• creativesoul
    4.6k
    This is why he posited thinking about thinking, as the most virtuous, divine activityMetaphysician Undercover

    Interesting... He did?

    Have a link?
  • creativesoul
    4.6k


    Well you said that meaning is what words refer to. "Tree" is a word. It does not refer to meaning. It refers to trees.

    The last reply of yours is heading in the right direction.
  • Noah Te Stroete
    1k
    I will have to give it more thought.
  • creativesoul
    4.6k
    The association in the mind between the word “tree” and the thing, trees.Noah Te Stroete

    That is what the meaning of "tree" amounts to, although the 'in the mind' part is unacceptable on my view. It presupposes spatiotemporal location. Meaning is not the sort of thing that has one, for it is a composite, a complex 'entity', of which a mind is not always necessary, unless one is willing to call the most rudimentary basic thought/belief such.

    A mind, to me, requires being mindful... rudimentary level thought/belief doesn't have what it takes.
  • creativesoul
    4.6k
    And then there is the question in the OP: what exactly is the external thing?Pattern-chaser

    Meaning is neither external nor internal. It consists of both. It is existentially dependent upon both. What is being shared, can be, as a result of this.
  • creativesoul
    4.6k
    shared meaning requires a plurality of language users.
    — creativesoul
    ...but here, how does shared meaning differ from meaning? A meaning that has not been shared... a meaning that cannot be shared?

    So, what is it that is being shared between language users? To answer "meaning" is not at all helpful nor informative.
    — creativesoul

    One thing that's important to clarify re "shared meaning" is whether someone is positing (1) one "thing" that's multiply present--a la the traditional concept of universals, where there's a solitary universal that somehow obtains in multiple things, (2) multiple "things" that are somehow the same (somehow identical despite not being numerically identical), or simply (3) something that can be observed by multiple people--sharing in the "show and tell" sense.
    — Terrapin Station


    Not like that...
    Banno

    Nope. Not like that.

    There are plenty of situations where "shared meaning" could be replaced with "meaning".

    The questions about meaning that has not been shared and/or cannot be shared may yield something useful and/or interesting.

    Shared meaning must be shareable. That's obvious. We do that with language use. What would meaning that cannot be shared amount to?

    I think that that's what you're after? Maybe?
  • creativesoul
    4.6k
    We use the term "tree" to talk about trees. When a plurality of people draw a correlation, association, and or connection between the term and trees, meaning is shared and language use can ensue. The use of "tree" can then be a means for successful reference. Shared meaning.
  • creativesoul
    4.6k
    What would meaning that cannot be shared amount to?creativesoul

    Correlations drawn between different things by a language less creature. Correlations drawn between different things by a language user, but not understood by the user.
  • creativesoul
    4.6k
    A language-less creature can learn that touching fire causes pain, by virtue of touching it, feeling the resulting pain and drawing a correlation between it's own behaviour and what followed. The creature has correctly attributed/recognized causality. The fire becomes meaningful and/or significant to the creature by virtue of the very same method and/or process that it becomes meaningful to us, the first time we touch it.

    That creature cannot share it's own thought/belief about the fire and pain, and yet everyone who has been burned by touching fire has drawn the same correlations. We can talk about it.
  • Noah Te Stroete
    1k
    I suppose what I originally meant was that meaning is always meaning OF something, such as a word or phrase or sentence or symbol of some kind. The meaning OF “tree” is trees. Meaning is not a thing in itself. Meaning is a relation. Trees are not meaning, but the meaning OF “tree” is trees. I think this is what shared meaning is. This kind of relation.

    Private meaning is the mental association I mentioned earlier.
  • creativesoul
    4.6k


    Well, Noah I'm not sure how long you've been interested in philosophy, but this particular topic is not at all one that is simple to understand. Academia has, for multiple reasons throughout history, caused it to be much more confusing and complex than it actually is. On top of that, the rhetoric lovers tend to invoke it for less than honourable reasons/purposes. At least, that's my opinion...

    The relation aspect is crucial to grasp.

    I find it helpful to avoid talking in terms of "the meaning of X" is...

    Earlier I offered a bit on that.

    The referent of the word "tree" is a tree. The meaning of the word "tree" is determined solely by virtue of correlations drawn between it and something else.
  • Noah Te Stroete
    1k
    Well, Noah I'm not sure how long you've been interested in philosophy, but this particular topic is not at all one that is simple to understand.creativesoul

    I never actually read anything on the topic of meaning, but I have interest in it.
  • creativesoul
    4.6k


    It's a hot mess...

    :wink:
  • Noah Te Stroete
    1k
    I think I might agree with you that the meaning OF “tree” is the relationship of how the word is used with the physical object it refers to.
  • Noah Te Stroete
    1k
    At least that’s what I got out of your use of the term “use”.
  • Isaac
    354
    Are you disagreeing that meaning is shared?creativesoul

    I can only understand the word 'shared' in terms of division, or joint ownership, or maybe joint possession (as in some property is shared). I can only make sense of 'meaning' as in the use a word is put to, or maybe the responses it brings about when it's read or heard.

