Wilson: Overstating the Case (a Little)

“To overstate the case a little, a man does not have mastery over a word unless he is unable to tell you how he knows what it means. Every word we use in knowledge has countless little dents in it. A word will age over time, not only in an individual’s use of it, but also in a culture’s use of it. Words will morph into other words. The meaning of a word will never be found shivering alone in its birthday suit. We cannot ever act as though the essential meanings of words were hermit crabs, crawling from one home to another. The majority of what you have learned, with profit, you cannot recall, which is probably just as well.”

– Douglas Wilson, Angels in the Architecture (p. 198-199)

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