Anathematic and antithetical to dialogue is hierarchy. Dialogue itself is disabled by agendas and intentions, a form of functional hierarchy which attempts to preference This creates an apparent paradox in creating dialogue, because the intention to create dialogue disables dialogue. I believe that paradox is resolved when one is able to focus on the intention of creating a dialogical environment from which dialogue can naturally and organically emerge out of dialogic activity, not in the creation of the dialogue itself. Therefore, it becomes essential to the emergence of dialogue that one is intentional and active in developing the enabling environment and engaging in the dialogic activity of building relationships.

In other words, focus not on enabling dialogue, but on enabling the enabling dialogical space.

Intention is a mild example of hierarchy, but one that is enough to disable the emergence of dialogue if it becomes a form of bad faith. Even the best of intentions can become impositions on others, a kind of social engineering that meddles in the lives of others. If one enters an enabling dialogical space with an intention to dialogue then one can obviate a shared development of relationship with the other participants by prejudicing that environment with preconceived, unilateral notions of relationship. One’s intention to dialogue becomes a barrier to seeing the other participants as equals in the process of what emerges. In this sense, hierarchy and intention to an outcome are examples of a lack of good faith. It is in the intention to create an enabling space with those willing to enter into it together that one finds an opportunity from which dialogue may emerge without imposition.

Posted by John Bell on March 13, 2009
Tags: Fragments of Dialogue

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