Communicating Minds: Subjectivity, Objectivity, and Understanding

Daniel B. Lee


If each person represents a black box of subjectivity inside of which a meaningful world is independently constructed, how do different people understand each other? This paper evaluates sociological, psychological, and biological constructions of intersubjectivity that appear to answer this question. For some scholars, intersubjectivity appears to imply that a common form of consciousness exists between or among different actors and that "our mind" provides us with a mutually accessible source of meaningful information. Other writers even assert that there is a social or biological basis for sharing or reading minds. Developing Niklas Luhmann's argument that society is communication and that it excludes people, the author rejects intersubjectivity and explains how communication objectively coordinates the independent minds of its participants. The operative closure of conscious systems does not lead to social chaos because subjects teach themselves to condition private thoughts, intentions, tastes, and behaviors with interobjective, self-referential forms of meaning established in society. 


cognitive coordination; intentionality; interobjectivity; social systems theory; symbolic interactionism; mirror neurons

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Studies in Communication Sciences | ISSN: 1424-4896