Communicology is a newly emerging field of study which endeavors to gain a critical understanding of human communication. Historically, communicology is somewhat distinct from communication studies, inasmuch as the former developed out of a phenomenological perspective (Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Charles Peirce, etc.), whereas communication studies was prompted initially as a response to the development of new media (Walter Lippmann, Claude Shannon und Warren Weaver, etc.). Communicology approaches communication from an embodied social scientific perspective, i.e., as embedded in the (contextualized) lived world. It focuses on cognitive schemas, meaning, and value systems.
The research being done here is geared towards examining the fusion of these cognitive schemas with actual acts of communication. The primary, direct focus is on the crystallization of meaning: What is the concrete meaning of a given communicative act? How is meaning constituted in this act? What cognitive schemas support this process? How does the meaning constituted reflect the social environment and actual lived world in which it is embedded? What social values underlie that particular lived world and give shape to the meaning embedded therein?
Introspective research procedures designed to disclose the meaning of such communicative acts are lacking, and the current research thrust is to develop phenomenological and hermeneutical methods that sharpen introspection such that the meaning of specific acts of communication and the underlying cognitive schemas can be disclosed. This is where Husserl’s phenomenology und Heidegger’s and Gadamer’s hermeneutics come into play. The short-term goal is to develop a pedagogical method that heightens the individuals’ awareness of their role in acts of communication such that the meaning of those acts and signs or symbols used in communication can be disclosed. The long-term goal is epistemological; once the methods have been refined, we hope to disclose cognitive schemas and social values that underlie e.g. cross-cultural communication to foster understanding.
One distinguishing characteristic of the phenomenological perspective that was carried over into the hermeneutical approach developed by Heidegger is that it starts and to a large extent remains in the perspective of the first person singular, in the perspective of the individual. Latent in this perspective is the danger of relativity - the danger that the "truths" rendered by this approach are relative to the being of the individual doing the research. In an effort to distance his hermeneutics from this threat of relativity, Gadamer introduces the notion of games and language games as a major constituent of his theoretical matrix. In an interest in emphasizing the bond between individual communication and the "seeing-as" structures embedded in the lived world (i.e., meaning and social values), language game theory is a fundamental component of hermeneutics as employed in this research strain. This also has the exciting benefit of providing a framework - role-playing games - that has proven to be an excellent foundation for introspective research into acts of communication, as can be seen in the projects described here.