Define dialectic and also explain dialectical method ?

(1) Introduction

A method of philosophizing is a process of determining the truth by using different philosophical methods like Socratic method, dialectical method, scientific method and historical method. The dialectical method was popularized by Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and Hegel.

(2) Meaning

The term “dialectic” is derived from a Greek word. This Greek word is “dialektike”, which means “the art of conversation”. And method means way. Therefore, dialectical method is a way of conversation.

(3) Definition

Dialectical method can be defined as a discourse between two or more people, who hold different points of view about a subject, but wish to establish the truth through reasoned argumentation.

(4) Explanation of Dialectical method

Dialectical method can be explained in the following words:

  • (a) Different scholars
  • (b) Opinions & facts
  • (c) Wisdom & truth

(a) Different Scholars

Different scholars have presented their own explanation of dialectical method:

  • (a-i) Socrates
  • (a-ii) Plato
  • (a-iii) Aristotle
  • (a-iv) Hegel
  • (a-v) Karl Marx –

(a-i) Socrates

Socrates considered dialectical method as ultimate way of discovering truth:

  • (w) Discussion
  • (x) Truths & opinions
  • (y) Questions
  • (z) Elimination of contradicting ideas

(w) Discussion

Dialectical method is a discussion that involves opposing views.

(x) Truths & Opinions

Dialectical method begins with commonly held truths and opinions.

(y) Questions

Questions are asked to test the logic behind these views.

(z) Elimination Of Contradicting Ideas

Contradicting views are eliminated until consistency is reached.

(a-ii) Plato

For Plato, dialectical method is a process whereby the intellect passes from sensible things to intelligible things.

(a-iii) Aristotle

According to Aristotle, rhetoric is closely related to dialectic

(a-iv) Hegel

For Hegel, dialectical method is the notion that the conflict of opposites creates movement. His explanation of dialectical method is often studied in terms of thesis, antithesis and synthesis.

  • (x) Thesis
  • (y) Antithesis
  • (z) Synthesis

(x) Thesis

Thesis is a primary idea whose incompleteness gives rise to an opposite or conflicting idea.

(y) Antithesis

Antithesis is that opposite or conflicting idea, which emerges due to incompleteness of thesis.

(z) Synthesis

Synthesis arises from the conflict between thesis and antithesis. Synthesis becomes a new thesis, and this new thesis gives rise to new antithesis and synthesis. In this way, a movement in the form of evolution continues.

(a-v) Karl Marx

Karl Marx has borrowed dialectical method from Hegel and used it to describe social change. There are three parts or elements to the process of dialectic and Karl Marx has explained them in his own way:

  • (x) Thesis
  • (y) Antithesis
  • (z) Synthesis

(x) Thesis

Thesis is a starting point. This staring point can be anything where a human being is present. For example, it can be society or social group. Such starting point is also considered as status quo.

(y) Antithesis

Antithesis is a type of opposition to the starting point or status quo. And it works as mechanism for change. Antithesis can be anything that opposes starting point or status quo. For instance, antithesis can be people’s thoughts against the starting point or status quo.

(z) Synthesis

The clash between thesis and antithesis gives birth to synthesis. And synthesis is a progress. Karl Marx has suggested that dialectic is a progress and it never ends.

(b) Opinions & Facts

Dialectical method can involve both opinions and facts as long as they are logical and lead to truth.

(c) Wisdom & Truth

Dialectical method leads to wisdom and truth.

(5) Conclusion

It can be finally stated that Aristotle believed that Zeno of Elea, pre-Socratic philosopher, invented dialectic. But Kant said that the ancient Greeks used the word “dialectic” to signify the logic of false appearance or semblance.

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