Analyzing why I disagreed with my opponents during conversations, I realized that ,seldom, it was different interests; more often it was different meanings of words. Imagine dialog between two people. One speaks and understands only English and another  German. What kind of decision would they make? For good communication  we need the same words and accuracy in using those words. We don’t need to look for the right definition of words, but for mutual definitions which would help us to communicate.

When we learn foreign  languages we try to understand the meaning of the words with the help of the dictionary:

Definition of KNOWLEDGE from Merriam-Webster Dictionary (without obsolete and archaic)

1 a (1) : the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association (2) :acquaintance with or understanding of a science, art, or technique (1) : the fact or condition of being aware of something (2): the range of one’s information or understanding <answered to the best of my knowledge>c : the circumstance or condition of apprehending truth or fact through reasoning : cognition d : the fact or condition of having information or of being learned <a person of unusual knowledge>

2 a : the sum of what is known : the body of truth, information, and principles acquired by human kind b archaic : a branch of learning

We also understand a word’s meaning with the help of authority (teacher) : Plato defines knowledge as “justified true belief.” And Bertrand Russell as “belief which is in agreement with the facts”.

Lastly, the best way to understand the meaning of a word is through experience, a child’s way to learn language. That is why a good dictionary applies this technique and puts an example of the word’s usage.

  Our experience  could change because reality changes. We need new words to describe new  experiences. Sometimes decisions come with widening or changing words meaning. Words change. After this change happens dictionaries will be corrected, authority will give us new definitions and our experience will be relevant. However during the process we experience some confusion for which only mutual relevant experience could help.

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Comments
  1. “For good communication we need the same words and accuracy in using those words.” I’m not sure this is realistic. It’s not so much using the same words or accuracy in using those words, but rather explaining what these words mean in context so that one’s perspective get communicated as clearly as possible. If one communicates a perspective clearly, then using the same words and their accuracy become less important.

  2. Jaap Bosman says:

    Humans do often misunderstand and not know that they do misunderstand. It is very useful to ask questions of meaning even when we think we do understand.

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