Transformative Conversations in the Pursuit of Truth and Insight

What follows is my undergrad dissertation in philosophy. "Transformative Conversations in the Pursuit of Truth and Insight: Historical Benchmarks and the Trajectory of Improved Philosophical Dialogue".

Humans have a tendency to hide ourselves from ourselves. (Peterson and Driver-Linn, n.d.) To seek insight into reality and then run and hide from it for fear of the truth. (Hart, 2012, pg 34-36) To hope for wisdom and cower in our distractions, beating our chests with pride in our ignorance. Dialogue is our philosophical tool to dig for realization of that which we know. Conversation is important enough to be necessary for survival. (Hass, 1970, pg 68) In this paper I will show some of the historical benchmarks in the development of dialogue, and the trajectory of progress into the future; what dialogue has been, and what it can be.

In ancient Greece some of the sophists or teachers were known for being able to win any argument. They trained and taught this skill. Different styles and methods were developed. The most famous development from this period is the Socratic Method, which involves using questions to reveal contradictions and inaccuracies. (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2020)

In our society Socrates is looked upon as respectable and important. This is also true for many great philosophers and historians throughout the millennia in their view of Socrates. However, it should be noted that Socrates had more than one popular play making fun of him and his ideas: 'The Clouds' by Aristophanes and 'Connus' by Ameipsias. Also, Socrates was tried and executed for his ideas. (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2022) From these two things we know that his method did not lead to popular appeal and approval. Great thinkers being persecuted for challenging beliefs has never been uncommon in human history and Socrates was not the first. For instance, in 'Phaedo' by Plato, Socrates says of Anaxagoras that, "I eagerly acquired his books and read them as quickly as I could." Anaxagoras was exiled from Athens for impiety.

This lack of public approval of Socrates does not mean however that his method of dialogue was ineffective in the revelation and realization of the truth. For this we will look at 'Meno' by Plato. In this dialogue Meno and Socrates are talking about what virtue is. From 79e to 95a there is an interesting progression. (Plato, 1967)

Then answer me again from the beginning: what do both you and your associate say that virtue is?" (ibid)

Socrates, I used to be told, before I began to meet you, that yours was just a case of being in doubt yourself and making others doubt also: and so now I find you are merely bewitching me with your spells and incantations, which have reduced me to utter perplexity. And if I am indeed to have my jest, I consider that both in your appearance and in other respects you are extremely like the flat torpedo sea-fish; for it benumbs anyone who approaches and touches it, and something of the sort is what I find you have done to me now. For in truth I feel my soul and my tongue quite benumbed, and I am at a loss what answer to give you. And yet on countless occasions I have made abundant speeches on virtue to various people—and very good speeches they were, so I thought—but now I cannot say one word as to what it is. You are well advised, I consider, in not voyaging or taking a trip away from home; for if you went on like this as a stranger in any other city you would very likely be taken up for a wizard." (ibid)

As can be seen, the questioning that Socrates has done before this has led Meno to a state of confusion. Socrates then claims that the doubt is shared. "For it is not from any sureness in myself that I cause others to doubt: it is from being in more doubt than anyone else that I cause doubt in others. So now, for my part, I have no idea what virtue is, whilst you, though perhaps you may have known before you came in touch with me, are now as good as ignorant of it also." (ibid)

Socrates goes through a geometry exercise with Meno's slave to demonstrate that bringing forth doubt gives motivation to learn where otherwise there would be none. Then helps the slave to learn by pointing to geometry drawings and asking him questions, making the case that learning is from memory contained in the immortal soul. Socrates yet retains his stance of doubt. "Most of the points I have made in support of my argument are not such as I can confidently assert; but that the belief in the duty of inquiring after what we do not know will make us better and braver and less helpless than the notion that there is not even a possibility of discovering what we do not know, nor any duty of inquiring after it—this is a point for which I am determined to do battle, so far as I am able, both in word and deed." (ibid)

