The Meaning of Meaning

Meaning is a function of context – the framework of relationships between people, things and events that bear on a thing or event such that they are placed within this framework in a way that value is provided to the individual or individuals affected by them. And I am using “value” here in either a positive or negative sense, in that the meaning of something can be perceived in a beneficial and desirable light, or in a detrimental and less desirable light.

Only the individual can decide if there is value or not – this is entirely a subjective judgment –  if he or she doesn’t see it that way, the context of that action is devoid of meaning as far as that individual is concerned.  And so it might come to pass that there will be vast differences of opinion about some thing or event being meaningful or not.

All this goes to show is that value or meaning starts and ends with the individual; only they can bestow meaning to the context that they are involved with.  Does this mean that nothing could be intrinsically meaningful?  Since meaning or value isn’t some property of objects or events, e.g. colour, size or duration, they are devoid of meaning or value unless we can make that kind of determination.

Now the reason I want to talk about meaning here has to do with a number of references I have made earlier to “the larger context”, suggesting that there is a greater meaning to be discovered within our day to day existence.  Because  – as I have just shown – meaning is subjective, this larger context will be of our own making if we begin to maximize our human potential beyond being just another beast in the wild – a challenge no doubt but one well worth pursuing if we wish to redefine our relationship with reality on our own uniquely human terms and discover where this will take us.