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Dialogue and Universalism

Volume 27, Issue 1, 2017

Values and Ideals. Theory and Practice: Part II

Lloyd Steffen
Pages 7-21

An Obstacle to Dialogue

This paper offers a critical analysis of an obstacle to dialogue—“overvaluation.” Drawing on Immanuel Kant’s analysis of religious fanaticism as a contradictory and irrational attempt to access the supersensible by sensible means, this paper argues that overvaluation can, at its extreme, suppress prudential reasoning and other-regardingness and render dialogue impossible. Dialogue is an ideal of philosophical discourse that counters the negative prospects of extreme overvaluation. Dialogue is sustained by respect for others; it affirms self-regard in human relationships; and it resists absolutist thought, which is finally overvaluation detached from reasonableness, by being open to change and to the possibility of new understanding.

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