General Semantics Advanced Thinking
A System-Discipline Concerned with the Sanity of the Race & the Individual
On “Meaning”

by Milton Dawes

I saw one of those “Children say the darnedest things” program last night. A young child was asked “Do you think we should cut defense spending?

Response: No. I have a dog, and if you cut the fence, he would get out.

Another was asked: “Should we send arms to foreign countries?
Response. No.
Interviewer: “Why?
Response: Because I need mine.

A proposition: We give meanings to what we see, hear, touch, experience, smell, etc.
Challenge: Show that there is no truth to this.

Before humans came on the scene, there was no meaning in the human sense, to be found anywhere. We created the notion of meaning. Now typically human, we forget this, and have been asking ourselves questions about meanings, and the meaning of meaning for centuries. Will we ever come to our senses, and take responsibility for the meanings we give? In terms of “non-allness”, how can we say what anything means? To do that, wouldn’t we have to ignore, all the other factors, all the relationships, all the processes, etc., that we did not include in our meaning?

When will we realize that a great deal of our human discord, and poor relationships, are related to the factor that we each give our own meanings to what we experience? And that since none of us has the experience of everything, and live in different ‘spaces’ and different ‘times’, our individual meaning (verb) will of necessity be different?. And that when we are not aware that we give meanings, and firmly believe that meanings are out there, this establishes a source of conflict, which often leads to violence? How so? When I say with firm conviction “It means this”, and you say quite firmly, “NO. It means that”. Where do we go from there? How could you the reader, demonstrate to someone, what anything means? And how could anyone demonstrate to you what anything means. What variables would you consider as satisfactory criteria for demonstrating a meaning? And how would you present this in a way that all interested parties will accept?. ( I write “will” since the criteria might not be accepted when new information comes along tomorrow, next week , next year……)

I ask this: Aren’t we better off ‘thinking’ in terms of associations, connectedness, relationships, structure, etc., than ‘thinking’ in terms of meanings? What meanings do you give to what you have read above. Do you ‘think’ that’s all I meant? Can you be absolutely sure “That’s what I meant?” And if you believe that I communicated a meaning in these words, where would you point to it?

If the above ‘sounds’ strident, Please note, you could be right according to your criteria of “strident” – but I don’t know what you mean by “strident”. And that isn’t my intention.

2 Comments to “On “Meaning””

  1. Milton Dawes says:

    Thanks. Will do.


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