Encoding Coherent Topic Transformation in Global Dialogue


Anthony Judge | Laetus in Praesens - TRANSCEND Media Service

Memorability of Cognitive Implication in Symmetry-Preserving Operations on Polyhedra


24 May 2021 – Few would question the importance of dialogue in this period of global crises and poisonous divisiveness. There are of course many approaches to dialogue although it is less evident how their insights translate into the challenges of inter-national, inter-faith, inter-cultural, inter-sectoral, and inte-disciplinary dialogue in practice. There are many calls for dialogue as a substitute for conflict. There is however a sense in which the appreciation of dialogue is somewhat superficial — reinforced by exercises in which it only takes token and symbolic form as a feature of public relations.

Arguably the investment in dialogue has not reached the “critical mass” necessary for it to effect the difference for which it is held to be vital. It could also be argued that no particular approach to dialogue has emerged as especially relevant to the dimensions of the conflicts so evident at this time — nor that any has achieved the appreciative support which may be held to be warranted by its promoters.

There is little sense that dialogue of a superior quality is readily evident, of how it might be recognized — and by whom. Potentially to be upheld as a vital attractor, who would be attracted to that experience? (Transforming the Art of Conversation: Conversing as the transformative science of development, 2012).

To provide a context for the following exploration, it is appropriate to indicate some distinctive approaches to dialogue, recognizing that there is relatively little relationship between them — especially when they are reflective of proprietary interests. Each merits recognition in terms of its strengths and weaknesses, and the contexts in which it is valued. The role of sophisticated technology in enabling it also calls for consideration.

The following exercise is however a speculative confrontation between approaches to ordering insight which may be indicative of more fundamental approaches to dialogue. The focus is especially on recognition of what gets transformed in dialogue and how. Most obviously this could be a topic or theme — typically an issue of some kind. More generally it could be any kind of whole — even understood as a holon. This could indeed extend to an integrative world view and to any understanding of unity or globality. Clearly any understanding of an integrated whole could include a sense of personal identity and selfhood — and how it might be transformed through dialogue.

As a speculative confrontation between potential ways of ordering dialogue, the particular bias of this exercise is to “follow the numbers” by which articulated insights are ordered — as a key to what is tantamount to the confrontation of different “languages”. This may be relevant to some approaches to dialogue, but it may be even more evident in methodologies which are considered quite unrelated to dialogue. The assumption here is that in cognitive terms, and irrespective of content, preferred patterns of order bear some relation to the manner in which the human brain articulates the patterns that are recognized, following the arguments of George Lakoff and Rafael Núñez (Where Mathematics Comes From: how the embodied mind brings mathematics into being, 2000).

It is from such a cognitive perspective that the challenge of dialogue explored here is considered more fundamental than is otherwise assumed — involving degrees of self-reference and embodiment which have not received due consideration (George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, Philosophy In The Flesh: the embodied mind and its challenge to western thought, 1999; Hilary Lawson, Reflexivity: the post-modern predicament, 1986). The challenge may be framed in terms of radical recursion, as argued separately (Radical recursivity of cognitive implications of topology and geometry, 2021). The reference to geometry and topology points to a related challenge of dialogue, namely how any comprehension of coherence of what is discussed relates to the challenges of memorability — especially as the complexity of the topic increases

With respect to memorability as it relates to dialogue, this suggests the particular value of interpreting distinctive approaches to order as metaphors of a more fundamental understanding which may well be elusive in terms of conventional modes of descriptive articulation (Engaging with Elusive Connectivity and Coherence, 2018). There is even the possibility that engagement in a disparate variety of domains may constitute a form of cognitive displacement through which fundamental forms of dialogue are denatured and embodied in symbolic surrogates.

In that sense, engagement with those domains may offer suggestive metaphors which might include:

  • ball-games: in which dialogue can be understood as the movement of a ball between participants, with the manner of throwing or pitching being such as to challenge the capacity of the receiver; the ball being the point of the dialogue
  • board-games: involving strategic ploys, as exemplified by chess as a form of dialogue
  • polyhedral transformation: given the well-defined transformations to which any given polyhedron may be subject; the polyhedral form being the topic complex of the dialogue — the memplex
  • dance: as a form of interaction readily interpreted as dialogue
  • crafts: in which a whole is engendered or transformed, as with pottery, cooking, diamond cutting — a dialogue with matter

As a speculative exercise it is appropriate to avoid any presumption that it is conclusive. Rather, the purpose here is to juxtapose potential indications with the suggestion that they may constitute complementary insights into a more fundamental approach to dialogue. In particular, if each approach is considered primarily as a metaphor, the question is whether it is in metaphorical terms that the relation between them may be clarified in indicating the nature of a more elusive fundamental approach (Transcendent Integrity via Dynamic Configuration of Sub-understandings? 2014).

The exploration follows from previous exercises (Forthcoming Major Revolution in Global Dialogue: challenging new world order of interactive communication, 2013; Multi-option Technical Facilitation of Public Debate: eliciting consensus nationally and internationally, 2019).

In their discussion of the implications of new technologies, these noted the future of AI-mediated dialogue: AI Dialogue: beyond the Turing Test to the Buber Test?. Those earlier exercises were followed by others in which the role of AI was especially emphasized (AI-enhanced Future of the Conferencing Process: meeting design through interactive incorporation of participants and content, 2020; From Zoom Organization to Zome Configuration and Dynamics, 2020). The latter focused especially on polyhedral configurations of relevance to the dialogue process.

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One Response to “Encoding Coherent Topic Transformation in Global Dialogue”

  1. Perpetual learning for all leads to true education. Nobody should be deprived of it. For true dialogue, life-long learning is essential. Every man and woman has treasure within to be manifested, which makes them integrated, humane and human. The way to stay civilized is to keep on learning. Hutchins, Robert M.(1968), in his book: The Learning Society says that the object of those studies dealing directly with society must be to lay the basis of lifelong participation in the dialogue about the issues they raise. This point has been excellently stated by Michael Oakeshott in his book: Rationalism in Politics and Other Essays:
    “As civilized human beings, we are the inheritors, neither of an inquiry about ourselves and the world, nor of an accumulating body of information, but of a conversation, begun in the primeval forests and extended and made more articulate in the course of centuries. It is conversation which goes on both in public and within each of us. Of course there is argument and inquiry and information, but whatever these are profitable they are to be recognized as passages in this conversation, and perhaps they are not the most captivating of the passages. …Conversation is not an enterprise designed to yield an extrinsic profit, a contest where a winner gets a prize, nor it is an activity of exegesis; it is an unrehearsed intellectual adventure. …Education, properly speaking, is an initiation into the skill and partnership of this conversation in which we learn to recognize the voices, to distinguish the proper occasions of utterances and in which we acquire the intellectual and moral habits appropriate to conversation. And it is this conversation which, in the end, gives place and character to every human activity and utterance.” For more details, one may refer to:

    A Wrap-up Speech
    At the International Academic Peace Conference on 28 September 2001 in Commemoration of the 20th UN International Day of Peace, Kyung Hee University, Republic of Korea on the thehe:

    Dialogue among Civilizations for Peace
    By Surya Nath Prasad, Ph.D. – TRANSCEND Media Service