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Re: [xmca] Word Meaning and Concept

On 15 June 2011 01:40, Tony Whitson <twhitson@udel.edu> wrote:

> Messages in this thread that have appeared subsequently to the one from
> Andy that I'm responding to here have used "meaning" as a noun (it seems to
> me), thereby referring to meaning as something that is appropriately
> signified by a noun.
> Andy's post suggests using "meaning" as a verb (gerund or participle),
> which I think is much better. The meaning of a word is something the word
> does (actually or potentially), not something it contains, conveys, etc. A
> person's meaning (like a word's meaning) is also something that the person
> does -- just as their dancing is something that they do.

This appears to be more a question of labeling phenomena than disagreeing
about the phenomena per se.  Though that's hard to tell without agreeing on
the labels.

The 'doing' that you refer to is achieved by the person.  The word, sentence
or other phenomena doesn't do anything in this respect.

Meaning in the oxford dictionary is a noun, and its appearance in our emails
here is as a noun.  We can use "meaning" as a gerund, such as in "meaning is
something that all people do" (which is rather infrequent usage).  Though we
do not use it as a gerund in "the meaning I interpreted" (which is
frequently used) or "He meant this meaning not that meaning" as in "He wrote
this sentence not that sentence".

I'm not interested in turning over common usage of terms, this is what we
have technical terms for.  I can only suggest that you try a substitution
test, that clearly and unambiguously demarcates the term as a verb, to check
that you're using the term consistently.


