September 24, 2012

Locke - To Speak, and to Know

I think a majority of our theorists have touched on this point: it is difficult for us to understand each other.

Barthes wrote about the difficulties of understanding a text when its author is not there to explain. Focault wrote about the perceptions of an author which cloud our judgment of a text. Ong wrote about a fictionalized relationship where understanding is a constructed hope. Campbell, Heilbrun, Welling, Barton cried out for the voices lost beneath a text.

Together they present an image of a person who desperately seeks to be understood, and who seeks to understand their own nature through personal dialogue. As Locke puts it, "men fill one another's heads with noise and sound, but convey not thereby their thoughts (818)." We can speak, but our intepretations of each other are biased by our experiences. Locke's philosophy of rhetoric attempts to find a solution to this problem, but it may be one that cannot be solved.

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