Dialectic

Last updated

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 arguments. Dialectic resembles debate, but the concept excludes subjective elements such as emotional appeal and the modern pejorative sense of rhetoric. [1] [2] Dialectic may be contrasted with 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.

Greek language language spoken in Greece, Cyprus and Southern Albania

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.

Dialogue is a written or spoken conversational exchange between two or more people, and a literary and theatrical form that depicts such an exchange. As a narrative, philosophical or didactic device, it is chiefly associated in the West with the Socratic dialogue as developed by Plato, but antecedents are also found in other traditions including Indian literature.

Discourse written or spoken conversation

Discourse denotes written and spoken communications:

Contents

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, a thesis or statement of an idea, which gives rise to a second step, a reaction or antithesis 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.

Hegelianism

Hegelianism is the philosophy of G. W. F. Hegel which can be summed up by the dictum that "the rational alone is real", which means that all reality is capable of being expressed in rational categories. His goal was to reduce reality to a more synthetic unity within the system of absolute idealism.

Contradiction logical incompatibility between two or more propositions

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. Illustrating a general tendency in applied logic, Aristotle's law of noncontradiction states that "One cannot say of something that it is and that it is not in the same respect and at the same time."

Dialectical materialism strand of Marxism

Dialectical materialism is a philosophy of science and nature developed in Europe and based on the writings of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. In contrast to the Hegelian dialectic, which emphasized the idealist observation that human experience is dependent on the mind's perceptions, Marxist dialectics emphasizes the importance of real world conditions, in terms of class, labor, and socioeconomic interactions. Marx supposed that these material conditions contained contradictions which seek resolution in new forms of social organisation.

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.

Since the 1980s, European and American logicians have attempted to provide mathematical foundations for logic and dialectic through formalisation, although logic has been related to dialectic since ancient times.

Dialectical logic

Dialectical logic is the system of laws of thought, developed within the Hegelian and Marxist traditions, which seeks to supplement or replace the laws of formal logic. The precise nature of the relation between dialectical and formal logic was hotly debated within the Soviet Union and China.

Western dialectical forms

Classical philosophy

In classical philosophy, dialectic (διαλεκτική) is a form of reasoning based upon dialogue of arguments and counter-arguments, advocating propositions (theses) and counter-propositions (antitheses). 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. [3] [4]

Classical Greece Period in Greek culture lasting from the 5th through 4th centuries BC

Classical Greece was a period of around 200 years in Greek culture. This Classical period saw the annexation of much of modern-day Greece by the Persian Empire and its subsequent independence. Classical Greece had a powerful influence on the Roman Empire and on the foundations of Western civilization. Much of modern Western politics, artistic thought, scientific thought, theatre, literature, and philosophy derives from this period of Greek history. In the context of the art, architecture, and culture of Ancient Greece, the Classical period corresponds to most of the 5th and 4th centuries BC. The Classical period in this sense follows the Greek Dark Ages and Archaic period and is in turn succeeded by the Hellenistic period.

Philosophy intellectual and/or logical study of general and fundamental problems

Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems concerning matters such as existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. The term was probably coined by Pythagoras. Philosophical methods include questioning, critical discussion, rational argument, and systematic presentation. Classic philosophical questions include: Is it possible to know anything and to prove it? What is most real? Philosophers also pose more practical and concrete questions such as: Is there a best way to live? Is it better to be just or unjust? Do humans have free will?

A proposition is a tentative and conjectural relationship between constructs that is stated in a declarative form. An example of a proposition is: “An increase in student intelligence causes an increase in their academic achievement.” This declarative statement does not have to be true, but must be empirically testable using data, so that we can judge whether it is true or false. Propositions are generally derived based on logic (deduction) or empirical observations (induction). Because propositions are associations between abstract constructs, they cannot be tested directly. Instead, they are tested indirectly by examining the relationship between corresponding measures (variables) of those constructs. The empirical formulation of propositions, stated as relationships between variables, is called hypotheses. The term proposition has a broad use in contemporary analytic philosophy. It is used to refer to some or all of the following: the primary bearers of truth-value, the objects of belief and other "propositional attitudes", the referents of that-clauses, and the meanings of declarative sentences. Propositions are the sharable objects of attitudes and the primary bearers of truth and falsity. This stipulation rules out certain candidates for propositions, including thought- and utterance-tokens which are not sharable, and concrete events or facts, which cannot be false.

