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The Global World and its Manifold Faces

Otherness as the Basis of Communication

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Susan Petrilli

The Global World is a pivotal formula in present -day «Newspeak». The book’s leitmotif – if it is true that the faces of today’s global world are manifold – is that language opens to the other, that the word’s boundaries are the multiple boundaries of the relation to others, of encounter among differences. Otherness logic is in language and life. The aim is to evidence how, contrary to implications of the newspeak order, new worlds are possible, critical linguistic consciousness is possible – a «word revolution» and pathway to social change. The method is «linguistic» and concerns the language and communication sciences. But to avoid that the limits of the latter influence our perspective on «the global world and its manifold faces», this method is located at the intersection of different scientific perspectives. As such it pertains to «philosophy of language», but in dialogue with the science of verbal and nonverbal signs, today «global semiotics», therefore it is also «semiotic». And given that how to understand «the global world» is not just a theoretical issue, but concerns how we relate to others, to differences in all their forms and aspects, the method proposed with this book is also «semioethic».
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VI. Perception and Understanding in the Era of Global Communication

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The increase in communication may not only fail to give agreement in valuations and modes of conduct but may actually be used to increase conflict, competitiveness and slavery. For sharing a language with other persons provides the subtlest and most powerful of all tools for controlling the behavior of these other persons to one’s advantage – for stirring up rivalries, advancing one’s own goals, exploiting others. Modern propaganda is the witness to this within existing nations; a world language would make the same phenomena possible over the earth as a whole. And semiotic itself, as it develops, will be subject to the same kind of utilization by individuals and groups for the control of other individuals and groups in terms of self-interest.

[…] If one of the practical tasks of the theory of signs is to further co-operative behavior, another complementary and equally insistent task is to so incite and fortify the individual that he keeps his own creative integrity in the face of the powerful forces in the modern world that tend to reduce him to a puppet pulled by the socially controlled strings of communication.

(Charles Morris, Signs, Language, and Behavior, 1946, in Id. 1971: 293–294)

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