• Terrapin Station
    12.4k
    So what's wrong with that? The meaning is literally on the paper. The meaning is literally in the words. I see no problem with this. Meaning is a property of the words, just like beauty is a property of the piece of art, and length, as well as colour, are properties of the object. How could this be wrong?Metaphysician Undercover

    Re "what's wrong with that," claim whatever you would say is the case.

    The challenge is simply going to be identifying just what properties of the marks on the paper are meaning, a la identifying the how the properties of extension or color obtain.
  • Coben
    770
    So what's wrong with that? The meaning is literally on the paper. The meaning is literally in the words. I see no problem with this. Meaning is a property of the words, just like beauty is a property of the piece of art, and length, as well as colour, are properties of the object. How could this be wrong?Metaphysician Undercover
    So humans never evolved but patterns in the pebbles on a beach 'wrote out some words' in what we call English. Do those patterns in the pebbles have meaning?

    Without minds there is no meaning? And where is the meaning?

    It's not in the words. It's in the minds.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    6k
    The value of food is not assigned. Food was valuable to us long before we ever said that.creativesoul

    It doesn't matter if we say it or not. I can assign value to something without saying it.

    Meaning is attributed. The meaning of "meaning" and the meaning of "value" are both attributed in the exact same way as the meaning of any word is. Correlations drawn between the word and other things.creativesoul

    If drawing a correlation between two things is to attribute meaning to something, this is irrelevant. The question is whether the thing which meaning is attributed to has the meaning within it or not.. Notice that in the first instance, drawing a correlation, there are two things, and if you attribute meaning to something, there is only one thing. So if attributing meaning is drawing a relation between two things, then how would you know which of the two things meaning is being attributed to?

    Meaning is not a property of words. Meaning is attributed to and/or with words when correlations are drawn between the words and something else.creativesoul

    This appears very contradictory. An attribute is a property. If you attribute meaning to a word, this is the same as saying that the word has the property of meaning. How is this any different from attributing "large" to the sun, "blue' to the sky, "deep" to the ocean, or "leaves" to trees? If you do this by drawing correlations, that's irrelevant to the fact that you are saying that the property is in the thing which you are attributing it to, when you make such an act.

    If all users of "tree" die, there is no one to draw a correlation between the word and something else. The word is no longer a part of any meaningful correlations. In such a case, the word is meaningless.creativesoul

    I don't see how it makes a difference if people die. Trees still have leaves when people are dead, the ocean is still deep, the sky is still blue, the sun is large, and words still have meaning. Even if correlations are required, they have already been made, by the person who wrote the words prior to dying, that's why "meaning" is often defined as what is "meant", (past tense, as intended) by the word. So I really see no sense in saying that words have no meaning after people die. The sentences were created intentionally with meaning, so that is intrinsic to the sentence, that it has meaning. Perhaps a new life form will come along and decipher that meaning. It doesn't make sense to say that the meaning of the words would magically pop in and out of existence along with the beings capable of reading the words.

    The challenge is simply going to be identifying just what properties of the marks on the paper are meaning, a la identifying the how the properties of extension or color obtain.Terrapin Station

    Don't you see that the answer to this is quite obvious? It's how the parts are chosen and arranged to make a whole. Certain words are chosen and arranged to make a sentence, and these are the properties which give the sentence meaning. Likewise, certain letters are chosen and arranged in a particular way to make a word, and that's what gives the word a meaning. Are you familiar with the saying that 'the whole is greater than the sum of the parts'? That is because the whole, as a unity has meaning, given to that entity through the act of creation, which the parts individually do not have.

