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Ph.D. Igor I. Kondrashin - philosopher
"The two Ancient Greek traditions: the first one is revived about 100 years ago.
The time came to revive the second one and make it innovative."
The History of the Humanity knows two great traditions, which were born in Greece about 2,5 thousand years ago.
The first one is – the Olympic Games. This Ancient tradition in fact is “the Competition in physical force of human bodies”.
I. The first Tradition - Olympic Games
Ancient Olympic Games
Long ago ancient Greeks often waged wars. Small
states suffered and lost much even if they did not take any side and stayed out
of wars. The ruler of such a small state, Elis, wanted to live in peace with
all neighbors. He was a good diplomat because his negotiations were successful
and Elis was recognized a neutral state. To celebrate this achievement, he
organized athletic games. In the beginning this feast lasted one day, but later
a whole month was devoted to it. All wars and feuds were stopped by special
heralds, who rode in all directions of Greece. The games were held every four
years in Olympia on the territory of Elis. The first games, which later were called
the Olympic Games, were held about a thousand years before our era. Usually the
Olympic Games began before the middle of the summer. Best athletes arrived from
many Greek states to Olympia to compete in running, long jumps, throwing of
discus and javelin, and wrestling. In the course of time fist fighting (boxing)
and chariot races were also included in the Games.
The Ancient Olympic Games was a series of
competitions held between representatives of several city-states from Ancient
Greece, which featured mainly athletic but also combat and chariot racing
events. The origin of these Olympics is shrouded in mystery and legend. One of
the most popular myths identifies Heracles and his father Zeus as the
progenitors of the Games. According to the legend, it was Heracles who first
called the Games "Olympic" and established the custom of holding them
every four years. A legend persists that
after Heracles completed his twelve labors, he built the Olympic stadium as an
honor to Zeus. Following its completion, he walked in a straight line for 200
steps and called this distance a "stadion" (Greek: στάδιον, Latin:
stadium, "stage"), which later became a unit of distance. Another
myth associates the first Games with the ancient Greek concept of Olympic truce
(ἐκεχειρία, ekecheiria). The most widely accepted date for the inception of the
Ancient Olympics is 776 BC; this is based on inscriptions, found at Olympia, of
the winners of a footrace held every four years starting in 776 BC. The Ancient
Games featured running events, a pentathlon (consisting of a jumping event,
discus and javelin throws, a foot race and wrestling), boxing, wrestling, and
equestrian events. Tradition has it that Coroebus,
a cook from the city of Elis, was the first Olympic champion.
All athletes took an oath that they had been preparing, well for the Games and
promised to compete honestly and keep the rules of the sacred
Olympics. Athletes took part in all kinds of competitions. Winners
were called "olympionics", they were awarded olive wreaths and cups of
olive oil. This tradition has survived. In our time sportsmen often get cups
and wreaths for winning the first place in sports competitions. The olympionics
of ancient Greece became very popular. Best craftsmen were chosen to make
honourary cups, many poets wrote and recited in public poems about the best
athletes. Sculptors made their statues, which were put up at the birthplace of
the winners. The Olympic Games were accompanied by
arts festivals. Poets recited their poems, singers sang hymns, dancers
danced and orators pronounced speeches - all this in honour of the sacred Games.
Only men could take part in the Olympic Games. Women were not allowed even to
watch the competitions at the stadium under the fear of death penalty. There
was a single exception, when a woman coached her son and accompanied him to the
stadium in men's clothes. That brave woman was spared the penalty because her
son excelled in many events. Magnificent strong bodies inspired artists and
sculptors. They painted wall pictures and made statues of marble and bronze, so
now we can admire the corporal beauty of ancient and eternally young discus
thrower, javelin bearer and others.
were of fundamental religious importance, featuring sporting events alongside
ritual sacrifices honoring both Zeus (whose famous statue by Phidias stood in
his temple at Olympia) and Pelops, divine hero and mythical king of Olympia.
Pelops was famous for his chariot race with King Oenomaus of Pisatis. The
winners of the events were admired and immortalized in poems and statues. The
Games were held every four years, and this period, known as an Olympiad, was
used by Greeks as one of their units of time measurement. The Games were part
of a cycle known as the Panhellenic Games, which included the Pythian Games,
the Nemean Games, and the Isthmian Games.
Games reached their zenith in the 6th and 5th centuries BC, but then
gradually declined in importance as the Romans gained power and influence in
Greece. The Olympic Games had been
held for about eleven hundred years, until the
emperor Theodosius I banned them for religious reasons in 393 AD,
when they together with all
pagan cults and practices were declared to be eliminated.
