Publication details [#4280]

Dyer, Gordon. 1996. Enthalpy as metaphor for the chemistry of conversations. Bochumer Philosophisches Jahresbuch für Antike und Mittelalter 13 (2) : 145–157. 13 pp.


The paper examines enthalpy change, a concept which derives from thermochemistry, as a metaphor for providing insights into and a design guide for effective scholarly conversations. The topic of enthalpy is presented in a form which it is hoped is accessible to the lay reader. Enthalpy in chemical reactions is explored in the context of activation energy, the role of catalysts, energy release from chemical exothermic reactions, reversible reactions and issues of reactant mixing. The ideas arising are then interpreted in the context of energy and the dynamics necessary to sustain an effective conversation. These are intended to guide both participants and the planners of conversations. The paper also draws on ideas from other recent work by the author (1995) related to the rights and responsibilities of those involved in systems design within small social units to ensure that all participants' freedoms are protected. A design guide for conversations incorporating both the domains of energy and freedoms is then offered. (Gordon Dyer)