Volume 2 · Number 2-3 · Pages 118–128
Understanding. The Mutual Regulation of Cognition and Culture

Gebhard Rusch

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Purpose: Demonstrate that cognitive and social approaches towards understanding do not at all oppose but rather they complement each other. Constructivist concepts of understanding paved the way to conceive of understanding as a cognitive-social “mechanism” which mutually regulates processes of social structuration and, at the same time, cognitive constructions and processing. Findings: Constructivist approaches bridge the gap between the cognitive and the social faces of understanding. They demonstrate how comprehension and cultivation, cognition and cultural reproduction are mutually linked to each other by the cognitive-social “mechanism” of understanding. As a consequence, the unavoidable immunisation against communicative demands from others jeopardizes the achievements of our communicative culture. Practical implications: Communicators are even more responsible for success or failure of communication than recipients. Moreover, as educators they are responsible for both cultural reproduction and the reinforcement of creativity and innovation. This double bind can only be managed with strong and resistant personal relations. All construction of meaning and all interpretation should be conceived of as a pro-construction, a hypothetical provisional reading made for the tough going of public or scholarly discourse. Original value: Concept of understanding integrating philosophical, psychological and sociological approaches within a constructivist theory of communication and reception.

Key words: understanding, communication, reception, cognition, structuration, hermeneutics


Rusch G. (2007) Understanding. The mutual regulation of cognition and culture. Constructivist Foundations 2(2-3): 118–128. http://constructivist.info/2/2-3/118

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