The Humanity Of Words - online book

A Primer Of Semantics

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104                THE HUMANITY OF WORDS
of the abstraction wThich relate to the same general context. Notice how the word "education" may be used on various levels of abstraction:
?                                                                 educations
education through all of life                        education7
education through college                          education^
education through high school                   educations
education through elementary school         education4
fifth-grade reading program                       education3
Wendy's reading lesson                              education2
?                                                                 educationi
Notice that level3 includes level2; that level4 includes level3 and level2; that levels includes level4 and level3 and levels; etc. We move from the particular incidents of Wendy's reading lesson to general statements about these (and other) particular incidents. As we move to higher levels, the class terms become broader because they include subclasses on lower levels of abstraction. But, as we move to higher levels of abstraction, the class terms say less and less about the individual subclasses they include; and, of course, nothing about the particular individuals or incidents that provide the material for the subclasses. But it is important to remember the circularity of knowledge. It is necessary, always, that these higher level abstractions be validated directly or indirectly by reference to particular things, incidents, etc.
I can, of course, use the word "education" in discussing any one of many levels of abstraction. And, because the whole general context is conjoined, it is very easy to slide from one level of abstraction to another without an awareness of the shift. The semantic blunder derives, not from the shift from one level to another, but from Inattention to