MEANING AND TRUTH: THE PROPOSITIONAL THEORY OF MEANING
Tue 3 January, 2023 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm GMT
One of the persistent problems in the Western philosophical tradition is to answer the question; can a proposition be meaningful if it is not true? This is reflected in our language. When we say an experience is meaningful we mean it is thrilling, vivid or authentic. When we complain life lacks meaning it’s as if, in some way, there is no longer reality in our lives.
If I said to someone “that was really meaningful, but false,” they would think me deranged, or flippant. To have found the meaning of life is seldom to have found it all to be false. Bossuet’s attack on Malebranche, Nova, pulchra, falsa, “new, beautiful and false” is ironically incongruous (ed. Riley, 1999, xxv). Yet if something false were not meaningful would we know it to be false?
A painted interior dome, such as the one at St Nicholas’ Church, Prague, made out to be real, is apprehended in wonder because it is meaningful, but it is not a real dome. As another example, is it meaningful to pray to a God you doubt?
Duncan McGibbon, BRLSI Convenor