There are many ways to consider an object.  Two of the most used in Masonry are literally and symbolically.
Let me take the Letter "G" as an example.  In one of our lectures, we pay respects to the letter in the East.  A literal consideration would be that we are respecting the letter, or the physical object mounted on the wall.  This, of course, is nonsense.  The seventh letter of the English alphabet is not deserving of our particular notice, as a letter.
However, a *symbolic* consideration (and the one that actually describes what happens in the Masonry that exists in the real world) is that we are paying respect to what that letter *represents* - Our Divine Creator.  This respect, we pay *through* the symbol.  Everyone is able to agree that the letter *represents* Him, even (particularly?) when we do not agree on what He looks like, what Name He is best known by, or how best to worship Him.  Because we use a symbol, instead of a literal, we do not have to agree on the details.