chapter  3
48 Pages

Meaning and the Symbolic Processes

This chapter presents a systematic approach to the persistent and controversial problem of meaning. The problem is central to our concern with imaginal and verbal symbolic processes because these are inferentially linked to semantic attributes of nonverbal and verbal stimuli and responses. The problem involves empirical and theoretical considerations. Empirically, stimulus attributes constitute one class of defining operation by means of which imaginal and verbal processes might be differentiated. Theoretically, specification of the inferred relations between the stimulus attributes and the symbolic processes is an essential step toward a more general understanding of the functional significance of the latter. In effect, the operational-theoretical aspects of the approach to meaning are involved, sometimes along with other operations and theoretical assumptions, in the prediction of perception, learning, memory, and language. Accordingly, the present discussion of meaning will be restricted mainly to issues that are directly relevant to these later concerns, although in the course of the discussion we will touch on problems of more general significance.