Volume 22, Issue 1, 2022
Identity of Dynamic Meanings
Inferentialism has brought important insights into the nature of meanings. It breaks with the representationalist tradition that sees meanings as constituted primarily by representing some extra-linguistic reality. Yet the break with tradition should be pursued further. Inferentialists still regard meanings as static, and they still do not entirely abandon the idea of fully determined meaning. Following Davidon’s ideas about meanings as constituted only in the course of a specific conversation, I propose a dynamic account of what meanings are. They are described as entities belonging to the dynamic realm of Henri Bergson’s duration. The inhabitants of this realm live in constant movement and development which is more essential to them than the stages that this development goes through. My account brings about a rejection of the notion of strict literal meaning and therewith also of the contrasting notions such as ambiguity. Meaning is understood as a dynamic entity that is characterized rather by its history than by its nature.