Dialectic

Dialectic

Overview
Dialectic is a method of argument for resolving disagreement that has been central to Indic and European philosophy since antiquity. The word dialectic originated in Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

, and was made popular by Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

 in the Socratic dialogues. The dialectical method is dialogue
Dialogue
Dialogue is a literary and theatrical form consisting of a written or spoken conversational exchange between two or more people....

 between two or more people holding different points of view about a subject, who wish to establish the truth of the matter by dialogue, with reasoned
Rationality
In philosophy, rationality is the exercise of reason. It is the manner in which people derive conclusions when considering things deliberately. It also refers to the conformity of one's beliefs with one's reasons for belief, or with one's actions with one's reasons for action...

 arguments.
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Encyclopedia
Dialectic is a method of argument for resolving disagreement that has been central to Indic and European philosophy since antiquity. The word dialectic originated in Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

, and was made popular by Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

 in the Socratic dialogues. The dialectical method is dialogue
Dialogue
Dialogue is a literary and theatrical form consisting of a written or spoken conversational exchange between two or more people....

 between two or more people holding different points of view about a subject, who wish to establish the truth of the matter by dialogue, with reasoned
Rationality
In philosophy, rationality is the exercise of reason. It is the manner in which people derive conclusions when considering things deliberately. It also refers to the conformity of one's beliefs with one's reasons for belief, or with one's actions with one's reasons for action...

 arguments. Dialectics is different from debate
Debate
Debate or debating is a method of interactive and representational argument. Debate is a broader form of argument than logical argument, which only examines consistency from axiom, and factual argument, which only examines what is or isn't the case or rhetoric which is a technique of persuasion...

, wherein the debaters are committed to their points of view, and mean to win the debate, either by persuading the opponent, proving their argument correct, or proving the opponent's argument incorrect — thus, either a judge or a jury must decide who wins the debate. Dialectics is also different from rhetoric
Rhetoric
Rhetoric is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the facility of speakers or writers who attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations. As a subject of formal study and a productive civic practice, rhetoric has played a central role in the Western...

, wherein the speaker uses logos
Logos
' is an important term in philosophy, psychology, rhetoric and religion. Originally a word meaning "a ground", "a plea", "an opinion", "an expectation", "word," "speech," "account," "reason," it became a technical term in philosophy, beginning with Heraclitus ' is an important term in...

, pathos
Pathos
Pathos represents an appeal to the audience's emotions. Pathos is a communication technique used most often in rhetoric , and in literature, film and other narrative art....

, or ethos
Ethos
Ethos is a Greek word meaning "character" that is used to describe the guiding beliefs or ideals that characterize a community, nation, or ideology. The Greeks also used this word to refer to the power of music to influence its hearer's emotions, behaviors, and even morals. Early Greek stories of...

 to persuade listeners to take their side of the argument.

The Sophists
Sophism
Sophism in the modern definition is a specious argument used for deceiving someone. In ancient Greece, sophists were a category of teachers who specialized in using the tools of philosophy and rhetoric for the purpose of teaching aretê — excellence, or virtue — predominantly to young statesmen and...

 taught arête
Arete
Areté is the term meaning "virtue" or "excellence", from Greek ἈρετήArete may also be used:*as a given name of persons or things:**Queen Arete , a character in Homer's Odyssey.***197 Arete, an asteroid....

(Greek: , quality, excellence) as the highest value, and the determinant of one's actions in life. The Sophists taught artistic quality in oratory (motivation via speech) as a manner of demonstrating one's arête. Oratory was taught as an art form, used to please and to influence other people via excellent speech; nonetheless, the Sophists taught the pupil to seek arête in all endeavours, not solely in oratory.

Socrates
Socrates
Socrates was a classical Greek Athenian philosopher. Credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, he is an enigmatic figure known chiefly through the accounts of later classical writers, especially the writings of his students Plato and Xenophon, and the plays of his contemporary ...

 favoured truth as the highest value, proposing that it could be discovered through reason and logic in discussion: ergo, dialectic. Socrates valued rationality
Rationality
In philosophy, rationality is the exercise of reason. It is the manner in which people derive conclusions when considering things deliberately. It also refers to the conformity of one's beliefs with one's reasons for belief, or with one's actions with one's reasons for action...

 (appealing to logic, not emotion) as the proper means for persuasion, the discovery of truth, and the determinant for one's actions. To Socrates, truth, not arête, was the greater good, and each person should, above all else, seek truth to guide one's life. Therefore, Socrates opposed the Sophists and their teaching of rhetoric as art and as emotional oratory requiring neither logic nor proof. Different forms of dialectical reasoning emerged from the Indosphere
Greater India
Greater India is a term that refers to the historical spread of the culture of India beyond the Indian subcontinent...

 (Greater India) and in the West
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

 (Europe), and throughout history; Socratic method
Socratic method
The Socratic method , named after the classical Greek philosopher Socrates, is a form of inquiry and debate between individuals with opposing viewpoints based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to illuminate ideas...

, Hindu, Buddhist
Upaya
Upaya is a term in Mahayana Buddhism which is derived from the root upa√i and refers to a means that goes or brings one up to some goal, often the goal of Enlightenment. The term is often used with kaushalya ; upaya-kaushalya means roughly "skill in means"...

, Medieval, Hegelian dialectics, Marxist, Talmudic, and Neo-orthodoxy
Neo-orthodoxy
Neo-orthodoxy, in Europe also known as theology of crisis and dialectical theology,is an approach to theology in Protestantism that was developed in the aftermath of the First World War...

.

Principles


The purpose of the dialectic method of reasoning is resolution of disagreement through rational
Rationality
In philosophy, rationality is the exercise of reason. It is the manner in which people derive conclusions when considering things deliberately. It also refers to the conformity of one's beliefs with one's reasons for belief, or with one's actions with one's reasons for action...

 discussion, and, ultimately, the search for truth. One way to proceed — the Socratic method
Socratic method
The Socratic method , named after the classical Greek philosopher Socrates, is a form of inquiry and debate between individuals with opposing viewpoints based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to illuminate ideas...

 — is to show that a given hypothesis
Hypothesis
A hypothesis is a proposed explanation for a phenomenon. The term derives from the Greek, ὑποτιθέναι – hypotithenai meaning "to put under" or "to suppose". For a hypothesis to be put forward as a scientific hypothesis, the scientific method requires that one can test it...

 (with other admissions) leads to a contradiction
Contradiction
In classical logic, a contradiction consists of a logical incompatibility between two or more propositions. It occurs when the propositions, taken together, yield two conclusions which form the logical, usually opposite inversions of each other...

; thus, forcing the withdrawal of the hypothesis as a candidate for truth
Truth
Truth has a variety of meanings, such as the state of being in accord with fact or reality. It can also mean having fidelity to an original or to a standard or ideal. In a common usage, it also means constancy or sincerity in action or character...

 (see reductio ad absurdum
Reductio ad absurdum
In logic, proof by contradiction is a form of proof that establishes the truth or validity of a proposition by showing that the proposition's being false would imply a contradiction...

