As in Chapter 3, the focus of the present one is linguistic meaning. However, the issues considered are not peculiar to that domain and it will sometimes be therapeutic to have reminders of this. It may be that certain views to be discussed sound rather less plausible when we recall that gestures and facial expressions, say, also have their meanings. The chapter covers a lot of ground, but the matters discussed are intimately related. To begin with, there is some unfinished business from Chapter 3. There we noted in passing a dispute as to whether understanding sentences has to do with grasping, not their truth-conditions, but those under which we are warranted in asserting them. We touched, as well, on a dispute as to whether speaker’s meaning, rather than word-or sentencemeaning, is the more primitive notion. I shall return to those disputes, albeit briefly, in the context of considering issues – flagged in Chapter 1 – that may be subsumed under the heading of “knowledge and meaning”. In Chapter 1, I remarked that an account of meaning, besides saying something about the import, function and status of meaning, should address philosophical issues that reflection on meaning is apt to spawn. (“Besides” is perhaps not the right word, since the hope is that an account of, say, the status of meaning – notably one in terms of appropriateness to Life – will contribute to resolving the issues.)

The issues gathered under the heading “knowledge and meaning” fall into two kinds. The first concern knowledge of meanings. How, if at all, do we know what items mean? Are there really facts about meanings for us to know? The second concern knowledge of

the world. Do the “symbolic forms” through which we try to describe or otherwise represent the world serve as windows on to the world or as obstructive veils? Less figuratively, is the nature of our understanding of words and other meaningful items compatible with the idea that these articulate how the world anyway, objectively, is independently of that articulation? Put in current jargon, the issues to be discussed are those of “meaning-scepticism” and “anti-realism”. They are not unrelated; indeed, I will be suggesting that the best response to meaning-scepticism invokes a perspective that is incompatible with a “realist” picture of a world independent of human “ways of meaning”.