Lesson Six: Communication

Concept: Communication

  1. Symbol: Communicative, communicator, communicatee, communicating.
  1. Base: Restored Gospel
  1. Etymology: L. communis, fr. com + munio, to build a wall, to enclose together, to be together inside, thus to be together in ideas, feelings and actions.
  1. Dictionary: Oxford English Dictionary


  • To give to another as partaker, transmit.
  • To impart (knowledge or information).
  • To impart a material thing.
  • To share in or use in common.
  • To converse with.
  • Vessels, spaces, rooms which open into each other.

Examples in base: To communicate a disease. The parlor communicates with the study. The king killed the bearers of the unwanted communication. His expression communicated great distress.

  1. Correlative concepts:
  • Genus:    Relationships
  • Constituents:   At least two things in some relationship.
  • Prerequisites:  At least two things.
  • Consequences:   Possibility of moving from one place to another.
    • Effect of one thing on another.
  • Similar:       Influence, sharing, effect.
  • Contrary:       Passive, inert, self-contained, closed.
  • Perfection:     Total union with.
  • Opposite:       Private, alone.
  • Complement:     Aloof.
  • Counterfeit:    Deceive.
  • Levels:
    • Celestial: Communicate love.
    • Terrestrial:      Communicate truth.
    • Telestial:  Communicate material things only.
    • Perdition:  Communicate to destroy (hate, lies, bombs, etc.)
  1. Key Questions:
    1. Why do intelligent beings communicate?
      1. to fulfill desires.
    2. What is righteous communication?
      1. Where all parties are better off as a result.
    3. Why is not sending a message a powerful form of communication?
      1. It says “I don’t care about you.”
    4. Why is too much communication at times an evil?
      1. Because what is important tends to get lost in the mass.
  1. Definitions:
  • Static communication: The physical connection of one thing with another.
  • Dynamic communication: The effect one being has upon another.
  1. Negative/Positive Examples:
    1. Negative example: Saul was unaffected by Stephen’s testimony.
    2. Positive example: Saul was greatly affected by Jesus’ testimony.
  1. Desired effect of this concept:
  • Heart: I should desire to have a good effect on every being I influence.
  • Mind: I should thoroughly understand the communication process and communicate only truth wherever possible.
  • Strength: I should master good communications skills.
  • Might: I should surround myself with good things, thus assuring that my stewardship communicates encouragement to do good things to all who see it.

To exist is to communicate.

To be an intelligent being is to have desires and to seek to fulfill them. Desire is occasioned by an adverse environment. Dynamic communication is the attempt of an intelligent being to get the environment to change to fulfill its desires. Thus all deliberate action is communication.

Whatever one does or does not do has an effect on one’s environment, even if the action is quite inadvertent. Inadvertent action is thus a communication.

Non-intelligent beings also affect their environment. Example: A drive line communicates (transmits) power. Thus all action is communication.

Passive beings also affect their environment. Example: The mountain just sits there; but it affects everything around it. Thus it also communicates.

Thus to exist is to communicate. Every action and non-action has an effect on the environment, intended or unintended.

The unit of communication by intelligent beings is the message.

A message is the effect an intelligent being has upon the occasion of a given act.

All messages have at least four parts:

  1. The sender’s purpose. What the sender is trying to accomplish.
  2. The sender’s assertion. What the sender does.
  3. The sender’s support. The strength or power of the assertion.
  4. The sender’s relevance. The effect the sender’s given act has and will yet have on the environment because of the assertion made.

Example a: You are watching an archer shoot an arrow. To understand him you must:

  1. Hypothesize what he is trying to hit.
  2. Observe what kind of an arrow he is shooting.
  3. Estimate the power of the bow he is using.
  4. Observe or hypothesize the effect his arrow will have on whatever it strikes.

Example b: You see red and blue flashing lights in your rear-view mirror. To understand those lights you must:

  1. Guess who the lights are intended to affect.
  2. Know that such lights mean to pull over to the roadside.
  3. Wonder what authority the user of the lights has.
  4. Remain in ignorance until you see what comes of this.

Example c. Someone is speaking in sacrament meeting. To understand this person you must;

  1. Hypothesize his real intent.
  2. Hear the actual words he says and form them into meanings, then boil the total communication down to a single assertion.
  3. Observe the evidence that he speaks the truth, both out of the support he offers for his message and that which you have in your mind which confirms or denies the truth of what is said.
  4. Observe the effect of the message on yourself and others and guess what the future effects will be, if any.

