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Caledonian2 comments on Taboo Your Words - Less Wrong

71 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 15 February 2008 10:53PM

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Comment author: Caledonian2 19 February 2008 01:40:12PM 0 points [-]

The idea that rational inquiry requires clear and precise definitions is hardly a new one. And the idea that definitions of a word cannot simply reuse the word or its synonyms isn't new either - unless my elementary-school English teachers all spontaneously came up with it.

This is part of why people turn to dictionaries - sure, they only record usages, but they tend to have high-quality definitions that are difficult to match in quality without lots of effort.

We can only use this "technique" to convey concepts we already possess to people who lack them. We cannot use it to expand and analyze concepts we don't have yet. We cannot take PK's suggestion and use it to figure out FAI, because we have no idea what FAI really means and have no meaning to put into a different set of words.