The Imperative of Dialogue: towards a Phenomenlogy of being able (un Homme Capable)

Our society stands in need of dialogue. This dialogue is vital for peace, harmony and progress. This dialogic exchange is not based on Platonic or Hegelian dialectic. Neither it is to be based on Habermasian communicative rationality. We do not so much need rational meaning. What we need is relational hermeneutical meaningfulness. What we need is a radical openness or Bildung to the other in our society. We need to enter the horizon of reality before us. We enter the horizon of reality by striving to go beyond what we have at hand about reality. This takes us to what Hans George Gadamer calls the fusion of horizons. Real understanding is a result of the fusion of horizons. To come to this dialogic understanding, we do not have to abandon our prejudice or preunderstanding. Understanding in dialogue with our prejudice opens us to get beyond what is is at hand about reality. What is at hand about reality is our horizon. We have to reach a fusion of horizons by entering Raimundo Pannikar’s mythos, the horizon of the reality/the other that stands before us.

Dialogic understanding enables one to find oneself in the other and the other in oneself. This is not a dissolution or absorption of oneself in the others nor it is the assimilation of the other into the self. It is an ability to find meaning and fulfilment in a dialogical relation of oneself with the other. This is why we do not need a dialectic of reason/ logos but the dialogue of the heart/pathos and mythos. It is a dialogical dialogue that enables oneself and the other to enrich each other and flourish together. Rudolf C. Heredia speaks of such a dialogue as pedagogic as it promotes mutual learning of one and its other. This learning is with as well from each other. Without such dialogue, we are doomed to eventually enter what Samuel Huntington describes as a clash of civilizations on a large scale. We can only avoid such a catastrophic ending through a culture of dialogue which begins with an attitude that Pannikar names as cultural disarmament. Such cultural disarmament promotes the dialogue of cultures.

Hans Kung teaches that peace in the world is only possible by making peace with religions. Religion is embedded within our culture. Hence, inter-religious dialogue becomes a dialogue of cultures. Culture and religion is converted into a site of political mobilization. Liberal democracies are steadily weakened and are replaced by autocracies. Often narrow cultural nationalisms are employed to justify autocracies. Hence, it is urgent and important to promote dialogue of cultures and religions. This dialogue has the challenge to intervene in the reigning symbolic mediation of politics. This means dialogue has the challenge to address the semiotic as well as psychic aspects of cultures and human life. This means we need to move from logos to the mythos as well as to pathos to find peace and wholesome life. This is why dialogue has to be integral and therapeutic. Only then the dialogue will become an emancipative and therapeutic encounter.

Dialogue should take us to the phenomenology of being able. Such dialogue will enable us to dialogue with structures, ideologies and practices that disable our being as un Homme capable. This means dialogue takes us into the cultural anthropological dimensions of human life that disable and incapacitate our being in the world. This is why dialogue has to take both embodied nature as well situated conditions seriously. Dialogue, therefore, becomes a harmonic character that integrates us as beings in the world. Hence, we may have to stay within the saying dynamics of dialogue. The notion of saying of speaking is different from the notion of the said of speaking. Saying becomes an enunciation and the enunciated in the said of speaking. Dialogue, therefore, has to be in the mode of saying and cannot degenerate into a said. Perhaps, our dialogue has to be viewed as text in the sense of Paul Ricoeur. The notion of text is freed from the notion of scripture and writing. Hence, action can become a text. The event of dialogue is text in this sense.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao