Climbing and dialogue

I’m fascinated by the ideas of David Bohm, and especially his work on Dialogue. Bohm argues that we are blind to the impact that thought itself has on our experience of the world. This story of the woman unwittingly strangling herself helps to illustrate his point.

There is a great paradox in talking about dialogue. If language is thinking out loud, then in dialogue we try to use this faulty tool to see what is wrong with it. As I understand Bohm’s argument, thought is inherently reductionist and we keep missing how it reduces our experience.

Antonio Dias’ recent post, Conclusions, is a great exploration of what Bohm’s notion of dialogue is about. Tony opens with this metaphor:

Dialogue is an opportunity to proceed as climbers do. We are tied together and are able to alternately anchor each other as we move into precarious territory. We can rely on each other to warn us of dangers beyond our own views. Within dialogue we can go where it is impossible to go any other way.

This points to the social nature of dialogue – I also think it is a powerful way to think about many less esoteric occasions when we try to collaborate. The interdependency of climbers is a far cry from the sage-on-a-stage format of so many learning environments and attempts to work together. Many of my more memorable experiences have contained that factor of shared peril or shared purpose and, if you will, shared authority.

I read Tony’s post on a day when I was tweeting about the dangers of premature encapsulation so this bit also leapt out at me:

Jumping to conclusions is at the heart of how we perceive… We sample the world with agendas at the ready even at the most quantum level of perception – that’s using the term quantum to mean the smallest known integer of a phenomenon. That neurologically we are dealing with discreet jumps and not a smooth “analog” signal without steps.

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