Moreover, the term "dialectic" owes much of its prestige to its role in the philosophies of Socrates and Plato, in the Greek Classical period (5th to 4th centuries BCE). Aristotle said that it was the pre-Socratic philosopher Zeno of Elea who invented dialectic, of which the dialogues of Plato are the examples of the Socratic dialectical method. [5]

Socrates classical Greek Athenian philosopher

Socrates was a classical Greek (Athenian) philosopher credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, and as being the first moral philosopher, of the Western ethical tradition of thought. An enigmatic figure, he made no writings, and is known chiefly through the accounts of classical writers writing after his lifetime, particularly his students Plato and Xenophon. Other sources include the contemporaneous Antisthenes, Aristippus, and Aeschines of Sphettos. Aristophanes, a playwright, is the only source to have written during his lifetime.

Plato Classical Greek philosopher

Plato was an Athenian philosopher during the Classical period in Ancient Greece and the founder of the Academy, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. He is widely considered the pivotal figure in the history of Ancient Greek and Western philosophy, along with his teacher, Socrates, and his most famous student, Aristotle. Alfred North Whitehead once noted: "the safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato."

Aristotle philosopher in ancient Greece

Aristotle was an ancient Greek philosopher and scientist born in the city of Stagira, Chalkidiki, Greece. Along with Plato, he is considered the "Father of Western Philosophy". Aristotle provided a complex and harmonious synthesis of the various existing philosophies prior to him, including those of Socrates and Plato, and it was above all from his teachings that the West inherited its fundamental intellectual lexicon, as well as problems and methods of inquiry. As a result, his philosophy has exerted a unique influence on almost every form of knowledge in the West and it continues to be central to the contemporary philosophical discussion.

According to Kant, however, the ancient Greeks used the word "dialectic" to signify the logic of false appearance or semblance. To the Ancients, "it was nothing but the logic of illusion. It was a sophistic art of giving to one's ignorance, indeed even to one's intentional tricks, the outward appearance of truth, by imitating the thorough, accurate method which logic always requires, and by using its topic as a cloak for every empty assertion." [6]

Immanuel Kant Prussian philosopher

Immanuel Kant was an influential German philosopher. In his doctrine of transcendental idealism, he argued that space, time and causation are mere sensibilities; "things-in-themselves" exist, but their nature is unknowable. In his view, the mind shapes and structures experience, with all human experience sharing certain structural features. He drew a parallel to the Copernican revolution in his proposition that worldly objects can be intuited a priori ('beforehand'), and that intuition is therefore independent from objective reality. Kant believed that reason is the source of morality, and that aesthetics arise from a faculty of disinterested judgment. Kant's views continue to have a major influence on contemporary philosophy, especially the fields of epistemology, ethics, political theory, and post-modern aesthetics.

Socratic method

The Socratic dialogues are a particular form of dialectic known as the method of elenchus (literally, "refutation, scrutiny" [7] ) whereby a series of questions clarifies a more precise statement of a vague belief, logical consequences of that statement are explored, and a contradiction is discovered. The method is largely destructive, in that false belief is exposed [8] and only constructive in that this exposure may lead to further search for truth. The detection of error does not amount to a proof of the antithesis; for example, a contradiction in the consequences of a definition of piety does not provide a correct definition. The principal aim of Socratic activity may be to improve the soul of the interlocutors, by freeing them from unrecognized errors; or indeed, by teaching them the spirit of inquiry.

In common cases, Socrates used enthymemes as the foundation of his argument.[ citation needed ]

For example, in the Euthyphro , Socrates asks Euthyphro to provide a definition 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 that 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 that 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.

For example, in Plato's Gorgias, dialectic occurs between Socrates, the Sophist Gorgias, and two men, Polus and Callicles. Because Socrates' ultimate goal was to reach true knowledge, he was even willing to change his own views in order to arrive at the truth. The fundamental goal of dialectic, in this instance, was to establish a precise definition of the subject (in this case, rhetoric) and with the use of argumentation and questioning, make the subject even more precise. In the Gorgias, Socrates reaches the truth by asking a series of questions and in return, receiving short, clear answers.

There is another interpretation of the dialectic, as a method of intuition suggested in The Republic. [9] 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". [10]