The conversation here takes an interesting turn. Socrates asks Meno if he wants to inquire into the nature of virtue together. Meno goes back to his original question, which was about if virtue is natural or if it's taught. Socrates says it's a bad question because you must first know what virtue is before answering how you come about it, and yet says that they can go forth anyway, using the means of hypothesis. He gets Meno to agree that if virtue is knowledge it can be taught and if it isn't knowledge it isn't teachable. Socrates then guides Meno through a logic sequence associating traits. A friend of Meno joins, Anytus. Socrates talks to him about teachers of virtue. By Socrates refuting virtue being teachable Anytus leaves angry, warning Socrates that it's not a good idea to speak ill of people. Socrates and Meno continue on with Socrates refuting the previous positions and concluding that virtue is neither natural or learned, but given by divinity, with those that have it not understanding it. (ibid)

This dialogue shows Socrates asking questions that bring up doubts and confusion, asking questions that bring up anger and insult, rushing people through sequences of thought, and ending in mystery. Such methods may help people to develop the skill of being able to think and to think deeply, as in to question, but it is not obvious that it helps people to gain insights into nature, reality, truth, humanity, others, or self. The relationship, the pace, the content, the sequence, the tactics, they just don't seem to work in some way, because they fail to lead to transformation.

I will explore several other frameworks that have been developed in philosophy around dialogue. I would like to juxtapose the questioning and disorienting method of Socrates with a different take from Carl Rogers.

Rogers is over 2,000 years more recent than Socrates. He developed a theory of organic psychological growth with certain key attitudes and techniques to be used in specially created dialogue situations. Rogers being a key figure orients us around work that both led to and came out of his theories about dialogue.

Rogers worked out a philosophical framework concerning a perceiving individual to be within a phenomenal field attempting to maintain that phenomenal self, discrepancies between the self concept and the phenomenal experience result in psychological and emotional distortions, external threats result in self conceptual rigidity, dialogue can be part of healing these things which requires unconditional positive regard for the worth of the individual engaged with. (Rogers, 1951) Rogers worked on the development and improvement of techniques throughout his career. These changed somewhat as he gained insight and experience, "...eventually concluding in an interactional formulation of reflection as the provision of tentative therapist understandings designed to be amended in response to client feedback." (Arnold, 2014) Let's take a look at how this specific rhetorical technique may have changed the Socratic dialogues.

Let's look at the start of Meno by Plato at 70a into 71c. It begins with a simple question and a not simple answer. (Plato, 1976)

Can you tell me, Socrates, whether virtue can be taught, or is acquired by practice, not teaching? Or if neither by practice nor by learning, whether it comes to mankind by nature or in some other way?" (ibid)

Meno, of old the Thessalians were famous and admired among the Greeks for their riding and their riches; but now they have a name, I believe, for wisdom also, especially your friend Aristippus's people, the Larisaeans. For this you have to thank Gorgias: for when he came to that city he made the leading men of the Aleuadae—among them your lover Aristippus—and the Thessalians generally enamored of wisdom. Nay more, he has given you the regular habit of answering any chance question in a fearless, magnificent manner, as befits those who know: for he sets the example of offering himself to be questioned by any Greek who chooses, and on any point one likes, and he has an answer for everybody. Now in this place, my dear Meno, we have a contrary state of things: a drought of wisdom, as it were, has come on; and it seems as though wisdom had deserted our borders in favour of yours. You have only to ask one of our people a question such as that, and he will be sure to laugh and say: Stranger, you must think me a specially favoured mortal, to be able to tell whether virtue can be taught, or in what way it comes to one: so far am I from knowing whether it can be taught or not, that I actually do not even know what the thing itself, virtue, is at all. And I myself, Meno, am in the same case; I share my townsmen's poverty in this matter: I have to reproach myself with an utter ignorance about virtue; and if I do not know what a thing is, how can I know what its nature may be? Or do you imagine it possible, if one has no cognizance at all of Meno, that one could know whether he is handsome or rich or noble, or the reverse of these? Do you suppose that one could?" (ibid)

This is a meandering answer that ends with a different question redirected to the personal qualities of Meno rather than the more abstract exploration about virtue itself that was inquired into, which makes it easy to see why some people became rather annoyed with Socrates. Meno seeks to clarify.

