Assumptions about Communication

Gerald van Koeverden gvk at
Wed Feb 21 05:20:57 UTC 2001

Steve Long wrote

> So I'd like to humbly suggest that the problem in defining communication just
> might be the same old problem, an over-emphasis on structure as opposed to
> hard scientific cause-effect.  The definition of communication might be the
> function of communication.  "The meaning of a word is the effect it has."

It is simplistic to define communication only by its effect.  Just because it is
so difficult to get at the "intention" of the speaker or actor, is no reason to
avoid it.  As an analogy consider that all law is based in trying to ferret out
the real intentions of the actor.  We have to discover as best as we can what
those intentions were to make a reasonable judgement as to what action to take.
Whether he/she killed another because of forgetting to take the ammunition out of
the weapon before cleaning it, was insane, trying to take a short-cut to an
inheritance or was only five years old, makes no difference to the person who
died, but it makes all the difference to the jury, and the attitude towards the
killer by the deceased's survivors.

It's the same in everyday life.  We are constantly trying to get a sense for the
other's intentions.  When you cut "intention" out of communication, you aren't
left with much more than a corpse to consider...


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