Defining Philosophy of Communication: Difference and Identity

Ronald C. Arnett
2010 Qualitative Research Reports in Communication  
This article defines philosophy of communication as an emerging option in the doing of qualitative research in communication, differentiating its identity from philosophy proper. Philosophy of communication, in its commitment to questions of meaning and understanding, illuminates communicative understanding and meaning in the engagement of qualitative research in communication. My task is to offer a public definition of philosophy of communication that frames difference and the identity of
more » ... sophy of communication. We work within a discipline characterized by different contexts, channels, and methods of communication inquiry. Difference shapes identity, as Ronald L. Jackson (2010), editor of the Encyclopedia of Identity, so aptly revealed. This article applauds the importance of philosophy of communication while simultaneously celebrating its limits, framing philosophy of communication as understanding situated within limits that give it identity. In the words of Gandhi, and within a postmodern pragmatic vocabulary, it is advisable to assume that others will follow paths contrary to one's own with the hope that if, at a later date, we discover we were wrong, then another's path will cast light (Arnett, 1980, p. 37). Pragmatically, this essay celebrates alterity (differences) in our communicative engagements as fundamental in shaping the understanding (identity) of the identity of philosophy of communication. Ronald C. Arnett (PhD, Ohio University, 1978) is chair and professor in the
doi:10.1080/17459430903581279 fatcat:z4ps5j3lfvalboqmnnspgfxt2u