Simple capture is the delineation of the four factors of a message:

  1. Purpose. (Your hypothesis as to the intent of the communicator.)
  2. Main assertion. (Your summary of what the communicator does/says to fulfill that intent.)
  3. Support. (Your summary of the evidence given for the speaker of the value of what he says [internal support], and the relevant evidence of which you are aware from the present environment and from your prior knowledge [external support]).
  4. Relevance. (Your estimate of the present effect or importance of the main assertion [proximate relevance] and also of the long-range relevance [ultimate relevance].)

Simple capture is the minimum adequate understanding of a communication.

Total communication occurs when there is a full, complete capture of a message.

Total communication is the complete understanding of an assertion. To achieve this the observer must:

  1. Know the speaker’s purpose as one aspect of all of his desires.
  2. Fully comprehend the speaker’s assertion in the context of all his past and present assertions.
  3. Fully grasp the value or strength of the speaker’s assertion in the context of a knowledge of the truth and value of all things.
  4. Fully understand the total of the proximate relevance and of the ultimate relevance of what the speaker says.

Thus total communication is a full grasp not only of the message of a speaker but of the speaker and also of the universe. Needless to say, total communication is reserved only for the gods.

Those who are in training to become gods would do well to attempt total capture as one part of learning to be as God is.

Question: Since there are only two beings any mortal has a real opportunity to begin to capture fully, it would be well to know who those two beings are. Who are they?

Full capture is the human attempt at total communication.

Full capture is the elaboration of the basic questions of simple capture.

The following is a suggested set of questions to be asked and answered in a “full” capture:

  1. What is the author’s purpose?
    1. Who is the author?
    2. What is the author’s background?
    3. What are the author’s overall goals?
    4. What are the author’s culture and language?
    5. What is the author’s audience, time/place of delivery?
  2. What is the author’s main assertion?
    1. What is the problem which prompted this assertion?
    2. What type of assertion is this?
    3. What is the feeling component of the message?
    4. What is the author doing about this message himself?
    5. What else has this author said?
  3. What is the support for this assertion?
    1. What internal support does the author proffer?
    2. Is the internal support appropriate and authentic?
    3. What environmental (external) support is there for or against this assertion?
    4. How does my own knowledge and experience support this assertion?
    5. What support do my fellow listeners have for or against this assertion?
    6. What is the structure of the author’s argument?
  4. What is the relevance of this assertion?
    1. This message is part of what system of thought?
    2. Does this message build or tear down that system of thought?
    3. What am I doing by way of reaction to this assertion?
    4. What are others doing to react to this message?
    5. Will this message be remembered or forgotten?
    6. If remembered, what will be the long-term reaction to it?
    7. If this message is correct, what are the benefits/penalties for acceptance/non-acceptance of it?
    8. If this message is incorrect, what are the benefits/penalties for acceptance/non-acceptance of it?

Communication has integrity when the speaker/author has integrity.

The four aspects of a message map onto heart, might, mind and strength:

  1. Purpose maps to heart.
  2. Main assertion maps to mind.
  3. Support maps to strength.
  4. Relevance maps to might.

Integrity of communication is that state of affairs which obtains when a speaker’s purpose, main assertion, support and relevance are all honest and going the same direction. Examples to the contrary: In flattery and sarcasm, the speaker’s communication factors are at odds with one another; he says one thing but intends another.

Since all actions of a person are but the expression of his heart, might, mind and strength, his communication will have integrity only when his heart, might, mind and strength are all focused in concert in the right direction, in the direction of righteousness and truth. Then and only then will that person’s communication have integrity.

Messages may be sent by a variety of means.

The variety of means available for communication extends to every kind of act or non-action which a person may execute. These include:

  1. Body language
  2. Spoken language
  3. Dress
  4. Where one locates himself in space at special times
  5. How one conducts his business or professional life
  6. The location, type, furnishings and upkeep of one’s home
  7. The causes one supports and opposes
  8. Silence or other inaction at critical junctures
  9. The art forms and objects one creates, and one’s reactions to the art forms others create

The principal communication vehicle of humanity with which we will further concern ourselves in this lesson is spoken and written language.

Language is a many-layered vehicle for communication.