). Another dialectical resolution of disagreement is by denying a presupposition
Presupposition
In the branch of linguistics known as pragmatics, a presupposition is an implicit assumption about the world or background belief relating to an utterance whose truth is taken for granted in discourse...

 of the contending thesis and antithesis; thereby, proceeding to sublation
Aufheben
Aufheben or Aufhebung is a German word with several seemingly contradictory meanings, including "to lift up", "to abolish", or "to sublate"...

(transcendence) to synthesis, a third thesis.

It is also possible that the rejection of the participants' presuppositions is resisted, which then might generate a second-order controversy.

Fichtean
Johann Gottlieb Fichte
Johann Gottlieb Fichte was a German philosopher. He was one of the founding figures of the philosophical movement known as German idealism, a movement that developed from the theoretical and ethical writings of Immanuel Kant...

 Dialectics (Hegelian Dialectics) is based upon four concepts:
  1. Everything is transient and finite, existing in the medium of time
    Time
    Time is a part of the measuring system used to sequence events, to compare the durations of events and the intervals between them, and to quantify rates of change such as the motions of objects....

    .
  2. Everything is composed of contradictions (opposing forces).
  3. Gradual changes lead to crises, turning points when one force overcomes its opponent force (quantitative change leads to qualitative change).
  4. Change is helical
    Helix
    A helix is a type of smooth space curve, i.e. a curve in three-dimensional space. It has the property that the tangent line at any point makes a constant angle with a fixed line called the axis. Examples of helixes are coil springs and the handrails of spiral staircases. A "filled-in" helix – for...

     (spiral), not circular (negation of the negation).


The concept of dialectic existed in the philosophy of Heraclitus
Heraclitus
Heraclitus of Ephesus was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, a native of the Greek city Ephesus, Ionia, on the coast of Asia Minor. He was of distinguished parentage. Little is known about his early life and education, but he regarded himself as self-taught and a pioneer of wisdom...

 of Ephesus
Ephesus
Ephesus was an ancient Greek city, and later a major Roman city, on the west coast of Asia Minor, near present-day Selçuk, Izmir Province, Turkey. It was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League during the Classical Greek era...

, who proposed that everything is in constant change, as a result of inner strife and opposition. Hence, the history of the dialectical method is the history of philosophy.

Classical philosophy


In classical
Classical Greece
Classical Greece was a 200 year period in Greek culture lasting from the 5th through 4th centuries BC. This classical period had a powerful influence on the Roman Empire and greatly influenced the foundation of Western civilizations. Much of modern Western politics, artistic thought, such as...

 philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

, dialectic is a form of reasoning based upon dialogue of arguments and counter-arguments, advocating proposition
Proposition
In logic and philosophy, the term proposition refers to either the "content" or "meaning" of a meaningful declarative sentence or the pattern of symbols, marks, or sounds that make up a meaningful declarative sentence...

s
(theses
Thesis, antithesis, synthesis
The triad thesis, antithesis, synthesis is often used to describe the thought of German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Hegel never used the term himself, and almost all of his biographers have been eager to discredit it....

) and counter-propositions (antitheses
Antithesis
Antithesis is a counter-proposition and denotes a direct contrast to the original proposition...

). The outcome of such a dialectic might be the refutation of a relevant proposition, or of a synthesis, or a combination of the opposing assertions, or a qualitative improvement of the dialogue.

Moreover, the term dialectic owes much of its prestige to its role in the philosophies of Socrates
Socrates
Socrates was a classical Greek Athenian philosopher. Credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, he is an enigmatic figure known chiefly through the accounts of later classical writers, especially the writings of his students Plato and Xenophon, and the plays of his contemporary ...

 and Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

, in the Greek Classical
Classical Greece
Classical Greece was a 200 year period in Greek culture lasting from the 5th through 4th centuries BC. This classical period had a powerful influence on the Roman Empire and greatly influenced the foundation of Western civilizations. Much of modern Western politics, artistic thought, such as...

 period (4–5 c. BC). Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 said that it was the pre-Socratic philosopher Zeno of Elea
Zeno of Elea
Zeno of Elea was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher of southern Italy and a member of the Eleatic School founded by Parmenides. Aristotle called him the inventor of the dialectic. He is best known for his paradoxes, which Bertrand Russell has described as "immeasurably subtle and profound".- Life...

 who invented dialectic, of which the dialogues of Plato are the examples of the Socratic dialectical method.

Socratic dialogue




In Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

's dialogues and other Socratic dialogues, Socrates
Socrates
Socrates was a classical Greek Athenian philosopher. Credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, he is an enigmatic figure known chiefly through the accounts of later classical writers, especially the writings of his students Plato and Xenophon, and the plays of his contemporary ...

 attempts to examine someone's beliefs, at times even first principles
First principles
In philosophy, a first principle is a basic, foundational proposition or assumption that cannot be deduced from any other proposition or assumption. In mathematics, first principles are referred to as axioms or postulates...

 or premise
Premise
Premise can refer to:* Premise, a claim that is a reason for, or an objection against, some other claim as part of an argument...

s by which we all reason and argue. Socrates
Socrates
Socrates was a classical Greek Athenian philosopher. Credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, he is an enigmatic figure known chiefly through the accounts of later classical writers, especially the writings of his students Plato and Xenophon, and the plays of his contemporary ...

 typically argues by cross-examining his interlocutor's claims and premises in order to draw out a contradiction
Contradiction
In classical logic, a contradiction consists of a logical incompatibility between two or more propositions. It occurs when the propositions, taken together, yield two conclusions which form the logical, usually opposite inversions of each other...

 or inconsistency among them. According to Plato, the rational detection of error amounts to finding the proof of the antithesis. However, important as this objective is, the principal aim of Socratic activity seems to be to improve the soul of his interlocutors, by freeing them from unrecognized errors.

For example, in the Euthyphro
Euthyphro
Euthyphro is one of Plato's early dialogues, dated to after 399 BC. Taking place during the weeks leading up to Socrates' trial, the dialogue features Socrates and Euthyphro, a man known for claiming to be a religious expert. They attempt to pinpoint a definition for piety.-Background:The dialogue...

, Socrates asks Euthyphro to provide a definition
Definition
A definition is a passage that explains the meaning of a term , or a type of thing. The term to be defined is the definiendum. A term may have many different senses or meanings...

 of piety. Euthyphro replies that the pious is that which is loved by the gods. But, Socrates also has Euthyphro agreeing that the gods are quarrelsome and their quarrels, like human quarrels, concern objects of love or hatred. Therefore, Socrates reasons, at least one thing exists which certain gods love but other gods hate. Again, Euthyphro agrees. Socrates concludes that if Euthyphro's definition of piety is acceptable, then there must exist at least one thing which is both pious and impious (as it is both loved and hated by the gods) — which Euthyphro admits is absurd. Thus, Euthyphro is brought to a realization by this dialectical method that his definition of piety is not sufficiently meaningful.