    So humans never evolved but patterns in the pebbles on a beach 'wrote out some words' in what we call English. Do those patterns in the pebbles have meaning?Coben

    Patterns do not write.
  • Terrapin Station
    12.4k
    Don't you see that the answer to this is quite obvious? It's how the parts are chosen and arranged to make a whole. Certain words are chosen and arranged to make a sentence, and these are the properties which give the sentence meaning. Likewise, certain letters are chosen and arranged in a particular way to make a word, and that's what gives the word a meaning. Are you familiar with the saying that 'the whole is greater than the sum of the parts'? That is because the whole, as a unity has meaning, given to that entity through the act of creation, which the parts individually do not have.Metaphysician Undercover

    You'd have to explain how that arrangement, how the structure of the marks on paper, amounts to the property of meaning. Saying that the property is structural goes without saying, really--all properties are factors of materials in particular dynamic relationships (structures). So saying that the property arises out of this is a given. The task is to explain just what about the dynamic relationships of the materials is the property of meaning.
  • Coben
    770
    Patterns do not write.Metaphysician Undercover
    Do the pebbles have meaning in the situation? Or grains of sand in the perfect shape of the letters of a sentence in English?
  • Possibility
    490
    Anyway, you and I clearly don't agree on this issue. I don't think how I saw the camera, or any other art, is a matter of an "initial lack of awareness.” I think it had value, it was moving, but it did not have meaning.T Clark

    I had a feeling the moment I wrote ‘initial lack of awareness’, that you would reject the notion, but at the time I had no alternative that made as much sense to me, so I’m going to put a pin in that expression and hopefully come back to it.

    I’m not convinced that we’re as far away from each other’s position as you might think. I think there is a lot of difficulty in explaining the way I see this because the language doesn’t lend itself to distinguishing between the meaning of ‘value’ and the meaning of ‘meaning’.

    It seems to me that you’re distinguishing between ‘value’ and ‘meaning’ (and let me know if I’m off the mark here) by describing value/significance as a non-descript feeling or movement towards an experience, while meaning is what allows us to orient that experience in the mind’s structure (or BoK - I do like that concept), making the connections and collaborating with the rest of our experience of the world.

    To me, what you’re referring to appears to be the beginning and then completion of the same information process. Because when we attribute ‘meaning’ with words, what we’re doing is employing the value structures of language to signify how we relate to the experience in our mind. It’s a more complex and informative meaning by far than bacteria can manage, but as humans, this isn’t the most advanced level of meaning we can attribute to the world. But I agree, it is still meaning.

    I think there’s also meaning in how we interact with the world which transcends our relative perspective of value or significance. It has to do with the relationships between our relationships.

    When someone matters to me, we often say that what matters to them also matters to me. But in a relationship, it’s not always true that what has value for them has the same value for me, or that what is significant to them has the same significance for me. In my view, what has meaning for them doesn’t necessarily have the same meaning for me - that is, until we interact at the level of shared significance and meaning.

    At the level of value/significance, pre-word, you acknowledge that the camera art is personally moving for you (which I see as meaningful, even if it is unarticulated). And also prior to your discussion, you were able to collapse that meaningfulness into a particular value/significance in relation to your experience as an engineer. This is still meaning, but is less informed than the one you had post-discussion.

    During the discussion, what you’re doing is interacting with the camera at a different level to previous: at the level of shared meaning. You’re employing the shared significance of language to gain more information about the camera in relation to other relationships that matter to you in the world - ie. your friend and the art student. Their contributions would have had different values in your experience of the discussion (whether or not you were aware of that), as would your own contributions in both yours and their experiences. They would have brought different thoughts, memories, ideas - a different BoK to the discussion. The resulting meaning you came away with was more real not just because it was now a richer source of information, but also because it was shared - because you were able to correlate that meaning, those relationships with your BoK, to other relationships that matter to you, and because it was already collapsed back into the significance of language.

    Consider, perhaps, if that discussion had occurred only with the art student, how might that have changed the meaning? Or even if a similar discussion had occurred in a language other than English, and you then brought another friend to view the same artwork?

    I hope I’m making some sense here. For me, meaning as the relation of what matters exists at the two-dimensional level of bacteria as well as a five and even six dimensional level of human interactions.
  • T Clark
    4.1k
    Yeah, it's an evocative passage!Janus

    I hadn't read that passage in probably 30 years, but when we started the discussion, it just popped into place. It amazes me. "What a piece of work is man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals." I reread it for the first time just before I posted it. It was so satisfying to see that it moved me just as much as it did when I first read it. I wanted others to read it too.

