Thomas Sheehan on meaningfulness.
Meaning is the barely heard white noise enveloping everything I meet, and the unnoticed gleam that lets everything shimmer with reality. I have—indeed, am—a familiarity with meaning, even though I need not explicitly say to myself that something “is meaningful as” this or that. Yet I do operate with such an implicit understanding in my silent comportment towards everything, whether in theoretical reflection on things or in the practical use of them. Meaningfulness is already self-evident to me prior to all thematic understanding and speech. And this pertains not only to things in my external environment but also to myself. Without this pre-conceptual familiarity with meaning, I could not understand myself, much less anything else. Without it I could not say “I,” “you,” or “it.”
(Of course, I could become a philosopher and doubt that anything in the world has meaning. But then, in spite of myself, I would be making sense of the world and, as Leopold Bloom said, I would meet myself coming around again: “So it returns. Think you’re escaping and run into yourself.”[Joyce, Ulysses, Nausicaä])