There is another interpretation of the dialectic as a method of intuition which is suggested in The Republic. Simon Blackburn writes that the dialectic in this sense is used to understand "the total process of enlightenment, whereby the philosopher is educated so as to achieve knowledge of the supreme good, the Form of the Good”.

Medieval philosophy


Dialectics (also called logic) was one of the three liberal arts taught in medieval universities as part of the trivium. The trivium also included rhetoric
Rhetoric
Rhetoric is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the facility of speakers or writers who attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations. As a subject of formal study and a productive civic practice, rhetoric has played a central role in the Western...

 and grammar
Grammar
In linguistics, grammar is the set of structural rules that govern the composition of clauses, phrases, and words in any given natural language. The term refers also to the study of such rules, and this field includes morphology, syntax, and phonology, often complemented by phonetics, semantics,...

.

Based mainly on Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

, the first medieval philosopher to work on dialectics was Boethius. After him, many scholastic philosophers also made use of dialectics in their works, such as Abelard, William of Sherwood
William of Sherwood
William of Sherwood was a medieval English Scholastic philosopher, logician and teacher.Little is known of his life, but he is thought to have studied in Paris, as a master at Oxford in 1252, treasurer of Lincoln from 1254/8 onwards, and a rector of Aylesbury.He was the author of two books which...

, Garlandus Compotista
Garlandus Compotista
Garlandus Compotista also known as Garland the Computist was an early medieval logician of the eleventh-century school of Liège. Little is known of his life; the Dialectica published under his name by L. M. de Rijk is now commonly attributed to Gerlandus of Besançon : see John Marenbon, Medieval...

, Walter Burley
Walter Burley
Walter Burley was a medieval English Scholastic philosopher and logician. He was a Master of Arts at Oxford in 1301, and a fellow of Merton College, Oxford until about 1310. He spent sixteen years at Paris until 1326, becoming a fellow of the Sorbonne by 1324. After that, he spent seventeen...

, Roger Swyneshed and William of Ockham
William of Ockham
William of Ockham was an English Franciscan friar and scholastic philosopher, who is believed to have been born in Ockham, a small village in Surrey. He is considered to be one of the major figures of medieval thought and was at the centre of the major intellectual and political controversies of...

.

This dialectic was formed as follows:
  1. The Question to be determined
  2. The principal objections to the question
  3. An argument in favor of the Question, traditionally a single argument ("On the contrary..")
  4. The determination of the Question after weighing the evidence. ("I answer that...")
  5. The replies to each objection

Modern philosophy


The concept of dialectics was given new life by Hegel
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was a German philosopher, one of the creators of German Idealism. His historicist and idealist account of reality as a whole revolutionized European philosophy and was an important precursor to Continental philosophy and Marxism.Hegel developed a comprehensive...

 (following Fichte), whose dialectically dynamic model of nature
Nature
Nature, in the broadest sense, is equivalent to the natural world, physical world, or material world. "Nature" refers to the phenomena of the physical world, and also to life in general...

 and of history
History
History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

 made it, as it were, a fundamental aspect of the nature of reality
Reality
In philosophy, reality is the state of things as they actually exist, rather than as they may appear or might be imagined. In a wider definition, reality includes everything that is and has been, whether or not it is observable or comprehensible...

 (instead of regarding the contradictions into which dialectics leads as a sign of the sterility of the dialectical method, as Kant
Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher from Königsberg , researching, lecturing and writing on philosophy and anthropology at the end of the 18th Century Enlightenment....

 tended to do in his Critique of Pure Reason
Critique of Pure Reason
The Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant, first published in 1781, second edition 1787, is considered one of the most influential works in the history of philosophy. Also referred to as Kant's "first critique," it was followed by the Critique of Practical Reason and the Critique of Judgement...

). In the mid-19th century, the concept of "dialectic" was appropriated by Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

 (see, for example, Das Kapital
Das Kapital
Das Kapital, Kritik der politischen Ökonomie , by Karl Marx, is a critical analysis of capitalism as political economy, meant to reveal the economic laws of the capitalist mode of production, and how it was the precursor of the socialist mode of production.- Themes :In Capital: Critique of...

, published in 1867) and Engels
Friedrich Engels
Friedrich Engels was a German industrialist, social scientist, author, political theorist, philosopher, and father of Marxist theory, alongside Karl Marx. In 1845 he published The Condition of the Working Class in England, based on personal observations and research...

 and retooled in a non-idealist manner, becoming a crucial notion in their philosophy of dialectical materialism
Dialectical materialism
Dialectical materialism is a strand of Marxism synthesizing Hegel's dialectics. The idea was originally invented by Moses Hess and it was later developed by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels...

. Thus this concept has played a prominent role on the world stage and in world history
History of the world
The history of the world or human history is the history of humanity from the earliest times to the present, in all places on Earth, beginning with the Paleolithic Era. It excludes non-human natural history and geological history, except insofar as the natural world substantially affects human lives...

. In contemporary polemics, "dialectics" may also refer to an understanding of how we can or should perceive the world (epistemology); an assertion that the nature of the world outside one's perception is interconnected, contradictory, and dynamic (ontology
Ontology
Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being, existence or reality as such, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations...

); or it can refer to a method of presentation of ideas and conclusions (discourse
Discourse
Discourse generally refers to "written or spoken communication". The following are three more specific definitions:...

). According to Hegel, "dialectic" is the method by which human history unfolds; that is to say, history progresses as a dialectical process.

Hegelian dialectic


Hegelian dialectic, usually presented in a threefold manner, was stated by Heinrich Moritz Chalybäus
Heinrich Moritz Chalybäus
Heinrich Moritz Chalybäus was a German philosopher best known for his exegetical work on philosophy, such as his characterisation of Hegel's dialectic as positing a triad of thesis-antithesis-synthesis....

 as comprising three dialectical stages of development: a thesis
Thesis, antithesis, synthesis
The triad thesis, antithesis, synthesis is often used to describe the thought of German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Hegel never used the term himself, and almost all of his biographers have been eager to discredit it....

, giving rise to its reaction, an antithesis
Thesis, antithesis, synthesis
The triad thesis, antithesis, synthesis is often used to describe the thought of German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Hegel never used the term himself, and almost all of his biographers have been eager to discredit it....

, which contradicts or negates the thesis, and the tension between the two being resolved by means of a synthesis
Thesis, antithesis, synthesis
The triad thesis, antithesis, synthesis is often used to describe the thought of German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Hegel never used the term himself, and almost all of his biographers have been eager to discredit it....

. Although this model is often named after Hegel, he himself never used that specific formulation. Hegel ascribed that terminology to Kant
KANT
KANT is a computer algebra system for mathematicians interested in algebraic number theory, performing sophisticated computations in algebraic number fields, in global function fields, and in local fields. KASH is the associated command line interface...

. Carrying on Kant's work, Fichte greatly elaborated on the synthesis
Thesis, antithesis, synthesis
The triad thesis, antithesis, synthesis is often used to describe the thought of German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Hegel never used the term himself, and almost all of his biographers have been eager to discredit it....

 model, and popularized it.

