First, we need to examine “meaning” itself, and expose a mistake, a very basic mistake, in how many people think about it. To say that some event means something without at least some implicit understanding of who it means something to is to express an incomplete idea, no different than sentence fragments declaring that “Went to the bank” or “Exploded.” Without first specifying a particular subject and/or object, the very idea of meaning is incoherent.
Nature is concrete reality, we presume, something more real than abstraction. But if nature is more real than abstraction, what use is abstraction? Perhaps it is the case that abstraction is more real than "nature". Perhaps abstraction can be used to extend what is effortlessly given to us. Perhaps abstraction can be employed to usefully transform what is now presented to us without effort as the object. Maybe we can perceive with our (collectively-expanded) imagination levels of reality that are hidden, not so much from our senses, as by our senses.
We think we live in the "objective" world, but we do not. The objective world is something that has been conjured up for us recently - absurdly recently, from the perspective of evolutionary biology - by the processes of science operating over a span of five centuries (or, perhaps, to give the Greeks their due, over the last thirty centuries). This does not mean that the objective world is not real, even though theories about its nature are in constant flux. What it does mean is that the environment of human beings might well be regarded as "spiritual," as well as "material."
Now if we give a closer look at reading, because it may be fundamental, about how the brain gives meaning to letters on a page has been fundamentally a mystery. Two new studies fill in some details on how the brains of proficient readers handle words. One of the studies, suggests that a visual-processing area of the brain recognizes common words as whole units. Another study, reveals that the brain operates two fast parallel systems for reading, linking visual recognition of words to speech.
Chaging the angle if we look at it from the traditional targets of scientific inquiry that are available to sensory analysis, localized in time and space, and simultaneously accessible to the individual experience of multiple observers (at least under carefully controlled conditions). Meaning, which can vary dramatically between observers, does not reveal itself in any such straightforward manner. It is therefore not clear that it can be addressed scientifically, even in principle. At least this is the classical argument. But what if meaning could be construed as a stable emergent consequence of the interaction of subjects, objects, elements or situations, conceived of from a more abstract point of reference than that commonly utilized?
"We work to maintain and extend the boundaries of the stories which regulate our social existence, our individual goals, and our emotions, and to extend the boundaries of the stories which we embody and represent abstractly. Such stories have an integrity, at least in principle, which enables them to "make sense" of our past and present and to structure those actions that take us into the future. Our stories are "true" to the extent that they allow us to utilize the wisdom we have generated in the course of our experience" - Says Jordan Peterson.
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