is a popular word. But what does the speaker mean by that? The two Presidents' possibly facile invocation to dialogue provokes questions. Some among the so-called Pro-choice movement has declared debate off limits for years now. When the President says the positions are irreconcilable he may have this idea in mind.
Amy Welborn has challenged both ideas: that debate is counter-productive and that only "dialogue", whatever is meant by that, is appropriate between the two camps. She is challenging those imagining they are champions of dialogue to begin doing so. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, comes of this.
But if words are only instruments we use to extend our will, then dialogue is an attempt to at least prevent another from imposing their will on me and at most an attempt to impose my will on my "partner". If people take this attitude then dialogue is not an attempt to arrive at the truth, but an attempt to project one's one will, truth notwithstanding. Beware entering that kind of "dialogue".
So here are some more eloquent words about this issue:
Christ said that He would send His disciples among men as "sheep among wolves." This suggests that they would not find their activities only in debating forums, academic chairs, or gentle dialogues. Indeed, they were told that they would be persecuted. They would be told how to answer magistrates, almost as if it was not their words that were being rejected. This realization brings up the limits of dialogue. Argument can be rejected not merely because it is illogical or inconsistent, but also because it is true. Of course, it will be rejected in the name of some other truth, or apparent truth. But the fact is that much modern thought, in its intellectual inconsistencies, is ultimately not rooted in reason but in will.
...Chesterton remarks that the purpose of argument or dialogue is not ultimately to disagree but to agree. The purpose of disagreement is in the end to agree. That is to say, dialogue is intended to achieve something beyond itself. It is well that we do not agree before we understand why we should agree. On the other hand, it is also true that we refuse to argue or agree to philosophic positions because we are afraid of where the argument leads, if it leads to a coherence in the universe between reason and revelation.
The world is not divided merely by intellect and its understandings of things. It is more fundamentally divided by will, by the thesis that, as Benedict XVI said, "we want unlimited possession of the world and of ourselves." To accomplish this latter ambition, we have to lie to ourselves about ourselves and about the coherence of the world. To protect our self-generated view of ourselves, we have to develop a theory that justifies what we do according to our own wills. This is why, however useful, dialogue runs up against our wills that enable us to choose another view of the world but the one that is.
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