Bolshunova S.A. The Category “Meaning” in Socio-Humanitarian Sciences, Psychology and Psychotherapeutic Practices


Sofiya A. Bolshunova
Postgraduate Student, Department of Philosophy, Russian State University for the Humanities
Miusskaya Square, 6, 125047 Moscow, Russian Federation; Junior Researcher,
International Center for Social Expertise and Development, Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation
Prosp. Leningradsky, 49, 125167 Moscow, Russian Federation
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Abstract. This article is devoted to the study of the "meaning" as a basic category in socio-humanitarian sciences and psychotherapeutic practices. For discussion, the authors propose the following thesis: meaning is the ultimate category in the socio-humanitarian sciences like matter in the physicalist sciences. The "turn to meaning" is justified. It is already observed in the works of Z. Freud, who claimed that symptomatic actions have a hidden meaning, as well as in the works of M. Weber, who focused his attention on meaningfully oriented human actions. The sociological category of "meaning" was further developed by A. Schutz. The "meaning" category is also reviewed in phenomenology and poststructuralism of J. Derrida and J. Deleuze. Russian philosophy, psychology and cultural studies based on V.M. Mezhuyev analyzed as well. The analysis of the above sources allows us to confirm the thesis put forward and recognize the meaning as a key category of socio-human sciences. Meaning is considered by the authors as a category of subjective ontology, and all sociological and psychological phenomena are recognized as explication of meanings. Moreover, subjectivity (agency) is understood as the ability of an individual to manage himself and the circumstances of his own life with meaning. Since meaning is a general category for the socio-humanitarian sciences, it can be considered as a category of the logic of these sciences. The logically possible is equivalent to the meaningful. The last section of the article examines the category "meaning" in psychotherapeutic practices: psychoanalysis, humanistic therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, narrative practice. It is shown that all these approaches tend to endow the client with agency, i.e. to form his ability to interpret his own life, find meanings and, thus, to deal meaningfully with himself and the circumstances of his own life. This analysis allows us to see the connection between the theoretical category of meaning and its significance in the practice of social and individual life.
Key words: meaning, agency, primary intension, turn to meaning, hermeneutics, Dasein, enactivism, existentialism, psychotherapy.
Citation. Bolshunova S.A. The Category "Meaning" in Socio-Humanitarian Sciences, Psychology and Psychotherapeutic Practices. Logos et Praxis, 2022, vol. 21, no. 1, pp. 30-42. (in Russian). DOI:

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