Sunday Book-Thought 49

So far in this chapter we have emphasized two main points:

  1. Meaning arises in listening to the commitment expressed in speech acts.
  2. The articulation of content – how we talk about the world – emerges in recurrent patterns of breakdown and the potential for discourse about grounding.

From these points, we are led to a more radical recognition about language and existence: Nothing exists except through language.
We must be careful in our understanding. We are not advocating a linguistic solipsism that denies our embedding in a world outside of our speaking. What is crucial is the nature of ‘existing.’ In saying that some ‘thing’ exists (or that it has some property), we have brought it into a domain of articulated objects and qualities that exists in language and through the structure of language, constrained by our potential for action in the world.
Terry Winograd and Fernando FloresUnderstanding Computers and Cognition: A New Foundation for Design (Boston: Addison-Wesley, 2000 [first published Norwood, NJ: Ablex Corporation, 1986), pp. 68-69

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