On the other hand, Hegel did use a three-valued logical model that is very similar to the antithesis
Thesis, antithesis, synthesis
The triad thesis, antithesis, synthesis is often used to describe the thought of German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Hegel never used the term himself, and almost all of his biographers have been eager to discredit it....

 model, but Hegel's most usual terms were: Abstract-Negative-Concrete. Sometimes Hegel would use the terms, Immediate-Mediated-Concrete. Hegel used these terms hundreds of times throughout his works.

The formula, Thesis-Antithesis-Synthesis, does not explain why the Thesis requires an Antithesis. However, the formula, Abstract-Negative-Concrete, suggests a flaw in any initial thesis—it is too abstract and lacks the negative of trial, error and experience. The same applies to the formula, Immediate-Mediated-Concrete. For Hegel, the Concrete, the Synthesis, the Absolute, must always pass through the phase of the Negative, that is, Mediation. This is the actual essence of what is popularly called Hegelian Dialectics.

To describe the activity of overcoming the negative, Hegel also often used the term Aufhebung
Sublation
Sublation may refer to:*Sublation, a translation of the German term aufheben*Ritual purification, the purification or exaltation of matter by its negation or redirection...

, variously translated into English as "sublation" or "overcoming," to conceive of the working of the dialectic. Roughly, the term indicates preserving the useful portion of an idea, thing, society, etc., while moving beyond its limitations. (Jacques Derrida
Jacques Derrida
Jacques Derrida was a French philosopher, born in French Algeria. He developed the critical theory known as deconstruction and his work has been labeled as post-structuralism and associated with postmodern philosophy...

's preferred French translation of the term was relever).

In the Logic
Science of Logic
Hegel's work The Science of Logic outlined his vision of logic, which is an ontology that incorporates the traditional Aristotelian syllogism as a sub-component rather than a basis...

, for instance, Hegel describes a dialectic of existence
Existence
In common usage, existence is the world we are aware of through our senses, and that persists independently without them. In academic philosophy the word has a more specialized meaning, being contrasted with essence, which specifies different forms of existence as well as different identity...

: first, existence must be posited as pure Being (Sein); but pure Being, upon examination, is found to be indistinguishable from Nothing (Nichts). When it is realized that what is coming into being is, at the same time, also returning to nothing (in life, for example, one's living is also a dying), both Being and Nothing are united as Becoming.

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. For Hegel, the whole of history is one tremendous dialectic, major stages of which chart a progression from self-alienation as slavery
Master-slave dialectic
The Master-Slave dialectic is a famous passage of Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit. It is widely considered a key element in Hegel's philosophical system, and has heavily influenced many subsequent philosophers...

 to self-unification and realization as the rational, constitutional state of free and equal citizens. The Hegelian dialectic cannot be mechanically applied for any chosen thesis. Critics argue that the selection of any antithesis, other than the logical negation of the thesis, is subjective. 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 rhetoric
Rhetoric
Rhetoric is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the facility of speakers or writers who attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations. As a subject of formal study and a productive civic practice, rhetoric has played a central role in the Western...

al, not logical, and the resulting synthesis is not rigorously defensible against a multitude of other possible syntheses. The problem with the Fichtean "Thesis-Antithesis-Synthesis" model is that it implies that contradictions or negations come from outside of things. Hegel's point is that they are inherent in and internal to things. This conception of dialectics derives ultimately from Heraclitus
Heraclitus
Heraclitus of Ephesus was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, a native of the Greek city Ephesus, Ionia, on the coast of Asia Minor. He was of distinguished parentage. Little is known about his early life and education, but he regarded himself as self-taught and a pioneer of wisdom...

.

Hegel has outlined that the purpose of dialectics is "to study things in their own being and movement and thus to demonstrate the finitude of the partial categories of understanding"

One important dialectical principle for Hegel is the transition from quantity to quality, which he terms the Measure. The measure is the qualitative quantum, the quantum is the existence of quantity.
As an example, Hegel mentions the states of aggregation of water: "Thus the temperature of water is, in the first place, a point of no consequence in respect of its liquidity: still with the increase or diminution of the temperature of the liquid water, there comes a point where this state of cohesion suffers a qualitative change, and the water is converted into steam or ice". As other examples Hegel mentions the reaching of a point where a single additional grain makes a heap of wheat; or where the bald-tail is produced, if we continue plucking out single hairs.

Another important principle for Hegel is the negation of the negation, which he also terms Aufhebung (sublation): Something is only what it is in its relation to another, but by the negation of the negation this something incorporates the other into itself. The dialectical movement involves two moments that negate each other, something and its other. As a result of the negation of the negation, "something becomes its other; this other is itself something; therefore it likewise becomes an other, and so on ad infinitum". Something in its passage into other only joins with itself, it is self-related. In becoming there are two moments: coming-to-be and ceasing-to-be: by sublation, i.e. negation of the negation, being passes over into nothing, it ceases to be, but something new shows up, is coming to be. What is sublated (aufgehoben) on the one hand ceases to be and is put to an end, but on the other hand it is preserved and maintained. In dialectics, a totality transforms itself; it is self-related.

Marxist dialectics


Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

 and Friedrich Engels
Friedrich Engels
Friedrich Engels was a German industrialist, social scientist, author, political theorist, philosopher, and father of Marxist theory, alongside Karl Marx. In 1845 he published The Condition of the Working Class in England, based on personal observations and research...

 proposed that G.F. Hegel had rendered philosophy too abstractly ideal
Idealism
In philosophy, idealism is the family of views which assert that reality, or reality as we can know it, is fundamentally mental, mentally constructed, or otherwise immaterial. Epistemologically, idealism manifests as a skepticism about the possibility of knowing any mind-independent thing...

:
In contradiction to Hegelian idealism, Karl Marx presented Dialectical materialism
Dialectical materialism
Dialectical materialism is a strand of Marxism synthesizing Hegel's dialectics. The idea was originally invented by Moses Hess and it was later developed by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels...

 (Marxist dialectics):
In Marxism
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

, the dialectical method of historical study became intertwined with historical materialism
Historical materialism
Historical materialism is a methodological approach to the study of society, economics, and history, first articulated by Karl Marx as "the materialist conception of history". Historical materialism looks for the causes of developments and changes in human society in the means by which humans...

, the school of thought exemplified by the works of Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

, Engels
Friedrich Engels
Friedrich Engels was a German industrialist, social scientist, author, political theorist, philosopher, and father of Marxist theory, alongside Karl Marx. In 1845 he published The Condition of the Working Class in England, based on personal observations and research...

, and Lenin. In the USSR, under Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

, Marxist dialectics became "diamat" (short for dialectical materialism
Dialectical materialism
Dialectical materialism is a strand of Marxism synthesizing Hegel's dialectics. The idea was originally invented by Moses Hess and it was later developed by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels...

