Sunday, December 20, 2020

Parts of a Simantic Word

Epistemic status: Provisional, may break something I've already written.

The way to look at simantism is that humans personally relate to thought- and experience-objects, called simantic words. That's the foundation of experience and thus of existence.

Everything, both thought- and experience-objects, can be experienced. That is how we know about them. So all objects have phenomena. Likewise, all objects have some kind of concept that tells us what they are, defining the boundaries of what they are. A concept gives a unity to phenomena. And each of us interprets each thing that we see. Because of us, because of each observer, the thing observed means what it does. Meant reality, reality that is meaningful, is what we actually experience.

A simantic word is a union of phenomena, concept, and meaning. How could all these things be one thing?

Step back and consider a more familiar entity, a physical object. If I go for a walk in my neighborhood on a breezy day, I can look up at a palm tree, the leaves of which are rustling in the breeze. I can see the leaves rustling, and hear them. I somehow know that the sound and sight belong to the same thing.

I have a direct knowledge that sight and sound go together. Similarly, I can have direct knowledge that the concept and meaning of a thing and its phenomena go together.

So consider the rustling palm leaves as a simantic word. When I look at it, I have a kind of feeling or inner map. The rustling leaves occupy a place in perhaps a hierarchy or web of inner relations. I might intuit things I could do with the palm leaves. I might feel myself to be in some kind of intuitive relation with the leaves. I might know the fact of what kind of palm tree this is -- a foreign one, often planted in my city for convenience. That knowledge of the fact is tacit, contained in the meaning, and at any moment can be the bridge to the explicit thought of the fact. These, and perhaps other things, constitute the meaning of the leaves. To an extent, the meaning depends on me, on who I am.

There are connections to what is unseen, in the meaning of the leaves. We see the leaves and connect to things that are not apparent.

Whatever it takes to define the word "leaves" or "rustling" or "palm" or "rustling palm leaves" or "tree" or "breeze" (and so on and so forth) is the concept, of leaves, rustling, palm, rustling palm leaves, tree, breeze and thus of the specific rustling branch that I see and hear.

Concept and meaning may not be clearly demarcated. Perhaps the concept is what the word means to (more or less) everyone, or what it ought to mean to everyone, while meaning is what the word means to me (or in your case, to you).

The concept is both a perception of connections and a real relationship in the world of ideas. And ideas really do connect to persons (which are the fundamental units of reality). But we do not always see the real relationship in the world of ideas and to persons. So we can be mistaken, though we see things with so much solidity. A simantic word can be untrustworthy, if its concept or meaning does not connect properly. But every simantic word is as it appears to us.

The concept defines a thing, bringing into a thing what is not visible. So, for instance, I will never really see you. I will see a representation of you, a subset of you, and my interpretation of you, your meaning to me. But the concept "you" entails you as you are in yourself. (You may not even see you as you are in yourself.) But when I say "you", I am referring to you, not to the representations I see. It's entailed in the concept, which I do participate in.

What if I see a mirage? Is it a pool of water? I might think so from a distance. Is there a "thing-in-itself" for a mirage? Certainly. But it's not a pool of water. I can be wrong about the concept of a simantic word. I see the appearance of the pool of water, and it either turns into something that can get me wet, or it turns into nothing, depending on whether all along it had been a pool of water or a mirage. The "thing-in-itself" of the pool is a pool. The "thing-in-itself" of the mirage is a mirage. But I really was seeing a pool of water, before it turned out it was a mirage.

A concept is itself something that has phenomena associated with it, and which has meaning to us. It is a simantic word within an overall simantic word. Or we can apprehend concepts by themselves, definitions without phenomena attached to them. The simantic view is that a thing is a thing if it has meaning. The thing has meaning. It has to be one thing to be meaningful. So it is with concepts.

I can see the rustling leaves if my eyes are open and they are nearby. By seeing them, I perceive their meaning. But I can also see the meaning of the leaves, or connect with the concept of that particular tree's leaves, through memory or imagination. It's possible to see only part of a word: to only hear it, only see it, only sense or see its meaning, only sense or see its concept. But it is all one thing.

A concept may say one thing: "I connect to a certain experience" and not deliver that experience. True concepts are trustworthy. God is the one who causes concepts to correspond with experiences. If I connect with you, it is because God speaks you to me, in accordance with my concept of you, your meaning to me. My concept, your meaning to me, adjusts to fit the experiences I have. So God trains me to find certain things meaningful in a certain way.

I could be wrong that any other human person exists. Certainly it's easy to see how a particular person we think we know can turn out to be a mirage, and not a pool of water. I think I live in an approximation of reality -- and it's all approximations, speakings, except for the existence of the one who speaks my approximation to me, and me, as I relate to him. On the deepest level of reality, we are each alone with God.

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