Babbdige Library 4th floor room 4/209 meeting
Title: Giving Birth in the Public Square: Dialogue as a Maieutic Practice
If we are living in a “post-fact” age, and if deliberation relies on facts, how are we to conceive of public discourse? Must one either futilely shout the facts louder and louder or else turn away from facts, and thus rational discourse, altogether? This paper initiates a way to conceive of public discourse that avoids the facts versus violence dilemma. I begin with a close reading of the opening scene of Plato’s Republic that, I claim, demonstrates dialogue as a third way beyond force or rational persuasion. I then consider Allan Bloom’s and Hannah Arendt’s interpretations of the political relevance of Socratic dialogue. In concluding, I argueagainst Arendt that it is the tension between wonder and opinion lying at the heart of dialogue that renders dialogue a relevant political activity, one that connects us with others and in so doing creates a viable, pluralistic polis.