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Dialectic or dialectics (Greek: διαλεκτική, dialektikḗ; related to dialogue), also known as the dialectical method, is at base a discourse between two or more people holding different points of view about a subject but wishing to establish the truth through reasoned methods of argumentation. Dialectic resembles debate, but the concept excludes subjective elements such as emotional appeal and the modern pejorative sense of rhetoric.[1][2] Dialectic may thus be contrasted with both the eristic, which refers to argument that aims to successfully dispute another's argument (rather than searching for truth), or the didactic method, wherein one side of the conversation teaches the other. Dialectic is alternatively known as minor logic, as opposed to major logic or critique.

Within Hegelianism, the word dialectic has the specialised meaning of a contradiction between ideas that serves as the determining factor in their relationship. Dialectic comprises three stages of development: first, the thesis, a statement of an idea; second, the antithesis, a reaction that contradicts or negates the thesis; and third, the synthesis, a statement through which the differences between the two points are resolved. Dialectical materialism, a theory or set of theories produced mainly by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, adapted the Hegelian dialectic into arguments regarding traditional materialism.

Dialectic tends to imply a process of evolution and so does not naturally fit within formal logic (see Logic and dialectic). This process is particularly marked in Hegelian dialectic, and even more so in Marxist dialectic, which may rely on the evolution of ideas over longer time periods in the real world; dialectical logic attempts to address this.

An example of the

An example of the influence of Marxist dialectic in the European tradition is Jean-Paul Sartre's 1960 book Critique of Dialectical Reason. Sartre stated that “Existentialism]], like Marxism, addresses itself to experience in order to discover there concrete syntheses. It can conceive of these syntheses only within a moving, dialectical totalisation, which is nothing else but history or—from the strictly cultural point of view adopted here—'philosophy-becoming-the world'.”[52]

Dialectical naturalism is a term coined by American philosopher Murray Bookchin to describe the philosophical underpinnings of the political program of social ecology. Dialectical naturalism explores the complex interrelationship between social problems, and the direct consequences they have on the ecological impact of human society. Bookchin offered dialectical naturalism as a contrast to what he saw as the "empyrean, basically antinaturalistic dialectical idealism" of Hegel, and "the wooden, often scientistic dialectical materialism of orthodox Marxists".

Theological dialectical forms

Neo-orthodoxy, in Europe also known as theology of crisis and dialectical theology,[57][58] is an approach to theology in Protestantism that was developed in the aftermath of the First World War (1914–1918). It is characterized as a reaction against doctrines of Neo-orthodoxy, in Europe also known as theology of crisis and dialectical theology,[57][58] is an approach to theology in Protestantism that was developed in the aftermath of the First World War (1914–1918). It is characterized as a reaction against doctrines of 19th-century liberal theology and a more positive reevaluation of the teachings of the Reformation, much of which had been in decline (especially in western Europe) since the late 18th century.[59] It is primarily associated with two Swiss professors and pastors, Karl Barth[60] (1886–1968) and Emil Brunner (1899–1966),[57][58] even though Barth himself expressed his unease in the use of the term.[61]

In dialectical theology the difference and opposition between God and human beings is stressed in such a way that all human attempts at overcoming this opposition through moral, religious or philosophical idealism must be characterized as 'sin'. In the death of Christ humanity is negated and overcome, but this judgment also points f

In dialectical theology the difference and opposition between God and human beings is stressed in such a way that all human attempts at overcoming this opposition through moral, religious or philosophical idealism must be characterized as 'sin'. In the death of Christ humanity is negated and overcome, but this judgment also points forwards to the resurrection in which humanity is reestablished in Christ. For Barth this meant that only through God's 'no' to everything human can his 'yes' be perceived. Applied to traditional themes of Protestant theology, such as double predestination, this means that election and reprobation cannot be viewed as a quantitative limitation of God's action. Rather it must be seen as its "qualitative definition".[62] As Christ bore the rejection as well as the election of God for all humanity, every person is subject to both aspects of God's double predestination.

Dialectic prominently figured in Bernard Lonergan's philosophy, in his books Insight and Method in Theology. Michael Shute wrote about Longergan's use of dialectic in The Origins of Lonergan's Notion of the Dialectic of History. For Lonergan, dialectic is both individual and operative in community. Simply described, it is a dynamic process that results in something new:

For the sake of greater precision, let us say that a dialectic is a concrete unfolding of linked but opposed principles of change. Thus there will be a dialectic if (1) there is an aggregate of events of a determinate character, (2) the events may be traced to either or both of two principles, (3) the principles are opposed yet bound together, and (4) they are modified by the changes that successively result from them.[63]

Dialectic is one of the eight functional specialties Lonergan envisaged for theology to bring this di

Dialectic is one of the eight functional specialties Lonergan envisaged for theology to bring this discipline into the modern world. Lonergan believed that the lack of an agreed method among scholars had inhibited substantive agreement from being reached and progress from being made compared to the natural sciences. Karl Rahner, S.J., however, criticized Lonergan's theological method in a short article entitled "Some Critical Thoughts on 'Functional Specialties in Theology'" where he stated: "Lonergan's theological methodology seems to me to be so generic that it really fits every science, and hence is not the methodology of theology as such, but only a very general methodology of science."[64]

Karl Popper has attacked the dialectic repeatedly. In 1937, he wrote and delivered a paper entitled "What Is Dialectic?" in which he attacked the dialectical method for its willingness "to put up with contradictions".[65] 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., p. 335).

In chapter 12 of volume 2 of The Open Society and Its Enemies (1944; 5th rev. ed., 1966), Popper unleashed a famous attack on Hegelian dialectics in which he held that Hegel's thought (unjustly in the vi

In chapter 12 of volume 2 of The Open Society and Its Enemies (1944; 5th rev. ed., 1966), Popper unleashed a famous attack on Hegelian dialectics in which he held that Hegel's thought (unjustly in the view of some philosophers, such as Walter Kaufmann)[66] was to some degree responsible for facilitating the rise of fascism in Europe by encouraging and justifying irrationalism. In section 17 of his 1961 "addenda" to The Open Society, entitled "Facts, Standards and Truth: A Further Criticism of Relativism", Popper refused to moderate his criticism of the Hegelian dialectic, arguing that it "played a major role in the downfall of the liberal movement in Germany [...] by contributing to historicism and to an identification of might and right, encouraged totalitarian modes of thought. [...] [And] undermined and eventually lowered the traditional standards of intellectual responsibility and honesty".[67]

The philosopher of science and physicist Mario Bunge repeatedly criticized Hegelian and Marxian dialectics, calling them "fuzzy and remote from science"[68] and a "disastrous legacy".[69] He concluded: "The so-called laws of dialectics, such as formulated by Engels (1940, 1954) and Lenin (1947, 1981), are false insofar as they are intelligible."[69]

Since the late 20th century, European and American logicians have attempted to provide mathematical foundations for dialectical logic or argument.[70]:201–372 There had been pre-formal and partially-formal treatises on argument and dialectic, from authors such as Stephen Toulmin (The Uses of Argument),[70]:203–256 Nicholas Rescher (Dialectics),[70]:330–336 and van Eemeren and Grootendorst (pragma-dialectics).[70]:517–614 One can include the communities of informal logic and paraconsistent logic.[70]:373–424 However, building on theories of defeasible reasoning (see John L. Pollock), systems have been built that define well-formedness of arguments, rules governing the process of introducing arguments based on fixed assumptions, and rules for shifting burden. Many of these logics appear in the special area of artificial intelligence and law, though the computer scientists' interest in formalizing dialectic originates in a desire to build decision support and computer-supported cooperative work systems.[71]

See also