To better understand William James’s metaphor of the Cash Value of Truth, I would like to make a case that “Cash value of Meaning” would be an improved word choice for today.
This is to say that from a subjective stand point, a person decides what is meaningful and how meaningful in any given context ( family social, work social environmental, aesthetically such as Studying a sculpture in a gallery) etc), in a market like process. Each context has own meanings, finally interpreted by the person, himself in his own interests.
A simplified example two people in the context of conversation.
Each person brings memory, previous opinion, biology, world view, diction and present mood into the field of conversation. This context of meeting includes the physical location, and participants, including anything in the background. It maybe limited to what was discussed. If the two converse freely, the talking points and their significance of each discussed topic is decided by the participants in a intersubjective manner. All the topics discussed belong to the conversation and should rely only on that field at the time. How significant each topic was is prioritized with events in that field of conversation.
This may have been a meaningful exchange. The importances of this bracket event: the conversation, is experienced and prioritized by emotive, intellectual and active reaction. the important moments are provocative.
Later, If one the participants, reflects on the conversation earlier (people usually do) to define more meaning, they are now creating a NEW context. Now the context, or field, is with the person and his memory. Probably not as provocative… the entire market place is within the coercion of his own world view and mood of the location and his body/mind. The participants of the market place, of this moment of reflection are entirely himself. All arguments are of himself… body,mind, location.
- Each meaningful experience is localized event. This fits with James thoughts that life is a series of interwoven experiences.
- Interpersonal / intersubjective meanings are less coerced when it is discussed or experienced with multiple participants, whether other people, organisms, or environmental agents. just as William James market- like metaphor suggest.
- The building blocks of are more constant meaningful ideas are defined tested and retested by new day to day experiences.
“Truth’s” for William James, are meaningful (in that they provocative or conscious constructed) ideas that are assimilated by one or many by verification in the marketplace of a reality. Truth is always contextual, always referring to experience, social, environmental, spatial, etc. Truth always refers to an experience or a series of experiences where they are verified intersubjectively by all the participants in the field. This holds true in science and other Academic contexts where ideas are rigorously tested by the tester, subject and controlled fields of testing.
“Truth Happens to an Idea“ as James proclaims, after rigorous testing in experiences, or its deemed as not true.
“Meaning of Ideas” is when those ideas and happenings, true or not, have a significance or use, and a how significant or useful to the ideas that are tested in the realm of experiences.