General Orientation

  • Marjorie B. Creelman


The search for the meaning of meaning has been pursued for hundreds of years by philosophers and theologians, but until recently only sporadic forays into this misty territory have been attempted by psychologists. It is understandable that this unmapped quagmire has been avoided, and that some hardy adventurers who set out to explore it bogged down. The difficulty of the problems can be appreciated by trying to talk about the meaning of meaning without using the word itself or one of its close synonyms. Yet, according to a standard word count,1 the word “mean” is one of the commonest words in the language, and the concept is so taken for granted that we never wonder if we know what we mean when we say, “I mean.” However, as Brodbeck (1963) pointed out, meaning is a term within science, and as such it must itself be given meaning. That this has not yet been accomplished is evident not only from the statements made by psychologists and philosophers, but also from the nature of the attempts to define the term in the psychologists’ experimental laboratories and from the theoretical controversies which have arisen from those attempts.


General Orientation Philosophical Writing Semantic Satiation Semantic Generalization Stoic Philosopher 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1966

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marjorie B. Creelman
    • 1
  1. 1.Behavioral and Clinical Studies CenterSaint Elizabeths HospitalUSA

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