Not I. But is it true, Socrates, that you do not even know what virtue is? Are we to return home with this report of you?" (ibid)

Not only this, my friend, but also that I never yet came across anybody who did know, in my opinion." (ibid)

This sticks with the general theme of Socrates emphasizing definitions and doubt. There are undefeatable arguments if someone won't move from certain premises, for instance: absolute skepticism leading to solipsism in epistemology, or theological dualism in religious ethics. Non-acceptance of working definitions can tend in this direction as words are concepts, concepts are abstractions, and abstractions are specific data elimination and pattern recognition. (Rand, 1990) Therefore, context is removed in the use of any word, adding context back can be useful for a greater contact with reality, although seeking to once again move into the abstract conceptual use of the word the problem of the fuzziness of the definition will once again appear. This seems to be an unsolvable problem not only in the use of concepts, words, and communication, but also as part of our understanding of physical reality as well. We will revisit this problem with examples in both communication and physics later while looking at the implications in applied dialogue.

How may we respond to Meno's original question if we're working in the spirit of Rogerian tentative understanding and positive regard? Meno says, and I'm paraphrasing, "Can you tell me whether virtue can be taught, or is acquired by practice, or if neither by practice nor by learning, whether it comes to mankind by nature or in some other way?" We're not just answering the question with what we think, we're not saying we can't answer it, we're not asking a different question, we are seeking to reflect the intention of Meno back to himself, so that his own communicated intention from the first person perspective will impact him when received from the second person perspective. Such a statement is declarative and open to correction. Possibly, "You're wondering if people get virtue through being taught, or practice, or if it's just natural, and you're wondering if I can give you the answer."

I assume that Meno would agree with this, so he would probably say "Yes.", but it's not obvious that anything prompts a greater response from him. However, we find that we're not sure where and how thoughts come about, one leads to another, and the shift in observational perspective from first person to second person often stimulates a greater response. Meno may further clarify his question, he may express his own doubt or answer, he may say that response is wrong in some way, either the reflected understanding or his original statements. He may simply agree. Let's say that Meno says "Yes." and stops there. More has been communicated than is simply contained within his sentences. We do not know his voice inflection or tone, nor his body language, but simply by his inquiry and the context we can discern things. I could be wrong, but the declarations in response to him are attempts at understanding and are open to correction. After his yes I may respond, "You're uncertain about how people acquire virtue, and you think it's important, so this uncertainty makes you uncomfortable."

Now, we have no way of knowing what Meno's response to that would have been. But, from the later conversation we know that Meno agrees with the views of Gorgias on virtue and puts them into his own words as:

"Why, there is no difficulty, Socrates, in telling. First of all, if you take the virtue of a man, it is easily stated that a man's virtue is this—that he be competent to manage the affairs of his city, and to manage them so as to benefit his friends and harm his enemies, and to take care to avoid suffering harm himself. Or take a woman's virtue: there is no difficulty in describing it as the duty of ordering the house well, looking after the property indoors, and obeying her husband. And the child has another virtue—one for the female, and one for the male; and there is another for elderly men—one, if you like, for freemen, and yet another for slaves. And there are very many other virtues besides, so that one cannot be at a loss to explain what virtue is; for it is according to each activity and age that every one of us, in whatever we do, has his virtue; and the same, I take it, Socrates, will hold also of vice." (ibid)

Therefore, we can surmise that Meno may respond with a correction and tell me that he isn't uncertain about virtue and explain it to me, agree that it's important, and say he's not uncomfortable. Or, he may reveal, while discovering it within himself, that even though he thought he knew what virtue is, he does have some doubts and is seeking validation of his views from others to resolve his inner discomfort. It's hard to say, but something will be evoked and be brought forth from Meno, both to us and to himself.

