Nothing is accomplished by definitions

Nothing is accomplished by definitions, though their insufficiency is generally not observed. Many definitions, especially those which are considered scientific, appear very clever; but they all have a hitch somewhere — which recalls that definition once given in ancient Greece to the question, What is man? “Man is a two-legged creature without feathers.” Whereupon the next day a pupil brought a plucked fowl and said: “This is a man, for it is a two-legged creature without feathers.” Things are not so simple that they can be treated thus with the ordinary intellectual tools.

Source: GA 194 – The Mysteries of Light, of Space, and of the Earth: Lecture III – Dornach, December 14, 1919

Translated by Frances E. Dawson

Previously posted on January 11, 2015

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