A concept is a thought-thing. It sacrifices the richness of inner-life by giving up meaning for the sake of refinement. This process of symbolization is 99% negation. Language involves a double refraction: we both hear the rhythm or melody and feel or perceive it as well! Concepts involve a secondary refraction we are impoverishing our inner-life—through the process of objectification—we are refining the sensory and internal restraint of our expressive life. The sensation is nothing but a projection of what’s already happened within the dynamic emotional (feeling) or gestalt structures according to Susanne Langer. Ernst Cassirer, one of her famous teachers, described this as the basic process of representation. Sure—the concept is one of the most stable things in the world after the double negation: first, taking in presentational symbolization then next, an inner symbolization involving the representation of perception and the sense-experience of the actual thing or being. We can develop or make new creative forms through space, time, and number. The concept will always be flexible according to the relations or dynamics between the representation and the object.
Meaning is not the quality of a term, but a function of its use. This allows for variation. Logical validity not only works according to a method of ratiocinative processes, but Langer highlights that there is a “feeling of necessity” by which the entity is moved. Any failure to communicate is a failure of meaning, which stems from the lack of connecting the feeling of the argument, proof, etc.
Language is a very highly developed, rationalistic structure of symbolism that helps us to attain meaning out of our present perceptions. Therefore, it would be incorrect to read our language structures into the non-human world and apply our levels of (ir)-rational patterns into these other modes of life. Langer is interested in the living world, including that of humans, and how it gets symbolized according to the interpretation of the presentational symbol, which are made of feelings which is more enduring than concepts themselves. How do I tell the story from signal (or symptom) to presentational immediacy, to a denotative language (which Cassirer calls pure significance like that found in science and mathematics). Feeling serves as the basis by which humans come to learn and think about things that have been named by us. We have a symbolic need that often times outrun the empirical needs we encounter in everyday experience