Aristotle

Aristotle stresses that rhetoric is closely related to dialectic. He offers several formulas to describe this affinity between the two disciplines: first of all, rhetoric is said to be a “counterpart” (antistrophos) to dialectic (Rhet. I.1, 1354a1); (ii) it is also called an “outgrowth” (paraphues ti) of dialectic and the study of character (Rhet. I.2, 1356a25f.); finally, Aristotle says that rhetoric is part of dialectic and resembles it (Rhet. I.2, 1356a30f.). In saying that rhetoric is a counterpart to dialectic, Aristotle obviously alludes to Plato's Gorgias (464bff.), where rhetoric is ironically defined as a counterpart to cookery in the soul. Since, in this passage, Plato uses the word ‘antistrophos’ to designate an analogy, it is likely that Aristotle wants to express a kind of analogy too: what dialectic is for the (private or academic) practice of attacking and maintaining an argument, rhetoric is for the (public) practice of defending oneself or accusing an opponent. The analogy to dialectic has important implications for the status of rhetoric. Plato argued in his Gorgias that rhetoric cannot be an art (technê), since it is not related to a definite subject, while real arts are defined by their specific subjects, as e.g. medicine or shoemaking are defined by their products, i.e., health and shoes. [11]

Medieval philosophy

Logic, which could be considered to include dialectic, was one of the three liberal arts taught in medieval universities as part of the trivium; the other elements were rhetoric and grammar. [12] [13] [14] [15]

Based mainly on Aristotle, the first medieval philosopher to work on dialectics was Boethius (480–524). [16] After him, many scholastic philosophers also made use of dialectics in their works, such as Abelard, [17] William of Sherwood, [18] Garlandus Compotista, [19] Walter Burley, Roger Swyneshed, William of Ockham, [20] and Thomas Aquinas. [21]

This dialectic (a quaestio disputata) was formed as follows:

  1. The question to be determined (“It is asked whether...”);
  2. A provisory answer to the question (“And it seems that...”);
  3. The principal arguments in favor of the provisory answer;
  4. An argument against the provisory answer, traditionally a single argument from authority ("On the contrary...");
  5. The determination of the question after weighing the evidence ("I answer that...");
  6. The replies to each of the initial objections. (“To the first, to the second etc., I answer that...”)

Modern philosophy

The concept of dialectics was given new life by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (following Johann Gottlieb Fichte), whose dialectically synthetic model of nature and of history made it, as it were, a fundamental aspect of the nature of reality (instead of regarding the contradictions into which dialectics leads as a sign of the sterility of the dialectical method, as Immanuel Kant tended to do in his Critique of Pure Reason ). [22] [23] In the mid-19th century, the concept of "dialectic" was appropriated by Karl Marx (see, for example, Das Kapital , published in 1867) and Friedrich Engels and retooled in a dynamic, nonidealistic manner. It would also become a crucial part of later representations of Marxism as a philosophy of dialectical materialism. These representations often contrasted dramatically [24] and led to vigorous debate among different Marxist groupings, leading some prominent Marxists to give up on the idea of dialectics completely. [25]

Hegelian dialectic

Hegelian dialectic, usually presented in a threefold manner, was stated by Heinrich Moritz Chalybäus [26] as comprising three dialectical stages of development: a thesis, giving rise to its reaction; an antithesis, which contradicts or negates the thesis; and the tension between the two being resolved by means of a synthesis. In more simplistic terms, one can consider it thus: problem → reaction → solution. Although this model is often named after Hegel, he himself never used that specific formulation. Hegel ascribed that terminology to Kant. [27] Carrying on Kant's work, Fichte greatly elaborated on the synthesis model and popularized it.

On the other hand, Hegel did use a three-valued logical model that is very similar to the antithesis model, but Hegel's most usual terms were: Abstract-Negative-Concrete. Hegel used this writing model as a backbone to accompany his points in many of 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, or perhaps an incompleteness, in any initial thesis—it is too abstract and lacks the negative of trial, error, and experience. For Hegel, the concrete, the synthesis, the absolute, must always pass through the phase of the negative, in the journey to completion, that is, mediation. This is the essence of what is popularly called Hegelian dialectics.

According to the German philosopher Walter Kaufmann:

Fichte introduced into German philosophy the three-step of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis, using these three terms. Schelling took up this terminology. Hegel did not. He never once used these three terms together to designate three stages in an argument or account in any of his books. And they do not help us understand his Phenomenology, his Logic, or his philosophy of history; they impede any open-minded comprehension of what he does by forcing it into a scheme which was available to him and which he deliberately spurned [...] The mechanical formalism [...] Hegel derides expressly and at some length in the preface to the Phenomenology. [28] [29]

Kaufmann also cites Hegel's criticism of the triad model commonly misattributed to him, adding that "the only place where Hegel uses the three terms together occurs in his lectures on the history of philosophy, on the last page but one of the section on Kant—where Hegel roundly reproaches Kant for having 'everywhere posited thesis, antithesis, synthesis'". [30]

To describe the activity of overcoming the negative, Hegel also often used the term Aufhebung, 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's preferred French translation of the term was relever.) [31]

In the Logic, for instance, Hegel describes a dialectic of existence: 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. [32]

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 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 rhetorical, 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.

