How meaning has lost its meaning.

Think of semantic meaning in terms of space. Say meaning has a spatial plane of allocation; words and symbols of any and all meaning possess “real estate” and “acreage”, if you will, in this spatial expanse.

Now, in archaic times, this spatial field of meaning was thought to be finite, only capable of being filled with the most important systems of symbolism and iconography. This could be thought of as when “reality” was actually “real”. Today, however we now know this field to be infinite in its expanses, a place into which any word or pictogram can invest cheaply.

Imagine that in terms of economics; real estate relies on the finitude of land; if land where suddenly infinitely available to everybody, it would lose its market value entirely; the market would be flooded. No amount of demand can redeem the value of an infinite supply. So in our semantic spatial field, a limitless plane as it is, renders itself meaningless. Meaning in and of itself therefore become meaningless. In a way, our value “market” has been flooded.

I do think the power of words has diminished. I don’t mean in comparison to centuries ago, I mean since thousands of years ago; that’s how long it’s taken for meaning to decay into what it is now. Imagine, for archaic man, speaking a certain line of words were in themselves magical enough to incite a plethora of supernatural phenomena. Many cultures idealized the notion that all physical objects harbor “true names”, which, if found out by an individual, could be manipulated howsoever that individual willed.

No doubt, words still convey the meanings they’ve always been meant to today, there’s no denying their ability in doing that job. However, what I mean by spatial field of semantics being “bankrupted” is that all meaning in itself, while still retaining its limitations and, thus, its capacity to forwardly communicate content on an individual basis, the overarching holistic worth of all meaning in the superstructure is void.

Let’s try to think of all meaning and value as being comprised of little units, let’s call them “cells” considering that cells are finite pockets of demarcation capable of being “filled” with all sorts of miscellaneous content. These cells each withhold all sorts of quantitative and qualitative units of meaning; e.g., the value of a dollar, the value of 359, the meaning of “dog”, the meaning of a stop sign, etc. Now, if we were to think of these cells collectively, all comprising a certain amount of space, and try to squeeze all of the cells into one, single “mega-cell”, we find ourselves in a predicament.

The lack of a) finitude and b) contrast with other forms of finitude means that the entirety of “meaning” loses its meaning. There is no means by which to quantify or qualify “meaning”, no means by which to shove it into its own cell. That isn’t to say that the cells of lesser magnitude, the ones that “meaning” is collectively created by, can’t in themselves still convey, connotate, or communicate their original meanings; it just means that in a greater context of thought, the solidity of partition to which these lesser cells are defined by fades into abysmal confusion as you attempt to think in higher contexts.

So the questions are:
a) What can be done to fix this?
b) If the answer to the above question is nothing, what will all this result in?

a) I do not believe that it needs to be “fixed”. It already is fixed.

b) The result in doing nothing is to further compact the ‘cells’ by reconstruction. In other words, even though the cells are hollow, it becomes exponentially useful to fill them with meaning. So that is precisely what happens. More meaning gets crammed into literally nothing. But the cell still subsists itself, which is why it is useful to begin with. In this sense, the “stop sign” cell becomes more and more apparent to the people, or, the larger entity that depends on the cell to live (i.e. the human animal). Thus, the stop sign-itself becomes more and more actual, which means to say that the “stop sign” cell conveys a purpose to stop when you approach an intersection.

It never had any to begin with.

I think I have a problem with this description of the meaning. I’d say words don’t really have meaning in and by themself, but only meaning when they are being used in a context. When meaning is viewed this way I think it doesn’t make sense to speak of spacial allocation of meaning, even metaphoricly. Because this seems to assume the relation between the meaning of words is somehow fixed outside and exists before their use in a context.

So, in short, I don’t see the problem. But maybe I’m missing something…

I think you are stating your personal feeling/impression as a real estate bubble analogy.

I think it has been meaningless in terms of (absolute) “finitude” or relation to something sought to be absolute absolutely fixed and reliable).

Maybe you are thinking that it was easier, before, but there were already many interpretations and different perspectives.
It happened in India, China and probably in Greek, Egypt or other places, too.

No absolute mean (which you probably desire). But nearly infinite arbitrary means that will render relative and usable meanings to those who share the method/perspective…

When you have narrow view, small thing may appear to be the whole.
And it may seem to be sold fixed absolute.
When you can pull the focus out a bit, the thing will appear smaller and smaller, less solid and insignificant.
And you may cry for the loss of wholesome impression.

I guess what you want is the absolute fixture. The anchor you can depend, rely upon.
And there is no logically correct fix.
Some fix it with a lie, using whatever usable as (fake) absolute.
For some, it’s God or ecological value or humanitarian things.
For others. it;s science or art or whatever.
Creating an artificial impression of absolute to console the loss of juvenile dream is so common among adults.

