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DISCOURSE, DIALOGUE AND DUCKSPEAK September 3, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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I had been meaning to post something about dialogue, and since Chris Sheil used the word it stimulated me to post at Back Pages:

“For some reason Ken Parish (and others) take exception to Margo, as typically the lopsided bloggers on either side of the party/ideological fence take determined views on every subject under the sun. I do not know what to make of Margo’s observations of the Scrafton Senate Committee, yet she does allow other voices to be heard. The strength of blogging is the strength of democracy, which is an engagement in “dialogue”, not to presume that we say things of equal value (as is transparently so), and sometimes we will be just wrong, but that what we say is subject to scrutiny. Spin, for example, intends not be subject to scrutiny, as it is antithetic to authentic dialogue. So I believe that the blogsphere is very relevant to the major isue in this electoral sessionseason,and its relevance more than its numbers make it important.”

And then after all of this grandloquence to correct myself:

“Oops, you said “discourse”, but would not “dialogue” be relevant?”

So what is the difference between discourse and dialogue? At this point I refer to Merriam Webster. “Discourse”:

Middle English discourse, from Medieval Latin & Late Latin discursus; Medieval Latin, argument, from Late Latin, conversation, from Latin, act of running about, from discurrere to run about, from dis- + currere to run — more at CAR

1 archaic : the capacity of orderly thought or procedure : RATIONALITY

2 : verbal interchange of ideas; especially : CONVERSATION

3 a : formal and orderly and usually extended expression of thought on a subject b : connected speech or writing c : a linguistic unit (as a conversation or a story) larger than a sentence 4 obsolete : social familiarity


Whereas “Dialogue” is described as:

Etymology: Middle English dialoge, from Old French dialogue, from Latin dialogus, from Greek dialogos, from dialegesthai to converse, from dia- + legein to speak — more at LEGEND

1 : a written composition in which two or more characters are represented as conversing

2 a : a conversation between two or more persons; also : a similar exchange between a person and something else (as a computer) b : an exchange of ideas and opinions c : a discussion between representatives of parties to a conflict that is aimed at resolution

3 : the conversational element of literary or dramatic composition4 : a musical composition for two or more parts suggestive of a conversation.

In THE FIFTH DISCIPLINE FIELDBOOK, Nicholas Brealey Publishing Ltd, (1994) Peter Senge and others describe a theory of dialogue as a reflective learning process. It is, of couse, an interesting idea that an election could be a learning process, as much as a public thinking process. Black/white divisions of world is a common error, even encouraged by the election process, and the more so if competing views, which dammit are sometime right, are closed out. Still it is up to me to learn from my own errors of thinking. Yet judgements have to be made. Eveyday politics, as in the case of most blogs, and it would be true here maybe if I was able to do it, is about “skillful discussion and debate”.

I will be more careful in future. Sometimes, my comments, are just ignored and passed by, without untoward interference from any Samaritan, which is what I have to hope will happen again.

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