Seeing the Points of Connection
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In Lieu of an Abstract
Paul Standish: Some people might expect us to start by explaining why we have written this chapter as a dialogue. Leaving aside the fact that Plato – to whom all philosophy, it has been said, is a series of footnotes – wrote in dialogue form, and never seems to have felt the need to tell us why, we might say that we have written it in this way because it is a dialogue. We push ideas to and fro, question each other, disagree with each other, and so on.
Reader: You say that it is a dialogue. Do you mean that this chapter is a transcription of an actual conversation between you?
Richard Smith: There have been so many conversations among us that these pages are pretty well bound to be true to our spoken words at some time or another. And of course these conversations have involved Paul Smeyers too, and – for many years – Nigel Blake, whose presence can also be detected in these pages.
Reader: So you are saying that there has been something essentially dialogic in your relationship with Paul Smeyers, and you felt that only a dialogue could do justice to that.
Paul: Pretty much so. And while there is something worryingly self-confirming in justifying the dialogue form with a dialogic explanation, it would be odd to cast the justification in some other prose form, as if that were superior to dialogue in respect of clarity or persuasive power or in some other way.
Richard: Then too dialogue is a fine medium for reminiscence, allowing for uncertainty, different perspectives, and debate (“It was in 1993, wasn’t it, that you and I and Paul…?”) rather than assuming that veridical record is what is at issue here.
Paul: In any case, reminiscence is largely a way of revisiting philosophical projects and arguments from the past in order to subject their soundness to fresh critique.
Reader: So, if I understand you, this dialogue is both true and fictive, and reminiscence looks forward, as much as back.
Richard: Splendid. I only hope that what follows isn’t a disappointment to you.
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