After the demise of the Olympics, they were not held again until the late 19th century.
Revival - modern Olympic Games
The first significant attempt to emulate the ancient Olympic Games was the L'Olympiade
de la République, a national Olympic festival held annually from 1796 to
1798 in Revolutionary France. The competition included
several disciplines from the ancient Greek Olympics. The 1796 Games also marked
the introduction of the metric system into sport.
Greek interest in reviving the Olympic Games began with the Greek War of Independence from the Ottoman
Empire in 1821. It was first proposed by poet and newspaper editor
Panagiotis Soutsos in his poem "Dialogue
of the Dead", published in 1833. Evangelis
Zappas, a wealthy Greek philanthropist, first wrote to King Otto of
Greece, in 1856, offering to fund a permanent revival of the Olympic Games. Zappas
sponsored the first Olympic Games in 1859, which was held in an Athens city
square. Athletes participated from Greece and the Ottoman Empire. Zappas funded
the restoration of the ancient Panathenaic stadium so that it could host all
future Olympic Games.
Later, in 1890, after attending the Olympian Games of the Wenlock Olympian
Society a young French teacher Baron Pierre de Coubertin was inspired to found the International
Olympic Committee. However the real revival of the Olympic Games began some time afterwards, in 1892,
when Pierre de Coubertin made a public speech before the Union of
French sports clubs in Paris. At that time many people in many countries practiced
various kinds of sports and games. They wanted to make friends and compete with
sportsmen from other lands. Pierre de Coubertin understood the importance of
sports, which unified peoples of the world and served the cause of peace like in ancient time. So, on the 23rd of June 1894 the International Congress of amateur
sportsmen made an important decision: «to revive the Olympic Games and to
establish the International Olympic Committee, which would be responsible» the
administration of the modern Olympic Games.
Coubertin built on the ideas and work of Brookes and Zappas
with the aim of establishing internationally rotating Olympic Games that would
occur every four years. He presented these ideas during the first Olympic
Congress of the newly created International Olympic Committee
(IOC). This meeting was held from June 16 to June 23, 1894, at the
Sorbonne University in Paris. On the last day of
the Congress, it was decided that the first Olympic Games, to come under the
auspices of the IOC, would take place two years later in Athens. The IOC
elected the Greek writer Demetrius Vikelas as its first president.
The first Committee consisted of 12 members. Now 82 members of the International Olympic Committee
control the affairs of all member countries which joined the Olympic movement.
The first Games held under the auspices of the IOC was hosted in the
Panathenaic stadium in Athens in 1896.
These Games brought 14 nations and 241 athletes who competed in 43 events.
Zappas and his cousin Konstantinos Zappas had left the Greek
government a trust to fund future Olympic Games. This trust was used to help
finance the 1896 Games. George Averoff contributed generously for the
refurbishment of the stadium in preparation for the Games. The Greek government
also provided funding, which was expected to be recouped through the future
sale of tickets to the Games and from the sale of the first Olympic
commemorative stamp set.
The Greek officials and public were
enthusiastic about the experience of hosting these Games. This feeling was
shared by many of the athletes, who even demanded that Athens be the host of
the Olympic Games on a permanent basis. The IOC did not approve this request.
The committee planned that the modern Olympics would rotate internationally. As
such they decided to hold the second Games in Paris.
II. The second Greek born tradition of world importance - Dialectical Symposia - disambiguation
In fact this ancient tradition was the competition in mental force of
human brains, based on wisdom
Broadly speaking, dialectic (Greek: διαλεκτική) is a word-
homonym (i.e. having a few meanings).
The first meaning of dialectic
is to have a discussion and exchange opinions, among which there could be 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 aim of the first meaning of dialectic is
to try to resolve the disagreement through rational discussion.
Discussions had various forms. Traditionally they were held in the form of Symposia and Forums.
Symposium originally referred to a drinking party (the Greek verb sympotein means "to drink together"), but has since come
to refer to any academic conference, or a style of university class characterized by an openly discursive format, rather than a lecture
and question–answer format. The sympotic elegies of Theognis of Megara and two Socratic dialogues, Plato's Symposium and Xenophon's Symposium
all describe symposia in the original sense. The Latin equivalent in Roman society is the convivium.