    All those visual and verbal associations the author finds in the music; would you not count those as pre-verbally meaningful? In articulating them has Gardner brought those associations into being, or were they visualized pre-verbally and then determined, kind of 'pinned down" in language? Are the associations as rich when linguistically pinned down, or are they a myriad of complex indeterminate associations/ feelings traded for single determinate images that despite their determinateness, are only approximate? These are open questions; I'm not forwarding an answer here. Anyway it's an interesting topic you have created!Janus

    You write "would you not count those as pre-verbally meaningful?" I understand your question. That's why I said I wasn't sure whether the passage supported my ideas. As I think of it, and since I want to be able to say it does support my position, I think the story catches the horn player just at the moment when value becomes meaning. He says the music doesn't mean anything but what it is. Is that meaning at all, or is it a rejection of meaning?

    Did I mention I love that passage? The whole book is good. John Gardner was a good writer. He was an upstate New Yorker. His stories combine down to earth small town life with moments of whimsy and mystery.
  • Swan
    8


    Sorry, can you clarify? Are you saying that all forms of communication involve, or must have words? I don't want to derail the first post here or his thread, so I was responding to the first post. My point I was kind of trying to show was that body language is an example of meaning without words, not meaning without language. We aren't limited to just words, they are just bolts to a wrench.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    6k
    You'd have to explain how that arrangement, how the structure of the marks on paper, amounts to the property of meaning.Terrapin Station

    I don't see why I'd have to explain that. People claim that objects have the property of colour without explaining how perceiving the structure of electromagnetic waves amounts to the perception of colour, so why would I need to explain how apprehending the structure of order within the object amounts to the perception of meaning?

    The task is to explain just what about the dynamic relationships of the materials is the property of meaning.Terrapin Station

    Again, I think this is obvious. It's everything and anything about the dynamic relations of the materials that's the property of meaning. There is meaning in relationships. The thing is, that we are disposed, and trained, to recognize some things, while we ignore others. This is where "value" comes into play, and why I said we need to distinguish between value and meaning. It appears to me like there is meaning everywhere, in everything, but we only subject certain things to an evaluation of that meaning, like an array of words or a piece of art for example. We see all sorts of things around us, full of meaning, without evaluating that meaning. But a geologist for example is trained to see the meaning in rock structures, a biologist in life forms, and a meteorologist in cloud formations and wind direction, etc..

    Do the pebbles have meaning in the situation? Or grains of sand in the perfect shape of the letters of a sentence in English?Coben

    Yes of course. If grains of sand came to take the perfect shape of letters of an English sentence, I would say that this would be very meaningful. It would not have the same meaning that it would have if a person arranged them that way, trying to say something though, it would be more like the meaning people see when they see the figure of Jesus in all sorts of weird places.
  • Coben
    770
    Yes of course. If grains of sand came to take the perfect shape of letters of an English sentence, I would say that this would be very meaningful. It would not have the same meaning that it would have if a person arranged them that way, trying to say something though, it would be more like the meaning people see when they see the figure of Jesus in all sorts of weird places.Metaphysician Undercover
    I had this formation where no one can see it. Does it have meaning, then? IOW there are probably word shapes in the scuff on the surface of asteroids. I don't think these have meaning. Meaning occurs when the words are observed, or better, read. And the meaning arises in the mind that reads them. Shapes can elicit meaning, but they do not contain meaning. It is not somewhere in the grains of sand. It is in the minds of language users, and gets brought forth in those minds by objects that do not have meaning.
  • Terrapin Station
    12.4k
    I don't see why I'd have to explain that. People claim that objects have the property of colour without explaining how perceiving the structure of electromagnetic waves amounts to the perception of colour, so why would I need to explain how apprehending the structure of order within the object amounts to the perception of meaning?Metaphysician Undercover

    For example, you're mentioning electromagnetic waves re color. We want to know, if colors are supposedly objective, just what they'd amount to. That's how we can mention that it has to do with electromagnetic radiation, how that's reflected off of surfaces, how it stimulates our eyes, etc.

