I read dictionaries. Avidly. They are my phlegmatic friends whose opinions I can trust, kindly teachers who tirelessly volunteer as mental spell-checkers. I estimate that a good 50% of my web searches are the search for definitions.
The value of a dictionary is found in that it permits a greater precision in thought. One can, using this magical instrument, cut complex thoughts down to one pithy word, or conversely, use it to see if our chosen term is in fact what we think it means to others; to see whether our bricks of logic are well used in the building a solid logical stage. Dictionaries, in their various forms are the Swiss Ginsu Knives of thought; they are multipurpose and can slice though mental steak, vegetables, tin cans or running shoes.
And who hasn’t had the need to slice, dice and chop though a mental running shoe?
My favourite dictionary is in fact, not a dictionary at all, but a feature common to most search engines:
define: <word or phrase>
(Let us also remember our friend the Thesaurus and the Online Etymological dictionary, a labour of love by David Harper.)
As of now, I’ll be adding terms that I often look up, or review when making arguments and tagging them with “definition“. Hopefully, this collection of words will help you clarify your own positions and arguments. Note that I add these definitions for my–and hopefully your own–convenience. They are not intended as commentary, or as a definitive unalterable sense. They are bite-sized bits of research, nothing more.
Understand that the best use of these tools are not to support chop-logic, but to have a deeper understanding of a given idea, and to help us clarify our thoughts. They are instruments used to help us to think and communicate with clarity, and thus are tools to aid us in creating a better world.