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Posted on 2008.03.05 at 07:30
i'm starting to wonder if i am just an inherently selfish person.
also, why can't i just use the same words as everyone else and call it good? why do i have to complicate everything... it's just that i feel common terms are so laden with assumptions that i don't necessarily share. but i don't know what words are the right ones.

what does romantic mean?
and is there a difference between selfish and self-centered?


flasher702 at 2008-03-06 00:53 (UTC) (Link)
They basically mean the same thing. If you rule out the obscure definitions of "selfish DNA" and self-centered being a synonym for self-sufficient. Selfish includes "disregard of others" but doesn't necessitate it but so does self-centered. Someone will probably try to make up definitions off the cuff or try to make more out of the wording of the definition then they actually mean but they are clearly synonyms.

The truth of the mater is that a single word out of context has no meaning. You have to create context to describe a datapoint and *then* you have meaning. Words are just pointers to these meanings and their definitions change over time as do the definitions of the words used to define them. Selfishness is a very broad concept that encompasses both positive and negative aspects of behavior. If you want to be more specific than that you want more than one word.

Don't let people, including yourself, bog down your arguments and reasoning with semantics. As soon as as someone starts trying to interject definitions of words into a conversation that isn't about symantecs to begin with you should feel fully comfortable in responding "I don't want to argue semantics. My point is..." and then say what your point is using different and more precise wording (and look the word up later).

By romantic I assume, out of the deluge of different possible meanings, that you mean "of a love-affair" which Merriam Webster very helpfully defines for us as "a romantic relationship". A very special place in lexicographer hell has been reserved for the persons who wrote those three entries. Dictionary.com Unabridged v1.1 is slightly more helpful: "characterized by a preoccupation with love or by the idealizing of love or one's beloved" but then you still need to define love and you run into the same problem of people making stuff up to try and force the word to mean what they want (which is often a kind of logical fallacy). Really the definition of "romance" has very little practical use as having anything to do with sexual/emotional attraction though.

Instead of worrying so much about what the words means I would suggest concentrating on what you want mean and if the commonly used words for that concept are not accurate enough for you then don't use them (although I would suggest avoiding obscure words and definitions if your goal is to be understood). Commonly used words often have very broad definitions and multiple definitions and if someone is either dense or actively trying to misunderstand you they aren't very useful. Never fear being long-winded in the pursuit of being precise.

AFAIK most other languages don't suffer from this nearly as much as english. It's title as "the bastard language" is well deserved.
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