free and open to the public
This talk will be about how people – even well-meaning people – can fail to understand one another in ways that are systematically difficult to escape. The systematic lack of understanding in which I am interested is plausibly manifested in the extreme political polarization that we see in the twenty-first century. But it is also plausibly manifested is less extreme forms even within loving relationships. My goal in the talk is to offer a rationalizing explanation of such mutual misunderstandings – one that makes intelligible how even loving and well-meaning people can fail to fully understand one another. The key ingredient in this explanation is an account of a novel and underappreciated kind of silencing.