), a 19th-century social theory by Joseph Dietzgen
Joseph Dietzgen
Joseph Dietzgen was a German socialist philosopher, Marxist and journalist. Joseph was born in Blankenberg in the Rhine Province of Prussia. He was the first of five children of father Johann Gottfried Anno Dietzgen and mother Anna Margaretha Lückerath . He was, like his father, a tanner by...

 emphasising the importance of commodities and the effects of their exchange. Dietzgen sparingly used the theory to explain the nature of socialism
Socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

 and social development, but was not academically studied until the Soviet Union indoctrinated the philosophy as Marxist. A dialectical method was fundamental to Marxist politics, e.g. the works of Karl Korsch
Karl Korsch
-Biography:Korsch was born in Tostedt, near Hamburg, to Carl August Korsch, a secretary at the cantonal court and his wife Therese. In 1898 the family moved to Meiningen, Thuringia and Korsch senior attained the position of a managing clerk in a bank...

, Georg Lukács
Georg Lukács
György Lukács was a Hungarian Marxist philosopher and literary critic. He is a founder of the tradition of Western Marxism. He contributed the concept of reification to Marxist philosophy and theory and expanded Karl Marx's theory of class consciousness. Lukács' was also an influential literary...

 and certain members of the Frankfurt School
Frankfurt School
The Frankfurt School refers to a school of neo-Marxist interdisciplinary social theory, particularly associated with the Institute for Social Research at the University of Frankfurt am Main...

. Soviet academics, notably Evald Ilyenkov
Evald Ilyenkov
Evald Vassilievich Ilyenkov was a Marxist author and Soviet philosopher who did original work on the materialist development of Hegel's dialectics...

 and Zaid Orudzhev
Zaid Orudzhev
Zaid Melikovich Orudzhev is a Russian academic specialising in the history of philosophy, dialectical logic and sociological methodology. He is a doctor of philosophy and currently a professor at the Moscow State Academy for Business Administration....

, continued pursuing unorthodox philosophic study of Marxist dialectics; likewise in the West, notably the philosopher Bertell Ollman
Bertell Ollman
Bertell Ollman is a professor of politics at New York University. He teaches both dialectical methodology and socialist theory. He is the author of several academic works relating to Marxist theory ....

 at New York University
New York University
New York University is a private, nonsectarian research university based in New York City. NYU's main campus is situated in the Greenwich Village section of Manhattan...

.

Friedrich Engels proposed that Nature is dialectical, thus, in Anti-Dühring
Anti-Dühring
Herrn Eugen Dührings Umwälzung der Wissenschaft, commonly known as Anti-Dühring, is a book written in German by Friedrich Engels, published in 1878. It had previously been serialised in a periodical. There were two further editions in German in the lifetime of Engels...

 he said that the negation of negation is:
In Dialectics of Nature
Dialectics of Nature
Dialectics of Nature, by Friedrich Engels , is an unfinished work which applies Marxist ideas, and in particular the principles of Dialectical Materialism, to science....

, Engels said:
Marxist dialectics is exemplified in Das Kapital
Das Kapital
Das Kapital, Kritik der politischen Ökonomie , by Karl Marx, is a critical analysis of capitalism as political economy, meant to reveal the economic laws of the capitalist mode of production, and how it was the precursor of the socialist mode of production.- Themes :In Capital: Critique of...

(Capital), which outlines two central theories: (i) surplus value and (ii) the materialist conception of history; Marx explains dialectical materialism:
Class struggle
Class struggle
Class struggle is the active expression of a class conflict looked at from any kind of socialist perspective. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels wrote "The [written] history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle"....

 is the central contradiction to be resolved by Marxist dialectics, because of its central role in the social and political lives of a society. Nonetheless, Marx and Marxists developed the concept of class struggle to comprehend the dialectical contradictions between mental and manual labor, and between town and country. Hence, philosophic contradiction is central to the development of dialectics — the progress from quantity to quality, the acceleration of gradual social change; the negation of the initial development of the status quo; the negation of that negation; and the high-level recurrence of features of the original status quo. In the USSR, Progress Publishers issued anthologies of dialectical materialism by Lenin, wherein he also quotes Marx and Engels:
Lenin describes his dialectical
Dialectical materialism
Dialectical materialism is a strand of Marxism synthesizing Hegel's dialectics. The idea was originally invented by Moses Hess and it was later developed by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels...

 understanding of the concept of development:

Rothenfelde modern dialectics



In the Soviet Union dialectics of Marx developed in two directions - the ideological propaganda and research methodology. Some research scientists have used the dialectic of Hegel and Marx to interpret the results of natural sciences - physics, etc.. One of them was Yuri Rothenfelde (born in 1940). At the same time he created the non-classical dialectic (Not-Hegelian dialectic).

Doctoral dissertation, consultant V.S. Gott - "Becoming a non-classical dialectics" (1991). In 1991 Ph.D. Rothenfelde Y. has published a monography dedicated to the nonclassical dialectic - Rothenfelde Y.A. Non-classical dialectic. - M: Ray, 1991.

Leading the research theme was the problem of differentiating the concept of "specific identity". It lies between the abstract identity and absolute difference. He managed to differentiate an infinite number of specific differences.

The scheme of Hegel:

Abstract identity - Specific identity (or identity of opposites) - Absolute difference.

Yuri Rothenfelde divided "specific identity" to the specific differences. And express them in a series of philosophical categories. These categories became the basis of non-classical dialectic. Rothenfelde Y. called them "the comparative category".

The scheme of Rothenfelde:

The first series:

Abstract identity <- Meaning Assigned (less relatively more) - ...etc.< Absolute difference

Second series:

Abstract identity <- Opposite (the middle between the smaller and more) -...etc. < Absolute difference

These categories describe the types of symmetry
Symmetry
Symmetry generally conveys two primary meanings. The first is an imprecise sense of harmonious or aesthetically pleasing proportionality and balance; such that it reflects beauty or perfection...

, antisymmetry and asymmetry. Abstract identity - the mirror symmetry, the Absolute difference - asymmetry. Meaning assigned - translational symmetry
Translational symmetry
In geometry, a translation "slides" an object by a a: Ta = p + a.In physics and mathematics, continuous translational symmetry is the invariance of a system of equations under any translation...

, the Opposite - the mirror antisymmetry, etc.. That philosophy is connected with physics. For example. The right and left hand - Abstract identity - Mirror symmetry.

Indian continental debate: an intra- and inter-Dharmic dialectic


Anacker (2005: p. 20), in the introduction to his translation of seven works by Vasubandhu
Vasubandhu
Vasubandhu was an Indian Buddhist monk, and along with his half-brother Asanga, one of the main founders of the Indian Yogācāra school. However, some scholars consider Vasubandhu to be two distinct people. Vasubandhu is one of the most influential figures in the entire history of Buddhism...

 (fl.
Floruit
Floruit , abbreviated fl. , is a Latin verb meaning "flourished", denoting the period of time during which something was active...