Well-developed linguistic structures always have at least four layers:

  1. A set of values.
  2. A set of beliefs. 1 and 2 together constitute a culture.
  3. A language, which consists of:
    1. A grammar (patterns of speech) and a lexicon (defined words).
    2. Sets of codes in which the language may be symbolized:
      1. A phoneme code (spoken language)
      2. A graphic code (written language)
      3. Specialized codes: Morse, semaphore, sign language, cryptographic types, etc.
  4. Patterns of customary response to language structures (these responses may or may not be linguistic).

When two languages meet and are mutually unintelligible, three layers of language develop with time:

  1. Pidgin: Very basic language to facilitate cooperation; many gestures, much pointing, mostly basic verb forms, few nouns, no other parts of speech. Spoken by first-generation contacts.
  2. Creole: Tensed verbs, many nouns, some adjectives and adverbs. Spoken by second generation contacts; developed to allow greater communication.
  3. Full language: an amalgam of the two languages which allows full expression of ideas. Modern English is an example of a language which developed through these stages from the meeting of French and Anglo-Saxon.

Another layering of language takes place in regard to the complexity and sophistication of the ideas involved:

  1. There is a common-sense version of the language which people speak to be understood by everyone.
  2. There is an erudite version of the language when there are “educated” people in a culture. (Universities produce people who speak this kind of English.)
  3. There are the specialized languages of the trades and professions, usually mutually unintelligible in their specialized terms. This level is known as “jargon.”

Layering of language takes place in many cultures through dialect:

  1. Every village has a dialect which becomes the “mother tongue” of each individual born there.
  2. Each province has a provincial language which facilitates commerce over a larger area.
  3. Each nation or kingdom has a national language which is the vehicle of cultural inheritance and political power. (It has been kings who usually insist on a national language.)
  4. Sometimes there is a separate language of learning, as Latin functioned in medieval Europe across all national boundaries.

Another way of dividing language is in the nature of the symbols used to represent ideas:

  1. One end of the spectrum uses symbols which are highly representational. In some way they “look” like the thing they are symbolizing. Examples are musical notation and onomatopoeic words. These words require little definition and usually are not capable of representing very complex ideas.
  2. At the other end of the spectrum are symbols which are highly referential; they refer to something which must be understood independently. The symbol affords no clue as to what kind of thing it represents. Examples are the words “water” and “mind.” These words require much definition but can carry an immense amount of meaning.

Every communication may he described as an assertion.

An assertion is any act performed by a person, an agent. As a person acts under choice or could be acting under choice, one is said to be asserting oneself.

One asserts oneself to attempt to change or control aspects of one’s environment.

There are four basic kinds of assertions: Disclosures, descriptions, directives, and declarations.

Disclosure is the reporting of one’s values and value decisions.

There are two basic kinds of disclosure assertions:

  1. Value judgments. (Related to historic particulars.) Examples:
  2. The sonata was beautifully rendered.
  3. Her beauty was fading noticeably.
  4. This is the greatest triumph of all!
  5. The last hour seemed like a year.
  6. Statements of value. (Abstract generalizations.) Examples:
  7. Honesty is the best policy.
  8. Procrastination is a great evil.
  9. He is unworthy of your support.
  10. I would rather be an engineer.

The basic question about disclosures is: Are they genuinely representative? When a person states his or her values, is that how he or she really feels? The best clue as to the correct answer to these questions is to watch what the person does.

Description is the reporting of one’s beliefs.

There are four basic kinds of descriptive assertions:

  1. Facts. These report the interpretation of phenomena.
    1. Common-sense facts: Interpretive report of any phenomena. Examples:
      1. He was a huge man.
      2. There was cat hair on the carpet.
      3. The witness testified that he couldn’t remember the event.
    2. Strict facts: Interpretive report of one’s own present phenomena. Examples:
      1. This speck is a crabgrass seed. Which is for most purposes the same as saying: I believe this is a crabgrass seed.
      2. The color in the flask has turned bright red.
      3. The document says that Bonaparte did not die on Elba.
    3. Laws. These are generalizations upon fact.
      1. Common-sense laws: Culturally accepted generalizations of common-sense facts. Examples:
      2. A watched pot never boils.
      3. Heavier objects fall faster than light ones.\
      4. Whatever can go wrong will go wrong. (Murphy’s law).
    4. Strict laws: Scientific (careful, justified) generalizations of strict facts. Examples:
      1. Free falling objects accelerate in a vacuum at the rate of 1/2gt2.
      2. Pure water freezes at 0 degrees centigrade.
      3. A stream can rise no higher than its source.
    5. Theories. These are fictive creations to explain laws.
      1. Common-sense theories: Personal conjecture. Examples:
      2. He must have had an unhappy childhood.
      3. Maybe he has cancer.
      4. He must hate women.
    6. Scientific theories: These involve fictive elements but are rigorously controlled by the related scientific facts and laws. Examples:
      1. Greek and Sanskrit descend from a common origin.
      2. Wasps have a nest-building instinct.
      3. Most people desire to look down on someone.
    7. Principles. These are basic, unproved premises which guide thought.
      1. Common-sense principles: Cultural axioms. Example:
      2. Whatever ends has a beginning.
    8. Scientific principles. Ideas which have proved useful in the construction of scientific theories. Example:
      1. There is a cause for everything.

