extensional definition that gives an explicit and exhaustive listing of all the objects that fall under the concept or term in question. Enumerative definitions are only possible for finite sets and only practical for relatively small sets. An extensional definition gives the meaning of a term by listing everything in its extension -- that is, everything that falls under that definition. ... In philosophy, an object is a thing, an entity, or a being. ...


Definition by genus and differentia

Scientific classification of living things uses definition by genus and differentia.
Scientific classification of living things uses definition by genus and differentia.
Main article: Genus-differentia definition

Traditionally, a definition consists of the genus (the family) of thing to which the defined thing belongs, and the differentia (the distinguishing feature which marks it off from other members of the same family). Thus 'triangle' is defined as 'a plane figure (genus) bounded by three straight sides (differentia).[4] Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Scientific classification redirects here. ... A genus-differentia definition is one in which a word or concept that indicates a species -- a specific type of item, not necessarily a biological category -- is described first by a broader category, the genus, then distinguished from other items in that category by The differentiae of a species are...


Rules for definition by genus and differentia

Certain rules have traditionally been given for this particular type of definition.[5][6] Fallacies of definition refer to the various ways in which definitions can fail to have merit. ...

  1. A definition must set out the essential attributes of the thing defined.
  2. Definitions should avoid circularity. To define a horse as 'a member of the species equus' would convey no information whatsoever. For this reason, Locke adds that a definition of a term must not consist of terms which are synonymous with it. This error is known as circulus in definiendo. Note, however, that it is acceptable to define two relative terms in respect of each other. Clearly, we cannot define 'antecedent' without using the term 'consequent', nor conversely.
  3. The definition must not be too wide or too narrow. It must be applicable to everything to which the defined term applies (i.e. not miss anything out), and to no other objects (i.e. not include any things to which the defined term would not truly apply).
  4. The definition must not be obscure. The purpose of a definition is to explain the meaning of a term which may be obscure or difficult, by the use of terms that are commonly understood and whose meaning is clear. The violation of this rule is known by the Latin term obscurum per obscurius. However, sometimes scientific and philosophical terms are difficult to define without obscurity. (See the definition of Free will in Wikipedia, for instance).
  5. A definition should not be negative where it can be positive. We should not define 'wisdom' as the absence of folly, or a healthy thing as whatever is not sick. Sometimes this is unavoidable, however. We cannot define a point except as 'something with no parts', nor blindness except as 'the absence of sight in a creature that is normally sighted'.

Free-Will is a Japanese independent record label founded in 1986. ...

Essence

Main article: Essence

In classical thought, a definition was taken to be a statement of the essence of a thing. Aristotle had it that an object's essential attributes form its "essential nature", and that a definition of the object must include these essential attributes.[7] For other uses, see Essence (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Aristotle (disambiguation). ...


The idea that a definition should state the essence of a thing led to the distinction between nominal and real essence, originating with Aristotle. In a passage from the Posterior Analytics,[8] he says that we can know the meaning of a made-up name (he gives the example 'goat stag'), without knowing what he calls the 'essential nature' of the thing that the name would denote, if there were such a thing. This led medieval logicians to distinguish between the so-called quid nominis or 'whatness of the name', and the underlying nature common to all the things it names, which they called the quid rei or 'whatness of the thing'. (Early modern philosophers like Locke used the corresponding English terms 'nominal essence' and 'real essence'). The name 'hobbit', for example, is perfectly meaningful. It has a quid nominis. But we could not know the real nature of hobbits, even if there were such things, and so we cannot know the real nature or quid rei of hobbits. By contrast, the name 'man' denotes real things (men) that have a certain quid rei. The meaning of a name is distinct from the nature that thing must have in order that the name apply to it. Posterior Analytics (or Analytica Posteriora) is a text by Aristotle. ...


This leads to a corresponding distinction between nominal and real definition. A nominal definition is the definition explaining what a word means, i.e. which says what the 'nominal essence' is, and is definition in the classical sense as given above. A real definition, by contrast, is one expressing the real nature or quid rei of the thing.


This preoccupation with essence dissipated in much of modern philosophy. Analytic philosophy in particular is critical of attempts to elucidate the essence of a thing. Russell described it as "a hopelessly muddle-headed notion".[9] Analytic philosophy (sometimes, analytical philosophy) is a generic term for a style of philosophy that came to dominate English-speaking countries in the 20th century. ... Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, OM, FRS, (18 May 1872 – 2 February 1970), was a British philosopher, logician, mathematician, advocate for social reform, and pacifist. ...