This conversation between Meno and Socrates also gives a clear example of what is probably Socrates' most important error which is why he can't know anything and a major part of why he has confusing and frustrating conversations, and Meno follows him in the error. Socrates asks, "Do you suppose that anyone can know a part of virtue when he does not know virtue itself?" and Meno answers, "No, I do not." (ibid) Here we see that Socrates entraps them both in an epistemological error of thinking that a conceptual abstraction precedes concrete examples, when in reality knowledge accumulation must proceed from concrete examples within specific contexts through the elimination of particularities to form recognized patterns of concepts used as regularities across a range of possible situations. (Rand, 1990) We can see here that even though this idea is presented as a question it's still the idea of Socrates that is pushed to Meno. How sure are we that Meno agrees all knowledge must be deduction? Even though Meno agrees, how sure is he that he really believes it? Rogerian reflection is a different way of bringing up and addressing potential conflicts in that the person discovers them rather than Socrates' style of continually pointing them out to refute people.

Disagreements can be arranged in a hierarchy, from lowest to highest in complexity and civility: name-calling, ad hominem, responding to tone, contradiction, counterargument, refutation, refuting the central point. (Graham, 2008) However, it's not obvious that any level results in predictable positive change for people. Often when people are working near the top of the hierarchy and their points get refuted they revert back to the base of the pyramid and attack the person or call them names. People are committed to their beliefs, and for good reasons. Often changes in important beliefs will have wide ranging effects on other beliefs causing a cascade effect with an unknown amount of potential change, changes that could effect how they emotionally regulate, their ethical behaviors and stances, their social interactions, and their livelihoods. Thus, people will commonly sacrifice civility in conversation rather than consider in a reasonable and rational way another argument or point of view which could cause them doubt and threaten their phenomenal and conceptual belief structure. (Peterson and Driver-Linn, n.d.) Refutation of the other is not a good path to transformation.

Roger Scruton has the best work on the importance and nature of the first and second person points of view, which is key to our exploration of dialogue. He builds on the work of Immanuel Kant, Stephen Darwall, Peter Strawson, Georg Hegel, Elizabeth Anscombe, John Searle, Martin Buber, and others while adding his own insights and seemingly independently realizing the most important insights from the likes of Adam Smith and Lev Vygotsky. (Scruton, 2017; Smith, 2006; Vygotsky, 1978) Important to our inquiry are: "...relation is built into the very idea of the human person, who is a first person held within the second-person standpoint... The moral truth that our obligations are derived from the I-You relation is founded on a metaphysical truth, which is that the self is a social product. ... First-person awareness arises with the mastery of a public language and therefore with the recognition that others are using the word I as I do, in order to express what they think and feel directly. ... Self and other come into consciousness in a single act of recognition, which bestows on me the ability to know myself in the first person at the same time as demanding that I recognize the first-person being of you. ...subjects are not objects, points of view are not in the world but on the world. ... I am I to myself because, and to the extent that, I am you to another. Self-consciousness depends upon the recognition accorded to the self by the other. I must therefore be capable of the free dialogue in which I take charge of my presence before the presence of you. ... The subject is a point of view upon the world of objects and not an item within it. ... In all our responses to each other we look into the other, in search of that unattainable horizon from which he or she addresses us. ...the word you does not, as a rule, describe the other person; it summons him or her into your presence, and this summons is paid for by reciprocal response." (Scruton, 2017, pg 50-78)

As conscious beings our point of view is naturally and by default from the first person perspective. This doesn't allow us to engage ourselves directly. Now, people certainly do try by talking to themselves, looking in mirrors, and journaling to themselves, but as Scruton addresses above these do not touch on the fundamental nature of self and other. To do so requires a breaking of the self into pieces that may address each other, rather than the integrating of the self into a unified whole. For instance, on 12 October 1786 Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to Maria Cosway in Paris about an inner conflict he was having. The letter is often referred to as 'A Dialogue between the Head and Heart'. Jefferson pits two pieces of himself against each other over the issue with their various reasons and sentiments. A decision is reached, so one part of the self does override the other part of the self, but internal resistance lingers. Action is taken, but inner transformation is not achieved. (Jefferson, 1786)