 4th c.), a famed dialectician
Dialectician
A dialectician is a philosopher who views the world in terms of complementary opposites and the interactions thereof. In popular usage, the central feature of dialectic is the concept of "thesis, antithesis, synthesis" - when an idea or phenomenon arises, it carries within itself the seed of its...

 of the Gupta Empire
Gupta Empire
The Gupta Empire was an ancient Indian empire which existed approximately from 320 to 550 CE and covered much of the Indian Subcontinent. Founded by Maharaja Sri-Gupta, the dynasty was the model of a classical civilization. The peace and prosperity created under leadership of Guptas enabled the...

, contextualizes the prestige of dialectic and cut-throat debate in classical India and makes references to the possibly apocryphal story of the banishment of Moheyan post-debate with Kamalaśīla
Kamalasila
Kamalaśīla was an Indian Buddhist of Nalanda Mahavihara who accompanied Śāntarakṣita to Tibet at the request of Trhisongdetsen.Dargyay, et...

 (fl. 713-763):

Philosophical debating was in classical India often a spectator-sport, much as contests of poetry-improvisation were in Germany in its High Middle Ages, and as they still are in the Telegu country today. The king himself was often the judge at these debates, and loss to an opponent could have serious consequences. To take an atrociously extreme example, when the Tamil Śaivite Ñānasambandar Nāyanār defeated the Jain ācāryas in Madurai before the Pāṇḍya King Māravarman Avaniśūlāmani (620-645) this debate is said to have resulted in the impalement of 8000 Jains, an event still celebrated in the Mīnāksi Temple of Madurai today. Usually, the results were not so drastic; they could mean formal recognition by the defeated side of the superiority of the winning party, forced conversions, or, as in the case of the Council of Lhasa
Council of Lhasa
The Council of Lhasa, also called the Council of Samye or the Great Debate, was a debate from 792 to 794 at the Samye Monastery in Tibet....

, which was conducted by Indians, banishment of the losers.

Brahmin/Vedic/Hindu dialectic



While western philosophy traces dialectics to ancient Greek thought of Socrates
Socrates
Socrates was a classical Greek Athenian philosopher. Credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, he is an enigmatic figure known chiefly through the accounts of later classical writers, especially the writings of his students Plato and Xenophon, and the plays of his contemporary ...

 and Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

, the idea of tension between two opposing forces leading to synthesis is much older and present in Hindu Philosophy.
Indian philosophy, for the most part subsumed within the Indian religions, has an ancient tradition of dialectic polemics. The two complements, "purusha
Purusha
In some lineages of Hinduism, Purusha is the "Self" which pervades the universe. The Vedic divinities are interpretations of the many facets of Purusha...

" (the active cause) and the "prakriti" (the passive nature) brings everything into existence. They follow the "rta", the Dharma
Dharma
Dharma means Law or Natural Law and is a concept of central importance in Indian philosophy and religion. In the context of Hinduism, it refers to one's personal obligations, calling and duties, and a Hindu's dharma is affected by the person's age, caste, class, occupation, and gender...

 (Universal Law of Nature).

Jain dialectic



Anekantavada
Anekantavada
' is one of the most important and fundamental doctrines of Jainism. It refers to the principles of pluralism and multiplicity of viewpoints, the notion that truth and reality are perceived differently from diverse points of view, and that no single point of view is the complete truth.Jains...

 and Syadvada
Syadvada
Syādvāda is the Doctrine of Postulation of Jainism. In other words, Syādvāda provides the body of teachings or instruction which one uses to derive a postulate or axiom. The starting assumption or postulate is given as saptabhanginaya, from which other statements are logically derived...

 are the sophisticated dialectic traditions developed by the Jains to arrive at truth. As per Jainism
Jainism
Jainism is an Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings. Its philosophy and practice emphasize the necessity of self-effort to move the soul towards divine consciousness and liberation. Any soul that has conquered its own inner enemies and achieved the state...

, the truth or the reality is perceived differently from different points of view, and that no single point of view is the complete truth. Jain doctrine of Anekantavada
Anekantavada
' is one of the most important and fundamental doctrines of Jainism. It refers to the principles of pluralism and multiplicity of viewpoints, the notion that truth and reality are perceived differently from diverse points of view, and that no single point of view is the complete truth.Jains...

 states that an object has infinite modes of existence and qualities and, as such, they cannot be completely perceived in all its aspects and manifestations, due to the inherent limitations of being human. Only the Kevalis
Kevala Jnana
In Jainism, ' or ' , "Perfect or Absolute Knowledge", is the highest form of knowledge that a soul can attain. A person who has attained is called a Kevalin, which is synonymous with Jina "victor" and Arihant "the worthy one"...

 - the omniscient beings - can comprehend the object in all its aspects and manifestations, and that all others are capable of knowing only a part of it. Consequently, no one view can claim to represent the absolute truth. According to Jains, the ultimate principle should always be logical and no principle can be devoid of logic or reason. Thus one finds in the Jain texts, deliberative exhortations on any subject in all its facts, may they be constructive or obstructive, inferential or analytical, enlightening or destructive.

Syādvāda
Syadvada
Syādvāda is the Doctrine of Postulation of Jainism. In other words, Syādvāda provides the body of teachings or instruction which one uses to derive a postulate or axiom. The starting assumption or postulate is given as saptabhanginaya, from which other statements are logically derived...

 is the theory of conditioned predication which provides an expression to anekānta by recommending that epithet Syād be attached to every expression. Syādvāda is not only an extension of Anekānta ontology
Ontology
Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being, existence or reality as such, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations...

, but a separate system of logic capable of standing on its own force. The Sanskrit etymological root of the term Syād is "perhaps" or "maybe", but in context of syādvāda, it means "in some ways" or "from a perspective." As reality is complex, no single proposition can express the nature of reality fully. Thus the term "syāt" should be prefixed before each proposition giving it a conditional point of view and thus removing any dogmatism in the statement. Since it ensures that each statement is expressed from seven different conditional and relative view points or propositions, it is known as theory of conditioned predication. These seven propositions also known as saptabhangi are:
  1. – "in some ways it is"
  2. - "in some ways it is not"
  3. - "in some ways it is and it is not"
  4. - "in some ways it is and it is indescribable"
  5. - "in some ways it is not and it is indescribable"
  6. - "in some ways it is, it is not and it is indescribable"
  7. - "in some ways it is indescribable"

Buddhist dialectic



Buddhism has developed sophisticated, and sometimes highly institutionalized traditions of dialectics during its long history. Nalanda
Nalanda
Nālandā is the name of an ancient center of higher learning in Bihar, India.The site of Nalanda is located in the Indian state of Bihar, about 55 miles south east of Patna, and was a Buddhist center of learning from the fifth or sixth century CE to 1197 CE. It has been called "one of the...

 University, and later the Gelugpa Buddhism of Tibet, are examples. The historical development and clarification of Buddhist doctrine and polemics, through dialectics and formal debate, is well documented. Buddhist doctrine was rigorously critiqued (though not ultimately refuted) in the 2nd century by Nagarjuna
Nagarjuna
Nāgārjuna was an important Buddhist teacher and philosopher. Along with his disciple Āryadeva, he is credited with founding the Mādhyamaka school of Mahāyāna Buddhism...

