The way words mean — Aeon

Dictionary definitions can encourage in us a sense of words as signs representing fuller meanings or content that are in some sense ‘inside’ or ‘underneath’ them. But when we analyse meaning, we are usually making only lateral moves, not ‘excavating’ anything. These are in reality interpretations that exist ‘on the same level’ as what is interpreted. ‘Every interpretation,’ Wittgenstein writes, ‘hangs in the air together with what it interprets, and cannot give it any support.’