I sometimes wonder if the fact that as a young student, my Mother's insistence on the use of a thesaurus in equal or greater volume than a dictionary has anything to do with my persistent neutrality? I am much more comfortable in highlighting the likenesses in life than in pinpointing and isolating their definitions. Somehow, the faster, essed outside of the stream -- with its variability and current --proves more reassuring that the inner banks, catching the fertility of sediment and the comfort of solidifying ground.
Or perhaps I am looking at it inversely: are synonyms not definitions in and of themselves when using one idea or word as a point of reference? Is a thesaurus not a more extensive dictionary of sorts? Assuming one understands the initial definition of the idea for which one is seeking alternative names, does one then not exponentially expand one's use of a single meaning into myriad others?
Though possibly quite true, we must nonetheless remind ourselves when debating such hypotheses, that the first manuals of words were dictionaries whose goal was not only to establish then perpetuate the use of "the right word" but to make it known to other languages and those of all caste. Only once concreted could the thesaurus even be pondered, and itself created, defined.