The Humanity Of Words - online book

A Primer Of Semantics

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l6o                  THE HUMANITY OF WORDS
tion. The cemeteries are full of designators that denote. What else can we say about all men? They are born, they live, they die. All of them breathe air and consume food. All of them are "featherless bipeds." Already, we begin to wonder if there is anything else we can say about all men. Let's sum it up: All men are men.
It is much easier to find designators for some. And much easier to find designators for a few.
A generalization should stop where the designators that denote stop. It is helpful to quantify terms that generalize, when possible*
Difficult though it is to make all generalizations properly supported by designators, few of us hesitate to make sweeping generalizations on the valuative level. This is safe because everyone knows that valuative terms do not have designators. So we say, protecting ourselves by the omission of that compromising word "all," So-and-sos are so-and-so.
"So-and-so" is a valuative term. If Jews are "rich," and if Catholics are "narrow-minded," and if labor is "power-hungry," and if liberals are "leftish," and if Negroes are "lazy," and if blondes are "loose," and if women are "gabbers" we do not need designatorsand I'm entitled to my opinion and you're entitled to yours.
Can we dignify sweeping valuative generalizations by calling them opinions? An opinion is a leap of the mind from available facts precisely because all the facts cannot be in. A leap of the mind away from available designators cannot properly be called an opinion.
The antidote to over-generalization in valuative statements is the signification of relevant designators.