What Do We Mean When We Talk about Meaning?
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Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Number of Pages: 216
Width: 16.4 cm
Height: 24 cm
A comprehensive journey through the history of "meaning," from antiquity to modern day. The word meaning appears often in our daily lives: religious leaders holding out the promise of meaning for their followers, self-help manuals seeking to demonstrate the power of meaning to enrich our lives, and most frequently people questioning the meaning of life. The word carries a multitude of connotations, from "purpose" to "value" and "essence" to "mysterious truth", but this diversity of understanding is rarely explored. In What Do We Mean When We Talk About Meaning?, Steven Cassedy tells the story of how a word that began by denoting "signifying" and "intending" came to acquire such a broad array of sub-definitions. The book begins with the early Christian thinkers who believed meaning could be "read" from the world as if it were holy scripture, then moves into the philosophers who adapted this notion and eventually the Romantic-era Germans that coined "the meaning of life," a phrase that later traveled to Great Britain, the United States, and Russia. The book also extends into the twentieth century, when "meaning" acquired its greatest power in the realms of religion, psychotherapy, and self-help, all of which helped it to accumulate the fluidity and ambiguity it still displays today.
Steven Cassedy's What Do We Mean When We Talk About Meaning? is the most theoretical...He goes back to basics in examining where and when this slippery concept first emerged. The result is a truly groundbreaking piece of scholarship (and I say that as someone who has read a lot of books on this subject) as Cassedy locates the rot starting wtih German romanticism and spreading under today's self-help industry. * Joe Humphreys, Irish Times * Fascinating...an erudite account of the origins of the many facets of meaning currently associated with the use of the term meaning in such expressions as 'the meaning of life.' * CHOICE * Overall, Cassedy displays an extraordinary breadth of acquaintance with numerous disciplines, from semantics to psychotherapy. * John Saxbee, Former Bishop of Lincoln, Church Times * Most people want to lead meaningful lives - but what does the word 'meaning' really mean? In What Do We Mean When We Talk About Meaning?, Steven Cassedy gives readers a fascinating history of 'meaning,' tracing how it transformed from an ordinary word in the Middle Ages into the existentially weighty concept it is today. This erudite book reminds us that meaning is a fluid and mysterious concept - but one that holds great power and promise. * Emily Esfahani Smith, Author of The Power of Meaning * A stimulating compound of wide-ranging intellectual history and striking linguistic erudition providing many new insights into its important subject. * Jerrold Seigel, Professor Emeritus, New York University * How did the words 'meaning' and 'life' become connected? Steven Cassedy's remarkable intellectual history provides the first comprehensive answer, by tracing the connection from the ancient world, to German Romanticism, to the Catholic Church's adoption of the language of 'meaning' in the 1960s. It's quite a story, very irreverently told, and once you know it you might not want a meaningful life anymore. * James Tartaglia, Professor of Metaphysical Philosophy, Keele University *