Context

Context is the idea that a statement or thought has meaning in relationship to its setting or background. The statement "I flew to New York" would be nonsensical without the knowledge of airplanes. Context refers to the information that is required to make the statement meaningful. It is the supporting information that is taken from the setting.

In grade school, children learn to try to identify the meaning of a word through the context of a sentence. This is useful because the words in a sentence are connected to the other words by the meaning of the sentence. Often the meaning of the sentence can be determined without understanding each word. In this case, we can make a reasonable guess at what the word is suppose to imply. An example is "Since the man was _____, he could lift the entire crate by himself." If, in the blank spot, an unknown word was placed, one might be able to surmise that the word means "strong".

Ideas require certain conditions in which they are meaningful and valid. These conditions are the context. Understanding the context provides important information about the meaning and applicability of an idea.


Copyright 2001 by Jeff Landauer and Joseph Rowlands