My question is about definitions and I would like to know what it means to define something. From I what can tell, definitions seem to describe relations between processes, objects and other type of relationships. If I were to ask, "Define yourself", What am I really asking here? Can an answer be provided without referring to something else? Because I would at least not associate "define yourself" with physical attributes, the person´s job, career, family situation, personality attributes or any other sort of descriptions...or am I just way off?
Hopefully you can sort out some of my confusion. Thanks in advance.
A definition of something specifies what it takes to be that sort of thing. (A definition of a word specifies the meaning of the word, which in turn specifies what it takes for something to fall in that word's extension: for the word to apply truly to it.) We usually assume that specifying "what it takes to be a certain sort of thing" means specifying that kind or individual's essence , or at least necessary and sufficient conditions for being that (kind of) thing. The problem is that many, probably most, of our words and concepts can't be defined in this way, not just because they are vague, as 'bald' is (it seems that there's no precise number of hairs that marks the boundary betwen being bald and not bald), but because there is no one quality that all things of that kind share (Wittgenstein argued in the Philosophical Investigations that the concept of a game is like this). The question of what kinds of definitions these sorts of words and concepts can have is a hard one, which philosophers and...