Even though assimilation is a characteristic feature of life, the life we live in community ought not to be evaluated primarily by the criterion of how much it can assimilate. Assimilation is not an end in itself, but is a process whereby a living thing incorporates nutrients into its own organic integrity. Incorporation of healthy nutrients leads to a flourishing that is proper to a particular kind of living thing. A carrot will assimilate minerals that will enable it to become a flourishing carrot. A community, a most complex form of life, also needs its nutrients; and its nutrients are primarily meanings. A meaning is the way a thing stands out in the world and exerts its relationships to other things. A thing's meaning is found by giving attention to the status of that thing in the world. To say what something means, we have to give attention to the way it stands out in its environment in relation to those other things that surround it. Meaning, understood in this light, is not dissociated from truth. To say what a thing means is equivalent to declaring the most significant truths about it.



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