On Dialogue: An Essay in Free Thought

By Robert Grudin

I loved Grudin’s Time and the Art of Living; this one seems similarly up my alley, a collection of deep thinking about a rich and complex topic.

This book “is about the use of dialogue, especially dialogue with oneself, as a tool for opening the mind to new and diverse ways of thinking.”

To me, “dialogue” is a word that’s kind of both banal and sublime. It can refer to a lot of things, it turns out. Here it takes on “dialogues occurring within a single mind…between perspectives and modalities…” — all manner of exchanges and interplays.

“Part do-it-yourself guide to freer thinking and part playfully serious inquiry”, this is structurally a tripartite tome, divided into: Language and Liberty, Freedom and Dialogue in Society, Dialogue and Freedom in Science and Philosophy.

It alternates between chapters and “interludes”, a nice blend of studious and personal. The material Grudin covers includes: a close reading of Hamlet’s “dialogic tricks”, historical lessons, personal reflections, Q&A, and plenty of literary / philosophical analysis.

I see this referred to as an “essay in the original sense” — an attempt to tease out ideas through extended reflection, writing-as-thinking. I love the the introspective lens at play here, the multifaceted omnivorous investigation. Grudin seems open to everything, really!

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