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Meaning - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Meaning. What is meaning?. Tough question Perceived relations and substance of experience Signification/Representation Conveyed understanding (usually through communication ). In essence, we want to make sense of the world, to understand it. But how do we do that?

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What is meaning
What is meaning?

  • Tough question

    • Perceived relations and substance of experience

    • Signification/Representation

    • Conveyed understanding (usually through communication)

In essence we want to make sense of the world to understand it
In essence, we want to make sense of the world, to understand it

  • But how do we do that?

  • First, think of small children

    • How do they act? What do they do to learn about their environment?

  • As they grow, what changes? How do they continue to try to make sense of their world?

So what happens to grown people
So what happens to grown people? understand it

  • When faced with a new idea, message, experience, etc. how does an adult try to make sense of it?

  • We must first evaluate the new information based on our stored memories. Only through comparison to other concepts, beliefs, etc. can we begin to make sense of our new experience.

Stored memories
Stored memories understand it

  • Memories are stored systematically, with certain concepts, memories, ideas, etc. connected to each other

  • When we are exposed to new content, we activate memories that are somehow related to the new content

    • We also tend to activate memories that are stored in ways that indicate a relationship to the concepts we recognize in the new information

A schematic view
A schematic view understand it

Hit by car

Each person s schema is unique
Each person’s ‘schema’ is unique understand it

  • Because we all have a different set of experiences, people we know, etc. we also have a unique set of associations for whatever new content we experience

  • As a result, we will also generate unique ‘meaning’ when we relate our existing memories to new content

Lady gaga s bad romance
Lady understand itGaga’s“Bad Romance”


Activation understand it

  • In addition to individual variation, the same content will activate different parts of the schema at different times or when embedded in different context

Varied reactions to identical content
Varied reactions to identical content understand it

  • Some will find content they see to be funny while others exposed to the same content will take a different set of meanings from it and may see it as tragic, distasteful, etc.

But wait a minute
But wait a minute: understand it

  • If we all took completely unique meaning from the same content, we couldn’t communicate with each other

    • There would be no way to convey meaning from one person to another at all

  • So, a crucial part of socialization is to learn the dominant meanings conveyed through the varied forms of communication

    • Especially, we must learn the language and what the arbitrary symbols it uses are meant to represent

Learning the socially agreed upon meanings
Learning the socially agreed-upon meanings understand it

  • Children learn language at a very early age through copying those around them

  • Sign language comes before oral language comes before written

    • Increasingly conceptual in nature

  • Visual language—an understanding of the conventions of television and film, for instance, develops gradually so that by age 6 most children understand how narratives are put together, the difference between commercials and ‘content,’ etc.

Sign systems
Sign systems understand it

  • Sign systems are means by which ideas can be represented without the necessity of the object of the idea being present

    • Abstract v. iconic

  • They are necessary for conceptual thinking

  • Education, exposure to language, popular culture all increase the exposure to and mastery of sign systems

  • Movement toward a ‘visual culture’ may have an effect on the conceptual capabilities of humans