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Ordering Discourse: Ways of Constituting Knowledge - Essay Example

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Ordering Discourse: Ways of Constituting Knowledge

Discourse does not simply translate reality into language; rather discourse should be seen as a system which structures the way that we perceive reality (Mills 55-60). We desire to order discourse because it creates our world. By shaping our view of the world, pulling together chains of associations that produce a meaningful understanding, and then organizing the way we behave towards objects in the world and towards other people. In this way, it generates a world of our everyday life. The world is constructed socially through a complex interaction between experience, upbringing, and education. Discourses as chains of language play an important role in binding us together as social beings and in this way construct our understanding of social reality (Bernauer and Carrette 221-255). Discourse generates knowledge and truth such that it does not only constitute the world we live in but also all forms of knowledge and truth. Knowledge for Foucault was not something that existed independently of language. Knowledge is not simply communicated through language: all knowledge is organized through structures, interconnections, and associations that are built into the language. Certain discourses in certain contexts have the power to convince people to accept statements as true. This power may have no relation to any objective correctness of the statement (Mills 55-90). We also desire to order discourse because it says something about individuals who speak it. Discourse does not only communicate the intended meaning of language but also something about the speaker of the discourse. By analyzing the discourse a speaker uses it is easy to tell something about the speaker such as gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and class or even about the relationship that the speaker has with the people around him. A look at medical discourse, for example, it gives the doctor the power or authority to speak to their patients (Bernauer and Carrette 221-255). We order discourse because it is related to power. Discourse is intimately involved with socially embedded networks of power. Certain discourses enable specific types of people to speak the truth or to be believed when speaking on specific subjects, they also give individuals degrees of social, cultural and political power. Doctors, for example, are more believed when they talk about physical or mental illness and this way they have the authority to recommend courses of action or patterns of behavior. In early societies, religious authorities wielded tremendous power because they had the power to speak about the divine. This power was caught up with their specific position but was also based on the fact that religious discourse suffused all of life, shaping the social organization and influencing how people interpreted the world (Mills 55-90). There are a few problems with language that discursive ordering aims to solve. These include how people use language such that there is no common language that is used universally. In discursive ordering, it is important that people share the same language so that they can understand one another in the process of their discussion. Secondly, language contains symbols that are interpreted differently by different people. Discursive ordering aims to look for common symbols that can be used in order to generate the desired meaning so as to avoid misunderstanding. ...Show more


An author of the essay "Ordering Discourse: Ways of Constituting Knowledge" reports that discourse does not simply translate reality into language; rather discourse should be seen as a system which structures the way that we perceive reality (Mills 55-60)…
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