Hegel stated 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." [33]

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. [34]

The identity between quantity and quality, which is found in Measure, is at first only implicit, and not yet explicitly realised. In other words, these two categories, which unite in Measure, each claim an independent authority. On the one hand, the quantitative features of existence may be altered, without affecting its quality. On the other hand, this increase and diminution, immaterial though it be, has its limit, by exceeding which the quality suffers change. [...] But if the quantity present in measure exceeds a certain limit, the quality corresponding to it is also put in abeyance. This however is not a negation of quality altogether, but only of this definite quality, the place of which is at once occupied by another. This process of measure, which appears alternately as a mere change in quantity, and then as a sudden revulsion of quantity into quality, may be envisaged under the figure of a nodal (knotted) line. [35]

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". [36] 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". [37] Something in its passage into other only joins with itself, it is self-related. [38] In becoming there are two moments: [39] 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. [40] In dialectics, a totality transforms itself; it is self-related, then self-forgetful, relieving the original tension.

Marxist dialectic

Marxist dialectic is a form of Hegelian dialectic which applies to the study of historical materialism. It purports to be a reflection of the real world created by man. Dialectic would thus be a robust method under which one could examine personal, social, and economic behaviors. Marxist dialectic is the core foundation of the philosophy of dialectical materialism, which forms the basis of the ideas behind historical materialism.

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels proposed that Hegel's dialectic is too abstract:

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. [41]

In contradiction to Hegelian idealism, Marx presented his own dialectic method, which he claims to be "direct opposite" of Hegel's method:

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.e. the process of thinking, which, under the name of 'the Idea', he even transforms into an independent subject, is the demiurgos of the real world, and the real world is only the external, phenomenal form of 'the Idea'. With me, on the contrary, the ideal is nothing else than the material world reflected by the human mind, and translated into forms of thought. [42]

In Marxism, the dialectical method of historical study became intertwined with historical materialism, the school of thought exemplified by the works of Marx, Engels, and Vladimir Lenin. In the USSR, under Joseph Stalin, Marxist dialectics became "diamat" (short for dialectical materialism), a theory emphasizing the primacy of the material way of life; social "praxis" over all forms of social consciousness; and the secondary, dependent character of the "ideal". The term "dialectical materialism" was coined by the 19th-century social theorist Joseph Dietzgen who used the theory to explain the nature of socialism and social development. The original populariser of Marxism in Russia, Georgi Plekhanov used the terms "dialectical materialism" and "historical materialism" interchangeably. For Lenin, the primary feature of Marx's "dialectical materialism" (Lenin's term) was its application of materialist philosophy to history and social sciences. Lenin's main input in the philosophy of dialectical materialism was his theory of reflection, which presented human consciousness as a dynamic reflection of the objective material world that fully shapes its contents and structure. Later, Stalin's works on the subject established a rigid and formalistic division of Marxist–Leninist theory in the dialectical materialism and historical materialism parts. While the first was supposed to be the key method and theory of the philosophy of nature, the second was the Soviet version of the philosophy of history.

A dialectical method was fundamental to Marxist politics, e.g., the works of Karl Korsch, Georg Lukács and certain members of the Frankfurt School. Soviet academics, notably Evald Ilyenkov and Zaid Orudzhev, continued pursuing unorthodox philosophic study of Marxist dialectics; likewise in the West, notably the philosopher Bertell Ollman at New York University.

Friedrich Engels proposed that Nature is dialectical, thus, in Anti-Dühring he said that the negation of negation is:

A very simple process, which is taking place everywhere and every day, which any child can understand as soon as it is stripped of the veil of mystery in which it was enveloped by the old idealist philosophy. [43]

In Dialectics of Nature , Engels said:

Probably the same gentlemen who up to now have decried the transformation of quantity into quality as mysticism and incomprehensible transcendentalism will now declare that it is indeed something quite self-evident, trivial, and commonplace, which they have long employed, and so they have been taught nothing new. But to have formulated for the first time in its universally valid form a general law of development of Nature, society, and thought, will always remain an act of historic importance. [44]

Marxist dialectics is exemplified in Das Kapital (Capital), which outlines two central theories: (i) surplus value and (ii) the materialist conception of history; Marx explains dialectical materialism:

In its rational form, it is a scandal and abomination to bourgeoisdom and its doctrinaire professors, because it includes in its comprehension an affirmative recognition of the existing state of things, at the same time, also, the recognition of the negation of that state, of its inevitable breaking up; because it regards every historically developed social form as in fluid movement, and therefore takes into account its transient nature not less than its momentary existence; because it lets nothing impose upon it, and is in its essence critical and revolutionary. [45]

Class struggle is the primary 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:

As the most comprehensive and profound doctrine of development, and the richest in content, Hegelian dialectics was considered by Marx and Engels the greatest achievement of classical German philosophy.... "The great basic thought", Engels writes, "that the world is not to be comprehended as a complex of ready-made things, but as a complex of processes, in which the things, apparently stable no less than their mind images in our heads, the concepts, go through an uninterrupted change of coming into being and passing away... this great fundamental thought has, especially since the time of Hegel, so thoroughly permeated ordinary consciousness that, in its generality, it is now scarcely ever contradicted.

