"I don't know what you mean by glory," Alice said.
Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. "Of course you don't--till I tell you. I meant, 'There's a nice knock-down argument'."
"But glory doesn't mean a 'nice knock-down argument'," Alice objected.
"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose for it to mean--neither more or less."
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master--that's all."
In order for something to mean anything you must have three parts interacting together: a thing, another thing, and a relationship between them. In the case of meaning, a thing can also be called a sign. A sign is anything that has meaning.
The relationship between the things is invisible but it's the key to meaning. "Meaning", wrote Albert Upton, author of Design for Thinking, "is always a matter of relation. Nothing ever means itself alone; it can only be meaningful to somebody about something else." The only way to discern meaning is to understand the in-betweeness of things; the only way to create meaning is to establish a relationship between things.
Things are all around you. In the outer world, things take the form of physical structures or operations. Things in the inner world are comprised of memories, thoughts, beliefs, concepts and knowledge. Whether internal or external, however, things do not have meaning in and of themselves. All meaning is a result of the interpretation of signs. Only a mind can make meaning, because only a mind can discern (or create) relationships among things.
Relationships can be verbal or not. An artist makes many kinds of non-verbal relationships such as those of visual form, space, and color. A musician also makes non-verbal relationships including those having to do with tonality, pitch, rhythm and rate. In the context of language, however, relationships are made with words. Anyone who wants to improve upon thinking skills in a way that will enhance academic performance, must improve the ability to understand the language of meaning. Anyone who wants to become more creative must improve the ability to construct meaningful relationships....