Title

Meaning without Theory

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2011

Keywords

meaning, convention, rule-following, Quentin Skinner, contextualism

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

https://doi.org/10.1163/187226311X599853

Abstract

There is a core conflict between conventional ideas about “meaning” and the phenomenon of meaning and meaning change in history. Conventional accounts are either atemporal or appeal to something fixed that bestows meaning, such as a rule or a convention. This produces familiar problems over change. Notions of rule and convention are metaphors for something tacit. They are unhelpful in accounting for change: there are no rule-givers or convenings in history. Meanings are in flux, and are part of a web of belief and practical activity that is in constant change. We can perhaps salvage some point to appeals to fixed frameworks if we treat them as “as if ” constructions designed as crutches to enable us to improve on literal readings of the texts by making more sense of the inferential connections and practical significance of their content at the time.

Was this content written or created while at USF?

Yes

Citation / Publisher Attribution

Journal of the Philosophy of History, v. 5, issue 3, p. 352-369

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