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Contents:
  1. Dialectic - New World Encyclopedia
  2. SearchWorks Catalog
  3. Greek Philosophy
  4. Stanford Libraries
  5. Similar books and articles

Under the leadership of Chrysippus , the ancient Stoics developed a well-known school of formal logic , which they called the dialectic. But the term dialectic was also used by them to refer to a variety of intellectual activities, including grammatical theory. The tradition of equating the dialectics and logic with a broad range of applications became the norm into the Middle Ages. Thus, the dialectic came to be known as one of the three original liberal arts or trivium the other members are rhetoric and grammar in Western culture.

In ancient and medieval times, the rhetoric and the dialectic or logic were both understood to aim at being persuasive through dialogue. While the rhetoric focused on the art of speaking, the dialectic dealt with the logical skills of analysis, the examination of theses and antitheses, and the use of syllogisms. It was given and entirely new meaning by the German idealists, particularly Hegel ; then transformed again into dialectical materialism by Karl Marx. Since Plato, and through all its metamorphoses and varied terminological uses, the dialectic had essentially been a means for handling an eternal truth that was assumed as given by the laws of logic.

In the medieval period, the authority of revelation was added as a further irrefutable point of reference. Since, for Kant, it was not possible for humans to reach any certain theoretical knowledge about the ultimate nature of things, much less about those issues that are not objects of the senses God, freedom, and eternal life , the dialectic came to take on a negative connotation. Thereby, Kant intends to show that both contending propositions, the thesis as well as the antithesis, can be proved right, though they are mutually exclusive, thereby exposing the futility of a reasoning involving propositions that are beyond the grasp of human intellect.

The thesis and antithesis thus are not followed by a synthesis that would conclude a dialectical movement. Rather, they are followed by the realization that such movement is impossible, or at least that it cannot possibly lead to valid conclusions. Thus, with Kant, the notion that an unmoving, transcendent Being, the source of all reality, could be discussed and known by the human mind came to an abrupt end. And, to a large extent, so did the dichotomy between permanence, associated with that Being, and movement, associated with the world of existence.

Philosophical investigation found its new starting point in the consciousness of the self. Johann Gottlieb Fichte was the first to reintroduce the notion of a full dialectical movement starting from the self or Ego , making use of the thesis, antithesis, synthesis terminology that has been inaccurately associated with the thought of Hegel.

Dialectic - New World Encyclopedia

Thus, in Fichte, the world of the mind and that of external reality came to face each other, their synthesis being a form of unity between the two. The idea of that triadic movement movement was taken over by Schelling , who moved the emphasis from the Ego to the more universal notion of the Absolute.


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  3. Get e-book The Development of Dialectic from Plato to Aristotle?
  4. Socratic or Dialectic Method.

From there, the idea of a universal dialectical movement towards a cosmic fulfillment in the Absolute would emerge with the thought of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. In his sweeping overview, ranging from logic to history and world affairs, Hegel tries to show that each finite entity has within itself the germ of its own negation. This negation, however, does not lead to actual destruction but to sublation Aufhebung into a higher entity, the synthesis. In the Logic, for instance, Hegel describes a dialectic of existence : first, existence must be posited as pure Being; but pure Being, upon examination, is found to be indistinguishable from Nothing; yet both Being and Nothing are united as Becoming, when it is realized that what is coming into being is, at the same time, also returning to nothing consider life: Old organisms die as new organisms are created or born.

Though Hegel rarely uses the terms of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis, he uses a variety of triadic expressions, such as affirmation, negation, negation of negation; in-itself, for itself, in-and-for-itself. Hegel attempted to move the dialectic back into the mainstream with the idea that it was the Absolute itself that gradually achieved full self-awareness through a dialectical movement culminating with the human mind.

The transcendent Absolute and everyday reality were thus reunited in the view of Hegel. This conception of dialectics derives ultimately from Heraclitus , as Hegel himself points out.

