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What dialogue is not

Copyright © 1991 by David Bohm, Donald Factor and Peter Garrett

The copyright holders hereby give permission to copy this material and to distribute it to others for non-commercial purposes including discussion, inquiry, criticism and as an aid to setting up Dialogue groups so long as the material is not altered and this notice is included. All other rights are reserved.

Dialogue is not discussion, a word that shares its root meaning with ''percussion'' and ''concussion,'' both of which involve breaking things up. Nor is it debate. These forms of conversation contain an implicit tendency to point toward a goal, to hammer out an agreement, to try to solve a problem or have one's opinion prevail. It is also not a ''salon'', which is a kind of gathering that is both informal and most often characterized by an intention to entertain, exchange friendship, gossip and other information. Although the word ''dialogue'' has often been used in similar ways, its deeper, root meaning implies that it is not primarily interested in any of this.

Dialogue resembles a number of other forms of group activity and may at times include aspects of them but in fact it is something new to our culture. We believe that it is an activity that might well prove vital to the future health of our civilization.

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