On the Meaningful Use of Words

Another 15 Minute Insight video, worked out with considerable angst, on how we use the word “meaning” and how we might use other words meaningfully.

Now, it is a widespread problem today, I believe—more widespread probably than any time in recent memory—that we human beings, especially in the Western world, take it for granted that we have knowledge of a great many things, or at the least, a knowledge sufficient for talking meaningfully about those things.  As one clear sign that this presumption is problematic, consider whether most people, perhaps including yourself, can articulate clearly the meaning of the word “meaning”.  No doubt, you and everyone else who uses the word possess some sense as to what it signifies; but…

I’d add to this: unmeaning use of words has a frightful commonality, today, particularly in the service of “causes”.  Think of the slogan “love is love”, chanted by protesters for same-sex marriage, or the sacred mantra of “bodily autonomy” for abortion advocates.  Questions as to the meanings of these phrases are never met with answers; at best, one gets plunged further into obscurity by referencing ultramodernist philosophies that disavow the necessity, structure, or worth of reason.

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