More recently Kripke's formalisation of possible world semantics in Modal logic led to a new approach to essentialism. Insofar as the essential properties of a thing are necessary to it, they are those things it possesses in all possible worlds. Kripke refers to names used in this way as Rigid designators. Kripke semantics (also known as possible world semantics, relational semantics, or frame semantics) is a formal semantics for modal logic systems, created in late 1950s and early 1960s by Saul Kripke. ... In philosophy and logic, the concept of possible worlds is used to express modal claims. ... In formal logic, a modal logic is any logic for handling modalities: concepts like possibility, existence, and necessity. ... In philosophy, essentialism is the view, that, for any specific kind of entity it is at least theoretically possible to specify a finite list of characteristics —all of which any entity must have to belong to the group defined. ... In modal logic and the philosophy of language, a term is said to be a rigid designator when it picks out the same thing in all possible worlds in which that thing exists (and picks out nothing in those possible worlds in which it does not exist). ...


Genetic definition

A genetic definition describes the process or method by which a thing is formed.

"But if you define the circle as a pattern resulting from having a segment of a line revolve around one of its ends, this is a genetic definition because it tells you how to make a circle."[10]

Recursive definitions

A recursive definition, sometimes also called an inductive definition, is one that defines a word in terms of itself, so to speak, albeit in a useful way. Normally this consists of three steps: A recursive definition is one that defines something in terms of itself, albeit in a useful way. ...

  1. At least one thing is stated to be a member of the set being defined; this is sometimes called a "base set".
  2. All things bearing a certain relation to other members of the set are also to count as members of the set. It is this step that makes the definition recursive.
  3. All other things are excluded from the set

For instance, we could define natural number as follows (after Peano): This article is about the concept of recursion. ... In mathematics, a natural number can mean either an element of the set {1, 2, 3, ...} (i. ... In mathematics, the Peano axioms (or Peano postulates) are a set of second-order axioms proposed by Giuseppe Peano which determine the theory of the natural numbers. ...

  1. "0" is a natural number.
  2. Each natural number has a distinct successor, such that:
    • the successor of a natural number is also a natural number, and
    • no natural number is succeeded by "0".
  3. Nothing else is a natural number.

So "0" will have exactly one successor, which for convenience we can call "1". In turn, "1" will have exactly one successor, which we would call "2", and so on. Notice that the second condition in the definition itself refers to natural numbers, and hence involves self-reference. Although this sort of definition involves a form of circularity, it is not vicious, and the definition is quite successful. A self-reference occurs when an object refers to itself. ... A circular definition is one that assumes a prior understanding of the term being defined. ...


Limitations of definition

Given that a natural language such as English contains, at any given time, a finite number of words, any comprehensive list of definitions must either be circular or leave some terms undefined. If every term of every definiens must itself be defined, where should we stop?[11] A dictionary, for instance, insofar as it is a comprehensive list of lexical definitions, must resort to circularity.[12][13][14] In the philosophy of language, a natural language (or ordinary language) is a language that is spoken, written, or signed by humans for general-purpose communication, as distinguished from formal languages (such as computer-programming languages or the languages used in the study of formal logic, especially mathematical logic) and... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... The lexical definition of a term, also known as the dictionary definition, is the meaning of the term in common usage. ... The Symbol Grounding Problem is related to the problem of how words get their meanings, and of what meanings are. ...


Many philosophers have chosen instead to leave some terms undefined. The scholastic philosophers claimed that the highest genera (the so-called ten generalissima) cannot be defined, since we cannot assign any higher genus under which they may fall. Thus we cannot define being, unity and similar concepts.[15] Locke supposes in An Essay Concerning Human Understanding[16] that the names of simple concepts do not admit of any definition. More recently Bertrand Russell sought to develop a formal language based on logical atoms. Other philosophers, notably Wittgenstein, rejected the need for any undefined simples. Wittgenstein pointed out in his Philosophical Investigations that what counts as a "simple" in one circumstance might not do so in another.[17] He rejected the very idea that every explanation of the meaning of a term needed itself to be explained: "As though an explanation hung in the air unless supported by another one",[18] claiming instead that explanation of a term is only needed when we need to avoid misunderstanding. Scholasticism comes from the Latin word scholasticus, which means that [which] belongs to the school, and is the school of philosophy taught by the academics (or schoolmen) of medieval universities circa 1100–1500. ... In ontology, a being is anything that can be said to be, either transcendantly or immanently. ... For other persons named John Locke, see John Locke (disambiguation). ... An Essay Concerning Human Understanding is one of John Lockes two most famous works, the other being his Second Treatise on Civil Government. ... Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, OM, FRS, (18 May 1872 – 2 February 1970), was a British philosopher, logician, mathematician, advocate for social reform, and pacifist. ... Logical atomism is a philosophical belief that originated in the early 20th century with the development of analytic philosophy. ... Wittgenstein redirects here. ... Book cover of the Blackwell edition of Philosophical Investigations Philosophical Investigations (Philosophische Untersuchungen) is, along with the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, one of the two major works by 20th-century philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. ...


