DEFINITION AND PURPOSE OF DEFINITION
Definition of definition
A definition is the statement of the connotation of a term which clearly expresses the meaning of an idea or term.
Purpose of a definition:
- To increase the vocabulary.
- To eliminate ambiguity.
- To clarify meaning.
- To explain theoretically.
- KINDS OF DEFINITION
A definition is must contain two parts, namely; the definiendum and the definiens.
The defiendum refers to the term or symbols being defined; while the definiens refers to the word or words used in defining. The kinds of definition are:
- Stipulative Definition: this is the kind of definition which gives meaning to a brand new term when introduced. E.g. “mbutoku” means foolish person.
- Ostensive definition: this is a kind definition we make the by pointing out the term being defined or enuminarating its examples. For example: a philosopher is someone like Socrates.
- Nominal definition: this is the kind of definition which explains the meaning of a word by breaking their into component parts. For example: metaphysics can be broken into Meta which means beyond and physika which means natural.
- Theoretical definition: this is the intentional definition which attempts to provide a deeper understanding of the nature of a thing.
- Lexical definition: this is a definition which explains the conventional intension of a term, usually by stating the dictionary meaning of the word.
- Analytical definition: this Is the kind of definition that states the nature of a thing by stating its genus and species to which it belongs. E.g. A spinster is an unmarried woman.
- Synonymous definition: this is the which give the meaning of a term by introducing another term with the same meaning
RULES AND FALLACIES OF DEFINITION
- A Good Definition must be Adequate: this means that the definiens must be equal to the defiendum.
A definition is “too wide”, when the definiens denotes more things than the definiendum. For example: money means wealth.
A definition is “too narrow” when the definiens denote less things than the definiendum. For example a computer is used for typing. When a definition is too wide or narrow it commits the fallacy of “Incongruous definition”
|Rules of definition||Fallacies committed|
|A good definition must be precise and clear||Fallacy of obscure definition. E.g. By defining happiness as wellbeing of the soul.|
|A definition should not be circular||Fallacy of circular definition e.g. A teacher is someone who teaches.|
|A definition should not be negative.||Fallacy of negative definition.|
|A Definition should be per genus et differentiam||Fallacy of extraneous definition E.g. A Kitten is a young cat|