The Interpretations that Make Us


The Interpretations that Make Us

Reason is the natural order of truth, but imagination is the organ of meaning.

  • C.S. Lewis

DEEP DOWN inside, most of us are aware at least on some level that we’re missing big chunks of information about what’s going on in the world around us. Indeed, it’s hard to get through a day in this modern, info-glutted world, without being reminded of how much we can’t possibly know. We slip up. We overlook things. We miss clear signals. It’s literally impossible to know everything we need to know, on every level we need to know it. We may think we’re secure in our jobs. Or that we’re paying attention as we drive. But no matter how hard we try to stay in touch with what’s happening around us, there’s always a chance we’re missing something else. And we know it. That’s threatening. It’s intimidating. And it can be humbling. Nobody likes being “caught out” by their own ignorance, yet it happens all the time.

So, what do we do? What possible defense (or inoculation) can we have against the existential threat of perpetually never knowing enough?

We do the most human thing in the world. We turn to meaning – the significance we give to the ebb and flow of our lives in this confusing, overwhelming world. Meaning is hugely important to us, and according to Merriam-Webster, “mean” is one of the top 1% of words looked up at their website. We usually think of it in terms of significance or importance, direction or purpose. What something means is central is all about our. It leads our understanding down a certain path and lets us “design for . . . a specified purpose or future”.

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