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  • Author: Prof. Dr. Holger Kuße x
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The paper deals with the ‘semantics of representation’ and the ‘pragmatics of consensus’ in the work of Johann Amos Comenius. The term ‘semantics of representation’ refers to the concept that things (all that can be referred to) are represented by thoughts in the mind, and thoughts are represented by words. ‘Pragmatics of consensus’ means that normative rules of communicative behaviour can be formulated which in practice lead to effective negotiation. The semantics of representation was a common sense view on language in Comenius’ time and can be seen as a presupposition in his arguing about learning, teaching, understanding and communicating in all his works, not only in the schoolbook Orbis sensualium pictus, but also in Via lucis or De rerum humanarum emendatione consultatio catholica (Consultatio catholica) and others. The pragmatics of consensus was developed mostly in latter works, especially in Consultatio catholica.

At the beginning of the paper three of Comenius’ pictures (from the early novel Labyrint světa, the schoolbook Orbis pictus and the theoretical work Triertium catholicum) are compared. The famous drawing of the labyrinth of the world shows a confusing town landscape in a closed circle and symbolizes the chaotic life of man after his fall and the Babylonian language confusion. The didactic emblem for Orbis pictus shows the world in harmony with God’s will. The abstract scheme in Triertium catholicum visualizes the connections between things (res), thoughts (mens), language (lingua) and action (manus). They form a stable and universal order in which thoughts, language and action are interconnected in a triadic relation. Especially the drawing of the labyrinth and the scheme in the theoretical work Triertium catholicum build a contrast between chaos and order. But it is shown that the order of the latter one is also the underlying structure of the confused communication in the labyrinth. Therefore, in Comenius’ view the aim and the duty of the philosopher and teacher is to heal the unhealthy reality of communication, which should be done on the base of normative rules of harmonic and effective communication. These rules are developed by Comenius in his famous Consultatio catholica. The paper closes with a short discussion of the actuality and efficiency of Comenius’ suggestions.