Ethereal Hermit Crabs

“The authoritas verborum is an external and ‘accidental’ authority that falls away in the process of any interpretation, however good. But in considering this we must be careful not to think of a naked, internal essence of a given word, a wordless word, and an outer accidental clothing. It would be better, I think, to speak of the authoritas rerum in an incarnational way, with one word ‘morphing’ into another word. This would be in contrast to the idea of taking the ‘meaning’ out of one word, leaving behind its husk, and then transplanting that ‘meaning’ into another word, as though the essential meanings of words were ethereal hermit crabs” (The Paideia of God, pp. 98-99).

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