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> What is the meaning of ‘meaning’?
coberst
post Apr 30, 2010, 05:18 AM
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What is the meaning of ‘meaning’?

A strange question in one sense but as fundamental a question as one needs to pursue in another sense.

I would say that meaning is an emotion that I recognize when the emotion engendered by an inducer are reflected back to me in the form of feelings.

I go to the theatre so that I can watch a movie while eating my pop-corn. A movie projector projects images on a screen for my entertainment.

When I empathesize with an object, human or otherwise, I am searching for the emotion of ‘meaning’. My effort at empathy may or may not be successful. I internally view an objectification of my emotion if that emotion is triggered, which comes to me as feeling, as those feelings are reflected to me by the object into which I empathesize.

“It is through feelings, which are inwardly directed and private, that emotions, which are outwardly directed and public, begin their impact on the mind; but the full and lasting impact of feelings requires consciousness, because only along with the advent of a sense of self do feelings become known to the individual having them.”

First, there is emotion, then comes feeling, then comes consciousness of feeling. There is no evidence that we are conscious of all our feelings, in fact evidence indicates that we are not conscious of all feelings.

What are the emotions? The primary emotions are happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise and disgust. The secondary or social emotions are such things as pride, jealousy, embarrassment, and guilt. Damasio considers the background emotions are well-being or malaise, and calm or tension. The label of emotion has also been attached to drives and motivations and to states of pain and pleasure.

I would add meaning to this list of emotions.

Antonio Damasio, Distinguished Professor and Head of the Department of Neurology at the University of Iowa College of Medicine, testifies in his book “The Feelings of What Happens” that the biological process of feelings begins with a ‘state of emotion’, which can be triggered unconsciously and is followed by ‘a state of feeling’, which can be presented nonconsciously; this nonconscious state can then become ‘a state of feeling made conscious’.

Human emotion and feeling pivot on consciousness; this fact has not been generally recognized prior to Damasio’s research. Emotion has probably evolved long before consciousness and surfaces in many of us when caused by inducers we often do not recognize consciously.

The powerful contrast between emotion and feeling is used by the author in his search for a comprehension of consciousness. It is a neurological fact, states the author, that when consciousness is suspended then emotion is likewise usually suspended. This observed human characteristic led Damasio to suspect that even though emotion and consciousness are different phenomenon that there must be an important connection between the two.

Damasio proposes “that the term feeling should be reserve for the private, mental experience of an emotion, while the term emotion should be used to designate the collection of responses, many of which are publicly observable.” This means that while we can observe our own private feelings we cannot observe these same feelings in others.

Empirical evidence indicates that we need not be conscious of emotional inducers nor can we control emotions willfully. We can, however, control the entertainment of an emotional inducer even though we cannot control the emotion induced.

I was raised as a Catholic and taught by the nuns that “impure thoughts” were a sin only if we “entertained’ bad thoughts after an inducer caused an emotion that we felt, i.e. God would not punish us for the first impure thought but He would punish us for dwelling upon the impure thought. If that is not sufficient verification of the theory derived from Damasio’s empirical evidence, what is?

In a typical emotion, parts of the brain sends forth messages to other parts of the body, some of these messages travel via the blood stream and some via the body’s nerve system. These neural and chemical messages results in a global change in the organism. The brain itself is just as radically changed. But, before the brain becomes conscious of this matter, before the emotion becomes known, two additional steps must occur. The first is feeling, i.e. an imaging of the bodily changes, followed by a ‘core consciousness’ to the entire set of phenomena. “Knowing an emotion—feeling a feeling—only occurs at this point.

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joshep.sheena03
post May 04, 2010, 10:15 PM
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Meaning is something which express what that word tell to us and one wishes to convey by language.By going through meaning we get outline of perticular word.
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coberst
post May 06, 2010, 01:24 AM
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What is the definition of the American flag?

It has thirteen horizontal stripes of alternating white and red color. It has a blue rectangle in the upper left corner with rows of stars for a total of fifty; the rectangle is blue and the stars are white.

What is the meaning of the American flag?

I suspect that if we received 100 statements trying to answer this question we would receive 100 different meanings for the American flag.

Does this tell us anything about the meaning of “meaning”?
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Cale-Construct33
post Jun 02, 2010, 01:49 PM
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Great question! When I hear, what is the meaning of 'meaning' I think of the term value. Meaning is derived from our emotions, or at least emotions are the mechanisms in which we internalize 'meaning.' Emotions are largely value-based constructs that manifest physiologically in reaction to an internal or external stimulus that is deemed to have some specific value to us as an organism. The term 'meaning' itself is a psychological concept that essentially describes the value something has in relation to our conceptual frame of reference.

In relation to Damasio's distinction between feelings and emotions, its as if 'value' is the internal representation of a feeling, and meaning is the outward representation in which we establish an events relationship to our external experiential reality, therefore giving meaning, 'meaning.'
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coberst
post Jun 03, 2010, 05:58 AM
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QUOTE(Cale-Construct33 @ Jun 02, 2010, 01:49 PM) *

Great question! When I hear, what is the meaning of 'meaning' I think of the term value. Meaning is derived from our emotions, or at least emotions are the mechanisms in which we internalize 'meaning.' Emotions are largely value-based constructs that manifest physiologically in reaction to an internal or external stimulus that is deemed to have some specific value to us as an organism. The term 'meaning' itself is a psychological concept that essentially describes the value something has in relation to our conceptual frame of reference.

