Dialogue and Universalism

Volume 32, Issue 3, 2022

New Faces of Democracy

Martha C. Beck
Pages 293-313

Plato’s Dialogues as a Foundation for Universal Dialogue

In the Phaedrus and Seventh Letter, Plato says the spoken word is much more important than the written word. Plato’s dialogues have been discussed for 2400 years. The Founders of the International Society for Universal Dialogue describe philosophy as a universal dialogue. Particularly in this era of a decline in democratic societies, discussing Plato’s dialogues can educate us about how to preserve, and how to lose, free and open societies. Plato was born at the end of the “Golden Age” of Athens. By the time he was 30, Athens had destroyed itself. Abuses in the economic system, the mili-tary, the medical community, the legal profession, the political community, the arts and in education led to social instability and the election of a dictator, in the name of a re-turn to “traditional” values. Plato wants us to discuss analogies with our own societies.