Listening, Thinking, Being

Toward an Ethics of Attunement

By (author) Lisbeth Lipari

Hardback - £55.95

Publication date:

24 June 2014

Length of book:

288 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271063324

Although listening is central to human interaction, its importance is often ignored. In the rush to speak and be heard, it is easy to neglect listening and disregard its significance as a way of being with others and the world. Drawing upon insights from phenomenology, linguistics, philosophy of communication, and ethics, Listening, Thinking, Being is both an invitation and an intervention meant to turn much of what readers know, or think they know, about language, communication, and listening inside out. It is not about how to be a good listener or the numerous pitfalls that stem from the failure to listen. Rather, the purpose of the book is, first, to make readers aware of the value and importance of listening as a fundamental human ability inextricably connected with language and thought; second, to alert readers to the complexity of listening from personal, cultural, and philosophical perspectives; and third, to offer readers a way to think of listening as a mode of communicative action by which humans create and abide in the world. Lisbeth Lipari brings together historical, literary, intercultural, scientific, musical, and philosophical perspectives, as well as a range of her own personal experiences, to produce this highly readable analysis of how “the human experience of being as an ethical relation with others . . . is enacted by means of listening.”

“In Listening, Thinking, Being, Lisbeth Lipari addresses “our failure to listen for the other” and the need to conceive of communication, particularly listening, beyond Western culture’s emphasis on speech, which privileges visual and spatial conceptions of the communication process.

“This beautifully written book takes the reader on a journey where the usual perspectives on language and communication are turned upside down and reconceived from an alternative standpoint. Lipari offers a complete picture, leading to an ethics of discourse: listening has a place in the ethical relation to the other, and is a source of ethical virtue. Communication and ethics flow together in the existential statement that listening brings humans into being, and ethics is enacted in listening ‘for and to the otherness of others.’

“The book will further the theoretical discussion within the fields of both communication studies and ethics. Moreover, it invites not only an intellectual and knowledge-oriented reading, but reflection on the reader's own practice of speaking and listening.

“This is an important, thought-provoking work which is sure to find an audience. It will be very useful for teaching as well as for reflection on language and on otherness for practitioners of all kinds.

—Marie-Cécile Bertau, Institute for Phonetics and Speech Processing, University of Munich