This article begins with what it means to be human. Although we may first and foremost conceive of ourselves as individual persons, our very personhood depends on others. We are both individual and social beings. We then proceed to reflect on human nature as being-with-others, conditioned and orientated towards others. The uniquely human endowment of language as our social and cultural habitat, as well as the source of individual and social empowerment, demonstrates this. Communication is, therefore, an essential human need and a fundamental social necessity. Its central core is the philosophical notion of intersubjectivity, which implies communication in freedom, equality and solidarity. The final reflections are on communication as the life-blood of society.
This article first appeared in idoc internazionale, Vol. 30, Nos. 1 & 2, January-June 1999. Rome: IDOC. Republished in Communicating Peace: Entertaining Angels Unawares (ed. Philip Lee), Penang: Southbound (2008). PDF.