    Same thing for meaning. It doesn't do to just posit that it's literally in the words on paper. We want to know how that's supposed to work, exactly.
  • Coben
    770
    I don't see why I'd have to explain that. People claim that objects have the property of colour without explaining how perceiving the structure of electromagnetic waves amounts to the perception of colour, so why would I need to explain how apprehending the structure of order within the object amounts to the perception of meaning?Metaphysician Undercover
    The people who claim that objects have the property of color in them, when challenged, should explain where that color is in the object? And if it's there when people or other animals are not perceiving them. Does to color leave the object when the perceivers leave?
  • Possibility
    490
    It's everything and anything about the dynamic relations of the materials that's the property of meaning. There is meaning in relationships. The thing is, that we are disposed, and trained, to recognize some things, while we ignore others. This is where "value" comes into play, and why I said we need to distinguish between value and meaning. It appears to me like there is meaning everywhere, in everything, but we only subject certain things to an evaluation of that meaning, like an array of words or a piece of art for example. We see all sorts of things around us, full of meaning, without evaluating that meaning. But a geologist for example is trained to see the meaning in rock structures, a biologist in life forms, and a meteorologist in cloud formations and wind direction, etc..Metaphysician Undercover

    This is interesting. I was disagreeing with your view quite strongly, until you wrote this. The only thing that seems to be missing here, for me, is the position of the observer. Why and how am I disposed or trained to recognise some relationships, while I ignore others - but you are disposed or trained to recognise different things? The meaning that you or I see that others don’t - you say it’s inherent in the objects themselves, but others here are arguing it’s in the mind of the observer.

    The way I see, the meaning is inherent only in the relationship between the object and the observer. When we bring words into it, The combination of words we select represent or signify this relationship in a way that can be shared with others who would have a similar relationship to that structure of words as we do.

    In the experience of the geologist, for example, the meaning she sees in the rock structure appears to be only in the rock structure for her, and nowhere else. In fact it’s only in the subjective relationship she has with the rock structure. When she speaks to other geologists, she uses language that signifies this relationship within a shared system of geological language. When she speaks to her five year old cousin about the same rock structure, she isn’t going to use the same words, even though the meaning for her - her relationship to the rock structure - doesn’t change. She will instead attempt to employ the shared system of significance between herself and her cousin, an elaborate value structure of shared experience, to signify her own relationship to the rock structure in a way that will allow her cousin to forge a similar relationship to the rock structure. With limited language between them, she would no doubt need to use a quite complicated process to achieve the same significance of meaning she can share with her fellow geologists using only a few technical words.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    6k
    Why and how am I disposed or trained to recognise some relationships, while I ignore others - but you are disposed or trained to recognise different things?Possibility

    This is a question of values. We each value things differently, depending on all sorts of different conditions. When something is relevant to my values it is significant to me.

    The way I see, the meaning is inherent only in the relationship between the object and the observer. When we bring words into it, The combination of words we select represent or signify this relationship in a way that can be shared with others who would have a similar relationship to that structure of words as we do.Possibility

    I see a problem here, and that is the difference between the creator of a thing, and the observer of a thing. With oral language for example there is a speaker of the words and a hearer. So I don't think you can properly say that meaning is a relationship between the object and the observer, because this neglects the creator. And the point I made earlier is that spoken or written words still have meaning without an observer because the meaning was put there by the author.

    She will instead attempt to employ the shared system of significance between herself and her cousin, an elaborate value structure of shared experience, to signify her own relationship to the rock structure in a way that will allow her cousin to forge a similar relationship to the rock structure.Possibility

    Do you recognize that "value" is very different from "meaning"? The principal difference is in how they each relate to intention. I evaluate something, assign it a value, relative to my intentions. But there is a gap between my intentions, and the intentions of other people, they are not necessarily compatible. So there is a difficulty in reconciling values, because someone else may value something which I do not, and vise versa. And if I cannot see the value in something, I cannot honestly say that it is valuable, despite the fact that someone else appears to value it Meaning is different though. I can say that there is meaning in something, when I have no idea what the meaning is, like when I hear people talk a language I cannot understand. I can judge the activity itself as being meaningful, without being able to judge the meaning itself, by placing it in relation to a value structure. So I need no capacity to decipher or evaluate the meaning in order to know that there is meaning there. I don't need to place the meaning in relation to intentions in order to assert that there is meaning there. Therefore I can respect the notion that meaning can exist completely independently from intention. But value cannot exist independent of intention.
  • creativesoul
    6k
    If drawing a correlation between two things is to attribute meaning to something, this is irrelevant.Metaphysician Undercover

    That's a curious response to a universal criterion. All meaning is existentially dependent upon what I set out earlier.

