What Does It All Mean?
Human beings can´t help but ask the big philosophical questions, even if they know that the answers will come up short.
I take as my title a question that outlines the modest theme I will pursue: the nature of meaning itself. Like many philosophers, I am fond of titles that are questions--or, at least, of titles that end with question marks, which is not always the same thing. A colleague of mine was once advised that everything in his book called The End of Metaphysics could be rendered true, or anyway less false, if he added a question mark to the end of it. The end of metaphysics? Could be, could be. Indeed, why not? But we have to be careful with those face-saving question marks, because they can look like a failure of nerve--the functional equivalent of a scholarly book´s subtitle, which, broken over the crisis of faith symbolized by the two-story full stop of a colon, tempers the enthusiasm of a bold, snappy title with some dull, informative, backpedaling phrase. You know the kind of thing I mean. Title: A Civil Tongue. Subtitle: Justice, Dialogue, and the Politics of Pluralism. (That one is mine.)
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