Another random thought

Is meaning solely a human construct?


    1. Do things have inherent meaning? For example, do animals grow, reproduce and metabolize just because that’s the way it turned out – they just wouldn’t exist otherwise?
      So I guess the question is, is there any such thing as “natural meaning,” or would saying there is a such thing mean that you believe in the supernatural?
      It’s a weird question, but it ties into what people mean when they say what the “meaning of life” is. I would assume that religious people define meaning as something more universal than logical viewpoints that humans have.

      1. The word “meaning” is so ambiguous in the first place!
        A blade of grass would have the same definition even if no one was around to define it, although it wouldn’t have the purpose of providing nourishment if there were no rabbits to assume that’s what grass is for.
        I’m not sure life needs a meaning to be worthwhile. Assuming that a god exists, I don’t think It would need a reason to create all existence.

        1. Whoa, you and I used a grass analogy in the same discussion! (Look down.)
          And yeah, we give life meaning, not anything else. (I touched on that below as well.)

  1. Well, define meaning and you’ll have it made.
    mean1 Pronunciation verb, meant, mean·ing.
    –verb (used with object)
    1. to have in mind as one’s purpose or intention; intend: I meant to compliment you on your work.
    2. to intend for a particular purpose, destination, etc.: They were meant for each other.
    3. to intend to express or indicate: What do you mean by “liberal”?
    4. to have as its sense or signification; signify: The word “freedom” means many things to many people.
    5. to bring, cause, or produce as a result: This bonus means that we can take a trip to Florida.
    6. to have (certain intentions) toward a person: He didn’t mean you any harm.
    7. to have the value of; assume the importance of: Money means everything to them. She means the world to him.
    –verb (used without object)
    8. to be minded or disposed; have intentions: Beware, she means ill, despite her solicitous manner.
    9. mean well, to have good intentions; try to be kind or helpful: Her constant queries about your health must be tiresome, but I’m sure she means well.
    Meaning = intentions -> No, dogs can have intentions (I intended to liiiick you) and can then fail in those intentions and feel guilty (but I ate-d you)
    Meaning being something more than the objective? Well, animals have emotions – those emotions are likely meaningful to the animal, and emotions are more than objective – so nope, meaning is not a solely human concept.
    Unless you view that all this interpretation is constructed out of the meaning that I posses as a human, and that I am imbuing meaning onto these objects to which I say embody additional, objective examples of meaning.

    1. Yeah, the question does tie in to the consciousness of animals. I believe animals have a consciousness because they have a brain – human consciousness isn’t especially different in any fundamental way, we’d just say that it’s capable of more advance concepts.
      So yes, animals can assign value to things and actions as well.
      As I mentioned above, this ties into the “meaning of life” – does life have any specific meaning; does it benefit Earth or the universe in any way? Is there a reason why it’s here, etc.?
      To that, I’d have to say there is no meaning because there is no conscious entity assigning meaning to it, so yeah, meaning is a construct of conscious beings.

      1. Hmm, there’s no conscious entity assigning meaning to it from outside the system – but there’s no reason a system can’t have meaning to those who inhabit it. In fact, I would say that those who enhabit a system embue that system with far more meaning than something outside of it.
        Take ants in a colony, or citizens of a state. Meaning is largely determined by the sum of it’s parts.

          1. Yeah but you’re playing with the words in identical ways: the argument can (and is, here) be made that without a conscious being to comprehend it, it’s not there. If that’s the stance you wanna take, you’re on the fast track down a slippery slope of “Nothing exists unless I experience it”
            I’ve nothing else new to add to the topic, aside form throwing my lot in with the “definition” crowd

  2. The cop-out answer is that the meaning of “meaning” is necessarily a human construct, and so in whatever way we understand meaning it too must be one. But the less cop-out answer, I think, is that meaning in whatever way it’s construed involves the associating of things or concepts with other things or concepts. Concepts are always human constructs, and as far as I’m concerned, associations are just concepts in and of themselves, and nothing is inherently associated with anything else.
    so yes.

    1. Yeah, that’s a good way of saying it. I tried applying this to tangible objects in nature. I was thinking, why does grass grow in areas with water? The answer is obvious, but it’s not like the grass has some sort of “meaningful” association with the water. And it’s not like the elements that make up the grass or water have much of a “meaningful” association with themselves.

  3. Your livejournal is so emo these days. When (note the “When” not “If”) you come with me and Davyn to Gameworks this Thursday we will not have any of this philosophical mumbo jumbo interrupting our popping musics. 🙁

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