    Irrelevant, you say?

    Sure.

    Carbon is just as irrelevant to uranium.
  • creativesoul
    6k
    Sorry, can you clarify? Are you saying that all forms of communication involve, or must have words?Swan

    No. Not sure how you arrived at that based upon what was wrote. I argued against the face value of what you wrote, which was mistaken/false. That's all.


    I don't want to derail the first post here or his thread, so I was responding to the first post. My point I was kind of trying to show was that body language is an example of meaning without words, not meaning without language...

    Sure. Meaning does not always include word use. Language is more than words. All language is meaningful to a plurality of users(shared meaning).
  • creativesoul
    6k
    Do you recognize that "value" is very different from "meaning"? The principal difference is in how they each relate to intention.Metaphysician Undercover

    Of value, meaning, and intention which - if any - is existentially dependent upon one of the others, and/or the other two?

    Intention consists - in large part at least - of thought/belief. All meaning emerges onto the world stage within thought/belief formation itself. Thus, both intention and meaning are existentially dependent upon thought/belief.

    Value - when speaking in terms of being beneficial - is not always. Some value is prior to words. No intention is. Some meaning is. We can get these sorts of things wrong. That which exists and/or existed in it's entirety prior to our report of it. Prior to language. Prior to our first thinking about it.

    The second claim above is based upon my own pet theory of what all thought, belief, and statements thereof have in common that makes them what they are. There is a process of sorts going on when creatures are thinking about the situation that they are in. All thought, belief, and statements thereof share a common core(if you will) of ingredients. Ingredients because all examples thereof include them. Not quite ingredients though, for ingredients exist in their entirety prior to becoming an ingredient. Thus, I call them basic elemental constituents(some of which emerge simultaneously).

    All thought/belief consists of the mental correlations drawn between different things. All correlations are meaningful to the creature drawing them. All meaning is attributed solely by virtue of drawing correlations between different things. There are no examples to the contrary.

    All thought is meaningful to the thinking creature solely by virtue of the mental correlations being drawn between different things. That's how thought/belief is formed. The content of the correlation is the content of thought. The drawing is the attribution of meaning. It is to take notice of something. That something becomes significant by doing so. Both things become significant to the creature as the correlations are drawn between them. Dare I say, by virtue thereof.

    All correlation is meaningful to the creature drawing the correlations. When two creatures draw correlations between the same things, they share meaning. When they begin to take note of the external world together, they talk about it. Talking about it requires drawing correlations between word use and something else. Language use is existentially dependent upon shared meaning.

    Some meaning is prior to language use. It's exhausted above.

    Words aren't. Some meaning exists in it's entirety prior to words. It's exhausted above.

    Thus...

    Meaning is not inherent - in any sensible use of the term - in/to/within words. It's not a property. It's not an attribute. Words are meaningful by virtue of being a part of a correlation between words and other things. There is no other way.
  • Idrees
    1
    I would rather like to think that only words exist and not the meaning because sometime when you utter only words that already don't have any meaning i.e. the meaningless words you are still saying something but it is impossible for you to imagine meaning without a word.
  • creativesoul
    6k
    It's everything and anything about the dynamic relations of the materials that's the property of meaning. There is meaning in relationships. The thing is, that we are disposed, and trained, to recognize some things, while we ignore others. This is where "value" comes into play, and why I said we need to distinguish between value and meaning. It appears to me like there is meaning everywhere, in everything, but we only subject certain things to an evaluation of that meaning, like an array of words or a piece of art for example. We see all sorts of things around us, full of meaning, without evaluating that meaning. But a geologist for example is trained to see the meaning in rock structures, a biologist in life forms, and a meteorologist in cloud formations and wind direction, etc..
    — Metaphysician Undercover

