We live in the world of advanced physics, chemistry and biology. Mathematics in various forms is applied more and more in various branches of science. And this craze for precision has even crept into branches, knowingly or unknowingly. (Probably this was always there…).
What makes me a Christian? It is a very difficult question to answer. I should have something to do with Jesus Christ is a possible answer. I can be excommunicated from being a Catholic, but not a Christian. I think the same applies for being a Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist etc. So the definitions or criteria of being a Christian etc is very flexible. You can’t definitely say s/he is not, if they claims so. (Surely anything can’t go; but you can’t decide what all is ok too).
What about the term nationalism or secularism. There are innumerable definitions for it. Can I be choosy about it? Yes, you might choose that definition for yourself, but can’t say that everybody else should subscribe to it. (Unless some authority defines it). In the extreme cases, you might name a person anti-nationalist/anti-national, else it is not that easy; or if you are doing it, you are doing it for your political gain or emotional satisfaction.
A real help at such occasion is the Jaina logic of Syadvada, which speaks of the 7 options for a statement.
- Arguably, it (that is, some object) exists.
- Arguably, it does not exist .
- Arguably, it exists; arguably, it doesn’t exist.
- Arguably, it is non-assertible .
- Arguably, it exists; arguably, it is non-assertible.
- Arguably, it doesn’t exist; arguably, it is non-assertible .
- Arguably, it exists; arguably, it doesn’t exist; arguably it is non-assertible .
All the 7 can be true at the same time when we look from different perspectives. Another example is how 5 blind men see an elephant. There are many other options like fuzzy logic, buddhist logic and others who are against the logic of clear cut boundaries and precise definitions.
An approach of having a precise definition is okay for length and breadth and for many other parameters, but not applicable in many other cases. Is Precise always accurate and imprecise always inaccurate? When we realize the intrinsic strengths and weakness of different areas, life becomes smooth.