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A middle way: Process philosophy and critical communication inquiry

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My contention in this article is that in order to construct critical communication knowledge useful for understanding change and affording a productive politics, critical scholars would benefit from an ongoing, serious discussion of the metaphysical assumptions that underlie our work. Conceiving change – understanding its process and how to create humane change – is the axis on which critical work turns. Process thought provides a relevant and useful philosophical context in which to address questions of change. I begin this article, then, with a brief argument to revisit and reconsider process thought in the context of communication scholarship. Next, I offer an overview of Alfred North Whitehead’s speculative and systematic approach, contrasting it with a traditional metaphysics approach. Following is an explication of process in contrast to substance and a discussion of some fundamental tenets that comprise a process theory of reality. A brief analysis of temporality animates the foregoing concepts and points to some implications, in the final section, for conceiving change in critical communication work from a process-oriented perspective.
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Keywords: Alfred North Whitehead; communication criticism; cultural critique; metaphysics; process philosophy

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Saint Mary’s College of California

Publication date: December 1, 2012

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  • Empedocles aims to provide a publication and discussion platform for those working at the interface of philosophy and the study of communication, in all its aspects. This Journal is published in cooperation with the Section for the Philosophy of Communication of ECREA, the European Communication Reserach and Education Association.
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