In relation to Damasio's distinction between feelings and emotions, its as if 'value' is the internal representation of a feeling, and meaning is the outward representation in which we establish an events relationship to our external experiential reality, therefore giving meaning, 'meaning.'


I think that I agree except I have difficulty with your expression "meaning is the outward representation in which we establish an events relationship to our external experiential reality".
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Cale-Construct33
post Jun 03, 2010, 08:22 AM
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Ok let me try to clean that up a little better...the value of a stimulus is internal in the sense that it is emotionally-based, therefore physiological. However, that value is transformed into some kind of meaning as the emotion produced interacts with our psychological constructs that are largely built by the minds interactions with the external world which provide them with their foundation. Symbolically, the meanings we have in our minds would be 'meaningless' if their wasn't some 'thing' based in the external world in which our minds can create a mental representation of.
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coberst
post Jun 03, 2010, 11:06 AM
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QUOTE(Cale-Construct33 @ Jun 03, 2010, 08:22 AM) *

Ok let me try to clean that up a little better...the value of a stimulus is internal in the sense that it is emotionally-based, therefore physiological. However, that value is transformed into some kind of meaning as the emotion produced interacts with our psychological constructs that are largely built by the minds interactions with the external world which provide them with their foundation. Symbolically, the meanings we have in our minds would be 'meaningless' if their wasn't some 'thing' based in the external world in which our minds can create a mental representation of.


Can you give me a definition of the word value here? How does a stimulus have a value? Is the value emotionally based? I cannot understand what you are saying.
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Cale-Construct33
post Jun 05, 2010, 01:32 PM
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Value is perceived on an organismic level where we initially evaluate the significance of a stimuli through emotions via the nervous system arousal. Value is the base experience, which only begins to have some kind of meaning through our categorical emotional experience of a stimuli, which then acquires a more differentiated meaning as our emotive responses are further evaluated at a conceptual level, which is where our internal and external experiences interact to form our mental constructs which provides us with a 'global' meaning.

Value ---> Emotion ---> Constructs ---> Meaning
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maximus242
post Jun 06, 2010, 12:39 AM
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Meaning is basically symbolism. Meaning is what something represents. For example a red sign with white stop letters on it represents that you are supposed to stop your vehicle or else you could get a ticket and/or get in an accident.

Its really what you associate things with.
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coberst
post Jun 06, 2010, 03:27 AM
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Meaning and comprehension are like Siamese twins; you can’t have one without the other.

Comprehension is a hierarchy, resembling a pyramid, with awareness at the base followed by consciousness, succeeded by knowing, with understanding at the pinnacle.

Meaning is necessary for understanding while understanding is the creation of new meaning. Understanding is a work of art

I have for some time been interested in trying to understand what ‘understand’ means. I have reached the conclusion that ‘meaning then curiosity’ is the first steps toward understanding. Without meaning we are curious about nothing. Once curiosity is in place then knowledge becomes possible and necessary for understanding.

Often I discover that the person involved in organizing some action is a person who has had a personal experience leading her to this action. Some person who has a family member afflicted by a disease becomes very active in helping support research in that disease, for example.

I suspect our first experience with ‘understanding’ may be our first friendship. I think that this first friendship may be an example of what Carl Sagan meant by “Understanding is a kind of ecstasy”.

I also suspect that the boy who falls in love with automobiles and learns everything he can about repairing the junk car he bought has discovered ‘understanding’.

I suspect many people go their complete life and never have an intellectual experience that culminates in the “ecstasy of understanding”. How can this be true? I think that our educational system is designed primarily for filling heads with knowledge and hasn’t time to waste on ‘understanding’.

Understanding an intellectual matter must come in the adult years if it is to ever come to many of us. I think that it is very important for an adult to find something intellectual that will excite his or her curiosity and concern sufficiently so as to motivate the effort necessary to understand.

Understanding does not come easily but it can be “a kind of ecstasy”.

I think of understanding as being a creation of meaning by the thinker. As one attempts to understand something that person will construct through imagination a model--like a papier-mâché--of the meaning. Like an artist painting her understanding of something. As time goes by the model takes on what the person understands about that which is studied. The model is very subjective and you and I may study something for some time and we both have learned to understand it but if it were possible to project an image of our model they would be unidentifiable perhaps by the other. Knowledge has a universal quality but not understanding.

Understanding is a tipping point, when water becomes ice, it is like a gestalt perception it may never happen no matter how hard we try. The unconscious is a major worker for understanding. Understanding is that rare occasion when there develops a conflation of emotion and intellection.

I have concocted a metaphor set that might relay my comprehension of the difference between knowing and understanding.

Awareness--faces in a crowd.

Consciousness—smile, a handshake, and curiosity.

Knowledge—long talks sharing desires and ambitions.

Understanding—a best friend bringing constant April.

Understanding is a long step beyond knowing and most often knowing provides the results that technology demands. Technology, I think, does not want understanding because understanding is inefficient and generally not required. The natural scientists, with their paradigms, are puzzle solvers. Puzzles require ingenuity but seldom understanding.

I would say that understanding is the goal of intellection. To create meaningful knowledge one is advised to construct a sound foundation. The sound foundation for learning is derived from studying what the best minds in history can teach us.

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