In short, it is the meaning that we feel for an object or event that we don’t have to stop and think about in order to continue on. If you are trying to figure out how something happens, you can’t do it all at once. You have to look at the situation from different angles.
Sometimes you need to step back and take a little time to see what is going on, and then you can continue on. This is called non-cumulative meaning. I say this because it’s not a single definition of non-cumulative meaning, but rather the process of taking in the full experience of an item, and then figuring out why it was there.
The concept of non-cumulative meaning is that you are not trying to repeat something. That is, you are not trying to have a “complete” understanding of an item. You are not trying to have a “complete” grasp of the meaning of an item. Rather, you are taking in the full experience of an item and then figuring out why it was present. In other words, you are taking the full experience of an item and working backwards from that experience to determine its meaning.
This is the kind of thinking that’s been used to develop the theory of “meaning in mind”. That is, it is usually applied to certain types of cultural artifacts such as the Beatles’ music or the Declaration of Independence, not to everyday objects like a pair of shoes. The idea of studying the meaning of an object as opposed to just thinking of it is what makes this concept cool.
I’ve seen this done before. It’s called meaning extraction. The Beatles song “Imagine” contains the phrase, “This song is about my brother.” Meaning extraction helps us extract meaning from a song. It’s like a reverse of a concept known as referentiality. If you think of a dog barking, you think of the bark as being a reference to the owner’s actions, not a reference to the barking itself.
The same goes for meaning extraction. Meaning extraction helps us understand a set of objects as separate from each other, and as a result, we can understand them in their own right. But it doesn’t make sense to think of a dog barking and a rock being the same thing. It makes perfect sense to think of a rock being a rock. It’s just that we don’t know what the rock is before we see it. If we see it, we can understand it.
the point of the quote is that the meaning of a reference is not the thing itself. The meaning we attach to an object is what we use it to prove. So, if you can prove that a dog barking means that its owner is mad about something, then you could go ahead and use the reference to interpret that meaning. But if you can prove it means something else, like a certain rock, then you would have to explain that meaning to yourself first.
I can’t count the number of times I have said, “Now you’re just proving I’m right about this…” in my life. And one of them was back when I was trying to prove to myself that the “non-cumulative meaning” of the word “toilet” was the same as the “non-cumulative meaning” of the word “pee.
It’s actually quite complicated. A number of words can have one meaning, and then it can mean another. For instance “means a place where someone has a fight and the person wins.” But then again, that could mean a place where someone has a fight and loses, or a place where someone has a fight but doesn’t win.
This is a bit hard to explain, but I’m trying to explain it to my children. We are all born into a world with different meanings at different times. We are all learning the meanings of words as we go along, but the meanings are not “cumulative,” in the true sense of the word.