After Wed's class and reading the Chapter from Locke's essay once more, I was struck by how much Aristotle I saw in Locke's writing. For one, it seems that both feel that it takes a special ability to be a good writer/audience. I remember for Aristotle, it had a lot to do with the age of the person, the young being too emotional, the old being too jaded, and the middle aged being just right. For Locke, it seems the best communicates are kind of like skilled craftmen, artisans whatever you want to call them. To be an effective communicator, Locke writes that "it is necessary that they excite in the hearer exactly the same idea they stand for in the mind of the speaker." (350, sorry I'm using the essay itself) This implies that the speaker has enough vocabulary to use the most precise word, and the reader has enough vocabulary to understand it correctly.
The issue of vocabulary also interests me about Locke. Someone said in class that Locke would have supported a very, very large dictionary where every word has one meaning. This does make a lot of sense because for Locke the reason words are so imperfect is because they signify different images to different people. But then again, even if words have one definition or one thing to signify will it make it any better? Even with a singular definiton, I wonder if people would understand that definition in the same way. It seems as if everyone has a different way of identifying an idea even if it is a common thing, and so even we have one definition for everyword I think we would still see miscommunication. Also, for words like "mad". The OED gives 7 definitions for the word "mad" if we were going to give every word 1 definition, who would decide which of the 7 would be eliminated and assigned to other words? What would be the basis for that decision? Does anyone have the authority to do something like this? I do not know how that process would go down, and I don't think that anyone really has the authority to make that decision. Is the word "mad" more appropriate to fill 1 definition more than the other 6. I think Locke would say "no" because he says words have "naturally no significance". In other words mad doesn't inherently fit into any other those definitons any better than the others, but it's something that we learn to understand. I'm sorry if I am not making any sense, but although Locke might have wanted a large dictionary, I wonder if that sort of thing is even possible.