Would sentences have meaning even if humans did not exist?

For example, would "the earth is round" have meaning if humans did not exist? Would it be true?

  • I made an edit hopefully to more clearly express your intent. You may roll this back or continue editing if you choose to. Commented Aug 10, 2018 at 22:31
  • Your word "sentence" may refer to different things: do you mean the funny-shaped markings on paper or screen? Do you mean the sounds? If so, then clearly those things are man-made and meaningless. But perhaps you refer to the concepts expressed by the sentence? The world existed before us; roundness existed before us, and applied to the world. So clearly the idea this sentence expresses is meaningful outside human context. Commented Aug 10, 2018 at 23:16
  • Propositions are not sentences and sentences are not propositions. There is a difference between them. Another answer states the idea expressed by the sentence is universal and has objective meaning with or without human existence. Fields outside of Philosophy typically define propositions inaccurately as sentences that are true or false as in math, computer science, Psychology, Rhetoric, etc. That definition has misled thousands of people or more to think improperly.
    – Logikal
    Commented Aug 11, 2018 at 2:21
  • Same comment of your previous post : Are syllogisms independent of humans ? Commented Aug 29, 2018 at 8:31
  • Would sentences exist? Sentences have their meaning through information share. Intentional. Well, people send messages to the space thinking if aliens can "read" them. Almost surely they can't, only determine that it's unnatural object. Do they have meaning? For us - yes. Sentences have meaning only to those by whom they can be understood.
    – rus9384
    Commented Sep 11, 2018 at 12:49

2 Answers 2


Sentences and reality

Sentence is not necessarily be related to reality. But we will be compelled to accept the ideas of this material world perceived by humans as reality, because majority's perception is so. Reality may be (or is) something beyond human's senses.

"the earth is round"

Do you think your typical sentence is true in everybody's/every creature's case? For convention or for study purpose we say so...just to show it is not flat. We know that it is relative, but since it does not affect us we forget this truth/reality.

Would sentences have meaning even if humans did not exist?

Since sentences are created by humans, no question arises regarding it in the absence of humans...there would be no sentences. You denied human's existence. Then the idea of formation of sentences and its meaning becomes absurdity.


Would sentences have meaning even if humans did not exist?

How should a "sentence" exactly be interpreted? Should a "sentence" be simply some piece of information that can be perceived by any conscious entity? If this is the case, then absolutely so, assuming animals are conscious similarly to humans. Consider the sentence, a tree has color. There is a piece of information in this sentence and any animal (or conscious entity) that can perceive color via interpreting reflected wavelengths from an object should be able to recognize this piece of information.

Reflecting on the fact that this piece of information was interpreted, on the other hand, is a different matter. Consider the sentence, a subjective perception can be recognized and reflected on by the experiencer. If there were no humans (or similar or more intelligent living things), then perhaps the sentence would still retain meaning if you believe that meaning can exist without anyone or anything to recognize it.

Maybe you might agree with the last statement if you think that mathematical truths that have yet to be discovered still have meaning even if no one recognizes it, such as a certain, undiscovered number is actually prime.

So, would mathematical truths, such as the pythagorean theorem or that some numbers are prime, have meaning without humans or other species that can understand such a truth?

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