Thursday, March 4, 2021

Meaning and Meaning

 The conflation of the concepts of "reason" as an explanation and "reason" as a purpose has done much mischief in philosophy. Similarly with "meaning" as an interpretation and "meaning" as a purpose or intent.

If I am a hunter tracking prey, its spoor has meaning to me. I can interpret it, adding something to my store of knowledge that will help me track its path. But nothing purposed for that meaning to exist. If I speak to you meaningfully, though, there is a meaning that is purposed (mine) and a meaning that is only interpreted (yours). In this case, your interpretation hopefully adds something to your store of knowledge that will help you track my intention (purpose).

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