Recently a colleague offered in conversation that we should agree to disagree. This led me to some observations about the role of agreement and disagreement in dialogue. Some conversations involve a sort of perpetual agreement or mutual affirmation. These are instances where we’re really just ‘shooting the breeze’, and there’s nothing much at issue between us. We exchange the gnomes of accepted wisdom and nod. Other exchanges are characterised pretty much by disagreement. These are the situations where we talk at cross purposes, or talk past each other – we can’t even seem to get started on the way in which the matter at hand needs to be interrogated.
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