, whose uncompromisingly logical approach to the realisation of truth, became the basis for the development of a vital stream of Buddhist thought. This dialectical approach of Buddhism, to the elucidation and articulation of an account of the Cosmos as the truth it really is, became known as the Perfection of Wisdom and was later developed by other notable thinkers, such as Dignaga
Dignaga
Dignāga was an Indian scholar and one of the Buddhist founders of Indian logic.He was born into a Brahmin family in Simhavakta near Kanchi Kanchipuram), and very little is known of his early years, except that he took as his spiritual preceptor Nagadatta of the Vatsiputriya school, before being...

 and Dharmakirti
Dharmakirti
Dharmakīrti , was an Indian scholar and one of the Buddhist founders of Indian philosophical logic. He was one of the primary theorists of Buddhist atomism, according to which the only items considered to exist are momentary states of consciousness.-History:Born around the turn of the 7th century,...

 (between 500 and 700). The dialectical method of truth-seeking is evident throughout the traditions of Madhyamaka
Madhyamaka
Madhyamaka refers primarily to a Mahāyāna Buddhist school of Buddhist philosophy systematized by Nāgārjuna. Nāgārjuna may have arrived at his positions from a desire to achieve a consistent exegesis of the Buddha's doctrine as recorded in the āgamas...

, Yogacara
Yogacara
Yogācāra is an influential school of Buddhist philosophy and psychology emphasizing phenomenology and ontology through the interior lens of meditative and yogic practices. It developed within Indian Mahāyāna Buddhism in about the 4th century CE...

, and Tantric Buddhism
Vajrayana
Vajrayāna Buddhism is also known as Tantric Buddhism, Tantrayāna, Mantrayāna, Secret Mantra, Esoteric Buddhism and the Diamond Vehicle...

. Trisong Detsen
Trisong Detsen
Trisong Detsän or Trisong Detsen ཁྲི་སྲོང་ལྡེ་བཙན , was the son of Me Agtsom and one of the emperors of Tibet and ruled...

, and later Je Tsongkhapa
Je Tsongkhapa
Tsongkhapa , whose name means “The Man from Onion Valley”, was a famous teacher of Tibetan Buddhism whose activities led to the formation of the Geluk school...

, championed the value of dialectic and of formalised training in debate in Tibet.

Dialectical theology


Neo-orthodoxy
Neo-orthodoxy
Neo-orthodoxy, in Europe also known as theology of crisis and dialectical theology,is an approach to theology in Protestantism that was developed in the aftermath of the First World War...

, in Europe also known as theology of crisis and dialectical theology,
is an approach to theology
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

 in Protestantism
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 that was developed in the aftermath of the First World War (1914–1918). It is characterized as a reaction against doctrines of 19th-century
Christianity in the 19th century
Characteristic of Christianity in the 19th century were Evangelical revivals in some largely Protestant countries and later the effects of modern scientific theories such as Darwinism on the churches; Modernist theology was one consequence of this. In Europe, the Roman Catholic Church suffered a...

 liberal theology
Liberal Christianity
Liberal Christianity, sometimes called liberal theology, is an umbrella term covering diverse, philosophically and biblically informed religious movements and ideas within Christianity from the late 18th century and onward...

 and a more positive reevaluation of the teachings of the Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

, much of which had been in decline (especially in western Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

) since the late 18th century
Christianity in the 18th century
-Revivalism:Revivalism refers to the Calvinist and Wesleyan revival, called the Great Awakening, in North America which saw the development of evangelical Congregationalist, Presbyterian, Baptist, and new Methodist churches....

. It is primarily associated with two Swiss professors and pastors, Karl Barth
Karl Barth
Karl Barth was a Swiss Reformed theologian whom critics hold to be among the most important Christian thinkers of the 20th century; Pope Pius XII described him as the most important theologian since Thomas Aquinas...

 (1886–1968) and Emil Brunner
Emil Brunner
Heinrich Emil Brunner was a Swiss Protestant theologian. Along with Karl Barth , he is commonly associated with neo-orthodoxy or the dialectical theology movement....

 (1899–1966), even though Barth himself expressed his unease in the use of the term.

Dialectical method and dualism


Another way to understand dialectics is to view it as a method of thinking to overcome formal dualism
Dualism
Dualism denotes a state of two parts. The term 'dualism' was originally coined to denote co-eternal binary opposition, a meaning that is preserved in metaphysical and philosophical duality discourse but has been diluted in general or common usages. Dualism can refer to moral dualism, Dualism (from...

 and monistic
Monism
Monism is any philosophical view which holds that there is unity in a given field of inquiry. Accordingly, some philosophers may hold that the universe is one rather than dualistic or pluralistic...

 reductionism
Reductionism
Reductionism can mean either an approach to understanding the nature of complex things by reducing them to the interactions of their parts, or to simpler or more fundamental things or a philosophical position that a complex system is nothing but the sum of its parts, and that an account of it can...

. For example, formal dualism regards the opposites as mutually exclusive entities, whilst monism finds each to be an epiphenomenon
Epiphenomenon
An epiphenomenon is a secondary phenomenon that occurs alongside or in parallel to a primary phenomenon.-Medicine:...

 of the other. Dialectical thinking rejects both views. The dialectical method requires focus on both at the same time. It looks for a transcendence of the opposites entailing a leap of the imagination to a higher level, which (1) provides justification for rejecting both alternatives as false and/or (2) helps elucidate a real but previously veiled integral relationship between apparent opposites that have been kept apart and regarded as distinct. For example, the superposition principle
Superposition principle
In physics and systems theory, the superposition principle , also known as superposition property, states that, for all linear systems, the net response at a given place and time caused by two or more stimuli is the sum of the responses which would have been caused by each stimulus individually...

 of quantum physics can be explained using the dialectical method of thinking—likewise the example below from dialectical biology. Such examples showing the relationship of the dialectic method of thinking to the scientific method to a large part negates the criticism of Popper (see text below) that the two are mutually exclusive. The dialectic method also examines false alternatives presented by formal dualism (materialism vs idealism; rationalism vs empiricism; mind vs body, etc.) and looks for ways to transcend the opposites and form synthesis. In the dialectical method, both have something in common, and understanding of the parts requires understanding their relationship with the whole system. The dialectical method thus views the whole of reality as an evolving process.

