The Role of Meaning in Human Thinking

S Marsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The creation of meaning to interpret and communicate perceived phenomena is a fundamental trait of human intelligence. This article explains some major ways in which this is achieved, focusing on language and the perception of embodiment. It examines the representational aspects of natural language, which account for the ambiguity of linguistic signs, and describes how these manifest in metaphor, connotation and emotive expression. The article argues that the human propensity to create meaning lies largely in this representational ambiguity, which underlies all forms of symbolism. However, the ambiguity of natural language has a paradoxical side, since it is also at fault in many shortcomings of human communication, such as misunderstanding and prejudicial stereotyping. This article argues that any attempt to emulate human ways of thinking, for example in Artificial Intelligence research, should take this paradoxical factor into account.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-58
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Evolution and Technology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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