The immense scope of this universe is unfathomable. For some ancient reason, man seems unable to live with this fact and so thinks of life in a limited way. Our language reflects this by using only three degrees of comparison to describe all phenomena, for example the positive such as good; the comparative — such as better; and the superlative — such as best.
The word good is a comparative word being half of the dichotomy good and bad. The word better is also a comparative word showing an increased quantity when held up against the word good.
It is the superlative degree, such as the word best, worst, greatest, et al, which is the subject of this post. I thought about titling this essay “Superlatives — Really? I Try To Only Use Them In Context,” because in a universe of infinite potential, the superlative closes the door on the infinite and creates the philosophical concept of a closed set. If that is the impression you intend to create when writing, then go ahead. The superlative degree exploits not just a bias but more importantly our incapacity to accept and welcome the infinite. Using the superlative degree in our language can be used as a tool, a tip off that we should be mindful whether we really are saying what we mean and more importantly understanding what we say.