Do you happen to recall Herbert Spencer's definition of 'Life'?
That," he replied, "is all that any definition can do.
Remember," he warned, "my definition is fatal to metaphysics.
You have not yet picked out the flaw in my definition of philosophy.
But the objection is urged, 'that the honourable is the good,' and as every one equally desires the good, the point of the definition is contained in the words, 'the power of getting them.
Some lesser points of the dialogue may be noted, such as (1) the acute observation that Meno prefers the familiar definition, which is embellished with poetical language, to the better and truer one; or (2) the shrewd reflection, which may admit of an application to modern as well as to ancient teachers, that the Sophists having made large fortunes; this must surely be a criterion of their powers of teaching, for that no man could get a living by shoemaking who was not a good shoemaker; or (3) the remark conveyed, almost in a word, that the verbal sceptic is saved the labour of thought and enquiry (ouden dei to toiouto zeteseos).
Nothing can be easier than to define a number of characters common to all birds; but in the case of crustaceans, such definition has hitherto been found impossible.
He who believes that the cowslip is descended from the primrose, or conversely, ranks them together as a single species, and gives a single definition.
In following out the many ramifications of the dictionary definition
of GOD he had come upon the word CREATE--"to cause to come into existence; to form out of nothing.
is framed for the purposes of biology, and is in some respects unsuited to the needs of psychology.
He would transfer a question to metaphysical heights, pass on to definitions
of space, time, and thought, and, having deduced the refutation he needed, would again descend to the level of the original discussion.
and many of its definitions
, anecdotes, phrases and so forth, had