Comments on “So how does meaningness work?”


I beg to differ. What is food

Ronyon's picture

I beg to differ. What is food? Roaches? Twinkies? Georgia mud?
What it means could be defeat, if one has an eating disorder, or a source of satiation or nothing at all, because you acquire and eat it with no significant thought or effort. As for what it means to others , that too is open to subjective meaning.
None of whic is to say that food could not be measure objectively, though the very definitions of food and measurement would have to be viewed subjectively.
I am looking for you arguments against meaning being subjective, and I am not seeing any thing convincing. Meaning without subjectivity seems like taste without tongues. You can measure the saltiness, sweetness, bitterness etc, but you cannot judge the tastiness,be cause determining tastyness requires a tongue attached to a mind, and any given mind might have an entirely different subjective view of said tastiness.
Even the affair had to be couched in terms specific to the individual, some people have affairs and think little of it, and in some social circumstances the same actions would not be an affair at all.
What could be more subjective than that?
I will keep looking, I hope to find a compelling case against existentialism,but I haven’t seen one here yet.

Not here yet

Hi, thanks for the comment. I haven’t written the analysis of existentialism yet. (This book is a work in progress.)

I don’t claim that there are no individual differences, nor that subjectivity is not an aspect of meaningness. Rather, that meaning is inherently interactional, so one has to consider both aspects of self and other—subjective and objective.

sociological definition of culture

One of the main definitions of culture used in sociology, at least as I learned it, is very very similar to how you’re defining meaningness: culture = shared patterns of meaning-making. When people start finding meaning in the same things, they’ve formed a culture. And they teach those meanings, and embed them in institutions, etc as the culture matures.

If you think it would be useful, I’d be happy to try to dig up some of the actual material in which these ideas are developed. It has been awhile :)


(p.s. enjoying the book + some of your other articles, thanks!)

the classic concept of "soul"

Mark Ducey's picture

You said "A meaning is neither subjective nor objective; it is not inside your mind, nor outside." That reminds me of Thomas Moore's book "Care of the Soul: A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life" He said that until 200 years ago the word was commonly known to describe the intersection of private self experience and the objective world. A reminent lives on older black soul music which expressed the individual suffering the singer and yet simultaneously the shared experience of every other person who grew up in the black ghetto and it's culture. I never finished the book so I don't know if this is merely a middle way thing but some other things he says seem to at least point toward agreement with your complete stance and vastness. some illustrative quotes: "If we can honor love as it presents itself, taking shapes and directions we would never have predicted or desired, then we are on the way toward discovering the lower levels of soul, where meaning and value reveal themselves slowly and paradoxically.” " ... When faith is soulful, it is always planted in the soil of wonder and questioning. It isn’t a defensive and anxious holding on to certain objects of belief, because doubt, as its shadow, can be brought into a faith that is fully mature. Imagine” "We think that when a lover inflates his loved one he is failing to acknowledge her flaws - "Love is blind." But it may be the other way around. Love allows a person to see the true angelic nature of another person, the halo, the aureole of divinity. Certainly from the perspective of ordinary life this is madness and illusion. But if we let loose our hold on our philosophies and psychologies of enlightenment and reason, we might learn to appreciate the perspective of eternity that enters life as madness, Plato's divine frenzy.” unpredictableness paradoxicalness divinity-ordinariness madness hmmm.. sounds promising to me.

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