UNAM, Faculty of Politics and Social Science, Mexico
*Correspondence to: Vivian Romeu
Citation: Romeu V (2021) Communication, Information and Cognition. Sci Academique 2(2): 1-03
Received: 18 December, 2021; Accepted: 26 December, 2021; Publication: 31 December, 2021
This article explores the relationships between communication and cognition, answering the question, what about cognition in communication? It is a text that seeks to understand the possibility of communication, assuming communication as an expressive behavior, that is, as a behavior that manifests itself from saying. The interface between communication and cognition is information, understood as the significant result of experience. This article starts with the historical-biophenomenological model of human communication to understand communication as a behavior, as well as the model of neurophenomenology that understands cognition as a process of subjective production of information that takes place through the experience of human being as part of his life management. It is concluded that there is no communication that does not communicate the information produced from the life experience of the communicating being, and a reflection is made about the void that the omission of cognition in the communication leaves within the field of studies on communication about constitution of communicative phenomena.
What about cognition in communication?
When we communicate, we communicate something. From the most traditional versions of the communication model, that something is called a message. The message is thus the raw material of communication, without it, there is simply nothing to communicate. But the message is not only a set of words that build meaning, but signs of various types and supports such as colors, shapes, figures, textures, spaces and distances, flavors and smells, objects, gestures, movements, temperatures, etc., which in turn are translated into meanings, into senses.
The messages, we can say, are made up of some materiality; materiality that objectifies them, that makes them be something; and something to which a certain identity is recognized. From this perspective, the materiality of the message builds its meaning from it. Understood in this way, the meaning of the message depends in a narrow way on its materiality, that is, on its identity as a message. This implies that the message is something that is outside the being that it communicates; but since the being that communicates is the one who communicates the message, the previous statement deserves a more detailed and precise explanation so as not to seem contradictory. Let’s see.
If the message has its own identity, recognized from the distinction between the something that is communicated and the someone who communicates that something, it must be understood that the message is not alien to the being that produces and communicates it, although certainly producing it is a process other than communicating it. This establishes a difference between the process of producing the message, which is essentially cognitive and phenomenological, and the process of communicating it, which is what constitutes its expression, that is, its outward projection.
Seen in this way, the communication message, although it possesses an intrinsic materiality that objectifies it as something alien to the one who communicates it, is undoubtedly the result, in the form of expression, of the process of its production. In this sense, it is necessary to identify two key moments in the occurrence of the communicative phenomenon: its production and its expression, both of a subjective nature because they originate and spring from the being that communicates.
In this way, communication cannot be understood ontologically as a process or as an information transmission mechanism, nor can it be defined as a socialization process or mechanism through which information is exchanged. In any case, communication should be affirmed as an instance of the subject’s sociality, since through communication, that is, its production and expression, this subject is related to its environment (both with its physical environment, its social environment, such as its historical and symbolic-cultural environment).
The foregoing allows us to affirm that communication configures a vital behavior of the subject insofar as the subject produces information as part of his life management in the environments in which he has to live. As well stated by Maturana and Varela (2009) from the biology of knowledge, every living organism is cognitively coupled to its environment in order to manage its adaptation and survival to it. Communication, like thinking and feeling, constitutes one more tool to achieve this coupling. It is about a coupling that is carried out by means of saying (expression) and at its base is the subjective production of information with which it is said or expressed.
Varela (1991) already affirmed based on the forcefulness of experimental studies that cognition was constructed through the neural recurrence of patterns of meanings, thus understanding that the information did not configure a magnitude alien to the subject who knows, but rather the opposite: the information is the result of the subject’s cognitive experience in their daily existence. In this way, the communication message configures its materiality from the interrelation between the inevitable production of information (cognition) that every subject performs to survive and adapt to the environment in which they live and the life experience that takes place during the processes of survival and adaptation from where such information production is carried out.
That is why it is possible to affirm that there is no production of information outside of the life experience of the subject that produces it, and there is no information alien to the subjective processes of its production. Seen in this way, the materiality of the message is never external to the subject that produces and expresses it, even when it comes to certainly different processes. That is the reason why we can affirm that communication constitutes a behavior, in the terms in which Galarsi, et al.(2011) define it: as a meaningful one. But it is an expressive type of behavior, that is, a behavior through which the subject says something and he is said through that something as well.
From this point of view, that something that is communicated is always the result of the cognitive processes that the subject lives yes or yes in its existence; Therefore, communicating is not saying something to someone, it is rather saying something before or for someone, it is —in essence— a way of being of the subject that reacts by saying to his environment with the purpose of building a link of type expressive with him. The possibility of communication is then essentially cognitive, because cognition is the process that allows produce the information than then will be communicated. This allows the subject to express himself, to fix his position, to mark the terrain of his existence by saying something, that is, saying the information that he has cognitively produced in his life experience.
Saying information is precisely what constitutes communication because through communication what the subject does is use (to say) the information that he has produced to manage his life existence and that is part of the cognitive heritage that configures him precisely as a subject. And this is what allows us to affirm that there is no communication that is not configured as a subjective behavior, which invites us to rethink the content of the foundational categories of communication, such as: sender, receiver, message, code, feedback and information, as well as those others that appeal to conceptual criteria of a sociocultural nature such as socialization, exchange, interpretation, and some others from the teleological sphere such as: understanding, dialogue, consensus, communion. All of them are mutually contradictory concepts, but all of them coexist in the reflection and investigation of communication without distinctive marks.
The field of communication studies, due to the very history of its institutionalization, has paid little attention to the need to invoice an ontological reflection of communication that contributes to the also necessary reflection on the object of study of communication. Being the field of communication studies a field of inter and transdisciplinary nature, it seems important to de-center the media (news and olds) from its axis as objects of study of communication par excellence, that besides are also approached reflexively and analytically from paradigms Structural-functionalist and culturalist sociological studies that exclude, for just one example, the affective baggage that is involved in the processes of cognition.
In this sense, understanding that communication does not constitute an isolated phenomenon of the subjective cognitive processes that produce information, not only turns the gaze towards the subject as an inescapable part of the discussion and reflection on the communicative phenomenon, but also makes visible that this historical omission around the subject prevents the understanding of communication in its ontology, which leads to the proliferation of scientific approaches that hinder the understanding of the complex role of communication in the constitution of historical processes. To the extent that we do not understand that communication occurs fundamentally in the mental-expressive field, where the cognitive configures the engine of the production of senses in a logical-affective key, the impact and incidence of the field of studies on communication in the resolution of social problems will unfortunately remain marginal.
- GalarsiMF, MedinaA, LedezmaC, ZaninL (2011)Comportamiento, historia y evolución”. Fundamentos en Humanidades. XII: 89-123.
- 2. Maturana H, Varela F (2009) The tree of knowledge. The biological bases of human understanding. Chile: Editorial Universitaria.
- VarelaF, ThompsonE, RoshE (1991)The Embodied Mind. Cognitive Science and Human Experience. Cambridge: MIT Press.