Pens, Pencils, and Delusions

A pen is a writing instrument that uses graphite.

A pencil is a writing instrument that uses ink.

Do my above definitions make me delusional?

No. A person is delusional if, and only if, that person adamantly insists on at least one mistaken belief.

Rather, my definitions merely make me unconventional. Words are merely tokens used to refer to concepts in the speaker’s mind. Most people use the word pencil to refer to the concept of “a writing instrument that uses graphite.” I am free to use whatever words I choose to refer to whatever concepts I choose.

Using unconventional word-definition pairs makes me unconventional, not delusional. Of course, unconventional communication can be frustrating for both speakers and listeners.

Now, if I insisted that a graphite writing instrument was actually an ink writing instrument—then maybe I might be delusional.

To find out, you would need to have an open-minded conversation with me about what I mean by graphite and what I mean by ink.

It would be fallacious for you to jump to the conclusion that I am delusional.

It just so happens to be the case that I define ink as the form of carbon used in pencils, and graphite as the liquid dye used in pens.

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