Civic Dialogue: Attending to Locality and Recovering Monologue
AbstractThis essay examines civic dialogue that is connected to local roots. The conceptual emphasis suggests that locality often houses what one might term monologic tendencies. The conviction of this essay is that without acknowledgment and understanding of what matters to another, that is, of the importance of monologue, the possibility of maintaining a vital public sphere that is open to a multiplicity of ideas and positions is minimal. In this essay, the term monologue is not to be confused with a particular style of communication, but IS the ground of the conviction that one takes into a given discourse. Monologue houses the ground of the conviction that shapes what we seek to protect and promote in a given communicative exchange. Monologue is the creative engine of conviction that shapes the uniqueness of our participation and contribution to any potential dialogic interaction.2 To illustrate this point, I turn to the Scottish Enlightenment and the insights of Adam Ferguson as he wrote them in An Essay on the History of Civil Society. The essay explicates a series of implications that arise from Ferguson’s work and have relevancy to an understanding of civic dialogue that accounts for the local. Ferguson’s distinct contribution was his refusal to dismiss the monologic sentiments of places of particularity.