Speaking Into The Air: A History of the Idea of Communication

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byJohn Durham Peters

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Communication plays a vital and unique role in society-often blamed for problems when it breaks down and at the same time heralded as a panacea for human relations. A sweeping history of communication, Speaking Into the Air illuminates our expectations of communication as both historically specific and a fundamental knot in Western thought.

"This is a most interesting and thought-provoking book. . . . Peters maintains that communication is ultimately unthinkable apart from the task of establishing a kingdom in which people can live together peacefully. Given our condition as mortals, communication remains not primarily a problem of technology, but of power, ethics and art." —Antony Anderson, New Scientist

"Guaranteed to alter your thinking about communication. . . . Original, erudite, and beautifully written, this book is a gem." —Kirkus Reviews

"Peters writes to reclaim the notion of authenticity in a media-saturated world. It's this ultimate concern that renders his book a brave, colorful exploration of the hydra-headed problems presented by a rapid-fire popular culture." —Publishers Weekly

What we have here is a failure-to-communicate book. Funny thing is, it communicates beautifully. . . . Speaking Into the Air delivers what superb serious books always do-hours of intellectual challenge as one absorbs the gradually unfolding vision of an erudite, creative author." —Carlin Romano, Philadelphia Inquirer

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From the Publisher

Communication plays a vital and unique role in society-often blamed for problems when it breaks down and at the same time heralded as a panacea for human relations. A sweeping history of communication, Speaking Into the Air illuminates our expectations of communication as both historically specific and a fundamental knot in Western tho...

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Communication plays a vital and unique role in society-often blamed for problems when it breaks down and at the same time heralded as a panacea for human relations. A sweeping history of communication, Speaking Into the Air illuminates our expectations of communication as both historically specific and a fundamental knot in Western tho...

John Durham Peters is an associate professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Iowa.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:304 pages, 9 × 6 × 1 inLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226662772

ISBN - 13:9780226662770

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Problem of Communication
The Historicity of Communication
The Varied Senses of "Communication"
Sorting Theoretical Debates in (and via) the 1920s
Technical and Therapeutic Discourses after World War II
1. Dialogue and Dissemination
Dialogue and Eros in the Phaedrus
Dissemination in the Synoptic Gospels
2. History of an Error: The Spiritualist Tradition
Christian Sources
From Matter to Mind: "Communication" in the Seventeenth Century
Nineteenth-Century Spiritualism
3. Toward a More Robust Vision of Spirit: Hegel, Marx, and Kierkegaard
Hegel on Recognition
Marx (versus Locke) on Money
Kierkegaard's Incognitos
4. Phantasms of the Living, Dialogues with the Dead
Recording and Transmission
Hermeneutics as Communication with the Dead
Dead Letters
5. The Quest for Authentic Connection, or Bridging the Chasm
The Interpersonal Walls of Idealism
Fraud or Contact? James on Psychical Research
Reach Out and Touch Someone: The Telephonic Uncanny
Radio: Broadcasting as Dissemination (and Dialogue)
6. Machines, Animals, and Aliens: Horizons of Incommunicability
The Turing Test and the Insuperability of Eros
Animals and Empathy with the Inhuman
Communication with Aliens
Conclusion: A Squeeze of the Hand
The Gaps of Which Communication Is Made
The Privilege of the Receiver
The Dark Side of Communication
The Irreducibility of Touch and Time
Appendix: Extracts (Supplied by a Sub-sublibrarian)
Acknowledgments
Index