MeaningPhilosophy

Truth and meaning..

Meaning is a difficult one. Rather than focusing on what a word means to one person or another, it is the concept or context of a word that actually construes meaning. This is because people can disagree on the casual meaning of a word.

A simple example of this is the word ‘lead’. It can mean to lead someone or something, a lead for a dog, or a metal. Of course, it depends largely on the rules of grammar and language as to how this is determined.

In conversation, this can be embarrassing, as one person’s meaning for a word may differ from another; there may be some confusion. Some people might think ‘pants’ mean underwear, others may use the word for trousers.

There is also the definitive meaning misunderstanding; the word ‘gangster’ may be threatening to someone who is socially situated away from this division, yet use as an accolade for someone who is placed within this division. This is a matter for the wider social context and the meaning construed is often dependant on the implicit understanding of how it affects others, and the morals and ethics of the varied situated concepts and contexts.

So who is ‘right’ and who is ‘wrong’? Which is the ‘true’ meaning? This depends on interpersonal context only. However, the context of the situation is not solely the context of the present, interpersonal relationship, but also the inner context and motivation of the people involved and the societal context, often implicit expressed in the positioning of the context.

Inevitably, power dynamics often influence the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ of meaning and this is when the party whose meaning is questioned may have to make a personal decision whether to surrender their integrity and defer, perhaps for the greater good, or to refuse and withdraw, for their own integrity.

So meaning is multi-dimensional and epistemological matter which, through various power dynamics and steering, becomes an ontology.

The question here is, what happens if the concept meaning of the person or concept deemed ‘wrong’ or ‘invalid’ was actually valid, yet the easier, more palatable, or the potentially damaging, meaning was accepted?