A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Frank Reed
Date: 2018 Nov 12, 08:57 -0800
John, you wrote:
"Navigation is not position finding. Navigation is knowing where you are as you travel, usually in reference to a fixed site. When a lander lands we need to know where it is, Use stars, moons, satellites, etc to fix your location. That is not navigation. Now, get into your rover, drive so many miles in a direction, eat lunch, then drive back to your lander - that is navigation."
Well, this kind of declarative pronouncement with respect to general words leads you into a swamp, basically because yours is just one opinion, and neither you nor I nor the NavList community can control the meaning of words. It's better to say that there are two different aspects to navigation. Position-finding is a fundamental aspect of navigation. Transiting from one point to another is also a fundamental aspect of navigation.
Even in common English this can be an issue. Is a navigator a person who voyages? A person who who explores and covers great distances? Yes. In one sense of the word "navigator" that is the meaning. By this understanding of the word, James Cook was a great navigator and so was Christopher Columbus. By another sense of the word, a "navigator" is a person who can determine exact position and additionally provide the data (like compass direction) to move on to another position --a much more fine-grained aspect of navigation (and here in NavList messages, that's usually the sense of navigation that we're using). By this sense of the word, James Cook was also a great navigator since he had those technical skills, while Columbus was not a great navigator or even a good navigator by that standard since he seems to have had relatively low technical competence. There is no "correct" definition of navigator in common English discussions of the subject. There are at least these two valid definitions. And this can lead to empty debates that hinge on semantics: were the medieval Polynesians, a thousand years ago, great "navigators" or were they great "navigators"? It depends on what you mean by the word.
Arguably there is also a third definition relevant for us, but distinguishable with a little capitalization: a Navigator is a person with a specific professional or military rank who has learned the technical skills in a rather detailed, extensive list of requirements. We need to be aware of this since a general comment about "navigators" is not a general comment about "Navigators". See what I mean?