Directives are the attempt to control the actions of others.

Directives are of four basic kinds:

  1. Commands: Obvious literal instructions to a hearer. Examples:
    1. Pay attention!
    2. Sign on the dotted line.
  2. Definitions: Instructions as to how to use symbols. Examples:
    1. “Avarice” means greed.
    2. A “trustee” is a person who is legally responsible for a given trust.
  3. Questions: Instructions to another as to what to say. Examples:
    1. What time is it?
    2. Why won’t you help me?
  4. Art forms. These are guides for sensation and imagination. Examples:
    1. The Mona Lisa
    2. Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony
    3. “Once upon a time …

Declarations are words spoken by a person in authority which change the status of something or someone over whom that person has authority.

Declarations are of one type only.


  1. The boss says “You’re hired.” And by that you are hired.
  2. The preacher says “I now pronounce you man and wife” and you by those words changed from a single to a married state.
  3. The professor says “A term paper is required for this course,” and by those words the requirement is set.

Some linguistic formulations are mixtures of the types.

Every assertion has elements of valuation, belief and directive in it. To classify an assertion is to see how much of each element is present. Example:

  1. “I don’t believe in miracles.”

This assertion is a disclosure in that it reveals that the person places no value on miracles (disclosure), and therefore does not believe them (description), and wants you to believe that he or she does not believe in them (directive). Which element is the principal emphasis must be judged by context.

Capture Exercise

Directions: Perform a simple capture for each of the following units.

  1. (John 8:28-36)

Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.

And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him,. As he spake these words, many believed on him.

Then said Jesus to those Jews who believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?

Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house forever: but the Son abideth ever.

If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

  1. (Montgomery, LDS Hymn Book)

A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief

A poor wayfaring man of grief hath often crossed me on my way, Who sued so humbly for relief that I could never answer, Nay. I had not power to ask his name, where-to he went, or whence he came; Yet there was something in his eye that won my love; I knew not why.

Once, when my scanty meal was spread, he entered, not a word he spake;
Just perishing for want of bread, I gave him all; he blessed it, brake,
And ate, but gave me part again; mine was an angel’s portion then,
For while I fed with eager haste, the crust was manna to my taste.

I spied him where a fountain burst clear from rock; his strength was gone;
The heedless water mocked his thirst; he heard it, saw it, hurrying on.
I ran and raised the sufferer up; thrice from the stream he drained my cup,
Dipped and returned it running o’er; I drank and thirsted never more.

`Twas night; the floods were out; it blew a winter hurricane aloof;
I heard his voice abroad and flew to bid him welcome to my roof.
I warmed and clothed and cheered my guest, and laid him on my couch to rest,
Then made the earth my bed, and seemed in Eden’s garden while I dreamed.

Stript, wounded, beaten night to death, I found him by the highway side;
I roused his pulse, brought back his breath, revived his spirit, and supplied
Wine, oil, refreshment — he was healed; I had myself a wound concealed,
But from that hour forgot the smart, and peace bound up my broken heart.

In prison I saw him next, condemned to meet a traitor’s doom at morn’
The tide of lying tongues I stemmed, and honored him `mid shame and scorn.
My friendship’s utmost zeal to try, he asked if I for him would die;
The flesh was weak; my blood ran chill; but the free spirit cried, “I will!”

Then in a moment to my view the stranger started from disguise;
The tokens in his hands I knew; the Savior stood before mine eyes.
He spake, and my poor name he named, “Of me thou has not been ashamed;
These deeds shall thy memorial be, fear not, thou didst them unto me.”

