Meaning and Value: Displacing the Center

We believe that meanings and values are stored in things, in objects, places, people but this is not true. Meanings and values are stored as and in the distributed properties of complex, adaptive and interdependent fields and relationships of reference. The value of an artwork is not in the artwork itself, it is a property shared across many minds, stories, texts, other artefacts and logical or cultural references.

Similarly, the value of money is not stored in a piece of paper, a credit statement or some abstract digital record of numerical quantity. Money is the stored or projected, consensus value of a networked, distributed belief. It is a shared trust in the value of money – it is an abstraction which, like so many other immaterial abstractions, is in itself empty.

It is in the adaptive refential interdependence and profoundly collaborative shared construction of our reality that value acquires significance. An acquired belief in the intrinsic value of things, objects, places and symbols is grounded in that critical error of judgement that threads from an individuated, embodied psychological experience of existence through to a world of scattered trust, staccatto adversarial conflict and problematically contested narratives of unity and purpose.

Meaning is shared, as is value; there is no independent or intrinsic meaning because it is always a distributed property that is spread across an entire system of knowledge, communication and information processing. This also means that there is no personal Self – it is always a manifestation from a wider field evolving symbols, statements and autonomously self-propagating emergent narratives.

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