The Experience of Human Communication approaches everyday communication as a philosophical and psychological matter. Using insights from Merleau-Ponty, Heidegger, and Foucault, Frank Macke stresses that human communication—and with it, the human body—is, first and foremost, a relational phenomenon involving friends and family.
This book deals with matters of embodiment and meaning—in other words, the essential components of what Continental thought, since Heidegger, has come to consider as “communication.” A critical theme of this book concerns the basic tenet that consciousness of one’s Self and one’s body is only possible through human relationship. This is, of course, the phenomenological concept of intersubjectivity. But rather than let this concept remain an abstraction by discussing it as merely a function of language and signs, this work attempts to explicate it empirically. That is, it discusses the manner in which—from infancy to childhood and adolescence (and the dawning of our sexual identities) through physical maturity and old age—we come to experience the ecstasy of what Merleau-Ponty has so poetically termed “flesh.”
It is rarely clear what someone means when she or he uses the word “communication.” An important objective of this book is, thus, to advance understanding of what communication is. In academic discourse, “communication” has come to be understood in a number of contexts—some conflicting and overlapping—as a process, a strategy, an event, an ethic, a mode or instance of information, or even a technology. In virtually all of these discussions, the concept of communication is discussed as though the term’s meaning is well known to the reader. When communication is described as a process, the meaning of the term is held at an operational level—that is, in the exchange of information between one person and another, what must unambiguously be inferred is that “communication” is taking place. In this context, information exchange and communication become functionally synonymous. But as a matter of embodied human psychological experience, there is a world of difference between them. As such, this book attempts to fully consider the question of how we experience the event of human communication. The author offers a pioneering study that advances the raison d’être of the emergent field of “communicology,” while at the same time offering scholars of the human sciences a new way of thinking about embodiment and relational experience.
Chapter One: Introduction: The Experience of Human Communication as a Threshold of
Chapter Two: Therapy, Vulnerability, and Feeling in the Interstices of Embodied Expression: An Explication of Human Communicative Experience
Chapter Three: The Mirrored Body: Phenomenological Reflections on the Visual Experience of the Reflected Self
Chapter Four: On Contact: The Phatic Function of Communication
Chapter Five: Body, Liquidity, and Flesh: Bachelard, Merleau-Ponty, and the Elements of Interpersonal Communication
Chapter Six: The Diabolical Parable and the Devil in Speech
Chapter Seven: Identity, Intimacy, and Eroticism: Deception, Sin, and the Existential Bargain of Adolescent Embodiment
Chapter Eight: An Archaeology of Gender and a Theory of Communication
Chapter Nine: The Flesh of Human Communicative Embodiment and the Game of Intimacy
Chapter Ten: The Dream and the Self: Consciousness, Identity, the Sign, and the Image
Chapter Eleven: Conclusion: The Dawning of Communicology