St. Augustine is a great historical example. In his soliloquies he is writing to himself. Writing serves as an external memory device. But, the first book starts by addressing another, perhaps within the self. "For many days I had been debating within myself many and diverse things, seeking constantly, and with anxiety, to find out my real self, my best good, and the evil to be avoided, when suddenly one - I know not, but eagerly strive to know, whether it were myself or another, within me or without - said to me:..." (Augustine, 1910) When Augustine is describing his actual conversion in a later work it is not by journaling, rather it is bibliomancy. He describes this in book eight of his 'Confessions'. Looking within had brought forth to his awareness his inner conflicts, "Now when deep reflection had drawn up out of the secret depths of my soul all my misery and had heaped it up before the sign of my heart, there arose a mighty storm, accompanied by a mighty rain of tears." Out of this sentiment he begins talking to God, first person to second person. Then he hears a child in the distance repeatedly saying "Pick it up, read it. Pick it up, read it.", second person to first person. Augustine takes this as a divine command to " the Bible and read the first passage I should light upon.", second person to first person in the command and the reading. He does this, and then, "I wanted to read no further, nor did I need to. For instantly, as the sentence ended, there was infused in my heart something like the light of full certainty and all the gloom of doubt vanished away." (Augustine, 1955)

So we see that the conversion was not an inner dialogue, but an external dialogue. Augustine wanted to convert to emulate a hero of his. He had tried an inner dialogue to convert, "I kept saying to myself, 'See, let it be done now; let it be done now.'" ... "This struggle raging in my heart was nothing but the contest of self against self." But he turns from this splitting of the self against the self. He speaks to God, "Why not this very hour make an end to my uncleanness?", first person to second person. And what is the Biblical passage that he read second person to first person? "Not in rioting and drunkennes, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof." (Augustine, 1955) This is a direct reflection of what Augustine had intended, had wanted, of what he thought he should do, and yet had failed to do it until his intention, want, and should were reflected back to him through another. From the first person to the second person, and from the second person back to the first person, this is the experiencing of the self through another and is transformative. I'm not saying it's wholly adequate, knowledge must still be sought, actions must still be taken, inner sensations for the processing of emotion must still be experienced, but dialogue plays a key and irreplaceable role. "When asking myself what I should do, I entertain the thought of what another would think of my action when observing it with a disinterested eye. If, as I suggest, morality is rooted in the practice of accountability between self-conscious agents, this is exactly what we should expect. The impartial other sets the standard that we all must meet." (Scruton, 2017, pg 90-91)

There is often a gap in our communication with one another, with ourselves, and even between us and reality. Aristotle notes that a word is a label and not the thing itself in his text 'On Interpretation'. (Aristotle, 2015) Alfred Tarski has shown in his text 'Truth and Proof' that not all true statements are provable. (Tarski, 1969) Karl Popper divides the world into three: a physical world, a psychological world, and a products of thought world. (Popper, 1978) Max Planck in his paper 'The Concept of Causality in Physics' states, "...the introduction of the world picture of physics, and herein lies its significance, reduces the uncertainty of predicting an occurence in the sense world to the uncertainty in translating that occurence from the sense world into the world picture and in retranslating it from the world picture into the sense world." (Planck, 1949) This knowledge gap then is a problem with the nature of reality and our fundamental interaction with and capacity to know it.

