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a junction for converging discourses

English translation: communication of ideas

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GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
English term or phrase:a junction for converging discourses
English translation:communication of ideas
Entered by: John Kinory
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07:43 Aug 11, 2002
English to English translations [PRO]
Art/Literary
English term or phrase: a junction for converging discourses
Context:
The idea of the self is under attack today, not only in much scientific discussion of consciousness, but in the humanities too. We are told that it is a fiction, a construction, an illusion, a myth. That each of us is 'just a pack of neurons,' or just ***a junction for converging discourses***, or just a parallel processing computer running by itself without an operator. As a human being and as a writer, I find that view of consciousness abhorrent-and intuitively unconvincing. I want to hold on to the traditional idea of an autonomous individual self. A lot that we value in civilization seems to depend on it-law, for instance, and human rights.

My problem is that I am not sure which meaning of "discourse" is applicable here (speech or report or some third one?) and, well, I am sorry, I don't understand the idea behind... could you put it into some trivial English?
Thanks in advance,
Eva
Eva Blanar
Hungary
Local time: 11:47
communication of ideas
Explanation:
Discourse is the communication of ideas, mainly verbally (which includes speech and writing, for this purpose; i.e. words). This is a traditional philosophical term, and not a voguish one as another answerer asserts. In archaic usage it also meant the ability to reason, or to communicate ideas rationally. This needn't concern us here, I think, because the texts speaks of discourses in the plural.

The way I see it, the idea being disputed is that the individual self, or personality, doesn't exist; each of us, as a collection of neurons, is a nexus, a point (possibly a mathematical point with no extension - I don't mean in 4-dimensional space but psychologically) at which streams of communication merely pass through, but which has no volition or its own individual motivation to exert a deliberate influence on those streams of communication (of ideas): they merely intersect and pass through. There is no 'self' that generates them from within itself: the communication is not internal, because 'there is nothing there' to generate them FROM.

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Note added at 2002-08-12 01:20:48 (GMT)
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Taking a leaf from Jerrie\'s book: a road intersection doesn\'t manufacture cars, because there is no factory there; they merely pass through it. They converge from 3 or 4 directions, go through and then continue to some other destination. Here, the ideas travel through, but there is no self that generates them, because there is no such thing as self.

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Note added at 2002-08-12 01:27:02 (GMT)
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Collins supports the definitions in my first paragraph.
Selected response from:

John Kinory
Local time: 10:47
Grading comment
Thanks: I read each of the answers very carefully and I am very grateful for all your help, but this one was the perfect answer for my questionmarks.
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
4 +4Think of a road traffic system.
jerrie
3 +4discourse
Elisabeth Ghysels
4 +1discursive practicesxxxR.J.Chadwick
4 +1communication of ideasJohn Kinory
4convergence but no integration
luskie
4a suggestionxxxLia Fail


  

Answers


34 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +4
discourse


Explanation:
is a concept much en vogue today in many languages as "discours" or "Diskurs", and, as concepts en vogue usually are, is difficult to explain: it's something like the articulated complex sum of thoughts and ideas on a certain theme. So not just one speech or report, but the essence of what one usually has to say about an item.
As for translation, it's easy: the same word in the style of the target language.
Greetings,

Nikolaus

Elisabeth Ghysels
Local time: 11:47
PRO pts in pair: 28

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  luskie
1 hr

agree  Patrick McKeown: well put, Nikolaus; it's difficult to get away from the vocab of cultural theory, and it's not always easy to understand just what people mean; it's great fun to translate, though!
1 hr

agree  Rafa Lombardino
6 hrs

agree  MikeGarcia
1 day12 hrs
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47 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +4
Think of a road traffic system.


Explanation:
You have 4 lanes of traffic heading for a roundabout. Just before the roundabout these four lanes are merged into one, so you have one stream of traffic heading for the roundabout (island) where they have to stop, go round, then head off somewhere else.

The 4 lines of traffic are your lines of reasoning (discourse) all heading in the same direction to converge just before the roundabout (junction).

hth

jerrie
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:47
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 773

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  luskie
57 mins
  -> Thanks

agree  Libero_Lang_Lab
9 hrs
  -> Thanks

agree  Piotr Kurek
1 day11 hrs
  -> Thanks

agree  MikeGarcia
1 day12 hrs
  -> Thanks
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1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
convergence but no integration


Explanation:
I think it means that according to such a view of the self, this pack-of-neurons/computer of ours lacks a center of integration, and is supposed instead to be a point is time/space where the various discourses (of life, as well as of research) merely meet - almost by chance and without being affected by that in themselves. There's "noone" there looking at what happens and putting it all together. In the traffic metaphore suggested by Jerry, it's somehow like speaking of a mere crossroads instead of the (historical and articulated, as our self is) center of a city (also corresponding to the "operator" of the following sentence).

hope this sort of delirium helps!

