Taureck, B. H. F., in: G. Leidloff: "l o g - i n / l o c k e d  o u t", in: O. Breidbach, K. Clausberg und K.P. Dencker (Hg.): Video, ergo sum, Hamburg 1999


"As primary component, communication contains a com-" Latin for 'with'. Basically, this contains all of the questions and the problems: What goes with what, who goes together with whom, so that communication takes place? What does that WITH imply? Answer: the with is to be read temporally and does not imply synchronicity; instead it implies posteriority between (a) thinking and (b) speaking (c) speaker and (d) listener. Pure simultaneity would destroy communication. Thus one has to first form one, and then transmit it. Posteriority, however, contains the seed of information distortion. As such, a weak dilemma exists for communication: synchronicity would be too early (speaking cannot take place without thought and comes later; in the same vein, the listener has to wait for that which has been spoken and comprehends later), but posteriority contains the possibility of deformation through hearing wrongly, through a different expectation, through remembering.

As long as we speak with others and even as long as we assume them foreigners, they are others like ourselves. Yet the locked-in patients become others in a different sense. Whatever we infer - they think, but cannot speak - they live in or even as a separation between mental states and the expression of them. We are confronted with a limit of understanding "other minds". Our language of understanding them becomes a soliloquy we speak to ourselves.

Bernhard H.F. Taureck
Professor of Philosophy, University of Braunschweig