What is a word?

What is a word?

The above sentence is composed of 4 words. 

word:  a sound or combination of sounds that has a meaning and is spoken or written (Webster’s Dictionary)

A word can be defined by other words.  Or you can experientially unite a word with the thing that the word represents, such as touching your baby’s nose and saying “nose.”

Which came first, the thing or the word defining it?

If you delve deeply into the world of words, you will come face to face with infinite regress.  You will come face to face with yourself, or the ground of being, that for which  no word will suffice. 

As Alan Watts would say, “the which than which there is no whicher.”

There is always another looking over your shoulder, which has another looking over his shoulder, and so on into infinity.  This however is the function of the mind only.  

The mind and its infinity of nuanced minutiae can be quite overwhelming.

Because of this difficulty, as a reaction or solution, the idea of the present moment was born.  The present moment has been described in many ways.

Many would say that the present is the only reality.  You can test this for yourself at any time.  Ask, “where am I?” The answer, if you aren’t geographically defining your location, is of course, “I am here.”  

Ask yourself, “when am I?” The answer is, “I am now.”

Focus determines where you reside, and you only have two options.  You may reside in the present, or you may reside in the mind, which is simply a combination of the remembered past and the possible projected future.  The future is simply your ideal past.  

One could argue that you are always in the eternal present, even when thinking about future and past, you just have less attention on the physical present.

What are your thoughts on this?


14 thoughts on “What is a word?”

  1. Which came first, the thing or the word defining it? The thing came first. But it no-one was there to describe it, then it would (like a tree falling in the woods) not quite be the same – not as developed. By seeing something, we develop it – like a photograph used to be developed from a combination of negative, paper and chemicals. Before is energy and potential; after is thing. We are the instigator of the state change.
    Infinite regress – Sartre – Being and Nothingness – totally depressing – don’t want to go there.
    “you only have two options. You may reside in the present, or you may reside in the mind” – genius! Love this so much. Breathe the air, smell the sunshine and forget the words.
    Thanks for allowing me to share my thoughts.
    Robert (York – England).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Beautiful insight Robert! Great analogy of of which came first, I like the idea of us developing the thing by looking at it and adding words. It gives the idea that we are enhancing the world around us. Thank you for the follow as well! 💙

      Liked by 1 person

      1. York in the UK. It’s about 200 miles north of the capital (London) and it’s got a wall all around it; just in case the Vikings come back. Or the Romans. Or the Normans. Or the Scots. It’s not so good against Japanese tourists though. 🙂


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