Although Emptiness is the absolute, you can’t use it as an anchor.
But you can drop into, get get lost and afloat, somehow.
When the perspective flips (from facing Emptiness from this world to facing world from Emptiness), it’s not that bad.
It still requires adaptation, though.

Nothing really changes.
Same meaningless life. The preferences of self and sometime others would provide the (temporary) perspectives to live and interact in the world.

Doesn’t the problem arise from the spatial metaphor, in a sense, when, as has been pointed out already, language is not (purely) spatial? Granted, you are clearly only positing a model, and it is an interesting one, but I think it is important to recognise that the landscape is filled as history progresses - the growth of potential meanings and linguistic contexts is inexorable through “time”.

The only way to overcome this difficulty would be through a “destruction” of pre-existing linguistic systems, either in favour of starting from scratch, which would just lead us back to the same place again in another few thousand years, or in favour of a universal meta-language, which would require a broad technological advance of enormous complexity.

I’m not sure, personally, that I see this “loss of meaning” as a “problem” per se.

I think that part of the problem is that meaning is infinite and has a galaxy of perspectives.
In the use of words alone, one word can be mundane to one person, almost completely meaningless to another. To another person, that same word can have a numinous meaning. Like the word “sunset” to some it conjures up nothing but a banal going down of the sun; to others, it is filled with color, luminosity and is breathtaking.

Meaning is “in the eye of the beholder”, just as beauty is. I hear the word olives and I go yukky but i hear Resse’s peanut butter cups and that meaning takes hold in my mouth. We also have a problem I think when it comes to speaking with others. We do not bring ourselves down to someone’s literate level and therefore what we may speak is meaningless to them or not understand at all. We use words that have meaning for us and not for those we are speaking with. To bring ourselves down to someone’s level is humility, not arrogance. If I want to show someone how I feel when I hear slow jazz, it has no meaning to them. But if I tell it’s the same as how they feel when they hear rap or heavy metal, they understand.

The part meaning plays in our lives has much to do with the workings in our brain, the way we perceive sensations and interpret them. It is actually a great mystery to me and wondrous, on the other hand, how meaning plays out in our lives.

I don’t think meaning is infinite - i think it is in short supply - symbolism is infinite, but it’s expansion is characterized largely by redundancy - it’s not the number of things meant that are infinite - but rather the currency by which we express those things (sounds, images, etc)

We are finite creatures with very concrete cognitive limitiations - for anything to have meaning that meaning must also be finite

There is a reason why most discussions of philosophical problems eventually dissolve into semantic arguments over the best way to TALK ABOUT the problem, while the problem itself remains unsolved. All the basic philosophical questions remain unanswered, their meaning yet to be uncovered: How can we know? Why is there something instead of nothing? What should we do? Etc…

A signifier can mean whatever we want it to, but that doesn’t mean that meaning is infinite, only that the capacity of any given signifier to carry particular meanings is infinite. There’s a difference, i think. If meaning has become devalued over time, it’s because of the proliferation of words and statements which express the same basic things, but not because of an endless supply of things being expressed.

Nicely put, and I agree with most of what you said. But if there’s a devaluation of meaning, I don’t think that a proliferation of words is to blame. If anything a very economic way of saying things seems to be commonplace today, leaving a lot of the inherited symbols and expressions not very usable. Maybe the expression of meaning has lost some of it’s dept and nuance this way.

Meaning 1 = interpretation of a value
Meaning 2 = value

Restated:
“How interpretation of a value has lost it’s value”

Meaning is not inflation-based.

In a market, regardless who holds the it represents the same value in that market, and in other markets through an exchange.

However, interpretation of a value, as a natural observation, carries different value per carrier of the interpretation of a value.

So because there is a different value(2) held to any given meaning (1), then meaning (1) can not be said to have lost it’s meaning (2) except for to an individual.

I think part of the reason meaning has lost its meaning is because we choose to only look for it in certain places instead of seeing it everywhere we go, everywhere we are.

We look for it there…when it is also here.

I dont think you have to equate value and meaning. Meaning is related more to knowing. Knowing or believing is what makes something meaningful but Being has more value than knowing.

That’s exactly what I was trying to say.

Everyone, forgive my absence from my own thread; as of late I’ve been sick. This is like the third cold I’ve gotten this winter.

