Friday, March 05, 2010

On caring-ness, hermeneutic and offense

A worth learning lesson on public discourse is the inevitability of miscommunication. Often we find our correspondents do not get what we mean and vice versa, but if that is the only way to discourse, then it is not discourse anymore.

From my experience of having dialog with people from different backgrounds, what I find frustrating is that we very often miss each other's point. But that frustration should not be representing the overall sentiment of the discourse since miscommunication is a given in communication. It is a given because there exists interpretation. What matters is the existential extension that sustains the dialog.

Instead of putting the blame of miscommunication on the correspondents or ourselves, we shall relocate the blame on communication itself, which is a givenness. The existential extension comes in forms as simple as our caring-ness to trust the other person to acknowledge his or her stance. Through this extension, correspondence is sustained and communication is effected. In simple words, we care enough to communicate.

Here is a thoughtful remark from A. K. M. Adam, Lecturer in New Testament at the University of Glasgow:
"All the things you might want to enlist in your defense if you offend somebody — your intentions, your history as a good actor, the specific meaning you ascribe to your words (and that you think anyone ought to) — can’t defuse the offense. If you care about communicating with people, you have to allow that they construe your utterances, gestures, behaviour differently from what you wish. And once a particular utterance/gesture/act has given offense, appeals to your defenses are unlikely to resolve the problem. Constructive remediation, and manifest response to the basis of the offense, are likely to be the most productive way forward.

[...] Disavowing responsibility for the offense, assigning the problem to them, only intensifies the misunderstanding and offense [...] The problem in such situations isn’t that the aggrieved party hasn’t done their interpretation “correctly,” it’s that someone doesn’t care enough about what some of their neighbours think to acknowledge and take account of their relation to your behaviour."

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