In interpersonal communication this has been represented in different ways. We can say that there is a referent or thing in the world that the communicator perceives, they form a more or less adequate thought or reference of the thing, they create a more or less correct symbol of the thought of the thing, that more or less truly represents the thing. The communicatee perceives the more or less true representation of the more or less correct symbol of thought that more or less adequately refers to the thing. (Ogden and Richards, 1923) Or, we can talk about speech acts and say that locution is what is literally said, illocution is the act those words perform, and perlocution is the actual effect on the one communicated with. (Austin, 1962) In 1946 Carl Rogers published a book with John Wallen, 'Counseling with Returned Servicemen'. John Wallen went on to form a system concerning the interpersonal gap. "The most basic and recurring problems in social life stem from the disparity between what you intend and the actual effect of your actions on others. The key terms we use in attempting to make sense of interpersonal relations are 'intentions,' 'actions,' and 'effects.' 'Interpersonal Gap' refers to the degree of congruence between one person's intentions and the effect produced in the other." (Wallen, 1967)

Wallen's idea that "...each party to an interaction has different and partial information that creates a gap in understanding." is wider than he proposes, for all of our information and knowledge is always partial and limited. (Wallen, 1967) As Wallen notes, the encoding of intentions into actions and the decoding of actions into effects has immense potential for misinterpretation. Each of these five elements can be changed and reinterpreted, which is an immense amount of complexity in even what appears to be our most simple interactions. To improve communication and close the interpersonal gap Wallen proposed and taught four types of communication skills: paraphrasing, behaviour description, description of feelings, and perception checking. (Chinmaya and Vargo, 1979)

Rogerian reflection obviously would utilize paraphrasing and perception checking. It may be an easy mistake to think that these ideas from Rogers and Wallen are new, but rhetoric and dialogue have been studied and taught at an advanced level for thousands of years. Much of Roger's basic ideas can be found in the work of Aristotle. (Lunsford, 1979) Even specific Rogerian techniques have a long history. For instance, "Another rule dates back at least as far as the Middle Ages, when theologians at the University of Paris used it to facilitate mutual understanding: One can speak only after one has repeated what the other side has said to that person's satisfaction." (Ury, 1999, pg 148) There are some differences in the types of conversation. A philosophical discussion with or without an audience is quite different. Often having an audience is associated with trying to persuade. In a one-on-one confidential setting the conversation can be oriented toward growth from within rather than persuasion from without. Mistakes can be left in the past of the conversation as they occur, new orientations can be discovered or discarded without needing to justify or defend the change to anyone but the self through another.

Carl Jung speaks about the necessity of the symbolic life for human beings. This symbolic life properly has a religious and philosophical foundation. As these areas have broken down, science and medicine have tried and failed to replace them. Part of these important and necessary insights that uphold the human spiritual and psychological structure are experienced directly by contact and engagement with grand mystery, and another part is realized through conversation. One of the greatest and most influential psychologists in history makes the case that people should not be going to psychiatrists and psychologists, they should go to confession. "He ought to be really and sincerely a member of that church, and he should not go to a doctor to get his conflicts settled when he believes that he should do it with God." He even proposed that psychotherapy causes one to lose their soul. (Jung, 1976)

We have previously looked at the conversion experience of St. Augustine by the reflection of the first person through the second person back to the first person. This pattern is replicated in confession. A person that believes they have done something wrong talks to another, either a priest or God directly, first person to second person. This second person reflects back to them their same beliefs, that they have done something wrong, but that they are still of worth and are part of something larger. It's not new information! The confessor already knew and believed that.

Now, the process can be stopped from working if they don't do it, or lack belief, or hold back, or they don't feel the other is authentic, but if done sincerely with the proper parameters and alignment in place then it's the interaction, the conversation, the dialogue that is transformative, insightful, and enlightening. When someone doesn't have such a belief system, or when theirs breaks down, they can be left in a transitioning phase that is sometimes called neurosis and can just as accurately be considered a complex of philosophical, spiritual, and social uncertainty. Narratives are often used to bridge these gaps, it's no coincidence that two of the most popular religious founders in history both used parables in their teachings, Jesus and Buddha. These connect with some people and not with others depending on their perspective within their context. To adapt the archetypal insights to the person Jung used imagery that emerged from the person's own dreams, to go on a quest to find out what their soul says. Notice that this comes from within the person themself, it is generated by them, and Jung reiterates it back to them in a reformulated way often using paraphrasing. Jung sees himself as helping the person discover the meaningful role in the divine drama that they contain within themselves. "I am only concerned with the fulfillment of that will which is in every individual. My history is only the history of those individuals who are going to fulfill their hypotheses." (Jung, 1976)

