Conceptualisation, Embodiment and the Origins of Meaning

  • Randal Holme


Recalling a problem voiced by Socrates, philosophy has given the name ‘Meno’s problem’ to the question of how we come to translate reality into thought. Socrates wondered how an ignorant shepherd boy could manipulate objects as if he were aware of their geometric properties. The larger question was how we come to know anything when we do not already know it. The problem rests in the perception that there is a subjective ‘I’, or person, looking out on the world, and an objective ‘it’ which is being looked at. Because the world and its observer are effectively separate, it is impossible for the subjective, thinking being ever to know the objective world without making it part of their thoughts. As soon as the world does become part of our thoughts, however, the objective form is made subjective. Therefore we can never really get to know what is out in the world, because all meanings are products of the subjective mind. We might conclude then that it was meaningless to talk of an objective reality because we could never cognitively manipulate it. But this view leads to a logical nonsense where, because reality would be constructed by the subjective mind, it would always be fashioned by the whims of the thinker — and we could never be contradicted by circumstance.


Motor Imagery Language Acquisition Mirror Neuron Silent Period Conceptual Metaphor 
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Copyright information

© Randal Holme 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Randal Holme
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EnglishThe Hong Kong Institute of EducationChina

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