What can overcome communicationThis post has been edited for clarity.
Where there is mutual respect in communication, something good must come of it, even if it is not what had originally been intended. Such communication is far from mechanical (e.g. does not merely go through the motions), not temporally linear (e.g. sometimes we figure out what we or someone else meant after the fact), and not literal (e.g. there can be ‘more to it’).
This type of communication is rare as not all humans show respect for their interlocutors, and of those who do, not all communicate this way all the time. (Gadamer elaborates the historicity of this in Truth and method). This is notable at a time when language samples are being studied and used to teach machines.
Further, there is an artistic dimension to this type of communication, and so we come to the ‘extra’ problem of art. I know we have been taught to think of art as being produced apart from the flow of life as a painting on a wall, in a musical composition that is played. However, if we consider them as images that augment reality by working “against the tendency to annul contrasts and differences in the universe” (cf.) and bringing “relief” to interlocutors through respecting who they are (and could be), art takes place all around us, though not, as I said above, everywhere.
… every work of art only begins to speak when we have already learned to decipher and read it – Gadamer, Relevance of the beautifulEarly lessons in deciphering (both historically and individually) begin in the art of self-questionning, as outlined in the the best known maxim of three on the pronaos at Delphi. Γνῶθι σεαυτόν.
There is a problem in the facticity of what we mean.
Where we greet this facticity with respect, we allow it to bring out something ‘extra’, the dream of what we could be. Here I think of the reverence that informed appreciative inquiry. By contrast, to impose upon the world around us, telling us what it and we mean, is to become a copy of a copy, entropic, closed to that which is ‘extra’, blind to the facticity of what we could mean. Put another way, we have to be careful not to claim “a total recovery of meaning” as this only appears complete. There is something beyond the utilitarian. There is art.
[Heidegger] showed the Greek concept of concealment (altheia), only represented one side of man’s fundamental experience of the world. Alongside and inseparable from this unconcealing, there also stands the shrouding and concealing that belongs to our human finitude. This philosophical insight, which sets limits to any idealism claiming a total recovery of meaning, implies that there is more to the work of art than the meaning that is experienced only in an indeterminate way. It is the fact that a particular thing such as this exists that constitutes the ‘additional something.’ As Rilke says, ‘Such a thing stood among men,’ This fact that it exists, its facticity, represents an insurmountable resistance against any superior presumption that we can make sense of it all. The work of art compels us to recognize this fact. ‘There is no place which fails to find you. You must change your life.’ The peculiar nature of our experience of art lies in the impact by which it overwhelms us.Our intention when engaging with communication can overcome communication – negentropically or entropically.