Like consciousness is always consciousness of something (if you believe Husserl), making sense is always to someone, to some particular first-person singular. It’s interior, private, personal. That makes sense to me. But I have to ask you, Does this make sense to you?

Sensemaking works with sensation and sensibility, how things appear to me, how they seem to go along. I make sense of what I’m in touch with. My attention is called for, is drawn to particularities like a horse (like Narcissus) to water. I want to make something of it. I want to make sense of it, what it means. A sense of order.

Sensemaking is like waymaking, a life’s work of orientation and practice in orientation. Learning and becoming skilled, in relation with the world and others over time, in relation to knowing and uncertainty, to trust and self-confidence. Discovering the eros and kinship of making sense together, finding each other in the world, this shared world, realising you and I as we, first-persons plural. The constant negotiation of that.

Sensemaking develops, as if procedurally, along a path, along many paths. (“To proceed” suggests both “to go” and “to yield”.) What I make sense of takes form, accumulates, becomes understanding, weighty and weight-bearing, gravid. Something to believe in, the world and one’s place in the world.

Novelty now comes as a surprise, the unexpected. Delightfully, in laughter or wonder. Dreadfully, as upheaval, failure or excess. What I can’t (or won’t) make sense of, what I cannot (or will not) accommodate or account for, shakes the foundations of my world, my self, all my relations.

What makes sense to me might not make sense to you. Reason is called for. We hold each other accountable and we are each held to account. Be reasonable, we beg or demand. Be sensible. If I can give you good reason, you might come to see it my way. If not, there will be some uneasiness between us. If we are at odds, no longer in harmony. If we no longer agree, cannot (or will not) cut some slack. If we can’t bear each other. Our whole world is put in question, in jeopardy. And then what will we do, you and I? What would we be willing to stake? At what cost? For what gain?

2 thoughts on “Making sense

  1. The question that arises for me has to do with cognition, conceptuality. Do things always and only make sense cognitively? Must sense, by definition, be subject to articulation? Is there any other modality in which sense can be made?

    1. Yes to the first, by definition. Cognition. the mental [“mind”] action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses.
      Articulation, putting into words, is required? Yes, I think so.
      And, yes, there is also something else at work, something I don’t think English has a good word for. Something more intuitive, a sense of alignment or rapport, the faculty by which we know when the words click (or fail to).

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