Dialogue/Cooperation as Debate/Conflict
Dialogue is to cooperation as debate is to conflict. Dialogue utilizes communication to facilitate harmony with the other while debate utilizes argumentation power to facilitate victory over the other.
Internet discussion forums advance the human aggressive desire (verbal video games); we have no such forum to advance the human need for harmonious cooperation. Dialogue is designed for the sophisticated intellect while debate is designed for the sophisticated sportsman. Debate has gotten our world into the mess we are now in: only dialogue can turn the stampeding herd from the cliffs ahead.
I think that our first step is for a significant percentage of our population to become intellectually sophisticated sufficiently so as to make many citizens capable of engaging in dialogical reasoning. To do this I think that many citizens must become self-actualizing self-learners when their school daze are over.
Under our normal cultural situation communication means to discourse, to exchange opinions with one another. It seems to me that there are opinions, considered opinions, and judgments. Opinions are a dime-a-dozen. Considered opinions, however, are opinions that have received a considerable degree of thought but have not received special study. A considered opinion starts out perhaps as tacit knowledge but receives sufficient intellectual attention to have become consciously organized in some fashion. Judgments are made within a process of study.
In dialogue, person ‘A’ may state a thesis and in return person ‘B’ does not respond with exactly the same meaning as does ‘A’. The meanings are generally similar but not identical; thus ‘A’ listening to ‘B’ perceives a disconnect between what she said and what ‘B’ replies. ‘A’ then has the opportunity to respond with this disconnect in mind, thereby creating a response that takes these matters into consideration; ‘A’ performs an operation known as a dialectic (a juxtaposition of opposed or contradictory ideas). And so the dialogical process proceeds.
A dialogical process is not one wherein individuals reason together in an attempt to make common ideas that are already known to each individual. “Rather, it may be said that the two people are making something in common, i.e., creating something new together.” Dialogical reasoning together is an act of creation, of mutual understanding, of meaning.
Dialogic can happen only if both individuals wish to reason together in truth, in coherence, without prejudice, and without trying to influence each other. Each must be prepared to “drop his old ideas and intentions. And be ready to go on to something different, when this is called for…Thus, if people are to cooperate (i.e., literally to ‘work together’) they have to be able to create something in common, something that takes shape in their mutual discussions and actions, rather than something that is conveyed from one person who acts as an authority to the others, who act as passive instruments of this authority.”
“On Dialogue” written by “The late David Bohm, one of the greatest physicists and foremost thinkers this century, was Fellow of the Royal Society and Emeritus Professor of Physics at Birkbeck College, University of London.
Bohm is convinced that communication is breaking down as a result of the crude and insensitive manner in which it is transpiring. Communication is a concept with a common meaning that does not fit well with the concepts of dialogue, dialectic, and dialogic.
I claim that if we citizens do not learn to dialogue we cannot learn to live together in harmony sufficient to save the species.
Do you have any interest in taking that first step required (intellectual sophistication) to dialogue?
Quotes from Critical Thinking by Richard Paul