Knowledge and language are contextualized social, cultural, historical, and communal processes. Creating theories, ideas, truths, beliefs, realities, or how-tos is an interactive interpretive process of social discourse that occurs within knowledge communities and is produced in language; all parties contribute to their development and sustainability. This relational–dialogic activity, in turn, eliminates the dichotomy between “knower” and “not-knower.” Language, as the medium of knowledge, is any mode or means we use to communicate, articulate, or express with others and with ourselves, using words, gestures, eyes, hands, etc. Language, like knowledge, is active and creative rather than static and representational. Words are not mirrors that reflect a fixed meaning; they gain meaning as, and how, we use them. This includes the context in which we use them, our purpose and how we utter them (e.g., our tone, inflections, bodily movements, etc.). Wittgenstein, among others, called attention to understanding language and words as relational, as bewitching us, and that the meanings of words are produced in their use. Bakhtin suggested that the use of language is always individual and contextualized and although a word is expressed by an individual, all utterances are the “product of the interaction of the interlocutors . . . the product of the whole complex social situation in which it has occurred”. The reciprocal relationship between language and change was suggested by Heidegger and Gadamer, among others. Change or transformation is generated in language; it is part of the participatory process of understanding and is filled with uncertainty and risk.
Research Professor. Director at Learning Change Project – Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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