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The CLR James Journal

Volume 17, Issue 1, Fall 2011

On the Emancipatory Thought of bell hooks

Elizabeth A. Hoppe
Pages 58-74

How to Persuade Those Who Will Not Listen
Plato, Freire, and hooks on Revolutionary Dialogue

Western philosophy owes its origin to the dialogues of Plato. Not only does Plato provide us with a methodology that remains significant today, his views in many ways correspond to the revolutionary philosophies of Paulo Freire and bell hooks. In reflecting on Plato's view of education in the Cave Allegory in Book VII of the Republic (1991), one can readily see its affinity with Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed (2009); however, it is also important to keep in mind that the two philosophers have different goals. While Plato focuses on metaphysics and the desire for human beings to move away from the realm of becoming toward that of being, Freire espouses the need for a revolutionary education that will transform the world by making it fully human. Nevertheless they both strive for a revolutionary form of education, and they both encounter similar problems in that people do not always heed the call for transformative ways of thinking. This paper begins by examining the ways in which Plato and Freire address the strengths and limitations of the dialogical method. The question then becomes: how do we solve some of the problems associated with the dilemmas that dialogue may confront? By appealing to bell hooks' Feminist Theory from Margin to Center (2000), I attempt to demonstrate how her method of consciousness-raising can be utilized as a practical application to the dialogical methods of both Plato and Freire in order to create a type of dialogue that can be truly transformative.