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2002-08-11 09:27:24 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

pardon! Jerrie, not Jerry! :)

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Note added at 2002-08-11 09:54:48 (GMT)
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pardon! Nikolaus, not Elizabeth! :))

luskie
Local time: 11:47
Native speaker of: Native in ItalianItalian
PRO pts in pair: 32
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5 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
a suggestion


Explanation:
it (THE SELF) is a fiction, a construction, an illusion, a myth. That each of us is 'just a pack of neurons,' or just ***a junction for converging discourses***, or just a parallel processing computer running by itself without an operator.

The junction idea here, within the context of what the text is saying, seems to imply 'automation'. I think Jerrie's highway system is a good metaphor, but I would prefer trains as more automation is implied (trains are shunted off in all directions not by the driver but by some anonymous individual).

Again, the 'converging' can be imagined in terms of different trains arriving to the same point.

The 'discourses' seem to be interactions with OTHERS which leave the SELF unaffected (perhaps they remain unanalysed) which 'arrive' to the self but which are immediately 'shunted off' (without analysis). The computer idea seems to be implying again an 'automated' response, a processing of data but without understanding or bothering to understand facts or analyse them.

So it seems to be referring to the fact that we receive and process a lot of data without actually analysing it.

(I think Internet is a good example. We no longer need to work to acquire information, it's there at our fingertips, and we learn to manipulate it for our purposes without actually ingesting it in any but the most superficial of ways).

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Note added at 2002-08-11 13:22:58 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Correction

So it seems to be referring to the fact that we receive and process a lot of data without actually analysing them.


xxxLia Fail
Spain
Local time: 11:47
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 86
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17 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +1
communication of ideas


Explanation:
Discourse is the communication of ideas, mainly verbally (which includes speech and writing, for this purpose; i.e. words). This is a traditional philosophical term, and not a voguish one as another answerer asserts. In archaic usage it also meant the ability to reason, or to communicate ideas rationally. This needn't concern us here, I think, because the texts speaks of discourses in the plural.

The way I see it, the idea being disputed is that the individual self, or personality, doesn't exist; each of us, as a collection of neurons, is a nexus, a point (possibly a mathematical point with no extension - I don't mean in 4-dimensional space but psychologically) at which streams of communication merely pass through, but which has no volition or its own individual motivation to exert a deliberate influence on those streams of communication (of ideas): they merely intersect and pass through. There is no 'self' that generates them from within itself: the communication is not internal, because 'there is nothing there' to generate them FROM.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2002-08-12 01:20:48 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Taking a leaf from Jerrie\'s book: a road intersection doesn\'t manufacture cars, because there is no factory there; they merely pass through it. They converge from 3 or 4 directions, go through and then continue to some other destination. Here, the ideas travel through, but there is no self that generates them, because there is no such thing as self.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2002-08-12 01:27:02 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Collins supports the definitions in my first paragraph.


    My brilliant lecturer in philosophy of science :-)
John Kinory
Local time: 10:47
PRO pts in pair: 48
Grading comment
Thanks: I read each of the answers very carefully and I am very grateful for all your help, but this one was the perfect answer for my questionmarks.

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Libero_Lang_Lab
8 hrs
  -> Thanks

neutral  CLS Lexi-tech: the author of the quote refers to current philosophical trends who see the self not as formed entirely by cultural discourse
9 hrs
  -> Can't say I understand what you are getting at, Paola :-(

neutral  Herman Vilella: convergence of discourse is sooo a-propo
5 days
  -> Can't claim to have the slightest idea where your comment is headed :-)
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21 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +1
discursive practices


Explanation:
"Discursive practices" is a term that could subsitute for "discourses" -- they are roughly synonomous for some people and "discursive practices" expands on the intended meaning of discourses.

The idea is, perhaps, that different sub-cultures and different fields of endeavour, etc., each have their own set of linguistically encoded presuppositions which do not overlap and are not completely alignable with each other.

The attempt to reconcile these different sets of understandings and ideologies creates cognitive dissonance and an inner (mental) struggle.

Kristeva refers to "the subject in process/on trial" as being "the site of an ideological struggle".

This situation (in modern society) is meant to contrast with a supposed earlier situation (in pre-urban-industrial society) where thereis said to have been a greater congruence between functionally different aspects of culture as far ast he individual was concerned.

I am not sure that the term you cite can be put into everyday English because it has itself become a technical term -- at least since the time of Emile Benveniste's contrast between "discours" and "histoire" (roughly "discourse" and "narrative") -- the idea being that "discourse" is inherently dialogic in a way that "narrative" is not.

While a technical term cannot easily be subsituted for an everyday term, it probably can be glossed in terms that non-specialists can understand. But it then loses access to a whole web of associations that would still be recoverable if the technical term (and its technical acceptation) had been retained.

xxxR.J.Chadwick
Local time: 17:47
PRO pts in pair: 4

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  CLS Lexi-tech: the author of the quote refers to deconstructive criticism, as you rightly point out
5 hrs
  -> Thank you.
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