    I have no idea what putting the two together in the same sentence might be intended to cause me to think.

    Do we use words for the same purposes as others? Yes, obviously.

    Do words of a common language have similar effects on all language users? Similar, yes. Identical, no.

    But these are trivially obvious things to say.

    You asked, what is it that is being shared between language users? As if there were a single thing that had some significance over others.

    If 'shared' is to be used to indicate joint possession or membership, then we share the words themselves, we share a broad collection of the uses they're put to, we share some (but not all) of the responses they generate in our minds. But this is all trivially true. What's the point of the question?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.4k
    Interesting... He did?

    Have a link?
    creativesoul
    Refer to the last book of "Nichomachean Ethics". The entire NE is an extremely good read, which all human beings would benefit from reading. The highest pleasure, most perfect happiness is found in contemplation. Also you'll find the same principle in Metaphysics Bk.12 Ch.7. Here, the principle looses credibility as he uses this idea to support his notion of eternal circular motion, as unmoved mover, which is really untenable. The act of thinking is in contact with itself, as the best thing to think about. And so the act of thinking, and the object of thought become one and the same in God, so that God is always in this most virtuous condition, which human beings are only sometimes in. In God, the act of thinking and possession of the object of thinking, are one and the same thing, in this eternal circular motion. His mistake is that he has taken what he has determined as the highest human activity, contemplation, and tried to describe God's activity based on this description of the highest human activity. But hat's a huge gap he jumps across without providing a bridge to support the assumed relation, as human beings are temporal, mortal beings, while God is non-temporal, eternal.

    Well if you don't understand, you're not sharing, and you're not playing the game properly. But sharing a pizza does not require sharing a stomach, we each have some. And likewise we can share thoughts, rules, meanings, in separate minds. Let's not make it a problem because it isn't one. Maybe your slice of pizza is bigger and has more salami, maybe your understanding is sharper. Still, we share...unenlightened

    It's easy to say that if you misunderstand, then you're not playing the game right, but who determines which interpretation of the rules qualifies as understanding, and which interpretation of the rules qualifies as misunderstanding? Is there a referee in this game scenario to make that judgement? And if the referee does not have the status of God, what would make the referee's judgement more authoritative than yours or mine?
  • Galuchat
    527
    You've named some different kinds of meaning. Would you elaborate a bit upon universal and unknown meaning?creativesoul

    Since meaning is possessed by a mind (or minds), being knowledge (semantic information), it may be:

    1) Universal (innate or inherent) if all neurotypical organisms of a particular type possess it. Human examples would include expressions of basic emotion (Plutchik, 1980) and morality (Brown, 1991). So, universal meaning is shared among a species by means of genetic predisposition (nature) rather than communication.

    2) Unknown if not possessed by a mind (or minds). For example: Egyptian hieroglyphs prior to the discovery of the Rosetta Stone and their subsequent decoding.
  • Mww
    500


    Some groundwork: All understanding, both pure from mere thought with no real object, or empirical from perception which requires real objects, follows from the judgement whether or not certain concepts belong to corresponding thoughts or perceptions, such that the logical law of identity holds, and suffices for that which rational agents call “meaning”. It is the same as, “because of this, this is the case”.

    That being said, the thesis asks after shared meaning, which is the same as, for at least two rational agents, each understanding is asked to summarize whether or not “does this correspond to this”. That which is being shared does not necessarily arise from either of those understandings, but it just as easily could, re: two people interpreting a common object, or two people interpreting each other. Either way, whatever is being shared does not contain the meaning, it merely contains the properties which enable understanding to judge the applicability of concepts which will then identify the meaning.

    In addition, if it is the case that judgement uses the logical laws, from which identity is given necessarily and thereafter validated by experience, given from rational epistemology, it follows that the properties of shared objects subject to mutual understanding may not necessarily be the source of meaning itself, for the simple reason experience may not be extant such that concepts are not even available to judge identity. Insufficient experience may still suggest certain arrangements of properties indicate a possible meaning inherent in it and susceptible to being understood, but can say nothing whatsoever as to what that meaning actually is.
    (Where experience fails, concepts are still available by means of pure reason. Under these conditions however, any meaning would be no more than mere imaginings, possibly even illusory, and any truth would be lost)

    The problem then becomes, in the case of remote sharing, whether the understanding of the creator who imparts his conceptual identities to the eventually shared object, carries over to any subsequent perception and understanding, or, which is the same thing, whether the properties of the object hold the meaning as belonging to it. This further reduces to whether the properties, if they do hold meaning, is what the remote understanding is dealing with, or is it the original meaning of the creator who imparted the properties that the remote understanding is dealing with. Because these may not be the same thing, re: misinterpretation, where the subsequent understanding misjudged the intent of the creator, from cognitive bias or prejudice or mere expectation, the two kinds of meaning may not be the same, which indicates the true meaning must lie in the understanding of the creator and the object only represents it.

    All that to say this: the notion that meaning lies exclusively in understanding does not prove meaning doesn’t reside outside it. Nevertheless, any theory that claims meaning lies outside understanding must still incorporate understanding somewhere in that theory.