  1. (Hugh Nibley, Commencement Address, Summer 1983)

What took place in the Graeco-Roman as in the Christian world was that fatal shift from leadership to management that marks the decline and fall of civilizations.

At the present time, Captain Grace Hopper, that grand old lady of the Navy, is calling our attention to the contrasting and conflicting natures of Management and Leadership. No one, she says, ever managed men into battle. She wants more emphasis in teaching leadership. But leadership can no more be taught than creativity or how to be a genius. The Generalstab tried desperately for a hundred years to train up a generation of leaders for the German army, but it never worked, because the men who delighted their superiors, i.e. the managers, got the high commands, while the men who delighted the lower ranks, i.e. the leaders, got reprimands. Leaders are movers and shakers, original, inventive, unpredictable, imaginative, full of surprises that discomfit the enemy in war and the main office in peace. For the managers are safe, conservative, predictable, conforming organization men and team players, dedicated to the establishment.

4, (Hugh Nibley, ibid.)

That Joseph Smith is beyond compare the greatest leader of modern times is a proposition that needs no argument. Brigham Young recalled that many of the brethren considered themselves better managers than Joseph and were often upset by his economic naivete. Brigham was certainly a better manager than the Prophet (or anybody else, for that matter), and he knew it, yet he always deferred to and unfailingly followed Brother Joseph all the way while urging others to do the same, because he knew only too well how small is the wisdom of men compared with the wisdom of God.

  1. (Monte Shelley)

It is “pleasing to the carnal mind” to believe that the Lord through the Holy Ghost communicates rarely because this allows one to “do whatsoever (his `natural’) heart desireth.” Laman and Lemuel believed this. In contrast, Nephi taught that the “Holy Ghost…will show unto you all things what ye should do.” (2 Nephi 32:5) In response Laman might say: “Yes, but there are very few things that I should do.” Laman might also say that free agency requires that there be few personal commandments. But the Lord’s servants teach that free agency requires opposing commandments, not an absence of commandments. Laman might also expect personal righteousness to be irrelevant to the amount of communication from the Holy Ghost; but Nephi stressed that “diligence in keeping (the Lord’s) commandments” is a prerequisite to obtaining more commandments.

  1. (C. C. Riddle)

That all mankind may know and understand the exact pattern of his love, our Savior has given to man three grand windows by which to learn of him and his ways. The First is the scriptures, which are the testimonies of dead prophets concerning how he loved. The second is the testimonies of living prophets today who tell us how he loves. The third is the whisperings of the Holy Spirit which tells us how he loves us also how we may love him and our neighbor even as he loves us. These three witnesses are inseparable. If we search and pray and obey until we see the unity of these witnesses, we will rise above our own private interpretation to a true understanding of the way of Christ. No man is saved faster than he gains this true understanding.

Assertion Analysis Exercise

Directions: 1. Rewrite each sentence to form it with crystal clarity into what you think is really being asserted.

  1. Designate the type (disclosure, description, directive).

(Note that for descriptions it will be necessary to give two analyses: a common-sense analysis and a technical analysis.)

  1. Damn the torpedoes!
  2. Gravity is the attraction of every object for every other object.
  3. No man is an island.
  4. We will overcome.
  5. Men are that they might have joy.
  6. Am I my brother’s keeper?
  7. Love your neighbor as yourself.
  8. Blessed are they that mourn.
  9. How oft would I have gathered you.
  10. You shall be as the gods.
  11. Paul Bunyan was the First president of the United States.
  12. George Washington was the first president of the United States.
  13. Do not vote for that polygamist!
  14. John D. Rockefeller was a robber baron.
  15. It is not meet that I should command in all things.
  16. I name this river “Lemuel.”

Notes on Truth

  • Etymological considerations:
  • AS treowe: fidelity, faith, troth
  • GR alethia: not hidden
  • HEB ken: set upright
  • emeth stable
  • FR vrai fr L verus: true: real, not counterfeit or illusory

Coherence theory: Consistent with a system of correct ideas.

Correspondence theory: The words (concepts) map accurately onto the real (sensory) world.

Descartes: Private clarity about that which I cannot doubt.

Pragmatic theory:

Pierce: Ultimately agreed upon by all who investigate.
James:      The true is the expedient.
Dewey:      the truth is warranted assertability.

Performance theory: “I attest that..

Revelatory theory: That to which the Holy Spirit attests; it becomes knowledge when subsequently personally sensed.

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