Locke and Mill also argued that we cannot define individuals. We learn names by connecting an idea with a sound, so that speaker and hearer have the same idea when the same word is used.[19] This is not possible when no one else is acquainted with the particular thing that has "fallen under our notice".[20] Russell offered his theory of descriptions in part as a way of defining a proper name, the definition being given by a definite description that "picks out" exactly one individual. Saul Kripke pointed to difficulties with this approach, especially in relation to modality, in his book Naming and Necessity. John Stuart Mill (20 May 1806 – 8 May 1873), British philosopher, political economist, civil servant and Member of Parliament, was an influential liberal thinker of the 19th century. ... Individuation comprises the processes whereby the undifferentiated becomes or develops individual characteristics, or the opposite process, by which components of an individual are integrated into a more indivisible whole. ... The theory of descriptions is one of the philosopher Bertrand Russells most significant contributions to the philosophy of language. ... A definite description is a denoting phrase in the form of the X where X is a noun-phrase or a singular common noun. ... Saul Aaron Kripke (born in November 13, 1940 in Bay Shore, New York) is an American philosopher and logician now emeritus from Princeton and teaches as distinguished professor of philosophy at CUNY Graduate Center. ... In formal logic, a modal logic is any logic for handling modalities: concepts like possibility, existence, and necessity. ...


There is a presumption in the classic example of a definition that the definiens can be stated. Wittgenstein argued that for some terms this is not the case.[21] The examples he used include game, number and family. In such cases, he argued, there is no fixed boundary that can be used to provide a definition. Rather, the items are grouped together because of a family resemblance. For terms such as these it is not possible and indeed not necessary to state a definition; rather, one simply comes to understand the use of the term. Family resemblance (German Familienähnlichkeit [1]) is a philosophical conception proposed by Ludwig Wittgenstein. ...


See also

Look up definition in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... Wiktionary (a portmanteau of wiki and dictionary) is a multilingual, Web-based project to create a free content dictionary, available in over 151 languages. ... The terms analytic and synthetic are philosophical terms, used by philosophers to divide propositions into two types: analytic propositions and synthetic propositions. ... A man holds up a street puppet designed to resemble George W. Bush at a demonstration against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund on April 16, 2005 in Washington, D.C.. American Civil Rights March on Washington, leaders marching from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial, August 28... Fallacies of definition refer to the various ways in which definitions can fail to have merit. ... The Ramsey-Lewis method is a method for defining theoretical terms, credited to Frank P. Ramsey and David Lewis. ... The terms analytic and synthetic are philosophical terms, used by philosophers to divide propositions into two types: analytic propositions and synthetic propositions. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...

External links

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (hereafter SEP) is a free online encyclopedia of philosophy run and maintained by Stanford University. ...

References

  • Copi, Irving (1982). Introduction to Logic. New York: Macmillan. ISBN 0-02-977520-5. 
  • Joseph, Horace William Brindley (1916 repr. 2000). An Introduction to Logic, 2nd edition. Clarendon Press repr. Paper Tiger. ISBN 1-889439-17-7.  (full text of 1st ed.)
  • Joyce, George Hayward (1926). Principles of logic, 3d ed., new impression. London, New York: Longmans, Green and co.  (contents of 1949 ed.) [3] [4]
  • McKean, Erin (2001). Verbatim: From the bawdy to the sublime, the best writing on language for word lovers, grammar mavens, and armchair linguists. Harvest Books. ISBN 0-15-601209-X. 
  • Simpson, John; Edmund Weiner (1989). Oxford English Dictionary, second edition (20 volumes). Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-861186-2. 
  • Wittgenstein, Ludwig (1953/2001). Philosophical Investigations. Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 0-631-23127-7. 

The Oxford English Dictionary print set The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is a dictionary published by the Oxford University Press (OUP), and is the most successful dictionary of the English language, (not to be confused with the one-volume Oxford Dictionary of English, formerly New Oxford Dictionary of English, of... Wittgenstein redirects here. ...

