Excerpt: ... Meaning is central As in our discussion of judgment we were making more explicit what is involved in inference, so in the discussion of meaning we are only recurring to the central function of all reflection. For one thing to mean, signify, betoken, indicate, or point to, another we saw at the outset to be the essential mark of thinking (see p. 8). To find out what facts, just as they stand, mean, is the object of all discovery; to find out what facts will carry out, substantiate, support a given meaning, is the object of all testing. When an inference reaches a satisfactory conclusion, we attain a goal of meaning. The act of judging involves both the growth and the application of meanings. In short, in this chapter we are not introducing a new topic; we are only coming to closer quarters with what hitherto has been constantly assumed. In the first section, we shall consider the equivalence of meaning and understanding, and the two types of understanding, direct and indirect. I. Meaning and Understanding To understand is to grasp meaning If a person comes suddenly into your room and calls out "Paper," various alternatives are possible. If you do not understand the English language, there is simply a noise which may or may not act as a physical stimulus Pg 117 and irritant. But the noise is not an intellectual object; it does not have intellectual value. (Compare above, p. 15.) To say that you do not understand it and that it has no meaning are equivalents. If the cry is the usual accompaniment of the delivery of the morning paper, the sound will have meaning, intellectual content; you will understand it. Or if you are eagerly awaiting the receipt of some important document, you may assume that the cry means an announcement of its arrival. If (in the third place) you understand the English language, but no context suggests itself from your habits and expectations, the word has meaning, but not the whole event. You are then perplexed and incited to...
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