Symbols, Meanings, and Social Science
This chapter deals with meanings in the natural language. For an empirical study of meanings the problem is to determine and specify the meanings which men in any given context embody in a given symbol. The chapter explores the meaning of meaning as viewed by the social scientist studying symbols. Objective empirical studies of meaning can be conducted if social scientists will begin to collect data about the constellations in which symbols occur in ordinary speech. The Hoover Institute content analysis reveals that three constellations of other symbols appeared in modern editorials along with the symbol, democracy, not just the two already noted. These included symbols of freedom, and symbols of the masses, but also symbols of constitutional government. The technical problems involved in empirical studies of the values embedded in the flow of symbols in the natural language are great, but with the aid of precise analysis of linguistic constellations they are not insurmountable.