How real people mess up

Following up a December special issue…

Elizabeth Stokoe, introducing December’s ‘How real people communicate’ special, uses the word ‘real’ without an adequate explaination of it. The closest she gets to a definition is her description of how ‘In the  natural laboratory of real talk, we can identify what works. How real people communicate or at least how they say they would like to!’ Not a full or adequate definition?

Real, realism, anti realism are problematic terms used in a huge variety of ways. Kant provides one view: that we perceive objects as real only when they are independent of all our other perceptions.

Any discourse on ‘real’ might be expected to refer to psychoanalytic definitions. An exploration of Lacan’s ‘Real’ may well have led Stokoe to different conclusions. She continues: ‘It remains the case that psychologists do not, generally, study how real people communicate. Instead we run experiments about it, ask people to report it or stimulate it.’ Until we define ‘Real’ and ‘Reality’, we’re left with the unreal, a stimulation of realism or some other construction of unreality.

Real really does need to be explored.
Dr Chris Ridgeway
Leeds

Editor’s note: I have to hold my hands up here and say that ‘real’ was completely my doing… I tried to explain my thinking (obviously badly) in the editorial for that issue. Professor Stokoe is blameless.

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