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Dialectic

(from Gk. dialektos, “discourse”). Theory and practice of logical analytic thought and discussion. Aristotle* held that Zeno* of Velia (Elea), It., discovered the dialectic method. But Heraclitus used a dialectic method before Zeno. He held that law and harmony in the universe exists because opposites are halves of one and the same thing. Dialectic as the art of debating is usually assoc. with Socrates.* Plato* used the dialectic method to analyze ideas. Aristotle held that the purpose of dialectics is to examine the foundations of science. He distinguished bet. dialectical reasoning (which proceeds syllogistically) and demonstrative reasoning (which begins with primary premises). As a result of the Stoics' division of dialectics into logic and rhetoric, dialectic was, till the end of the Middle Ages, regarded as synonymous with logic or as part of it. G. W. F. Hegel* held that all reality is divided into opposite poles, and that truth must be sought through thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. K. Marx* applied dialectic to soc. theories, holding that every class calls into being an opposite class (rulers — subjects; capital — labor), and that progress results from the struggle. (See also Dialectical Materialism). I. Kant* used the dialectical method to show that criteria applied to phenomena cannot be applied to the Ding an sich. K. Barth (see Switzerland, Contemporary Theology in) operated with the dialectical method inasmuch as he showed opposite poles in the “yon-side” and the “this-side” (God — man; eternal — temporal); the synthesis in Barth's thinking does not rise per se from opposite poles but comes from the “yon-side.” See also Dialectical Realism; Dialectical Theology; Historicism, 3. EL


Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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Content Reproduced with Permission

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