SearchWorks Catalog

Hegel uses the term speculation to describe the process by which the hidden progress of the dialectic is made explicit in philosophy. In his thought, therefore, speculation has an entirely positive connotation. As in the Socratic dialectic, Hegel claimed to proceed by making implicit contradictions explicit: Each stage of the process is the product of contradictions inherent or implicit in the preceding stage. Socrates, however, essentially tried to debunk hidden assumptions by showing the contradictions hidden in the mind of his uncritical discussion partner. In the case of Hegel, the dialectical tension resides in reality itself.

For Hegel, the whole of history is one tremendous dialectic, major stages of which chart a progression from self-alienation as slavery to self-unification and realization as the rational, constitutional state of free and equal citizens.


  • 20th WCP: The Journey of the Dialectic.
  • Hegel's History of Philosophy;
  • Dialectic - Wikipedia?
  • With Hegel, the dialectic regained a central position in philosophy, being no longer a simple means to achieve the truth, but the key characteristic inherent to all reality. For Schopenhauer , in particular, the whole notion was nothing but sophistry. Even for those who are more sympathetic to its main premises, significant questions remain. However, the Hegelian dialectic cannot be mechanically applied for any chosen starting point. Critics argue that the selection of any antithesis, other than the logical negation of the thesis, is subjective.


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    • Then, if the logical negation is used as the antithesis, there is no rigorous way to derive a synthesis. In practice, when an antithesis is selected to suit the user's subjective purpose, the resulting "contradictions" are rhetorical, not logical, and the resulting synthesis not rigorously defensible against a multitude of other possible syntheses. First, the Absolute, roughly equated with the traditional notion of God , is no longer a preexisting, unmovable transcendent Being, but in essence a self-realizing entity that only fully emerges through the dialectical movement of history.

      Third, that movement is presented as an internal, thus, unavoidable necessity of reality.

      Greek Philosophy

      This content had already existed as potential in the thought of Heraclitus , but it appears for the first time explicitly and systematically in the thought of Hegel. With Karl Marx, the notion of a dialectical movement in history became directly linked to the notion of the struggle of the proletariat against capitalism. In Marxist thought, dialectical materialism implies that reality is essentially material mind being a mere superstructure and that it contains within itself a dialectical contradiction between opposing elements that functions as the engine of inevitable development.

      Historical materialism is the application of that concept to the development of history, seen as a series of revolutionary clashes between social classes with opposing interests. Thus, for Marx, conflict is the only real source of progress and development. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels believed Hegel was "standing on his head," and claimed to put him back on his feet, ridding Hegel's logic of its orientation towards philosophical "idealism," and conceiving what is now known as materialist or Marxist dialectics. This is what Marx had to say about the difference between Hegel's dialectics and his own:.

      My dialectic method is not only different from the Hegelian, but is its direct opposite. To Hegel, the life-process of the human brain, i.

      https://tirenjatisu.ga Nevertheless, Marx "openly avowed [himself] the pupil of that mighty thinker" and even "coquetted with modes of expression peculiar to him. The mystification which dialectic suffers in Hegel's hands, by no means prevents him from being the first to present its general form of working in a comprehensive and conscious manner. With him it is standing on its head.

      It must be turned right side up again, if you would discover the rational kernel within the mystical shell. At the heart of Marxist dialectics is the idea of contradiction, with class struggle playing the central role in social and political life, although Marx does identify other historically important contradictions, such as those between mental and manual labor and town and country. Contradiction is the key to all other categories and principles of dialectical development: Development by passage of quantitative change into qualitative ones, interruption of gradualness, leaps, negation of the initial moment of development and negation of this very negation, and repetition at a higher level of some of the features and aspects of the original state.

      The Marxist view of dialectics as a framework for development in which contradiction plays the central role as the source of development is perhaps best exemplified in Marx's Capital, which outlines two of his central theories: That of the theory of surplus value and the materialist conception of history. In the work of Marx and Engels the dialectical approach to the study of history became intertwined with historical materialism, the school of thought exemplified by the works of Marx, Engels, and Lenin.

      Marx himself never referred to "historical materialism. Under Stalin , Marxist dialectics developed into what was called "diamat" short for dialectical materialism. Some Soviet academics, most notably Evald Ilyenkov, continued with unorthodox philosophical studies of the Marxist dialectic, as did a number of thinkers in the West.

