Brabsher on Meaning Finitism

December 14, 2007

As I interpret Heidegger, things stand in unambiguous relations to one another and goals.  Using Ted’s concept of the signifying chain, it seems that the chains indicate actions as the only thing it makes sense to do somewhere.  Or that there is a clear line between it making sense to do one thing rather than another.  The bedroom as a site of activity may indicate a multitude of actions but these chains aren’t intermingled and confused.  They are definite and already in place.  I think Wittgenstein, on the other hand, allows for the development of new meanings within such sites and for the fact of ambiguity and polysemic relations.  I think there is a clear comparison here between W and Gadamer.  In Truth and Method Gadamer comes awfully close to saying that meaning is use in the section on application.  But, the implication of this is that there is no rule or universal standing over language governing it.  It develops in the very process of being used.  This is “meaning finitism.”  So ultimately, my contention is that we have overlapping, but often different background understandings of the situations we share (of course we only share them insofar as our understandings overlap to some degree).  Again I see W and Gadamer as very close here.