2004 | 48 | 1 | 1-16
Article title

Meaning in communication and in human mind

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An analysis is given of the interrelationship of human mind and communication on the basis of the meaning as an psychological concept. Meaning in the mind expresses the context under which the mental life goes on. Cognitive processes include meanings as interpretations of mental representations. Emotions include meanings as appraisals of situations from the point of view of benefit or menace. Regulations of behaviour and activity include meanings within purposefulness of volitional processes. The significant nature of the mind as a whole was characterized by L. S. Vygotsky and later on by A. N. Leontiev as the interrelation of meaning and sense, by C. Osgood as connotative meanings, i.e. correlations between organismic states and signs, and by J. Bruner as the intentional states realized through participation in the systems of culture. Communication, especially the verbal one, contains generalized meanings. When analyzing the emergency of speech acts different authors show that the formulation of communicative message is preceded by intention, basic scheme of utterance, inner sense, deep layer, conceptual structure, or mental model. The common denominator of these different concepts is the generality of intended message before its formulation, i.e. the generality of relevant meanings. Already the triadic theory of sign by C. S. Peirce contributed to the clarification of the general nature of schemes or meanings. According to him every genuine triad involves the idea of 'every possible something', and therefore of generality. The general nature of the meaning is given by the generalized social experience contained in it. This experience is the part of the culture as the complex of learned and shared systems of meanings. The role of the group in the arising, functioning, and development of meanings was showed already by F. Bartlett. The meaning becomes according to him real when it becomes the convention of the group. The process of conventionalisation is connected with the taking over of the cultural element by one group from the other. The nature of the meaning as the generalized social experience is connected with at least the triadic (and multiple) communication. The group character of triadic (and multiple) communication enables the alternation of immediate participation in communicative process and of the side view, from the observer‘s standpoint. The communication interconnects thus through generalized meanings the significant nature of the mind with group and sociocultural processes.
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  • J.Janousek, Katedra psychologie Filosofické fakulty UK v Praze, Celená 20, 110 00 Praha 1, Czech Republic
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