A Sexual Odyssey by Lyn Paula Russell

By Lyn Paula Russell

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Can be traced back historically to an earlier stage when they also signified a material process. A very little etymological investigation is enough to reveal that the same thing applies to that whole vast vocabulary of abstractions on which not only the philosophers but the critics, sociologists, politicians, and j ournalists of today rely so heavily for the purpose of communicat­ ing whatever they communicate-"approach," "aspect/' "attitude," "condition/' "develop­ ment," "dimension," "dynamic," "expression," "influence," "inhibition/' "intention/' "integ­ rity" "nostalgia," "opposition," "progressive," "reactionary," "relative," "seminal," "trend," "vision,"-and so on ad infinitum.

But, quite apart from this special case (where there are axes to grind) , ordinary educated language is full of such words. " Finally there are not a few who would say that the word "nature" really signifies "all that is or happens, the whole show, the universe"-or just "every­ thing" ! Each of these conflicting norms has a traceable history of its own. It does seem that if we are interested in the meanings of words, or in their normal usage at all, then, unless we are very incurious indeed, we shall want to know something of how these meanings were arrived at.

Each of these conflicting norms has a traceable history of its own. It does seem that if we are interested in the meanings of words, or in their normal usage at all, then, unless we are very incurious indeed, we shall want to know something of how these meanings were arrived at. We shall find some­ thing to interest us, for example, in the fifty pages of C. S. Lewis's Studies in Words, which he actually devotes to all these different ways of using the word "nature," and in which he traces, with care and erudition, the various ways in which a speaker's meaning and a lexical mean­ ing have interacted from time to time to bring about the present state of affairs.

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