Mike, and others interested in the notion of a Paskian conversational space.

I am presently returning to some of my earlier work on Pask and other things, and a couple of points might be relevant to aspirations for this project.

Gordon considered that language had evolved and that evolution hadn't done a very good job on it.

Wittengenstein considered (as does Maturana) that language is not at all clever at denoting or pointing at things, but that its power is is connotative (it implies things). The reason he was considered so radical at the time (and still), was that post-Enlightenment philosophical thinking had assumed to the contrary, that human language was some sort of high point to evolution in that it described (ie pointed at) things. Wittgenstein turned this assuption on its head.

Thus (Gordon realised), that many of the problematical issues with everyday language is that this fundamental distinction is not taken account of, and frequently, a word is taken as denotative and therefore one party considers that the other party in using the same word, is 'pointing at' the same 'thing'. So I say 'stone' and you think I mean that particular stone in the corner over there. Or, more significantly, I say 'love' and you think that my word implies a correspondence to your concept or love, even though you have never explained to me what that is. (the word is held to 'carry' an intrinsic meaning).

That's why Gordon came up with all the complex stuff about entailment - he realised that what needed polishing was the clarity and sharing of the concepts before anything else. It was confused concepts that caused so many problems, as much as any confusion of conflict 'outside'.

Thus with Wittgenstein - the whole notion of 'language games' was to try and nudge people into realising that what people share in their everyday languaging is usually NOT concepts, but a willingness to 'play a game' by this or that set of rules. The shared thing was he set of rules and conventions for acting, rather than that use of language pointed towards some shared semantic 'reality'. In this light, any 'reality' might be said to be that which emerges from two or more people playing the same game - accepting a framework of commonalities, in terms of which they might share similarities such as kick around a football). The thesis is that everyday human meaning is about this network of shifting similarities, and that social living brings forth fields of commonality by which sharing might take place. And that we need to be very careful in our assumption as to what is 'similar' and what is 'in common'.

So with Conversation Theory. Gordon is saying, biological evolution established (a la Maturana) language - but NOT language as a semantic domain. Rather, language as a higher order recursion of recursions on coordinations of actions, which obscure rather than reveal that to which they are held to refer. The whole thrust of conversation theory was to make this visible. Entailment meshes bring forth the fact that words are as much about the crafting of personal concepts as the sharing of meaning. Whether meaning might be then said to be shared or not is symptomised by the type of recurrent interactions emerged from use of language (types of society, culture and so on).

Just thought I'd share this, guys. It is important for you to realise, that a Paskian conversational domain is NOT intended to reproduce everyday use of language, but to find ways to rectifying a historical misuse of it.

Best wishes,


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