The Role of Conflict LO9779

Benjamin Compton (
Thu, 05 Sep 1996 22:00:56 -0700

Replying to LO9762 --

John Constantine wrote:

> You have hit on a recurrent notion. Once again, I'll say what I've
> said in many forums previously...
> Communication depends upon the RECEIVER, not the SENDER.
> If I don't comprehend, don't translate, don't filter your words and
> ideas so as to "mirror" what you have said or presented, we simply
> don't (and won't) communicate until I am able (or willing) to do
> so.

I've been thinking a lot about communication recently. Specifically,
I've been thinking about language, meaning, and communicating.

I've created the following model to show the relationship between the

/ \
/ \
/ \
/ \
P ---M---P

L = language
P = People
M = Meaning

We use language to communicate words (language is the bridge between
people), but the meaning of the relationship (however ephemeral that
relationship may be) is found in the spaces between people. Given the
historical and contextual differences among those communicating, the
meaning of the relationship can be unclear. That is why dialogue is so
important. It allows us to have a "free flow of meaning" thus enriching
and clarifying the communication which is taking place.

At a deeper level I think we should consider why we even attempt to
communicate with one another. Do we seek to communicate because we have
an inherent desire to share life with others? If so, is language nothing
more than an artifact of this desire? Or did language emerge first, thus
causing us to have a desire to share life with others?

I believe it was Manuel Levinas (spelling correct?) who said that we
"other" is the only thing that has any meaning in our life. He goes so
far as to say that our morality is connected with how we communicate
with the other. Could it be immoral to engage in a conversation, and
disengage without ever having achieved "a free flow of meaning" between
those involved?

I don't think putting responsiblity on the sender or the receiver has
any real benefit. However, I believe as we seek to share life, we will
find a way to clearly communicate with others, regardless of whether
we're the sender or the receiver.



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