The Conversation Room

Interactive Essays

Roger'sSavPictureAtDesk0209 The Conversation Room
A Philosophical Inquiry, Hosted by:

Roger A. Sizemore, A.B., M.S. (Psychology), M.Div. (Theology) Ph.D., The University of Edinburgh, Scotland,
Including one year of Ph.D. level study at The University of Tuebingen, Germany.
Formerly President of Phillips University’s Graduate Theological Seminary,
and a Professor in Academic Departments (Philosophy, Theology, Psychology) at other Colleges and Universities.
Published Author

Why “Conversation”? Because it is the “only way” to uncover “what is” (Heidegger, Gadamer, Habermas), and to “correct” faulty, prejudicial judgements from a “naive historicism” and “epistemology.” Live speaking, face-to-face, is revelatory, making immediate and clear what we seek to understand more fully, and cannot know only by ourselves. Plato, in structuring his “Dialogues” as “Speech,” by his teacher, Socrates, and not as written text, is our fundamental example. And “Conversation” is a “lost art” (Craveri), which we must recover (Physicist, David Boehm, “On Dialogue”), “thinking together,” as a way to get within hearing distance of life’s most profound and primal questions. And there are “rules” for discourse (Riceour).
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With “Starter Essays” on Intellectual History and Culture in the tradition of Michel de Montaigne (1533-1542), considered to be the originator of the “Personal Essay Form,” who had wide, literary influence upon Descartes, Pascal, Rousseau, Emerson, Nietzsche, Shakespeare, even, in more recent times, with Eric Hoffer and Isaac Asimov. The “Personal Essay” is an enduring genre for the stimulation of discussion and debate. See: Lapate, Grimes, among others, in the “Resources” Pages of this site.

the_conversation_room The Conversation Room the_chamber The Debating Chamber

”The Conversation Room,” (aptly named), at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland, is the “Preparation - Room” for the oldest, continuous Debating Society in the world, which was begun by Edmund Burke (1729-1797), in 1746, first, as a “Debating Club,” and established at Trinity in 1770. Interestingly, In the 20th and 21st century, Burke is now praised as the “Father of Modern Conservatism”; yet, in his day, and well into the 19th century, he was known as having wide respect for differing intellectual arguments, and was able to argue for both liberal and conservative positions --- Which is an indicator of what “conversation” once “was,”and now has, regrettably, declined. The Debating Society is now jointly managed by the Historical (the Hist.); Philosophical (The Phil.) and the Theological (The Theo.) Societies at Trinity College, all of which departments are housed in this building, the Graduates Building. For discussions in the Theological Society, the meeting room is named after Bram Stokes, the Author of Dracula, who was a former member of the Debating Society. The “Conversation Room” was pressed into service as a setting for the film, Educating Rita.

Past presenters in the Debating Society include: William Butler Yeats, John Hume, Winston Churchill, Edward Kennedy, Salman Rushdie, Noam Chomsky, Desmund Tutu, and actors, Ben Kingsley, Al Pachino and, this year, Helen Mirren, to name but a few. The Philosophical Debating Society’s purpose is to teach the value of rhetoric and persuasive speech.

The inspiration for this webpage venture derives from the 17th and 18th century “Solons,” or Learned Conversation Rooms in Paris and London, which are credited with quietly transcending palace intrigues to bring about the French, English and Scottish Renaissance. See the excellent book describing this phenomenon: Benedetta Craveri,
The Age of Conversation (NY: New York Review of Books, 2005), originally published in Italian, 2001, a summary of which amazing claims are to be found in the Archives of Essays, for which, click here. Or order the book from Amazon by clicking on the graphic below: " rel="self">


"Real" Conversation

Today's Toxic discourse in the Public Sphere

  • What are the remedies?

  • What's at Stake?

  • Why should We care?

  • Some Erudition for a "way out."