I’m a philosopher, working in logic and related issues. This means that I spend a lot of my time working with words and arguments. And sometimes, when I’m not feeling so good about things, it can seem like it doesn’t matter, that it’s all just words.
Arguments about ethics, about issues in metaphysics or epistemology—on a bad day, at least—can seem to be nothing more than pointless hot air. Here’s an illustration of the point, due to the American Pragmatist philosopher William James.
Here’s the scene—a man walks rapidly around a tree, while a squirrel moves on the tree trunk. Both the man and the squirrel face the tree at all times, but the tree trunk stays between them.