But, to acknowledge this fundamental thought in words, and to apply it in reality in detail to each domain of investigation, are two different things.... For dialectical philosophy nothing is final, absolute, sacred. It reveals the transitory character of everything and in everything; nothing can endure before it, except the uninterrupted process of becoming and of passing away, of endless ascendancy from the lower to the higher. And dialectical philosophy, itself, is nothing more than the mere reflection of this process in the thinking brain." Thus, according to Marx, dialectics is "the science of the general laws of motion both of the external world and of human thought". [46]

Lenin describes his dialectical understanding of the concept of development:

A development that repeats, as it were, stages that have already been passed, but repeats them in a different way, on a higher basis ("the negation of the negation"), a development, so to speak, that proceeds in spirals, not in a straight line; a development by leaps, catastrophes, and revolutions; "breaks in continuity"; the transformation of quantity into quality; inner impulses towards development, imparted by the contradiction and conflict of the various forces and tendencies acting on a given body, or within a given phenomenon, or within a given society; the interdependence and the closest and indissoluble connection between all aspects of any phenomenon (history constantly revealing ever new aspects), a connection that provides a uniform, and universal process of motion, one that follows definite laws  these are some of the features of dialectics as a doctrine of development that is richer than the conventional one. [46]

Dialectical naturalism

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".

Dialectical theology

Neo-orthodoxy, in Europe also known as theology of crisis and dialectical theology, [47] [48] 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. [49] It is primarily associated with two Swiss professors and pastors, Karl Barth [50] (1886–1968) and Emil Brunner (1899–1966), [47] [48] even though Barth himself expressed his unease in the use of the term. [51]

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". [52] 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.

Legacy

Dialectics has become central to continental philosophy, but it plays no part in Anglo-American philosophy[ citation needed ]. In other words, on the continent of Europe, dialectics has entered intellectual 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.[ citation needed ] A prime example of the European tradition is Jean-Paul Sartre's Critique of Dialectical Reason , 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, 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'. [53]

Criticisms

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". [54] 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 view of some philosophers, such as Walter Kaufmann) [55] 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". [56]

The philosopher of science and physicist Mario Bunge repeatedly criticized Hegelian and Marxian dialectics, calling them "fuzzy and remote from science" [57] and a "disastrous legacy". [58] 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." [58]

Formalism

In the past few decades, European and American logicians have attempted to provide mathematical foundations for dialectical logic or argument. [59] :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), [59] :203–256 Nicholas Rescher (Dialectics), [59] :330–336 and van Eemeren and Grootendorst (pragma-dialectics). [59] :517–614 One can include the communities of informal logic and paraconsistent logic. [59] :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 collaborative work systems. [60]

See also

Related Research Articles

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel German philosopher who influenced German idealism

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was a German philosopher and an important figure of German idealism. He achieved wide recognition in his day and—while primarily influential within the continental tradition of philosophy—has become increasingly influential in the analytic tradition as well. Although Hegel remains a divisive figure, his canonical stature within Western philosophy is universally recognized.

Historicism is the idea of attributing meaningful significance to space and time, such as historical period, geographical place, and local culture. Historicism tends to be hermeneutical because it values cautious, rigorous, and contextualized interpretation of information; or relativist, because it rejects notions of universal, fundamental and immutable interpretations. The approach varies from individualist theories of knowledge such as empiricism and rationalism, which neglect the role of traditions.

Antithesis is used in writing or speech either as a proposition that contrasts with or reverses some previously mentioned proposition, or when two opposites are introduced together for contrasting effect.

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 (thesis) arises, it carries within itself the seed of its opposite (antithesis), and the interplay of these polarities leads to a synthesis which is somehow beyond the scope of either polarity alone. In turn, the synthesis is now itself a new thesis, and the entire process can begin again.

The triad thesis, antithesis, synthesis is often used to describe the thought of German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Hegel never used the terms himself, as instead his triad was concrete, abstract, absolute. Thesis, antithesis, synthesis originated with Johann Fichte.

