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Re: [xmca] Word Meaning and Concept

Martin, You are right about everything (as usual). Tou are right about both (1) what's happeing in this thread, and how to proceed/not proceed.

That's why, despite my interest in the topic, I stayed out of this thread until I saw the post from Andy that I responded to by saying "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.

In Peirce, signs are irreducibly triadic sign relations being and doing in an order of being that in not reducible to Anthony Weiner's weights (qua physical things).

BTW, Peirce himself generally uses "meaning" as a noun. I think Peirce scholars would agree with my interpretation of the implications of his semiotics, though.

On Wed, 15 Jun 2011, Martin Packer wrote:


I don't disagree with any of what you have proposed in this message or the preceding ones. I think it's a very plausible account of sign use. And I think it is very helpful to introduce such an account. But there seem to me to be two threads here that are mingling, and it would be helpful to keep them distinct. I have been trying to figure out what 'word meaning' meant to Vygotsky. It seems to me we have to understand what he wrote (that it, achieve a coherent and consistent interpretation of his texts) before we can critique it. You and others, on the other hand, are proposing an account of meaning that you find convincing. Both of these are valuable enterprises, for sure. The confusion comes when a Peircean account of meaning, for instance, is attributed to Vygotsky. It is very clear to me that LSV viewed word-meaning as objective. I could turn out to be mistaken, of course. But if anyone here wants to offer a different interpretation of LSV's notion of word meaning, it needs to be based on textual evidence, not on plausibility. I have never said that I find LSV's treatment of word meaning to be plausible, because I've not yet fully figured it out! Perhaps we will eventually decide that his account of words and concepts doesn't make sense. But we shouldn't turn this process around and try to decide first what is a plausible account of concepts and words, and then attribute this to Vygotsky. I'm not saying that this is what you are doing, Tony. But somewhere in the gaps between messages this seems to me to be what has been happening.

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