The concept of a Polylogue comes from the realisation that contradictions can only be transcended not resolved, and new syntheses and knowledge is produced in communities through the vigorous and structured exchange of ideas.
Coined in 1977 by Julia Kristeva, who has a book with the same name, polylogues denote "multiple logics, speeches, and existences." Such exchanges must go beyond dialogue: different and diverse perspectives and viewpoints have to be presented, debated and discussed, with the aim of creating a new synthesis.
There are no lectures, no papers are presented; everyone who comes, comes with an open mind, and stays for the whole week and becomes an integral part of a scholarly community seeking new knowledge – beyond what they already know and bring to the community.
At the beginning of the Polylogue, two or three searching questions are placed before the community. Everybody attempts to answer the questions, one by one in turn; and their answers are challenged and critiqued by everyone else. After everyone has answered the question, a general discussion follows with the specific aim of generating an overall synthesis that satisfies all members of the community.
Once a satisfactory conclusion has been reached on the first question, we can move on to the second question, and then to the third. At the end of the Polylogue, two or three participants are appointed to write a paper each on the synthesis that emerged on each question. These papers constitute new knowledge and move us toward possibilities for the future.
For more on polylogues, see The Three Tomorrows of Postnormal Times.