Similar insights will be repeated because human nature and the nature of reality create a convergence of experience and discovery. For instance, the importance of culture is emphasized by Sullivan: "Human beings are not animals, but they start as animals. And these animals are converted into human beings instead of merely members of the species homo sapiens by assimilating and becoming part of a vast amount of culture - culture being all that is man-made in this world, everything from scientific views and informal cultural and social organizations of people to the most holy traditions and institutions such as the state and the nation." (Sullivan, 1956, pg 9) He also notes the importance of awareness, "...the self-system comes to be the organization that controls awareness; all the operations that are not primarily of the self go on outside awareness." But, Sullivan's insights are primarily about the social development of a person, including the self: "The self-system is struck off in the personality because of the necessity for picking one's way through irrational and un-understandable prescriptions of behavior laid down by the parents..." (Sullivan, 1956, pg 4) Sullivan's philosophical conception of the human being is as an animal that grows beyond an animal. An animal "...who cannot be defined because he is constantly being transformed - is brought about, step by step, from very, very early in life, through the influence of other people, and solely for the purpose of living with other people in some sort of social organization." (Sullivan, 1953, pg 5) He originated the term significant other, and here you can see him talking about emotional reflection. "Thus anxiety is called out by emotional disturbances of certain types in the significant person - that is, the person with whom the infant is doing something. ... I have reason to suppose, then, that a fearlike state can be induced in an infant under two circumstances: one is by the rather violent disturbance of his zones of contact with circumambient reality; and the other is by certain types of emotional disturbance within the mothering one." (Sullivan, 1953, pg 9)

This emphasis on the other has parallels in a lot of work. Martin Buber talks of the religious nature of the interaction of I and Thou. (Buber, 2023) Rene Girard built an entire philosophy of mimesis about the socially imitative nature of humans. (Girard, 2001) Lev Vygotsky considers the development of the individual to require interaction with a more knowing other. (Vygotsky, 1978) Adam Smith founds all of ethics in the sentiments of sympathy and empathy. (Smith, 2006) Viktor Frankl and Irwin Schrodinger both propose living as an encompassing relation. (Frankl, 1975; Schrodinger, 1967) In his concept of the looking-glass self Cooley proposes that the self concept is constructed from how we imagine others view and judge us. (Cooley, 1902)

George Herbert Mead proposes a tension between a "me" that is my social self and an "I" that is my response to that social self. "The capacity of the human organism to play the parts of others (inadequately described, he thought, as imitation) is the basic condition of the genesis of the self. In playing the parts of others we react to our playing as well. When the organism comes to respond to its own role assumptions as it responds to others it has become a self. From roles assumed successively and simultaneously there arises gradually a sort of 'generalized other,' whose role may also be assumed. One's response to this generalized role is his individual self." (T. V. Smith as quoted in Sullivan, 1953, pg 17)

From all of this we see the shortcomings of dialogue that focus on transforming the individual through inputs, especially in a public context framed in a debate style manner; this seems rather suited to entertainment. However, in private conversations the growth of the individual toward truth and insight can be facilitated through a synthesis of that which emerges from within. This can be artificially broken into two main categories each with two aspects set within a temporal reference frame: what I have been doing; what I want, need, desire, hope, and want to move toward; what I fear, want to avoid, and want to move away from; what they think I should do and pursue; what they think I shouldn't do and should avoid; what I'm going to be doing. By bringing this individual and social self to the fore in open dialogue we are able to give this to another from our first person perspective, when that is reflected back to us we're able to see and hear our own thoughts and feelings shown to us through the other; from this, reconciliation of the divided self can be achieved and integrated, authentic intention can be manifested. Once more the love of wisdom, which is the meaning of the word philosophy, can be directly engaged in on a human spiritual level; the ancient dictate to know thyself can be fulfilled.

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