Still More Thoughts on Bohm Dialogue

September 5, 2011

In a section of On Dialogue called “The Impulse of Necessity,” Bohm speaks of necessity as a kind of thought that plays “a greater role than other kinds.” “What is necessary cannot be otherwise; it’s just got to be that way.”*

Need” is a synonym for “necessity.” Marshall Rosenberg, author of Non Violent Communication: A Language of Life, makes a distinction that Bohm does not make – the distinction between needs and strategies for meeting needs. Rosenberg believes, and I think correctly, that needs are never in conflict, but strategies may be in conflict.

If someone asserts that, for the United States, having a nuclear arsenal is a necessity, we might point out that this is not a need. The need is for security, and the arsenal is a strategy for meeting that need. Phrasing the situation in this way gives us room for dialogue. One might argue that a large nuclear arsenal does not increase national security, but only increases tension and hostility – as some countries enter into an arms race to have bigger nuclear arsenals and countries without nuclear weapons turn to the support of terrorism as a way to strike back at the threat that they perceive in the military and nuclear might of the United States.

The examination of what is really a “necessity,” that is “need,” and what is a strategy for meeting a need, thus becomes a critical part of any dialogue that hopes to bring about some kind of workable consensus about how this country and the world should operate. 

I invite further comments on this, and will explore this more in future postings.

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*P. 25, David Bohm, On Dialogue, 2004, Rutledge Classics, London and New York

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