老成学研究所 > Activities > Systems Ethics Thinking > Systems Ethics Thinking (6): Naoki MORISHITA

Systems Ethics Thinking (6): Naoki MORISHITA
Activities | 2020.08.06

[Chapter 1] Human Communication

1 : Exchange of meaning interpretation

“Communication” is one of the difficult words to translate into Japanese. Dating back to the Latin etymology, it was originally “munus” (gift), and the exchange of “munus” with each other was “communis.” From here, “communication” and “community” are derived. In other words, the core of the meaning of “communication” is the relationship of exchanging something.

  We usually exchange gestures, symbols and words. And we think that only these exchanges are “communication”. However, there are countless relationships in which something is exchanged, including electron energy and pheromones. As long as something is exchanged, there is a relationship among things. And all relationships are communications.

If so, what are the characteristics of human communication among them? It is not just simple gestures and words that are exchanged in daily communication among people. It is the “interpretation” of the “meaning” expressed by them.


What is the meaning interpretation? Let’s take a gesture of raising hands as an example.

Suppose you can see a “hand raised” movement. It is the “intention” of the person concerned that makes this movement “raise hands”. Of course, just looking at the gesture from the outside, it is not clear what kind of intention it is. It could be a “taxi stop” or an “opposition”. Maybe it’s a bow, or sometimes just a gymnastic exercise. If so, the only way to determine the inner intention of the person’s mind is to make a guess, considering the context in which the gesture or facial expression is expressed.

  A series of gestures is a visible “expression”. An expression points to something else, that is, means something. Another meant here is the inner intention of the mind of the party. It doesn’t look as direct as it is. Therefore, it is necessary to guess the invisible intent by using the visible expression as a clue and determine the meaning of the expression as uniquely as possible. This series of processes is called “interpretation.” However, not only the will but also the motive that the person is not aware of is inside the mind. Therefore, I will continue to explain using the word “intention” widely.

2 : Face-to-face communication

In mutual communication where people face each other, the process of interpretation regarding meaning progresses within the minds of both parties, and both processes interact through body expression. The process of internal meaning interpretation of both parties is communication that repeats self-dialogue (self-questioning). Therefore, in one big communication, two small internal communications run side by side like a mirror.

Two examples

Let us analyze this communication process along with two examples. Firstly, a student who came into my lab said, “I’m in trouble. It’s very hot right now.”

⑴ The clues to interpret the student’s intentions are expressed actions and facial expressions. He seems to be a little out of breath, but he doesn’t look as hot as the statement, he’s just holding a handful of books. This information is usually immediately detected.

(2) The next stage is to find out the true intention of the student. The season is early spring. The room temperature is never too high. Are you joking? Is it because he ran up the stairs? Or is there another circumstance unrelated to the room temperature? I could see the title of the book. “Warming…” One interpretation emerges. “I wonder if he came to ask about the issue of global warming.”

(3) Next, regarding the relevance of this interpretation, I mobilize past experience and existing knowledge, and compare it with other possible interpretations in light of the context. In last week’s lecture, he addressed the issue of “global warming.” This student was listening hard. I’ve been asked before about the “dose of radiation exposure”. If so, it must be a question about global warming today.

(4) Finally, I move to comprehensive evaluation and decision-making based on the determined interpretation. Unfortunately, I have a meeting, and I don’t have time to talk to him. However, answering questions and discussing can be more enjoyable and meaningful than the meeting. What should I do. The choice is arbitrary. Let’s take a rest by contacting the clerical office that there is an urgent need. Pick up the handset while saying, “The question is about global warming.”

⑸ This statement, that is, the behavior is accepted as information by the student, and progresses to a new interpretation. “Well, it’s a love consultation, but the professor misunderstands something…”

In the next example, the night before, the student with whom the other student was walking was told something unexpected. What she said was “I can die. “

⑴ “Oh, this is not just a thing.” The clues that interpret her true intentions are expressed actions and expressions. Her eyes are moisturized, her lips are slightly open, her face is burning. This information is usually immediately detected.

(2) The next stage is to explore the true intentions of the opponent. Why is this right now? Is she joking? Perhaps she is in a suicide urge. Everything seems different. One interpretation emerges. No way, a confession of love?

(3) Then, regarding whether this shocking interpretation is valid or not, the past experience and existing knowledge are mobilized, and compared with other possible interpretations in the context. She doesn’t play around or make fun of people. Rumor has no boyfriend. She’s been staring at me so far. According to the book I read, this apparently applies to patterns of love. It must be a confession of love.

(4) Finally, I move to comprehensive evaluation and decision-making based on the determined interpretation. I’m happy, but I have no experience of romance, so I’m in trouble. What should I do. The expression of the response is completely arbitrary. What shall I response? There was an urban legend attributed to Soseki. Translation of “I love you”. That’s right, “The moon is beautiful, isn’t it”.

⑸ This statement, that is, the behavior is accepted as information by her, and progresses to a new interpretation. “Eh? I wonder what happened to him when I was going to rehearse the stage of Turgenev’s “First Love”.”

Four-phase process

The following summarizes the processes drawn in the above two examples.

⑴ Perception of information

→ ⑵ Interpretation of true intention

→ ⑶ Comparison of interpretations

→ ⑷ Comprehensive evaluation & Decision-making

→ ⑸ Reaction(→Perception of information)

Here, the expression ⑸ Reaction is located between the two sides, and the other party’s heart immediately shifts to ⑴ Perception of information phase. Then, the phase of ⑸ may be regarded as the phase of ⑴. Therefore, the process of communication inside the mind can be seen as the development from ⑴ to ⑷. That is, in the face-to-face communication, as shown in Fig. 3, the processes of the four phases that proceed on both sides run in parallel like mirroring.

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© Re-Ageing. All Rights Reserved.