Dialectical biology



In The Dialectical Biologist (Harvard U.P. 1985 ISBN 0-674-20281-3), Richard Levins
Richard Levins
Richard "Dick" Levins is a mathematical ecologist, and political activist. He is best known for his work on evolution in changing environments....

 and Richard Lewontin
Richard Lewontin
Richard Charles "Dick" Lewontin is an American evolutionary biologist, geneticist and social commentator. A leader in developing the mathematical basis of population genetics and evolutionary theory, he pioneered the notion of using techniques from molecular biology such as gel electrophoresis to...

 sketch a dialectical approach to biology. They see "dialectics" more as a set of questions to ask about biological research, a weapon against dogmatism, than as a set of pre-determined answers. They focus on the (dialectical) relationship between the "whole" (or totality) and the "parts." "Part makes whole, and whole makes part" (p. 272). That is, a biological system of some kind consists of a collection of heterogeneous parts. All of these contribute to the character of the whole, as in reductionist thinking. On the other hand, the whole has an existence independent of the parts and feeds back to affect and determine the nature of the parts. This back-and-forth (dialectic) of causation implies a dynamic process.
For example, Darwinian evolution points to the competition of a variety of species, each with heterogeneous members, within a given environment. This leads to changing species and even to new species arising. A dialectical biologist fully accepts this picture then looks for ways in which the competing creatures (which serve as the internal conflicts in the environment) lead to changes. The changes would manifest in the creatures themselves, through the creatures embracing biological adaptations which provide them with advantages, and in the environment itself, as when the action of microbes encourages the erosion of rocks. Further, each species is part of the "environment" of all the others.

Criticism


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, G.H. von Wright, Paul Ricoeur
Paul Ricoeur
Paul Ricœur was a French philosopher best known for combining phenomenological description with hermeneutic interpretation...

, Hans-Georg Gadamer
Hans-Georg Gadamer
Hans-Georg Gadamer was a German philosopher of the continental tradition, best known for his 1960 magnum opus, Truth and Method .-Life:...

, Richard Rorty
Richard Rorty
Richard McKay Rorty was an American philosopher. He had a long and diverse academic career, including positions as Stuart Professor of Philosophy at Princeton, Kenan Professor of Humanities at the University of Virginia, and Professor of Comparative Literature at Stanford University...

, Charles Taylor
Charles Taylor (philosopher)
Charles Margrave Taylor, is a Canadian philosopher from Montreal, Quebec best known for his contributions in political philosophy, the philosophy of social science, and in the history of philosophy. His contributions to these fields have earned him both the prestigious Kyoto Prize and the...

) have ventured to bridge.

It is generally thought dialectics has become central to "Continental" philosophy, while it plays no part in "Anglo-American" philosophy. In other words, on the continent of Europe, dialectics has entered intellectual culture (or at least its counter-culture) as what might be called a legitimate part of thought and philosophy, whereas in America and Britain, the dialectic plays no discernible part in the intellectual culture, which instead tends toward positivism
Positivism
Positivism is a a view of scientific methods and a philosophical approach, theory, or system based on the view that, in the social as well as natural sciences, sensory experiences and their logical and mathematical treatment are together the exclusive source of all worthwhile information....

. A prime example of the European tradition is Sartre's Critique of Dialectical Reason
Critique of Dialectical Reason
Critique of Dialectical Reason, , was the last of Jean-Paul Sartre's major philosophical works...

, which is very different from the works of Popper, whose philosophy was for a time highly influential in the UK where he resided (see below). Sartre states:
Existentialism
Existentialism
Existentialism is a term applied to a school of 19th- and 20th-century philosophers who, despite profound doctrinal differences, shared the belief that philosophical thinking begins with the human subject—not merely the thinking subject, but the acting, feeling, living human individual...

, like Marxism
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

, 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 which we have adopted here --"philosophy-becoming-the world."


Karl Popper
Karl Popper
Sir Karl Raimund Popper, CH FRS FBA was an Austro-British philosopher and a professor at the London School of Economics...

 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". 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
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

 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
Scientific method
Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of...

" (Ibid., p. 335).

In chapter 12 of volume 2 of The Open Society and Its Enemies
The Open Society and Its Enemies
The Open Society and Its Enemies is an influential two-volume work by Karl Popper written during World War II. Failing to find a publisher in the United States, it was first printed in London by Routledge in 1945...

(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,) was to some degree responsible for facilitating the rise of fascism
Fascism
Fascism is a radical authoritarian nationalist political ideology. Fascists seek to rejuvenate their nation based on commitment to the national community as an organic entity, in which individuals are bound together in national identity by suprapersonal connections of ancestry, culture, and blood...

 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
Weimar Republic
The Weimar Republic is the name given by historians to the parliamentary republic established in 1919 in Germany to replace the imperial form of government...

,. . . by contributing to historicism
Historicism
Historicism is a mode of thinking that assigns a central and basic significance to a specific context, such as historical period, geographical place and local culture. As such it is in contrast to individualist theories of knowledges such as empiricism and rationalism, which neglect the role of...

 and to an identification of might and right, encouraged totalitarian
Totalitarianism
Totalitarianism is a political system where the state recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible...

 modes of thought.  . . . [and] undermined and eventually lowered the traditional standards of intellectual responsibility and honesty".

Formalism


In the past few decades, European and American logicians have attempted to provide mathematical foundations for dialectical logic or argument (logic). There had been pre-formal treatises on argument and dialectic, from authors such as Stephen Toulmin
Stephen Toulmin
Stephen Edelston Toulmin was a British philosopher, author, and educator. Influenced by Ludwig Wittgenstein, Toulmin devoted his works to the analysis of moral reasoning. Throughout his writings, he sought to develop practical arguments which can be used effectively in evaluating the ethics behind...

 (The Uses of Argument), Nicholas Rescher
Nicholas Rescher
Nicholas Rescher is an American philosopher at the University of Pittsburgh. In a productive research career extending over six decades, Rescher has established himself as a systematic philosopher of the old style and author of a system of pragmatic idealism which weaves together threads of...

 (Dialectics), and van Eemeren and Grootendorst (Pragma-dialectics
Pragma-dialectics
Pragma-dialectics, or pragma-dialectical theory, developed by and Rob Grootendorst at the University of Amsterdam, is an argumentation theory that is used to analyze and evaluate argumentation in actual practice...

). One can include the communities of informal logic
Informal logic
Informal logic, intuitively, refers to the principles of logic and logical thought outside of a formal setting. However, perhaps because of the informal in the title, the precise definition of informal logic is matters of some dispute. Ralph H. Johnson and J...

 and paraconsistent logic
Paraconsistent logic
A paraconsistent logic is a logical system that attempts to deal with contradictions in a discriminating way. Alternatively, paraconsistent logic is the subfield of logic that is concerned with studying and developing paraconsistent systems of logic.Inconsistency-tolerant logics have been...

. However, building on theories of defeasible reasoning
Defeasible reasoning
Defeasible reasoning is a kind of reasoning that is based on reasons that are defeasible, as opposed to the indefeasible reasons of deductive logic...

 (see John L. Pollock
John L. Pollock
John L. Pollock was an American philosopher known for influential work in epistemology, philosophical logic, cognitive science, and artificial intelligence....

), 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
Artificial intelligence and law
Artificial intelligence and Law is a subfield of artificial intelligence mainly concerned with applications of AI to legal informatics problems and original research on those problems...

, though the computer scientists' interest in formalizing dialectic originates in a desire to build decision support and computer-supported collaborative work systems.

Further reading


External links