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versão On-line ISSN 2304-8557
versão impressa ISSN 0023-270X

Koers (Online) vol.76 no.4 Pretoria  2011


Understanding beyond language: perceiving meaning in reality


Begrip verby taal: gewaarwording van betekenis in die werklikheid



C.D. Scott

Department of Philosophy & Systematic Theology, College of Human Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria. E-mail:




This article is an attempt to develop a counter-argument to the contention that meaning is bound by language. Locating itself within the realist ontology of language developed by Saint Anselm of Canterbury, it will be argued that language comprises representations of entities perceived both extra to the perceiver and through introspection. Thus, a language game cannot be a closed system in the sense that by its very existence representations of extralinguistic being are contained therein. If truth is defined as that which is the case, the task of the perceiver becomes apprehension of being beheld without the cloud imposed by symbols: representations are not what they represent, instead they serve as windows onto a view of what is. Following exploration of psychological studies on contemplation, it is argued that it is in desymbolised moments of attentive awareness of being that meaning, unfiltered by the representativeness of language (and indeed, other symbolic systems), can arise. It will be proposed that in contemplative traditions, being is not reduced in perception, and the moment of meaning comes to the fore in the engagement and encounter with being.

Key concepts: epistemology, language, mysticism, philosophy, religion


Hierdie artikel is 'n poging om 'n teenargument te ontwikkel vir die standpunt dat betekenis ingeperk word deur taal. Deur die argument binne die werklikheidsontologie van Sint Anselmus van Canterbury te plaas, sal geargumenteer word dat taal representasies bevat van entiteite wat buite die waarnemer en ook deur introspeksie waargeneem word. 'n Taalspeletjie kan dus nie 'n geslote sisteem wees sodat deur sy blote bestaan representasies van buite-linguistiese syn daarin vervat is nie. Indien waarheid gedefinieer word as dit wat is, word die taak van die waarnemer bewuswording van syn sonder die wolk wat deur representasie opgelê word. Representasies of simbole is nie dit wat hulle voorstel nie; hulle dien eerder as vensters op dit wat is. In die lig van psigologiese studie oor nadenke word geargumenteer dat ongesimboliseerde oomblikke van aandagtige bewustheid van syn, betekenis na vore laat kom wat nie deur die representatiewe aard van taal (en inderdaad ook ander simboliese stelsels) gefiltreer is nie. Die stelling word gemaak dat in kontemplatiewe (nadenkende) tradisies die syn nie gereduseer word tot gewaarwording nie, en dat die oomblik van betekenis na vore kom in die betrokkenheid by en die ont-moeting met die syn.

Kernbegrippe: epistemologie, godsdiens, mistisisme, taal, wysbegeerte



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