Aufheben or Aufhebung is a German word with several seemingly contradictory meanings, including "to lift up", "to abolish", "cancel" or "suspend", or "to sublate". The term has also been defined as "abolish", "preserve", and "transcend". In philosophy, aufheben is used by Hegel to explain what happens when a thesis and antithesis interact, and in this sense is translated mainly as "sublate".

Philosophy in the Soviet Union

Philosophy in the Soviet Union was officially confined to Marxist–Leninist thinking, which theoretically was the basis of objective and ultimate philosophical truth. During the 1920s and 1930s, other tendencies of Russian thought were repressed. Joseph Stalin enacted a decree in 1931 identifying dialectical materialism with Marxism–Leninism, making it the official philosophy which would be enforced in all Communist states and, through the Comintern, in most Communist parties. Following the traditional use in the Second International, opponents would be labeled as "revisionists".

Logic as a Positive Science is one of the major works of Italian Marxist philosopher Galvano Della Volpe. It was first published in 1950 as Logica come Scienza positiva. A second edition appeared in 1956 and according to translator, Jon Rothschild, Della Volpe was reportedly working on a third edition at the time of his death in 1968 which was never completed. The definitive, enlarged edition was published posthumously in 1969 under the slightly different title Logica Come Scienza Storica. Jon Rothschild translated the book into English for New Left Books, and was first published by them as Logic as a Positive Science in 1980.

<i>The Young Hegel</i> book by Georg Lukács

The Young Hegel is a book by György Lukács about the philosophical development of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. The work was completed in 1938 and published in Zurich in 1948.

Marxist philosophy of nature

There is no specific Marxist philosophy of nature, as Karl Marx didn't conceive of Nature as separate from Society. As the young Marx exposed in the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844, labour transforms Nature which becomes the "inorganic body" of Man. In the same way, Marx's conception of "human nature" (Gattungswesen) is problematic, since he opposed himself to the traditional conception of an eternal human nature which remained the same in all places and times. Later, Friedrich Engels wrote the Dialectics of Nature (1883), in opposition to German Naturphilosophie. Marx and Engels' thought was then codified into "dialectical materialism", which is what is usually referred to when speaking of a "Marxist philosophy of nature". Such a doctrine was rejected by several Marxist philosophers, starting with Georg Lukács and Walter Benjamin.

Young Marx

Some theorists consider Karl Marx's thought to be divided into a "young" period and a "mature" one. There is disagreement to when Marx's thought began to mature and the problem of the idea of a "Young Marx" is the problem of tracking the development of Marx's works and of its possible unity. The problem thus centres on Marx's transition from philosophy to economics, which has been considered by orthodox Marxism as a progressive change towards scientific socialism. However, this positivist reading has been challenged by Marxist theorists as well as members of the New Left. They pointed out the humanist side in Marx's work and how he in his early writings focused on liberation from wage slavery and freedom from alienation, that they claimed was a forgotten element of Marx's writings and central to understanding his later work.

Marxist–Leninist atheism

In the philosophy of Marxism, Marxist–Leninist atheism is the irreligious and anti-clerical element of Marxism–Leninism, the official state ideology of the Soviet Union. Based upon a dialectical-materialist understanding of humanity's place in Nature, Marxist–Leninist atheism proposes that religion is the opium of the people, meant to promote a person's passive acceptance of his and her poverty and exploitation as the normal way of human life on Earth in the hope of a spiritual reward after death; thus, Marxism–Leninism advocates atheism, rather than religious belief.

The following is a list of the major events in the history of German idealism, along with related historical events.

Classical Marxism economic, philosophical, and sociological theories expounded by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

Classical Marxism refers to the economic, philosophical and sociological theories expounded by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels as contrasted with later developments in Marxism, especially Leninism and Marxism–Leninism.

Marxist philosophy Philosophy influenced by Marxist political thought

Marxist philosophy or Marxist theory are works in philosophy that are strongly influenced by Karl Marx's materialist approach to theory, or works written by Marxists. Marxist philosophy may be broadly divided into Western Marxism, which drew out of various sources, and the official philosophy in the Soviet Union, which enforced a rigid reading of Marx called dialectical materialism, in particular during the 1930s. Marxist philosophy is not a strictly defined sub-field of philosophy, because the diverse influence of Marxist theory has extended into fields as varied as aesthetics, ethics, ontology, epistemology, theoretical psychology and philosophy of science, as well as its obvious influence on political philosophy and the philosophy of history. The key characteristics of Marxism in philosophy are its materialism and its commitment to political practice as the end goal of all thought.

