The aesthetics of meaning
Chapter 5 addresses the paradox of cultural communication raised in the previous chapter. The discussion starts with an examination of the ideas of Frege, Wittgenstein and other philosophers to show how they dealt with the question of ‘meaning’ in their work. In order to resolve the paradox of communication, it becomes obvious that the traditional definition of meaning needs to be abandoned. Meaning is the fruit of a subject–object relationship, therefore by definition meaning is always private, this raises the ‘The Never Shared Meaning Paradox,’ if we do not share meaning then how do we communicate? It is suggested that communication takes place across the ‘gap’ at moments of formal equivalence in a work. The precision and balance of aesthetic judgement therefore assumes a position of primary importance, because that is what facilitates cultural communication. If the resolution of that paradox represents a genuinely fresh perspective on meaning, then this will be the major contribution of the book. This new view of meaning and cultural communication leads to a clear understanding of what can and cannot be said in cultural criticism, suggesting that a reassessment of hermeneutics or any other attempt at meaningful ‘interpretation’ may be necessary.