JASSD - Journal of African Studies and Sustainable Development (Vol. 6 No. 1, 2023) INTERROGATING COMMUNICATION: A PHILOSOPHICAL REFLECTION ON WORDS, MEANING AND INTENTION M. S. C. Okolo; Patricia Eziamaka Ezenandu, Ph.D & Ezinne Rachel Alor


Communication is a necessary part of our daily interactions. It is the means through which we share understanding, our thought-content with others. As such, the effectiveness or otherwise of communication depends on the correspondence of thoughts, ideas or knowledge between a sender and recipient. The purpose of communication, then, is to achieve a shared understanding in terms of meaning, the relation between form and content, and the association of thought and perception. How to achieve this in everyday communicative discourse is the challenge interrogated by this study. Given the depth of this challenge a philosophical input is central for an adequate interrogation. For this reason the study employs analytical and interdisciplinary methods. Philosophical analysis is adopted to interrogate the means through which shared understanding is achieved in communication. Means of communication here refer to words, meaning and intention. The interdisciplinary stance of the work derives from its ability to bring together communication and philosophy. The paper finds that words that should reveal meanings and intentions in most cases do not do so. This mismatch which may appear as a mere communication lapse is more profound. It is located at the core of effective communication and its philosophical implications. By drawing attention to this, the study underscores not just the academic relevance of this problem but its practical implications, given the potential of language to foster understanding, build and sustain positive public sphere values which are the hall marks of a healthy democracy.

Keywords: Communication, Philosophy, Words, Meaning, Intention

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