> I am meaning this in the Peircean sense of meaning as sign-activity, or
> semiosis. Andy is suggesting a consistency with LSV.
> But is not the "this" that I mean, when I say "I am meaning this,"
> something that can be signified by the pronoun "this" (or the nominal
> phrase, "my meaning")? I would answer again that what I mean is like what I
> dance. We can treat my "dance" as a noun that names a thing, but it really
> is a nominalized term for the dancing -- for something that is not some
> "thing," but (rather) some doing -- for what is fundamentally an action or
> activity. (And dancing/dance seems to align well with acting
> (action)/activity.)
> We can still differentiate among valid, less valid, or completely deranged
> ways a word can _mean_, as it's interpreted in the ongoing semiosic
> generation of interpretants (Peirce), and such differentiations can be along
> the lines of hermeneutical, anthropological, or more juridical or "official"
> (as in David's Kangxi example) in/validity; but the array of actual or
> potential meaning(s) that a word can do are all within the potentiality of
> the word's meaning.
> I read David's post as not inconsistent with what I'm reading from Andy,
> except that instead of "meaning making," I would suggest "meaning doing," or
> the doing, not the making, of my meaning, or the meaning of a word.
> What is your thinking?
> On Mon, 13 Jun 2011, Andy Blunden wrote:
>  Mike, Vygotsky says in several places that the word is the sign for or
>> carrier of the concept. As I said earlier, in my reading word meaning is an
>> artefact mediated action, the word being the artefact and the meaning being
>> the action (both subjective and objective), invested with potential for
>> meaning-with by activity-with. A concept is in my humble opinion a cultural
>> unit or form of activity. So word meaning, once developed to the point of
>> concepts, is related to concept as an action is to an activity.
>> Andy
>> mike cole wrote:
>>> That is to compacted and complicated for me to be able to gloss to
>>> myself,
>>> David.
>>> I am struggling with the polysemy of both "meaning" and "concept" in this
>>> discussion to make sense of their relationship very well. Ditto sign and
>>> symbol, although Huw's
>>> note about signs and shadows nudged me along. I noted that Anton referred
>>> in
>>> a recent note to "tool and sign/symbol" and wondered what he meant, but
>>> was
>>> too preoccupied to ruminate.
>>> Here is a thought I had while ruminating. Might it be appropriate to say
>>> that meaning is a tool of human processes of concept formation ?
>>> mike
>>> PS- There was a fascinating segment on the American Evening TV Program,
>>> 60
>>> minutes, this evening.. A controversy about "The N word" , the banning of
>>> Huck Finn, and the success of a book which substitutes the word "slave"
>>> for
>>> the word "nigger." One proponent of the argument for using slave was
>>> teacher
>>> who is shown in class discussing "the n word", asking her class, "why do
>>> we
>>> say the N word instead of 'n-i-g-g-e-r' spelling it out?"
>>> Now THERE is an example of the power of the book!! At least I am not
>>> alone
>>> in my
>>> confusions about such matters.  :-))
>>> On Sat, Jun 11, 2011 at 8:17 PM, David Kellogg <vaughndogblack@yahoo.com
>>> >wrote:
>>>   This is Evald Ilyenkov, "The Concept of the Ideal', in "The Ideal in
>>>> Human
>>>> Activity", Pacifica, CA: MIA, p. 268:
>>>> "The meaning of the term 'ideal' in Marx and Hegel is the same, but the
>>>> concepts, i.e. the ways of understanding the 'same' meaning are
>>>> profoundly
>>>> different. After all the word 'concept' in dialectically interpreted
>>>> logic
>>>> is a synonym for understanding the essence of the' matter, the essence
>>>> of
>>>> phenomena which are only outlined by a given term; it is by no means a
>>>> synonym for 'the meaning of the term' which may be formally interpreted
>>>> as
>>>> the sum total of 'attributes' of the phenomena to which the term is
>>>> applied."
>>>> Ilyenkov then goes on to discuss Marx's cuckoo-like propensity "not to
>>>> change the historically formed 'meanings of terms'" but to propose very
>>>> different understandings thereof, and thus to change the very concept.
>>>> Three questions:
>>>> a)  In addition to the ONTOGENETIC argument against the equation of
>>>> meaning
>>>> and concept (viz. that if meaning were already equivalent to concept
>>>> then
>>>> meaning could not develop into a concept), can't we make a SOCIOGENETIC
>>>> one?
>>>> Doesn’t this sociogenetic argument explain both the cultural adaptation
>>>> of
>>>> concepts over time (e.g. “quantity” into “operator” in math, “grammar”
>>>> into
>>>> “discourse” in linguistics) and the cuckoo like exaptation of other
>>>> people’s
>>>> terms to express quite different concepts by Marx and by Vygotsky (e.g.
>>>> "egocentric", "pseudoconcept", etc.)?
>>>> b) Viewed sociogenetically, isn't this distinction between conceptual
>>>> essence and word meaning the same as the distinction between
>>>> signification
>>>> value and sense value? That is, from the point of view of Johnson's
>>>> dictionary (or the Kangxi dictionary, or the Port Royal grammar, or any
>>>> other state codification of meaning) the state-ratified meaning of words
>>>> is
>>>> their essence and the other, vernacular uses are simply senses, folk
>>>> values,
>>>> the range of phenomena to which hoi polloi apply the words?
>>>> b) Isn't the OPPOSITE true when we look at the matter microgenetically?
>>>> That is, from the point of view of interpersonal meaning making, the
>>>> essence
>>>> of the phenomenon to which I apply the term in the given instance is the
>>>> self-legitimated, auto-ratified, individually-approved sense value and
>>>> the
>>>> signification value is simply the range of conventional meanings, the
>>>> range
>>>> of conventional phenomena to which the word is applied and misapplied by
>>>> others?
>>>> David Kellogg
>>>> Seoul National University of Education
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>> --
>> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> *Andy Blunden*
>> Joint Editor MCA:
>> http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title~db=all~content=g932564744
>> Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
>> Book: http://www.brill.nl/default.aspx?partid=227&pid=34857
>> MIA: http://www.marxists.org
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> Tony Whitson
> UD School of Education
> NEWARK  DE  19716
> twhitson@udel.edu
> _______________________________
> "those who fail to reread
>  are obliged to read the same story everywhere"
>                  -- Roland Barthes, S/Z (1970)
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