From freedom to feminism, democracy to truth, we go to war over words. Sometimes it is actually bloody. Millions died in the crusades over definitions of the word 'God'. Millions more over definitions of 'socialism' in Stalin's Russia and Mao's Cultural Revolution. But some argue meaning is unknown or unknowable even in a specific context.   Wittgenstein maintained words do not have a meaning outside of a given language game. Derrida that there is no decidable meaning in any circumstance. Every sentence can be deconstructed to identify an indefinite number of possible meanings. Meanwhile, linguistic studies have shown that even in everyday use common nouns have at least ten to thirty different 'meanings'.  

Should we stop arguing over the meaning of words and recognise that those words have no single or correct meaning? Are attempts to define words a means of imposing one perspective, and therefore at root a power play? Or is it the case that without an agreed set of meanings, we are profoundly lost in a world of confusion?

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