Dialectical Thought Thesis Antithesis

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It would take more than two thousand years for another major thinker (Hegel) to reintroduce the idea that dialectical movement was the essence of things.

According to Aristotle (Diogenes Laërtius, Lives VIII, 57), the dialectic proper originated with Zeno of Elea.

The first pre-Socratics had found the origin of all things in various prime elements, such as water (Thales) and air (Anaximenes).

Life, hence movement, is implicit in these elements, and so is permanence and immutability.

If Being is immutable and permanent, the natural conclusion is that all movement is illusion.

This is precisely what Zeno was trying to show with his paradoxes.In appreciating the dialectic, one question is whether it over-emphasizes the role of conflict in development.In Eastern worldviews such as Daoism, development occurs through harmonious interaction of natural polarities, such as male and female.His best-known statements are that “all is in a state of flux” and that “war is the father of all things.” Heraclitus thus believed that, ultimately, all things could not be reduced to a fundamental unity of Being (as for Parmenides), but rather to a dynamic principle consisting of a contrasting or even conflicting interaction between opposites.Heraclitus’ dialectic was one of nature and not of the mind.Heraclitus represents what could be called the prehistory of the dialectic.Though he never used the term to refer to his own philosophy, he was credited for pioneering the way of the dialectic by Hegel and Engels, who applauded his departure from what they perceived to be the static tendency of Parmenides and his successors.The ancient use of the dialectic was essentially defined by Socrates and Plato and continued by the scholastic tradition.However, the idea of dialectical movement appeared earlier in the thought of Heraclitus, where it carried a very different meaning.Broadly defined in philosophical language, the dialectic is an exchange of propositions (theses) and counter-propositions (antitheses) resulting in a synthesis of the opposing assertions, or at least a qualitative transformation in the direction of the dialogue or progress.The term dialectic has accompanied most of the history of Western philosophy, but its meaning has varied considerably.


Comments Dialectical Thought Thesis Antithesis

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