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Thread: What is th meaning of life-unprecedented sentence structure

  1. #1 What is th meaning of life-unprecedented sentence structure 
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    Sep 2010
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    I'm after a very literal reading of the sentence "What is the meaning of life" so I hope that you can hold off thinking too deeply. I wonder if you could help me to explain the idea that:

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    The question "what is the meaning of life" has UNPRECEDENTED sentence structure, because it uses the word "meaning" outside of the contexts we usually apply it in. ================================================== ========

    The contexts (I can think of) in which we usually apply the word "meaning" are:

    1) when looking for the symbolism behind a thing, action or group of actions (e.g. What is the meaning of that smile, what is the meaning of this behaviour)

    2) when looking for the consensus on a word's definition. (eg what is the meaning of "ersatz")


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    That is, we apply the word "meaning" when we are referring to a thing/action or a group of things/actions. However , in the sentence "what is the meaning of life" we are applying the word "meaning" to something that is

    NOT SO MUCH a single thing/ action nor a single group of things/actions AS

    a " group of groups".

    We are basically asking "What is the meaning of this group of groups". The structure of the sentence is unprecedented. The question is too vague to be considered a valid sentence. Are there any other instances in which we apply the word "meaning" in this way?
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    In contrast, the other BIG questions like: does God exist, is there life after death - we can address more systematically maybe in part because - they are clear sentences.

    My goal here is to be able to rephrase the sentence "What is the meaning of life" into a clearer , simpler sentence that is in fact possible to begin to answer .

    * * *

    Obviously this project is doomed to failure but any comments from you would be very welcome....thanks for reading this far!


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