New Philosopher #17: Communication

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New Philosopher is an independent quarterly magazine devoted to exploring philosophical ideas from past and present thinkers on ways to live a more fulfilling life. Commentary on New Philosopher aims to guide readers into living a happier and freer mode of existence.

In this issue: Watching a newborn adapt to his surroundings, it’s clear from the moment we emerge that communication is essential to our survival. We make noise to ensure we get what we need to flourish: mother’s milk, attention, and warmth in our early days; variations of these as we proceed through our lives.

As our skill in communicating develops –  as we learn to manipulate sounds, symbols, gestures, and images – so too does our ability to convey to others what we want, what we think, what we feel. Mastery of these methods of communication equates to power: the power to inform and influence, as well as to manipulate and deceive.

What to do with these hard-earned skills? How best to deploy the power we have acquired? Many opt simply to be receivers and repeaters of messages, despite the suspicion that the information may be spurious. Behold the mediated human being. But there is another way: swap exposure for expression; switch viewing for doing. Take Wittgenstein’s advice: get off your seat and go into the ring.

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