This article explores the epistemological aspects of dialogue through an engagement with the Danish existence thinker, Søren Kierkegaard. I argue that dialogue plays an integral role in the epistemic process tentatively sketched by Kierkegaard. To show this, I start by examining Kierkegaard’s criticism of non-dialogical approaches to knowing. Offering a corrective, Kierkegaard instead operates with a contact theory of knowledge analogising knowing and breathing to underline the importance of receptivity and relationality in the epistemic process. By placing Kierkegaard in conversation with his pseudonym Johannes Climacus, dialogue can be seen to play a crucial role in two ways. Firstly, Kierkegaard and Climacus creatively re-appropriate and reconstruct dialogical aporia textually to encourage receptivity and make the needed space for knowledge. Secondly, Kierkegaard’s and Climacus’s invocations of dialogue implicitly and explicitly centre the second-person perspective in different ways to emphasise the importance of “contact” and relation in knowing. I argue that although this perspective can ultimately be considered a second-order perspective, it points not only to receptivity, but also to relationality as both an object of knowledge and as part of the epistemic process itself.
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