    This is interesting. I was disagreeing with your view quite strongly, until you wrote this. The only thing that seems to be missing here, for me, is the position of the observer. Why and how am I disposed or trained to recognise some relationships, while I ignore others - but you are disposed or trained to recognise different things? The meaning that you or I see that others don’t - you say it’s inherent in the objects themselves, but others here are arguing it’s in the mind of the observer.
    Possibility

    ...and some of us think it fraught to talk in terms of meaning having a spatiotemporal location, because it does not unless it can be many different places all at once. Meaning is shared. Some anyway. Most, perhaps. Definitely all meaning that has language use(words) as content, aside from novelty, is shared. As soon as a plurality of users draw correlations between the same things as the novel thinker, then even the most novel ideas become shared as well.

    Linguistic meaning includes language as one part of the correlation(s). Linguistic meaning evolves alongside the content of the correlations. Different expressions can begin to mean very different things by virtue of enough users drawing correlations between the expressions and new/different things than before.

    Some languages have rigid meaning. Math is one. The meanings of those expressions, of those terms, does not evolve over time because we will not allow it to happen.

    The quantity that we named "two" is not inherent in the word. A plurality of things existed long before we took note to give them different names. Even here, it makes no sense to say that meaning is inherent to the word. "Two" is a word. It is the name of a very specific quantity. It is meaningful solely by virtue of naming that particular quantity. One who draws a correlation between that specific quantity and "two" has drawn correlations between the same things as the other language users. Shared meaning.

    All words are meaningful(assuming a user) by being part of a correlation. Not all meaning consists of words. Meaning is not existentially dependent upon words.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    6k
    Of value, meaning, and intention which - if any - is existentially dependent upon one of the others, and/or the other two?creativesoul

    Of the three, value, meaning, and intention, I would say that value is definitely dependent on intention. It is also likely that value is dependent on meaning, as substance. what is evaluated is meaning. The relationship between intention and meaning, whether one depends on the other, is not evident.

    Some value is prior to words. No intention is.creativesoul

    Of course intention is prior to words. All sorts of animals which do not speak intend to do things Intention is defined by purpose, so to do something with purpose is to be guided by intention. When my cat walks to its food dish it does so intentionally.

    All thought is meaningful to the thinking creature solely by virtue of the mental correlations being drawn between different things. That's how thought/belief is formed. The content of the correlation is the content of thought. The drawing is the attribution of meaning. It is to take notice of something. That something becomes significant by doing so. Both things become significant to the creature as the correlations are drawn between them. Dare I say, by virtue thereof.creativesoul

    This is a very confused passage because you do not distinguish what is thought, and the act of thinking. This creates a category error, sometimes expressed as the hard problem of consciousness, because if the living being (through the means of the brain), is engaged in the act of thinking, we can separate from the thinking being, what is thought, what you call "content of thought", thoughts/beliefs, as distinct from the act of thinking.

    So in an attempt to clarify your passage, this is what I see. The thinking creature draws correlations, and these correlations are the content of thought. Do you accept the categorical separation, which puts the correlations drawn, which is the content of thought, as distinct from the thinking creature?

    Upholding this categorical separation, which is fundamental to traditional philosophy, allows that the correlations are 'real', something independent from the thinking being, which are noticed by the thinking being. They are not "drawn" in the sense of created by the thinking being, they are notice by the thinking being.

    So when you say, "The drawing is the attribution of meaning. It is to take notice of something", what the thinking being takes notice of is the correlations. The thinking being is not creating (drawing) the correlations, but noticing the existence of the correlations. This implies that the correlation, and meaning itself, what is noticed, is independent of the thinking being. This is the point where your passage is confused by category error. You conflate "drawing" which is an act of creation, with "take notice", which is a passive observation, as if the two were the very same thing.