      One of the best known North American dialectical philosophers is Bertell Ollman. While the dialectic in the sphere of ideas can be defended, the concept as applied to the movement of matter, in the manner of Marx, contradicts the ways of the natural world. Nature is full of examples where growth and development occurs through the dynamic movement of opposites, such as the positive and negative charges that make up an atom, or male and female animals that mate to produce offspring. However, healthy development takes place through harmonious interaction of these poles centered on a higher purpose, for example, perpetuation of the species.

      Following the pattern of nature, the tensions developed by opposition of ideas and cultures should be resolved through dialog, for the purpose of reaching a higher understanding of truth and arriving at common policies for well-being of all. Marxism erred because it has focused on the distortions of history where one of the poles overpowered and destroyed the other. Marxism attempted to make this distortion, which results from fallen human nature and selfishness, into a normative solution and justification for extermination of enemies and theft of property.

      The materialism in Marxism considered people as expendable, rather than as having equal dignity and worth. This error has led to needless millions of deaths through violent revolutions, all based on a false premise of the nature of dialectical development. Many philosophers have offered critiques of dialectic, and it can even be said that hostility or receptivity to dialectics is one of the things that divides twentieth-century Anglo-American philosophy from the so-called "continental" tradition, a divide that only a few contemporary philosophers among them Richard Rorty have ventured to bridge.

      One philosopher who has attacked the notion of dialectic again and again is Karl Popper. In , he wrote and delivered a paper entitled "What Is Dialectic? Popper concluded the essay with these words: "The whole development of dialectic should be a warning against the dangers inherent in philosophical system-building. It should remind us that philosophy should not be made a basis for any sort of scientific system and that philosophers should be much more modest in their claims. One task which they can fulfill quite usefully is the study of the critical methods of science" Ibid.

      Dialectical theology, also referred to as crisis theology and theology of paradox refers to the theological movement of neo-orthodoxy initiated by Karl Barth between the two world wars. This approach to theology stresses that God is naturally unknowable to sinful and finite human beings, and that this limitation can only be overcome through the intervention of divine grace.

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      Such a truth is best expressed by a multiplicity of variants on a multiplicity of what Kahn calls 'schemas', none of which can impart more than some of the truth. For example, essentially the same truth about intellectual progress is expressed both when the Republic talks of coming out of the Cave to see the Good, and when the Symposium talks of lovers rising to the vision of the Beautiful: these are both variants on one schema.

      And it is still essentially that same truth expressed when the Meno , the Phaedrus and the Phaedo describe intellectual progress not as ascent and vision, but instead in variants on another schema, as various sorts of recollection. These variations between and within schemas are often taken to show that Plato changed his mind.

      Kahn suggests instead that they are simply so many ways, less inadequate collectively than individually, of getting the same truth across. And the literary form best adapted to present multiple variants on multiple schemas is not the treatise, but the dramatic dialogue.

      Similar books and articles

      For the dramatic dialogue allows an author to present multiple perspectives without endorsing any of them as final. In addition to a useful introduction as editor, Jakob Leth Fink provides an article as contributor. It asks 'How did Aristotle read a Platonic dialogue? This article also includes some discussion of the scanty fragments of Aristotle's own dialogues.

      Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle (Short Documentary)

      It concludes by showing how dialectical Aristotle's argument in Nicomachean Ethics can be, by reconstructing some of it as a stylised conversation. Socrates often invites people to tell him what something -- virtue, justice, piety, or whatever -- is. The formula for 'What is. You are in an aporia when you seem to have good reasons to think something true, and also good reasons to think it false.

      Your aporia is radical when it makes you doubt whether even a supposedly exemplary instance of some kind actually is of that kind.

      Aristotle’s Rhetoric (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

      For example, you may have seen Protagoras in action, and have come to think that he teaches virtue, if anyone does. But you then come to have good reasons for thinking that virtue is teachable, and good reasons for thinking that it isn't this is your original aporia.