Discourse and Theosophy, by George McNamara

In its simplest form, a discourse is a conversation, but this meaning has expanded to include all the debate, discussion and evaluation that goes on, filling the media with millions of column inches of text and thousands of hours of airtime on TV and radio.

Recently, discourse has been studied intensively. At the personal level, our conversations have systems of turn-taking, precedence, and keeping to the point, as well as the rules of grammar and vocabulary. Obviously, when words are used by the Government or in business, they can be analysed, and this goes beyond semantics into a new level of discourse studies. The academics who study discourse look at the rules which are "coded-in" to communications of all types. In particular, Critical Discourse Analysis looks at how power relationships are implicit in discourses. We instinctively understand a lot of this from "reading between the lines", but, if we can carry out a rigorous study, we can achieve results which go beyond personal opinions and debating positions.

In this article, I describe more fully how discourses can be evaluated, the importance of context, and how the dispositive can evaluate the coherence between discourse and reality. I have also developed a Discourse Toolbox for the rigorous analysis of texts, and this is set out in full at my website www.discoursetoolbox.co.uk

This article is available as a Word document HERE, however I have also split it into web pages, which could best be read sequentially

  1. Structures and Properties of Discourse (strands, events, levels, entanglements and events)
  2. Discourse Position. How the position taken by the commentator affects what they write
  3. Context Analysis. Understanding the context is essential to understanding a communication
  4. The Dispositive. A test of the coherence between discourses, events and objects
  5. The Mental Plane. How ideas from discourse affect theospophy.
  6. A Discourse Toolbox. A rigorous set of techniques for understanding communications.

On my website www.discoursetoolbox.co.uk I have applied the Discourse Toolbox to a UK government food policy text, and to food in general, and I use examples from food and farming wherever I can.

Next Page - Structure and Properties of Discourse