What I was basically trying to convey with my metaphor was that all of meaning, in itself, is limitless; any word can withhold any amount or quality of meaning. Meaning’s meaning can’t be meaningful. It’s just like my friend quoted from Friedrich Hayek, his favorite philosopher, “If to have meaning is to have a place within an order, then that order cannot meaningfully be said to have a place within itself.”

First off, nice moniker. Secondly, I think this is a great testament to why this is a problem. I see this spiraling down into semantic quarreling quite often in arguments of philosophy and yet it rarely eever seems to be addressed.

But why is the normative value so ubiquitous throughout different markets? Because they,the markets, all agree to it. That in itself can be said to be the definition of “truth”: what everyone, or just about everyone, agrees as being “true”. I what is commonly held as “true” shifts, it is because the proclivities of a minority of individuals agree to it. From there, “truth” changes as people change.

Thus, using this example in the light of the marker-metaphor, if such “meaninglessness”, instead of truth, amongst individuals runs rampant throughout the entire “market”, then the value of “meaning” does become inflated. Why else do you think so many economists pry at the nuances of motivational psychology? A market starts at the individual.

Let’s distinguish “meaning” from “sense”. The “sense” of a word or symbol is it’s relation to the rest of the lexicon of words and symbols - a dictionary definition, perhaps - whereas, “meaning” is more specifically what a word is intended to convey in a given context, so sense can be generic, but meaning less so. I take it you’re saying that the realm of “sense” is infinite - i tend to agree.

Thanks. Nice avatar.

Well, in one way, yes. But at the same time, it’s by arguing about the best way to talk about things (talking about in which “sense” to most effectively discuss what we mean) that we open up new avenues of inquiry along the horizons of the known and expand the realm of order in which meaning must have a place in order to have meaning. It’s a fine line to walk between philosophy and the arbitrary imposition of “sense” onto “meaning” - all too often, we end up just attaching extraneous sense to the same old meaning (that’s when the semantic quarrels begin), but occasionally, we actually uncover some new meaning which has yet to be made sense of - and that’s what makes philosophy a valuable tool, not only in and of itself, but also for science, religion and all those other realms of pre-fab symbolic sense and order.

or something.

The more I re-read this, the more I just see you stating the same thing that I just said but in a different way.

You just gave meaning(2) to the individual meaning(1).

Anything that carries any form of meaning, inherently carries with it some fashion of value.

What the OP is stating is this:

A condition by which meaning of any given meaning has lost definite meaning, therefore all meaning has lost any meaning.

What this just said, however, is significance of any given idea of a thing has lost definite definition, therefore all significance has lost any value.

I am stating that this isn’t true because a value is held by an individual of a given idea of a thing, so there is some form of significance left, regardless how small the model may be presented.

Words only have meaning by means of association.
Words are empty and are only as good as the people which use them, just like a painting is only as good as the artist which paints it. If words loose meaning then that will be because human life, on average, has lost its value.

That’s no surprise - the market is just as flooded with human life as it is with words.

Let’s lay out some premises here. Let’s, for the sake of this thread–and within its context exclusively–, make some vocabulary words we can all agree on.

Let’s say:

val-ue -noun: 1. relative worth, merit, or importance 2. the worth of something in terms of the amount of other things for which it can be exchanged or in terms of some medium of exchange

Thus, it can be concluded from such a definition that “value” makes a much more quantitative insinuation; e.g., dollars, inches, decibels.

So let’s also say:

mean-ing -noun: 1. what is intended to be, or actually is, expressed or indicated; signification; import 2. the end, purpose, or significance of something

Under this definition, “meaning” connotes an almost teleological and even qualitative sensibility, if you will. This is much more akin to uglypeoplefucking’s distinction of “sense”.

To contrast the two concepts above even more–drawing a more dualistic, dichotomous picture–you could cleavage the two by saying that “value” is more socially oriented, reliant on market-rates and currencies as its primary, and sometimes sole, form of expression, while “meaning” seems relative and, in truth, relevant only to the individual.

“Value” hasn’t been lost. It’s nearly impossible because “value” is practically objective and measurable. 3 sticks = 3 sticks, no matter where in the world you are. Such a notion is pretty absolute.

“Meaning”, however, has lost its footing. Where it once incited from within us phenomenological and even emotional responses toward “values”, it has dimmed over time.

Solipsism, much? From what I hear, you’re rendering all of existence into subjective, idealistic, phenomenological “meaning” (as defined above), which, being immune from the measurements and numbers that “value” is so often subjected to, can neither be defined nor considered indefinable. I’m fairly certain I’m misinterpreting you; can you please elaborate on your point?

Also, I suppose another question to be asked is whether “meaning” has lost its “meaning”, if “meaning” has lost its “value”, or if “value” has lost its “meaning”.