Loose Talk — Early Philosophers

Word are like atoms, expressing different properties depending on what other words
join them and form a true compound, or are just hanging out nearby, sharing a few electrons, maybe, or even just a cup of coffee and a biscuit. It’s not helpful to take a metaphor and relentlessly hammer it into shape, but the ends justify the method, at least sometimes, and words are mostly harmless and immune to damage by hammer blows. Their essence remains. Our metaphor is a metaphor, in other words. The hammer is real.

The first person to notice the malleability of language was likely a cave dweller, though it’s possible he had a hole in the ground with a few bushes for cover, or a hollowed out log. One thing for sure–as he started thinking about it all, he found he couldn’t stop, and the buzzards were soon circling. Eventually Darwinian pressures fell upon the generations, and a few thinkers emerged who could ponder the intricacies of language while also keeping an eye on the baby and the food pile. Thus the first philosophers came into being.

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