Dissensus is the term used by the philosopher and cultural theorist Bill Readings to refer to the practice of thinking together without the need to converge or agree on a single right answer or solution to any particular problem. Dissensus does not necessarily imply dissent nor even disagreement; it is not negative and no-saying but is rather an agreement not to be bound to agree, or in its more positive formulation, an agreement to avoid coming to agreement. 

On the one hand, dissensus stands in opposition to managerial consensus, the practice of reaching an agreement to support a view or a decision which few if any of the participants actively agree with. Consensus is the search for the least worst solution, the solution that no one actively disagrees with rather than the one which most participants consider to be the best. In contrast, dissensus does not seek compromise and has no interest in arriving at a shared view. A community of dissensus is a 'community of singularities', a community which, in Readings' words, 'does not establish an autonomous collective subject who is authorised to say "we" and to terrorize those who do not, or cannot, speak in that "we".' 

On the other hand, dissensus rejects the scientific view of a single right or best answer to which all academics are expected to consent. The practice of dissensus is a commitment to thinking alongside one another with no pressure to reach agreement; indeed, the purpose of thinking together in this way is to keep discussion and debate open and alive precisely by avoiding coming to agreement. A community of dissensus is a community of thinkers committed to generating questions rather than providing answers and to keeping those questions alive, active and productive for as long as possible. 
A community of dissensus is a community of researchers, scholars and students committed to asking questions of one another, to listening and respecting each other's views and ideas, and to describing, explaining and advocating their own ideas with no expectations or obligations to agree. A community of dissensus is committed to free and open exchange of views, and operates on the principle that open, honest and active dispute, disagreement and dissent is the positive, creative force that drives academic debate and scientific discovery.


  Essaying the essay (2013) 

  The convenient myth of 'good scholarship' (2009)

  Writing-up and writing-as (2009)  

  Nursing and the art of radical critique (2008)   

  After critique (2006)   



    contact: praxis@garyrolfe.net