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sense,faculty by which external or internal stimuli are conveyed to the brain centers, where they are registered as sensations. Sensory reception occurs in higher animals through a process known as transduction, in which stimuli are converted into nerve impulses and relayed to the brain. The four commonly known special senses (sight, hearing, smell, and taste) are concerned with the outer world, and external stimuli are received and conducted by sensory receptors concentrated in the eye, ear, olfactory organ, and the taste buds. The so-called somatic senses respond to both external and internal stimuli. Although most of the somatic receptors are located in the skin (conveying the external sensations of touch, heat, cold, pressure, and pain), others are located in internal organs (e.g., the heart and the stomach). Somatic sensations such as hunger, thirst, and fatigue are thought to originate in specific areas of the nervous system. The sense of balance, or equilibrium, is related to the flow of endolymph, a fluid found in the inner ear.
(1) The ideal content, the defining idea, or the final goal (value) of something, for example, the sense of life or the sense of history. The term “sense” may signify the entire content of some scientific, philosophic, or artistic statement, a content that cannot be reduced to the meanings of the parts and elements that make up the statement; the content itself determines these meanings. For example, the concepts of the sense of a work of art or the sense of an artistic image are equivalent to the concept of the artistic idea. The category of sense was treated in great detail in a number of trends of idealist philosophic thought in the late 19th and 20th centuries, particularly in the doctrine of “understanding,” which originated with W. Dilthey. Understanding was held to be the specific method of the “sciences of the spirit,” that is, the humanities, which is based on intuitive comprehension and integral interpretation of the sense connections between various forms of human culture.
(2) In logic, see MEANING.
(3) In linguistics, a term sometimes used as a synonym for “meaning” but usually used to introduce an opposition to “meaning.” “Sense” may signify the aggregate of extralinguistic characteristics of content, as opposed to meaning, which is the generalization of the intralinguistic characteristics of content. The term may refer to the semantic characteristics of a whole utterance or text, as distinct from the meaning of a single word. Sense may signify the connotative aspect of the content of a word; meaning, on the other hand, signifies the denotative aspect. In some conceptions, sense is understood as the whole and meaning is viewed as the component part; in other conceptions, sense is seen as a component of meaning. In the sense-text model, sense is a concept that describes the global content of an utterance.