Chinese Marxist Philosophy is the philosophy of dialectical materialism that was introduced into China in the early 1900s and continues in the Chinese academia to the current day.

Marxs method

Various Marxist authors have focused on Marx's method of analysis and presentation as key factors both in understanding the range and incisiveness of Karl Marx's theoretical writing in general and Das Kapital in particular. One of the clearest and most instructive examples of this is his discussion of the value-form, which acts as a primary guide or key to understanding the logical argument as it develops throughout the volumes of Das Kapital.

Historical materialism Marxist historiography

Historical materialism is the methodological approach of Marxist historiography that focuses on human societies and their development over time, arguing that they follow a number of observable tendencies. This was first articulated by Karl Marx (1818–1883) as the materialist conception of history. It is principally a theory of history according to which the material conditions of a society's way of producing and reproducing the means of human existence or, in Marxist terms, the union of its technological and productive capacity and social relations of production, fundamentally determine society's organization and development.

References

  1. see Gorgias, 449B: "Socrates: Would you be willing then, Gorgias, to continue the discussion as we are now doing [Dialectic], by way of question and answer, and to put off to another occasion the (emotional) speeches [Rhetoric] that [the Sophist] Polus began?"
  2. Corbett, Edward P. J.; Robert J. Connors (1999). Classical Rhetoric For the Modern Student (4th ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. p. 1, 18. ISBN   9780195115420.
  3. Ayer, A. J., & O'Grady, J. (1992). A Dictionary of Philosophical Quotations. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishers. p. 484.
  4. McTaggart, J. M. E. (1964). A commentary on Hegel's logic. New York: Russell & Russell. p. 11
  5. Diogenes Laërtius, IX 25ff and VIII 57.
  6. Critique of Pure Reason , A 61
  7. "Elenchus - Wiktionary".
  8. https://open.conted.ox.ac.uk/sites/open.conted.ox.ac.uk/files/resources/Create%20Document/PLA_HO3_0.pdf
  9. Popper, K. (1962) The Open Society and its Enemies, Volume 1, London, Routledge, p. 133.
  10. Blackburn, Simon. 1996. The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford
  11. Rapp (2010). Aristotle's Rhetoric. Retrieved from http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aristotle-rhetoric/
  12. Abelson, P. (1965). The seven liberal arts; a study in mediæval culture. New York: Russell & Russell. Page 82.
  13. Hyman, A., & Walsh, J. J. (1983). Philosophy in the Middle Ages: the Christian, Islamic, and Jewish traditions. Indianapolis: Hackett Pub. Co. Page 164.
  14. Adler, Mortimer Jerome (2000). "Dialectic". Routledge. Page 4. ISBN   0-415-22550-7
  15. Herbermann, C. G. (1913). The Catholic encyclopedia: an international work of reference on the constitution, doctrine, and history of the Catholic church. New York: The Encyclopedia press, inc. Page 760–764.
  16. From topic to tale: logic and narrativity in the Middle Ages, by Eugene Vance,p.43-45
  17. "Catholic Encyclopedia: Peter Abelard". Newadvent.org. 1907-03-01. Retrieved 2011-11-03.
  18. William of Sherwood's Introduction to logic, by Norman Kretzmann,p.69-102
  19. A History of Twelfth-Century Western Philosophy, by Peter Dronke,p.198
  20. Medieval literary politics: shapes of ideology, by Sheila Delany,p.11
  21. "Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Thomas Aquinas". Newadvent.org. 1907-03-01. Retrieved 2015-10-20.
  22. Nicholson, J. A. (1950). Philosophy of religion. New York: Ronald Press Co. Page 108.
  23. Kant, I., Guyer, P., & Wood, A. W. (2003). Critique of pure reason. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Page 495.
  24. Henri Lefebvre's "humanist" dialectical materialism (Dialectical Materialism [1940]) was composed to directly challenge Joseph Stalin's own dogmatic text on dialectical materialism.
  25. See for example the work of Louis Althusser in France and Galvano Della Volpe in Italy in the mid-20th century.
  26. Historische Entwicklung der spekulativen Philosophie von Kant bis Hegel, Dresden-Leipzig (1837), p. 367 of the fourth edition (1848).
  27. The Accessible Hegel by Michael Allen Fox. Prometheus Books. 2005. p. 43. Also see Hegel's preface to the Phenomenology of Spirit , trans. A. V. Miller (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977), secs. 50, 51, pp. 29, 30.
  28. Hegel: A Reinterpretation, 1966, Anchor Books, p. 154)