Notes

  1. ^ OED and www.dictionary.com.
  2. ^ Stevenson, C.L., Ethics and Language, Connecticut 1944
  3. ^ Philosophical investigations, Part 1 §27-34
  4. ^ See Genus-differentia definition
  5. ^ Copi 1982 pp 165-169
  6. ^ Joyce, ibidem
  7. ^ Posterior Analytics, Bk 1 c. 4
  8. ^ Posterior Analytics Bk 2 c. 7
  9. ^ A history of Western Philosophy, p. 210
  10. ^ Claude Lévi-Strauss. "Discussion of Lévi-Strauss's paper 'Social Structure'" ([1952] 1962) in An appraisal of anthropology today. Edited by Sol Tax. University of Chicago Press 1953
  11. ^ This parallels the diallelus, but leading to scepticism about meaning rather than knowledge
  12. ^ Generally lexicographers seek to avoid circularity wherever possible, but the definitions of words such as "the" and "a" use those words and are therefore circular. [1] [2] Lexicographer Sidney I. Landau's essay "Sexual Intercourse in American College Dictionaries" provides other examples of circularity in dictionary definitions. (McKean, p. 73-77)
  13. ^ An exercise suggested by J. L. Austin involved taking up a dictionary and finding a selection of terms relating to the key concept, then looking up each of the words in the explanation of their meaning. Then, iterating this process until the list of words begins to repeat, closing in a “family circle” of words relating to the key concept.
    (A plea for excuses in Philosophical Papers. Ed. J. O. Urmson and G. J. Warnock. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1961. 1979.)
  14. ^ In the game of Circ, players compete to find circularity in a dictionary.
  15. ^ Joyce, G.H. Principles of Logic, Chapter x
  16. ^ Essay, Bk III, c. 4
  17. ^ See especially Philosophical Investigations Part 1 §48
  18. ^ He continues: "Whereas an explanation may indeed rest on another one that has been given, but none stands in need of another - unless we require it to prevent a misunderstanding. One might say: an explanation serves to remove or to avert a misunderstanding - one, that is, that would occur but for the explanation; not every one I can imagine." Philosophical Investigations, Part 1 §87, italics in original
  19. ^ This theory of meaning is one of the targets of the private language argument
  20. ^ Essay III. iii. 3
  21. ^ Philosophical Investigations

OED stands for Oxford English Dictionary Office of Enrollment & Discipline This page concerning a three-letter acronym or abbreviation is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... A genus-differentia definition is one in which a word or concept that indicates a species -- a specific type of item, not necessarily a biological category -- is described first by a broader category, the genus, then distinguished from other items in that category by The differentiae of a species are... Posterior Analytics (or Analytica Posteriora) is a text by Aristotle. ... Posterior Analytics (or Analytica Posteriora) is a text by Aristotle. ... This article is about the anthropologist. ... The Regress Argument (also known as The Problem of Criterion and the diallelus) is a problem in epistemology and, in general, a problem in any situation where a statement has to be justified. ... The pursuit of lexicography is divided into two related disciplines: Practical lexicography is the art or craft of compiling, writing and editing dictionaries. ... John Langshaw Austin (March 28, 1911 – February 8, 1960) was a British philosopher of language, born in Lancaster and educated at Balliol College, Oxford University. ... Sir Geoffrey Warnock was a philosopher and Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Book cover of the Blackwell edition of Philosophical Investigations Philosophical Investigations (Philosophische Untersuchungen) is, along with the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, one of the two major works by 20th-century philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. ... Book cover of the Blackwell edition of Philosophical Investigations Philosophical Investigations (Philosophische Untersuchungen) is, along with the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, one of the two major works by 20th-century philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. ... The private language argument is a philosophical argument said to be found in Ludwig Wittgensteins later work, especially in Philosophical Investigations. ...


  Results from FactBites:
 
Definition - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (2343 words)
A stipulative definition is the specification of a meaning adopted or assumed specifically for the purposes of argument or discussion in a given context.
A persuasive definition "is a type of definition in which a term is defined in such a way as to be an argument for a particular position (as opposed to a lexical definition, which aims to be neutral to all usages), and is deceptive in that it has the surface form of a dictionary definition."
"Definition" is a fixed, static form (a model; an appearance of something as distinguished from the substance of which it is made; something autonomous from its own representation) of some relation(s) that significantly increases the probability of realisation of an intended (premeditated) change of some phenomenon.
Definition of music - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (3156 words)
This definition determines music according to the poetic and the neutral levels (it must be composed sonorities), or more aesthetically, 'the artful or pleasing organization of sound and silence', which determines music according to the esthesic.
This definition is widely held to from the late 19th century forward, which began to scientifically analyze the relationship between sound and perception.
This definition is influential in the cognitive sciences, which search to locate the regions of the brain responsible for parsing or remembering different aspects of musical experience.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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