Challenging Theories of Knowing

The article “Challenging Theories of Knowing” by Patricia A. Dunn primarily defines Composition in terms of writing.  While writing is a predominant form of , Composition encompasses more art forms than just writing.  In our course, for example, we define Composition as creating work that makes an impact whether it is with words—written or spoken, sounds, colors, images, etc. Our compositions take the form of word in combination with these other mediums.  The words don’t necessarily define our Compositions; they enhance our media but don’t exactly carry them. This is different from the idea of the “primacy of language” that emphasizes the importance of words and how they impact our rhetoric; particularly that Composition is our love of rearranging words that have been used millions of times before, but in a new and unique way. We interpret and analyze words with other words. We often have to show our knowledge using written words.  In educational settings, students are asked to write critiques, responses, and even online posts, but we can also express our knowledge and thought through art, music, and film.

Dunn makes it known that she doesn’t believe writing is the only means of knowing, but language is the most common form of communication. She says, “Writing and its role in thinking does not have to be conceived of as binary.”  There are other ways of knowing besides language, but most philosophers have focused on knowledge and its association with discourse and words.  They believed the conflation of knowledge and writing was an active mind that created meaning with words, which are represented by symbols.

There is more to knowing than just words.  The words have no meaning without other forms of intelligence, such as emotional intelligence.  Words have no meaning without relationships, memories, and events, which are what Daniel Goleman says are representative of “nonlinguistic images.”

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