March 27th, 2007

Crying Man

Communication, Knowledge, Bodies and God: Part 1

Communication is Difficult

Why is communication so difficult?

Sometimes I will talk to somebody, and think that I’m expressing myself really clearly when I’m not. I seem to make perfect sense. Yet when I hear what the other person says in response, it is obvious that they heard something quite different from what I thought I said. What seemed so clear and easily understandable to me, is apparently quite opaque to the other person.

It happens all the time, and not just to me. For example, I frequently observe Christians having an argument over some point of doctrine. One person puts forward an idea X. The other person actually agrees with X but is concerned about the consequences of taking idea X too far, so they explain some of the flaws with X. Now, the first person is fully aware of the flaws of idea X, but they still think it’s a good idea, so they reiterate the good points about X. To the second person, it sounds like the first person didn’t understand the dire consequences of taking X too far, so they restate their understanding of X’s flaws. And so on and so forth. Both of them agree that X is a good idea but shouldn’t be taken too far. Yet a heated argument ensues. Over nothing.

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Why is communication so difficult? And what the heck does that have to do with epistemology or theology? This is the introduction to a few thoughts I’m writing down about things I have been reading for my PhD. Let me know what you think