Meaning in the Natural World
J. B. White devoted much of his work to the rescue of meaning in language, art, and the human world. The first book he published after his seminal Legal Imagination was When Words Lose Their Meaning. The Edge of Meaning appeared as he was entering his fourth decade of teaching. Pick up the last of his books on law and life, Living Speech, and you find chapters headed "Living Speech and the Mind Behind It," "The Desire for Meaning," "Human Dignity and the Claim of Meaning." What he did - against the grain of twentieth-century thought - was inspired and inspiring, and is still. Is there meaning in nature and natural objects that we do not put there? Are they a source of meaning for the modern mind, despite standard teaching that separates the human world from the natural world, or that incorporates the human into a natural world in which there is no meaning?
Publication Information & Recommended Citation
Vining, Joseph. "Meaning in the Natural World." In Living in a Law Transformed: Encounters with the Works of James Boyd White, edited by J. Etxabe and G. Watt. Ann Arbor: Maize Books, 2014.