COMPOSITIONALITY: An Essential Ingredient of Meaning

Essay by samirkarmakar June 2005

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COMPOSITIONALITY: An Essential Ingredient of Meaning

Samir Karmakar

Meaning in western tradition develops under the general notion of semantics, in some different way. Whenever we are discussing about the meaning of a word, our basic inclination is to delimit our enquiry under the notion of "whatness". But because of being a locus of infinite qualifications, the object of our enquiry always remains out of our reach, in this situation. Not a single answer is competent enough to explain the meaning of a word. Moreover, for a long time, we have some kind of "bad faith" that meaning of a particular word is always in equivalence relation with its objective counterpart. It is not a long time back, when we come to know about the fact that meaning of a word or a higher construction is not at all identical with its objective reality. That means the mental impression, which we consider as meaning is a mode of representation of its corresponding reality.

Therefore for the first time our vortex of enquiry has shifted from the question "What it is?" to "How it is?".

The meaning of the a particular "sign", i.e. word or higher level construction, can only be explored by examining the manner or the way, which is followed by it to come into the existence. It is the manner or the way which determines the compositional potentiality of word or any higher construction. This fact is first brought into the light in its crude form by well-known scholar Frege. The meaning of a constituent part can be successfully revealed by determining its position and relation with respect to the whole. Basically, the task of the meaning is not to signify something of the objective reality, but to explore the causal path, by which it comes into existence.