The meaning is an intrinsic essence of the phenomenon, justifying its existence, linking it with a wider layer of reality. Defining the place of the phenomenon in some integrity, the meaning turns its implementation into a necessity corresponding to the ontological order of things. A meaningless set of signs may occur accidentally, but it does not remain as a fact of culture. The existence of such a set is ephemeral. The meaningful text is stored and reproduced in culture and stimulates the generation of new texts commenting, developing and even refuting the original.
The category of meaning implicitly arises from Aristotle as the “prevailing in all his metaphysics” the idea of the expediency of nature and the whole world process “(Asmus VF Metaphysics of Aristotle). The teleology of Aristotle largely arose from his doctrine of the expedient functions of the human soul and acquired the status of a universal cosmological principle – the unity of the goal of the world process. Aristotle believed that the world is not a badly written tragedy, but a harmonious wholeness, the original cause and ultimate goal of which goes back to God.
Pantheistic representation identifies God with logos – laws inherently inherent in the material world and governing everything that happens. The goals of being are determined by these laws and therefore belong to the same reality as any phenomenon of this world. In this way, meaning as something outside the phenomenon is reduced to the other-sided purposes that determine the development of this phenomenon. The meaning of the phenomenon cannot be reduced to its specific goal, for such a goal is the desired state of this phenomenon and, therefore, is not an entity outside of it. Such a goal needs to be understood through a higher goal, the latter through the next, etc. As a result, we come to either a bad infinity or a transcendental goal rooted in God.
In a world organized in the way pantheism represents it (or its inconsistent version – materialism), only the infinity of goals is conceivable. There is only one way to cope with nonsense – to become insensitive to suffering. The teaching of the Stoics recommends that one strive for total insensitivity-to attain the state of apathy accessible only to the wise. The more moderate Spinoza suggests, through awareness of the inevitability of what is happening, minimizing inevitable bad affects. Monotheism offers a way of acquiring the meaning of one’s existence through an inner transformation on the path of union with God. In monotheism, an essential distinction is made between the created world and the Creator. Monotheistic religions see the sense of human life in restoring the lost union with God in the act of the Fall – as the acquisition of eternal life in God or as a theology – the deification of man. AF Losev points to the world of Platonic ideas as a semantic space in which the Divine and created worlds come in contact. The sense of the phenomenon can be borne by the idea of this phenomenon, just as the meaning of a name can be the idea expressed by it.
In semiotics, it is customary to distinguish between the meaning and sense of a sign expression or sign. Value is the object or the state of affairs indicated by this sign in a particular landmark situation. The same sign can indicate a variety of things depending on the situation. But the sign not only points to something, it also expresses something about this something. This is the utterance and is the meaning of the sign that introduces the indicated object or circumstances into the general order of things and events. Thus, the designation of something by a given sign from the occasional turns into a necessary sign as arising from the meaning of this sign. This meaning is out of the sign situation. It connects the act of designation with a system of linguistic meanings – makes this act semantically eligible. In linguistic semantics, the meaning is viewed as a special entity, distinct from the text expressing this meaning, but determining the permissible references of the text is its ability to point to certain realities.
On the contrary, the text that denotes a universally valid cultural reality has the ability to express cultural meanings. In hermeneutics, understanding the text is a reconstruction of the intentions of the creator of this text. From hermeneutics, the meaning does not exist in the sign itself, but it constitutes the author’s intention, which is outside the text itself, but incarnated in it and gave the text the ontological grounds to exist as a fact of culture. In logical semantics, formal explications of the category of meaning (intensional, designatum) are introduced. DA Bochvar developed a logical calculus that makes it possible to strictly distinguish meaningful judgments from those who do not have to mean. Logico-semiotic studies help to understand why sign with meaning can be used in the act of designation not as a random “sticker”, but as a “label”, appropriately referring to the general order of things. Similarly, the meaning of the phenomenon connects the latter with the expedient organization of the world, providing for it a natural (i.e. necessary) place in the universe.
Pantheism and materialism proclaim that the meaning of life is in itself. Then the preservation of life and the growth of life activity are the highest values. The evolutionary ethics of G.Spenser and his ideological successors proceeds from the premise that the highest spiritual abilities and aspirations of man are evolutionarily arisen adaptations in the struggle for existence, for the mastery of vital resources. The meaning of life is reduced to its preservation, reproduction and liberation from suffering. Monotheism proceeds from the fact that, as formulated by Thomas Aquinas: “God, in essence, is happiness, which does not belong to anything else.” Everyone can be happy only to the extent that he approaches God, that is, to Him who is the very happiness.
The search for the meaning of life is aimed at discovering the ontological foundations of one’s own being. This search is necessary when all the supports collapse and the person hangs in a metaphysical emptiness. It is not for nothing that existential questions arise with particular urgency in the face of death. The meaninglessness of the lived life underscores the unacceptability of death as the triumphant victory of chaos. The totalitarian regimes of the 20th century gave examples of such outlandish situations in which a person exhausts the last forces and no longer perceives continuous mockeries of himself, death and anguish of his neighbors as events when there is no power to think about life and acquire existential experience. The senseless here is not just a chaos of passions, but a law of the destruction of all human. The restoration of the sense of life should be sought in the Christian commandment of love. The Gospel call to love is not a utopian dream, but the only realistic way to uphold the meaning of human existence.