    Then you end the passage speaking of significance. Significance is related directly to value. When a correlation noticed (meaning), has a position relative to a value structure, it has significance. What I argued earlier is that meaning (what you call correlations) exist all around us. But we only notice meaning which has significance to us. This is derived from a combination of genetic disposition and training. So it is not the passive noticing of something which produces significance, as you suggest, it is the activity of evaluating things (conscious and subconscious) which causes us to take notice of something.

    All correlation is meaningful to the creature drawing the correlations. When two creatures draw correlations between the same things, they share meaning. When they begin to take note of the external world together, they talk about it. Talking about it requires drawing correlations between word use and something else. Language use is existentially dependent upon shared meaning.creativesoul

    This passage is confused by that same category error. Thinking beings do not actively draw correlations, they passively notice them. If you want to make noticing into an activity you need to go through the value structure, making it into an activity of evaluating. This is necessary in order to account for the fact that we are disposed so as to notice what is important. If numerous human beings notice the same things, this means that they have similar value structures. We cannot describe this as 'they are drawing correlations between the same things', because they could be drawing different correlations between the same things. To say that they "share meaning" requires that the correlations themselves be the same, and this means that multiple beings must notice the same correlation. if the correlations were created by each mind of each being, they would be distinct correlations.

    So it is not the case, as you suggest, that "when two creatures draw correlations between the same things, they share meaning". What is the case is that when they notice the same correlations they share meaning. If the two thinking creatures were creating the correlations, the correlations would be imaginary, and there would always be differences between the correlations imagined by one and another. There would be no shared meaning.
  • Terrapin Station
    12.4k
    Are you paying attention?creativesoul

    I usually only pay attention to the beginning of threads/the first couple posts in threads, and then I only pay attention to posts directed at me (and then, just the first parts of those posts if they're really long/rambling).

    I'm actually a pretty busy person, and I'm going to be more busy than I had been for awhile, because I've got a number of long-term projects coming up. I can't sit around and read 1,000-word post after 1,000-word post here. If there's something specific you want me to read, point me to it and I'll check it out (but hopefully you're not just wanting me to read 10-15,000 words of rambling posts)
  • Possibility
    490
    I see a problem here, and that is the difference between the creator of a thing, and the observer of a thing. With oral language for example there is a speaker of the words and a hearer. So I don't think you can properly say that meaning is a relationship between the object and the observer, because this neglects the creator. And the point I made earlier is that spoken or written words still have meaning without an observer because the meaning was put there by the author.Metaphysician Undercover

    At first, I was wondering what you meant by ‘the creator of a thing’. In the quote you refer to, I was talking about objects we observe, not words we read or hear. A ‘creator’ of such an object therefore has no relevance here.

    The meaning of spoken or written words is a little more complicated, though, because the words are selected (not created) to most clearly signify a relationship between the author and their experience/observation. So yes, an observer/hearer of the words isn’t necessary. But the author of the words IS the ‘observer’ I was referring to, and the meaning of the observation (as an object or experience) is the relationship that exists between the author/observer (as a sum of experiences) and the object of their experience - regardless of the words he then selects to signify that relationship.
  • Possibility
    490
    Do you recognize that "value" is very different from "meaning"? The principal difference is in how they each relate to intention. I evaluate something, assign it a value, relative to my intentions. But there is a gap between my intentions, and the intentions of other people, they are not necessarily compatible. So there is a difficulty in reconciling values, because someone else may value something which I do not, and vise versa. And if I cannot see the value in something, I cannot honestly say that it is valuable, despite the fact that someone else appears to value it Meaning is different though. I can say that there is meaning in something, when I have no idea what the meaning is, like when I hear people talk a language I cannot understand. I can judge the activity itself as being meaningful, without being able to judge the meaning itself, by placing it in relation to a value structure. So I need no capacity to decipher or evaluate the meaning in order to know that there is meaning there. I don't need to place the meaning in relation to intentions in order to assert that there is meaning there. Therefore I can respect the notion that meaning can exist completely independently from intention. But value cannot exist independent of intention.Metaphysician Undercover

    Personally I think value differs from meaning by much more than how they relate to intention, but I’ll leave that for now. Value structures are built from meaningful interactions with the world - so are events and the entire physical universe. Meaningful interactions are those that provide information about the system and its structure. And information, at base, is simply a relationship.

