Meaning in Human Ecology

Philip J. Stewart
2017 Human Ecology Review  
No one would describe the elephant without its trunk nor the kangaroo without its jump, yet much of what passes for scientific description of our species ignores its most striking feature-an extraordinary capacity for finding and making patterns. Of special importance is the peculiar pattern of relationships between patterns that is called meaning. The word "meaning" is commonly thought of as referring in its strict sense only to language; expressions like "the meaning of a certain smile" or,
more » ... ertain smile" or, still more, "the meaning of your life" are regarded as metaphor. However, linguistic meaning is only a special case; more generally, meaning can be defined as the association in a nervous system of certain patterns (signs) with others that they call up (referents). However, this definition seems to cover the whole of mental life, for the whole content of our minds is made up of the association of patterns. More precision is needed. This text is taken from
doi:10.22459/her.23.02.2017.13 fatcat:cswj2kec5zbgne7y5fkwfz2x3e