Civil Discourse – Who Needs It?

While many encourage civil discourse, Professor of Philosophy Mark Brouwer would suggest such an approach doesn’t go far enough.

Brouwer delivered the Oct. 25 Chapel Talk on the difficulties of having a conversation. He suggested a subtitle for his lecture, “Civil Discourse and Verbal Combat.”

He used a personal friendship as his example throughout his remarks. He and a friend, Matt, have been arguing for years. “We never agree on anything,” Brouwer said. “But we agree the argument is worth having.”

“Civil discourse is not only, at times, inadequate … but neutral. Everyone must abide by the rules of civil discourse.”

He explained a good verbal combat must have the common ground of trust, charity, humility and the desire to learn from one another. He doesn’t enter conversation solely for the purpose of learning something as much as changing his own opinion – or, to learn something.

“Learning requires changing one’s opinion,” Brouwer said. “What we can achieve by verbal combat is the courage to fail.”

Listen to Brouwer’s full Chapel Talk here.