    If I cannot see the value or significance of something, I can nevertheless say that it has meaning by acknowledging that someone else appears to value or find significance in it. The meaning it has then, for me, is structured initially by my relationship to those who find value in it. By engaging in meaningful interactions with them in relation to it (ie. where they relate it to a common ground of words or other shared significance, events, objects, places, etc) it is possible to gradually deepen the meaning it has for me.

    To judge or evaluate meaning is to collapse it into a particular value structure. In this process, it loses information - in the same way that a proton loses information when measured/observed in time, or a three-dimensional structure loses information when drawn in 2D. This is what happens when we communicate meaning with words. By recognising that the words only signify (within a particular value structure) a meaningful relationship between the author of the words and what they experience - in the same way that a drawing of a cube ‘signifies’ a 3D object - we can acquire a more accurate meaning by relating the way different value structures collapse the same meaningful relationships with the world.

    This is how I believe @T Clark acquired a deeper meaning for the camera artwork: by relating the way his own value structure collapses the meaning with how the value structures of his friend and the art student collapse their relationship to the artwork through the words they selected to signify that relationship.
  • TheMadFool
    3.8k
    I am leaning towards thinking of meaning as something separate from the words they are attached to.Mr Phil O'Sophy

    I could be wrong but from my point of view (I stay in the deepest valley of the kingdom of ignorance) you're about to take a fall because you're leaning on thin air. :joke:
  • creativesoul
    6k
    If there's something specific you want me to read, point me to it and I'll check it out (but hopefully you're not just wanting me to read 10-15,000 words of rambling posts)Terrapin Station

    All good. No worries. Everyone... almost... has more important stuff to do than delve into philosophy and philosophical(critical) reasoning...
  • creativesoul
    6k
    Personally I think value differs from meaning by much more than how they relate to intention, but I’ll leave that for now. Value structures are built from meaningful interactions with the world - so are events and the entire physical universe. Meaningful interactions are those that provide information about the system and its structure. And information, at base, is simply a relationshipPossibility

    Presupposes agency where none is warranted(interactions providing information).

    On it's face, you're saying that value structures are built from interactions that provide information about the value system and it's structure.

    That's common language use.





    The notion of information as it is used here is troubling. Information is meaningful. Positing information where there is no thinking/believing creature carries along with it a burden of setting out the criterion for meaning that you're working from, and perhaps how you've arrived at that criterion.

    What does all meaning consist in/of, such that there can be meaning prior to thought/belief?

    I agree that value structures(part of a worldview) are built from meaningful interactions with the world. I disagree that all events and/or the entire universe is built from meaningful interactions with the world, because all meaning is attributed by thinking/believing creatures.

    I suspect that there's some conflation between meaning and causality at work here.
  • creativesoul
    6k
    Some value is prior to words. No intention is.
    — creativesoul

    Of course intention is prior to words. All sorts of animals which do not speak intend to do things Intention is defined by purpose, so to do something with purpose is to be guided by intention. When my cat walks to its food dish it does so intentionally.
    Metaphysician Undercover

    "Intention" is defined by us.

    Your cat plans ahead?
  • creativesoul
    6k


    It's interesting to watch a reader attempt to make sense of what they've just read by shoe-horning it into a worldview that it - quite simply - does not and cannot fit into.

    I've nothing further with you. Your translation and/or understanding of what I wrote is too troublesome to attend.

    Best wishes...
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    6k
    At first, I was wondering what you meant by ‘the creator of a thing’. In the quote you refer to, I was talking about objects we observe, not words we read or hear. A ‘creator’ of such an object therefore has no relevance here.Possibility

    The creator of the object does have relevance. For example, if a person creates a tool for a specific purpose, this is what is "meant" of that object. So the existence of machinery and equipment, as well as other objects, is meaningful, they have meaning by virtue of having been created for a purpose. And we often need to consult with the creator to know what the object is meant to be used for.

    Your cat plans ahead?creativesoul

    Of course it does. Doesn't yours? Ever watch a cat hunt? You can't say that it's not planning ahead.
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