    Anyway......you asked, I answered. Critique as you see fit.
  • creativesoul
    4.6k
    I think I might agree with you that the meaning OF “tree” is the relationship of how the word is used with the physical object it refers toNoah Te Stroete

    At least that’s what I got out of your use of the term “use”.Noah Te Stroete

    Let me clarify a bit. The meaning of the word "tree" is determined exclusively by the entire correlational process that it is an integral part of. We use "tree" to pick something out...

    Trees!

    That's how we use language - names in particular - to isolate, identify, and begin to think about the referent of the name. The referents all existed in their entirety prior to becoming an integral part of a mental correlation. That's how all meaning works. Sometimes referents are existentially dependent upon language, and sometimes not.


    Written words - all alone - are marks on paper. At the end of the universe. Marks do not have locutionary force. Some meaningful language use does. Marks on paper are not accompanied by the facial expressions, intonation, and otherwise physically observable behaviours of the language users involved in verbal communication... Those things determine and establish the forcefulness of a speech act.

    One has to look at the language use... as it is happening. A christening event...

    Marks do not have facial expressions. Marks do not have behaviour. Some language use is driven by out of control emotion. The meaning of the language use is more than obvious to all who participate in such events. The behaviour was emotionally driven and great discontent was behind the wheel. All language users involved in such emotionally charge interactions draw correlations between the intonation and all the other physical behaviour put on display during the event.

    All statements of thought/belief come from a living, thinking, and breathing language user. Unless there is an account such as the one you're reading, without the user there are no correlations being drawn. Where there are no correlations being drawn there is no meaning being attributed. There are common linguistic expressions which cannot be rightly understood unless one watches it happen.

    "Shut the front door!"

    "Block!"

    "Game. Set. Match."

    There are good reasons for looking at how language is being used. There are key elements of meaning contained therein.
  • creativesoul
    4.6k
    1) Universal (innate or inherent) if all neurotypical organisms of a particular type possess it. Human examples would include expressions of basic emotion (Plutchik, 1980) and morality (Brown, 1991). So, universal meaning is shared among a species by means of genetic predisposition (nature) rather than communication.Galuchat

    Could you put the first point above in statement form?

    Emotional expressions are not equivalent to meaning on my view, so I'm having a bit of trouble understanding how the first point amounts to something other saying "neurotypical" is synonymous with "universal".

    We all have emotional expressions. Emotional expressions are universal common denominators regarding all neurotypical humans.

    From there, I cannot see the connection to universal meaning.
  • creativesoul
    4.6k
    Anyway......you asked, I answered. Critique as you see fit.Mww

    Seems unnecessarily complex and inherently inadequate all at the same time.


    Some groundwork: All understanding, both pure from mere thought with no real object, or empirical from perception which requires real objects...Mww

    Doesn't pure understanding consist of thinking about our own thought/belief?
  • Terrapin Station
    7.8k
    We set up a computer system, including a camera/microphone and a robot arm, in a small room, so that there's also a tree, a totem poll and a bookcase in it.

    We type or say or show a picture we drew of a tree. The computer responds by pointing the robot arm at the tree.

    We type or say or show a picture we drew of a totem poll. The computer responds by pointing the robot arm at the totem poll.

    Is the computer "doing meaning"? In other words, does "tree" mean something to the computer?
  • Mww
    500


    We humans are equipped with only one cognitive system, whatever its description. When we examine that system, it appears we are thinking about our own thinking, which is technically true, but in actuality, we are just thinking. Instead of some arbitrary object to think about, we’ve chosen ourselves as the object. We think about ourselves in exactly the same way we think about everything else.

    Still, such thinking, this cognitive introspection, must remain speculative, for we have nothing in experience sufficient to falsify or sustain whatever theory we choose to describe it. But we know from experience a priori logic is sufficient for empirical truth, re: mathematics, so if we can construct a theory based on logical syllogisms or simply stand-alone subject/predicate propositional logic with respect to our thinking, even if it is not susceptible to empirical proof, it is susceptible to internal consistency and necessity, which are the criteria for logical truth.

    Such theory will be inherently complex if its conditions are irreducible, or if the hypotheticals require invention of its terminology. And like any theory, replaceable with a better, more satisfactory, or even simpler, theory. As soon as one comes along.............

    Anyway, bottom line: meaning resides in reason and reason resides in mankind. To say meaning resides in the object of its conveyance is a reduction too far.
  • Galuchat
    527
    Is the computer "doing meaning"? In other words, does "tree" mean something to the computer?Terrapin Station

    Your computer scenario is an example of identification, which involves remembering knowledge (semantic information), but it's not an example of predication (meaning production) per se.

    It could also be an example of human (programmer) predication under supervised machine learning conditions, or of artificial (computer) predication under unsupervised machine learning conditions.
  • Terrapin Station
    7.8k
    which involves remembering knowledge (semantic information)Galuchat

    I'm not sure exactly what "semantic information" would amount to. Presumably with "knowledge" you don't have "justified true belief" in mind?
  • creativesoul
    4.6k
    We humans are equipped with only one cognitive system, whatever its description.Mww

    Could you set it out, this system you speak of?
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