The most fundamental of concepts is to let one thing stand for another thing. A pebble signifies a sheep ... and so a shepherd keeps track of the flock without counting. A sound represents an idea ... and so one human shares information with another. A pattern of ink on paper denotes a sound ... and so people record events and retrieve data. A name labels a person ... and so we remember individuals.

Issues of meaning come from the use of symbols. Worry about meaning in turn leads to the root question of life --- the "Why?" that we wrestle with when it's quiet and we're alone late at night, when death stares us in the face, when we can't avoid serious thought by the distractions of work and play. What's the point of existence? Is all this just meaningless symbol manipulation? How can mind emerge from mere matter? Is there more to the universe, and if so, what is it?

Sunday, November 07, 1999 at 18:23:39 (EST) = 1999-11-07


(correlates: StirTheStonesToSong, DangerousSelves, Comments on OverQualified, ...)