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Morson 4

Northwestern Professor, Prof. Morson's work ranges over a variety of areas: literary theory (especially narrative); the history of ideas, both Russian and European; a variety of literary genres (especially satire, utopia, and the novel); and his favorite writers -- Chekhov, Gogol, and, above all, Dostoevsky and Tolstoy. He is especially interested in the relation of literature to philosophy.



http://www.flt.uae.ac.ma/elhirech/baktine/0521831059.pdf#page=331
A belief in truly dialogic ideological becoming would lead to schools that were quite different. In such schools, the mind would be populated with a complexity of voices and perspectives it had not known, and the student would learn to think with those voices, to test ideas and experiences against them, and to shape convictions that are innerly persuasive in response. This very process would be central. Students would sense that whatever word they believed to be innerly persuasive was only tentatively so: the process of dialogue continues. We must keep the conversation going, and formal education only initiates the process. The innerly persuasive discourse would not be final, but would be, like experience itself, ever incomplete and growing. As Bakhtin observes of the innerly persuasive word: Its creativity and productiveness consist precisely in the fact that such a word awakens new and independent words, that it organizes masses of our words from within, and does not remain in an isolated and static condition. It is not so much interpreted by us as it is further, that is, freely, developed, applied to new material, new conditions; it enters into interanimating relationships with new contexts. . . . The semantic structure of an innerly persuasive discourse is not finite, it is open; in each of the new contexts that dialogize it, this discourse is able to reveal ever newer ways to mean. (DI, 345–6) We not only learn, we also learn to learn, and we learn to learn best when we engage in a dialogue with others and ourselves. We appropriate the world of difference, and ourselves develop new potentials. Those potentials allow us to appropriate yet more voices. Becoming becomes endless becoming. We talk, we listen, and we achieve an open-ended wisdom. Difference becomes an opportunity (see Freedman and Ball, this volume). Our world manifests the spirit that Bakhtin attributed to Dostoevsky: “nothing conclusive has yet taken place in the world, the ultimate word of the world and about the world has not yet been spoken, the world is open and free, everything is in the future and will always be in the future.”3 Such a world becomes our world within, its dialogue lives within us, and we develop the potentials of our ever-learning selves. Letmedraw some inconclusive conclusions, which may provoke dialogue. Section I of this volume, “Ideologies in Dialogue: Theoretical Considerations” and Bakhtin’s thought in general suggest that we learn best when we are actually learning to learn. We engage in dialogue with ourselves and others, and the most important thing is the value of the open-ended process itself. Section II, “Voiced, Double Voiced, and Multivoiced Discourses in Our Schools” suggests that a belief in truly dialogic ideological becoming would lead to schools that were quite different. In such schools, the mind would be populated with a complexity of voices and perspectives it had not known, and the student would learn to think with those voices, to test ideas and experiences against them, and to shape convictions that are innerly persuasive in response. Teachers would not be trying to get students to hold the right opinions but to sense the world from perspectives they would not have encountered or dismissed out of hand. Students would develop the habit of getting inside the perspectives of other groups and other people. Literature in particular is especially good at fostering such dialogic habits. Section III, “Heteroglossia in a Changing World” may invite us to learn that dialogue involves really listening to others, hearing them not as our perspective would categorize what they say, but as they themselves would categorize what they say, and only then to bring our own perspective to bear. We talk, we listen, and we achieve an open-ended wisdom. The chapters in this volume seem to suggest that we view learning as a perpetual process. That was perhaps Bakhtin’s favorite idea: that to appreciate life, or dialogue, we must see value not only in achieving this or that result, but also in recognizing that honest and open striving in a world of uncertainty and difference is itself the most important thing. What we must do is keep the conversation going.


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