  29. G. E. Mueller (June 1958), "The Hegel Legend of 'Thesis-Antithesis-Synthesis", 166ff
  30. Hegel, Werke, ed. Glockner, XIX, 610
  31. See 'La différance' in: Margins of Philosophy. Alan Bass, translator. University of Chicago Books. 1982. p. 19, fn 23.
  32. Hegel. "Section in question from Hegel's Science of Logic". Marxists.org. Retrieved 2011-11-03.
  33. Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich. 1874. The Logic. Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences. 2nd Edition. London: Oxford University Press. Note to §81
  34. Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich. 1874. The Logic. Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences. 2nd Edition. London: Oxford University Press. §§107–111
  35. Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich. 1874. The Logic. Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences. 2nd Edition. London: Oxford University Press. §§108–109
  36. Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich. 1874. The Logic. Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences. 2nd Edition. London: Oxford University Press. §108
  37. Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich. 1874. The Logic. Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences. 2nd Edition. London: Oxford University Press. §93
  38. Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich. 1874. The Logic. Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences. 2nd Edition. London: Oxford University Press. §95
  39. Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich. 1812. Hegel's Science of Logic. London. Allen & Unwin. §§176–179.
  40. Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich. 1812. Hegel's Science of Logic. London. Allen & Unwin. §185.
  41. Marx, Karl (1873) Capital Afterword to the Second German Edition, Vol. I
  42. Marx, Karl. "Afterword (Second German Ed.)". Capital. 1: 14. Retrieved 28 December 2014.
  43. Engels, Frederick, (1877) Anti-Dühring,Part I: Philosophy, XIII. Dialectics. Negation of the Negation.
  44. "Engels, Frederick, (1883) Dialectics of Nature:II. Dialectics". Marxists.org. Retrieved 2011-11-03.
  45. Marx, Karl, (1873) Capital Vol. I, Afterword to the Second German Edition.
  46. 1 2 Lenin, V. I., On the Question of Dialectics: A Collection, pp. 7–9. Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1980.
  47. 1 2 "Original Britinnica online" . Retrieved 2008-07-26.
  48. 1 2 "Britannica Encyclopedia (online)" . Retrieved 2008-07-26.
  49. "Merriam-Webster Dictionary(online)" . Retrieved 2008-07-26.
  50. "American Heritage Dictionary (online)". Archived from the original on 2005-05-10. Retrieved 2008-07-26.
  51. See Church Dogmatics III/3, xii.
  52. Karl Barth, The Epistle to the Romans (1933), p. 346
  53. Jean-Paul Sartre. "The Search for Method (1st part) Sartre, 1960, in Existentialism from Dostoyevsky to Sartre, transl. Hazel Barnes, Vintage Books". Marxists.org. Retrieved 2011-11-03.
  54. Karl Popper, Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge [New York: Basic Books, 1962], p. 316.
  55. Walter Kaufmann. "kaufmann". Marxists.org. Retrieved 2011-11-03.
  56. Karl Popper,The Open Society and Its Enemies, 5th rev. ed., vol. 2 [Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1966], p. 395
  57. Bunge, Mario Augusto (1981). "A critique of dialectics". Scientific materialism. Episteme. 9. Dordrecht; Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 41–63. doi:10.1007/978-94-009-8517-9_4. ISBN   978-9027713049. OCLC   7596139.
  58. 1 2 Bunge, Mario Augusto (2012). Evaluating philosophies. Boston studies in the philosophy of science. 295. New York: Springer-Verlag. pp. 84–85. doi:10.1007/978-94-007-4408-0. ISBN   9789400744073. OCLC   806947226.
  59. 1 2 3 4 5 Eemeren, Frans H. van; Garssen, Bart; Krabbe, Erik C. W.; Snoeck Henkemans, A. Francisca; Verheij, Bart; Wagemans, Jean H. M. (2014). Handbook of argumentation theory. New York: Springer-Verlag. doi:10.1007/978-90-481-9473-5. ISBN   9789048194728. OCLC   871004444.
  60. For surveys of work in this area see, for example: Chesñevar, Carlos Iván; Maguitman, Ana Gabriela; Loui, Ronald Prescott (December 2000). "Logical models of argument". ACM Computing Surveys. 32 (4): 337–383. CiteSeerX   10.1.1.702.8325 . doi:10.1145/371578.371581. And: Prakken, Henry; Vreeswijk, Gerard (2005). "Logics for defeasible argumentation". In Gabbay, Dov M.; Guenthner, Franz. Handbook of philosophical logic. 4 (2nd ed.). Dordrecht; Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers. CiteSeerX   10.1.1.295.2649 . doi:10.1007/978-94-017-0456-4_3. ISBN   9789048158775.

Further reading