problem in semantics, metaphysics and philosophical logic regarding predicates with indeterminate bound
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Vagueness is lack of clarity or indefiniteness of meaning.
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- Vagueness and vacillation are not devices of timidity; they are the honest result of the writer's own mental character, which adapts him to be the instructor and the favourite of “the general reader.” For the most part, the general reader of the present day does not exactly know what distance he goes; he only knows that he does not go “too far.” Of any remarkable thinker, whose writings have excited controversy, he likes to have it said that “his errors are to be deplored,” leaving us not too certain what those errors are; he is fond of what may be called disembodied opinions, that float in vapoury phrase above all systems of thought or action; he likes an undefined Christianity which opposes itself to nothing in particular, an undefined education of the people, an undefined amelioration of all things: in fact, he likes sound views—nothing extreme, but something between the excesses of the past and the excesses of the present. This modern type of the general reader may be known in conversation by the cordiality with which he assents to indistinct, blurred statements: say that black is black, he will shake his head and hardly think it; say that black is not so very black, he will reply “Exactly.” He has no hesitation, if you wish it, even to get up at a public meeting and express his conviction that at times, and within certain limits, the radii of a circle have a tendency to be equal; but, on the other hand, he would urge that the spirit of geometry may be carried a little too far. His only bigotry is a bigotry against a clearly defined opinion; not in the least based on a scientific scepticism, but belonging to a lack of coherent thought—a spongy texture of mind, that gravitates strongly to nothing. The one thing he is staunch for is, the utmost liberty of private haziness.
- George Eliot, “The Influence of Rationalism,” Fortnightly Review (May 1865), pp. 43-55