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This is Previous-Essay <== This-Essay ==> Following-Essay Click HERE on this line to find essays via Your-Key-Words. {Most frequent wordstarts of each essay will be put here.} ========================================================== %SYMBOLIC OBJECTIVE BEHAVIOR SUBJECTIVE MEANING 890702 Most human behavior has an objective aspect to the behavior, because the behavior may be seen by other humans, and there can be virtually universal agreement as to the actions which occurred; e.g., that Jack took five steps towards the north. In addition to the objective aspect of human behavior there is a symbolic aspect to much of human behavior. Human acts often have intended and/or perceived symbolic meaning. Jack's five steps towards the north might have the symbolic value of indicating acceptance of induction into the armed forces with all that such induction may mean. The intended and/or perceived symbolic meaning of human behavior is not an objective reality; it does not exist apart from the actor and/or perceiver. The symbolic meaning of human actions is created by the actors and/or perceivers, it does not reside in the objective objects and/or in their objective relationships as they are understood and analyzed by physical scientists. The symbolic meaning of human behavior is reflexive in that it points back to the actor as a person with conscious and/or unconscious intended meanings which are associated with behaviors as perceived by others, with others' own conscious and/or unconscious intentions i their perceptions of behaviors. Much of human behavior is essentially symbolic in character. All use of spoken, written, and sung words of verbal languages is human behavior which is essentially symbolic in character. Such behavior has a purely objective aspect to it, but what is important to most humans is to be found in the perceptions of the intended symbolic meaning assigned to the objective behavior. When people use formal languages it is possible to know with a fair degree of certainty what the intended meaning of the symbolic behavior is; but the certainty is not complete. People do not always have identical understandings of the meanings of symbols used individually or in concert. Even with the best of intentions and the highest levels of mutual trust and understanding the best of friends do misunderstand each other on occasion. They cannot be sure every time that they have understood each other's symbolic behavior even as regards the use of formal language. Misunderstanding of the use of formal language is much more common when people do not know each other well, do not use formal language in quite the same way in open and honest communications, and/or do not trust each other and engage in various levels of misleading behavior. Formal language can be used to mislead; even to tell lies. Lies are not objective realities because the meaning of symbolic behavior is not an objective reality existing independently of the participants in symbolic communication. Not even universal agreement regarding the meaning of some behavior can cause that meaning to be an objective reality in the manner of the objective realities of physical scientists. Apart from the reflexive behavior of the human participants in the agreement, the meaning would not exist. People communicate a great deal of important information through language which is not formalized; e.g., through facial expressions, body gestures/postures, bodily contact, manner of presence, etc. It is not possible to confirm with certainty the meaning of symbolic behavior which makes use of informal language, for the meanings of informal symbols are not defined in a way which can be entered into a dictionary with precision. The meaning of informal symbolic communications is created as much in the perception, as in the behavior. It is highly reflexive behavior in which confirmation resides in an extended pattern of reflexive behavior between communicants; not in agreement about the significance of each individual symbolic action. Even when the participants are fully agreed as to the meaning of their behavior, the meaning is not an objective reality existing apart from their perception. (c) 2005 by Paul A. Smith in (On Being Yourself, Whole and Healthy) ==========================================================