The Greek Symposium was a form of social activity in antiquity and the key Hellenic social institution. It was a forum for
men to debate, plot, boast, or simply to party with others. They were also frequently held to celebrate the introduction of young men into
aristocratic society. Symposia were also held by aristocrats to celebrate other special occasions, such as victories in athletic
and poetic contests.
Symposia were usually held in the andrōn, the men's quarters of the household. The participants would recline on pillowed couches
arrayed against the three walls of the room away from the door. Due to space limitations the couches would number between seven and nine,
limiting the total number of participants to somewhere between fourteen and twenty seven. If any young men took part they did not recline but sat up.
Food was served, together with wine. The latter, usually mixed with water in varying proportions, was drawn from the krater, a large jar designed
to be carried by two men, and served from pitchers. Entertainment was provided, and depending on the occasion could include games, songs,
flute-girls or boys, slaves performing various acts, and hired entertainment. A symposium would be overseen by a symposiarch
who would decide how strong or diluted the wine for the evening would be, depending on whether serious discussions or
merely sensual indulgence were in the offing. Certain formalities were observed, most important among which were the libations by means of
which the gods were propitiated. In keeping with Greek notions of self-restraint and propriety, the symposiarch would prevent matters from getting out of hand.
Symposia often were held for specific occasions. For example the most famous symposium of all, the one immortalised by Plato, was being hosted
by the poet Agathon on the occasion of his first victory at the theater contest of the 416 BC Dionysia, but was upstaged by the unexpected entrance
of the toast of the town, the young Alcibiades dropping in almost totally drunk and almost totally naked, having just left another symposium.
What are called flute-girls today were actually prostitutes or hetaera who played the aulos, a Greek woodwind instrument most similar to an oboe, hired
to play for and consort with the symposiasts while they drank and conversed. When string instruments were played, the barbiton was the traditional instrument.
Symposiasts could also compete in rhetorical contests, for which reason the term symposium has come to refer to any event where multiple speeches are made.
As with many other Greek customs, the framework of the symposium was adopted by the Romans under the name of comissatio. These revels also involved
the drinking of assigned quantities of wine, and the oversight of a master of the ceremonies appointed for the occasion from among the guests.
In ancient Greece the Symposia was an important social occasion where the participants would not only drink, but also talk, play musical instruments,
sing, play games, and perform religious rituals. With time such Symposiums took the form of philosophical schools or Academy (disambiguation). An academy
(Greek Ἀκαδημία) is an institution of higher learning, research, or honorary membership. The name traces back to Plato's school of philosophy,
founded approximately 385 BC at Akademia, a sanctuary of Athena, the goddess of wisdom and skill, north of Athens, Greece.
Before Akademia was a school, and it contained a sacred grove of olive trees dedicated to Athena, the goddess of wisdom, outside the city walls of ancient Athens.
The archaic name for the site was Hekademia, which by classical times evolved into Akademia and was explained by linking it to an Athenian hero,
a legendary "Akademos". The site of Akademia was sacred to Athena and other immortals.
Besides Plato other notable members of Akademia include Aristotle, Heraclides Ponticus, Eudoxus of Cnidus, Philip of Opus, Crantor, and Antiochus of Ascalon.
Since the words "academy" and "academic" come from the name of the area where Plato taught, it is worth spending a moment to describe the park which was used
for gymnastics from the sixth century BC. Academus or Hecademus, a mythical hero who had a cult following, left a garden and grove, which was about a mile
north west of the centre of the city of Athens, to the citizens to use for gymnastics. The area, named after Academus, was developed by Hippias,
the son of Peisistratos, who built a wall round it and put up statues and temples. Excavations have detected the foundations of Hippias's wall.
The statesman Kimon planted olive and plane trees there and diverted the river Cephisus to make the dry land fertile. Festivals were held there,
as were athletic events in which runners would races between the altars, and funeral games also took place in the Academy.
It must have been a beautiful park when Plato, who had a house nearby and a garden within the area, began to teach there in around 387 BC.
What did Plato really do in his Academy? 'Academy' and 'Academic' are terms which men of formal training have been pleased to apply to themselves
and their organisations. It is not surprising, therefore, that by a more or less unconscious retrojection modern scholars have attached
the particular significance which 'Academy' has in their own milieu to the garden of Plato's which was situated in the suburb northwest
of Athens called 'Academia' after a mythical hero. To us the word 'Academy' has come to mean an institution of learning, a learned society,
or at least a place of theoretical ('academic') education. In ancient Athens, the Academy was first and foremost a public park dominated
by its gymnasium, and the connection between it and Plato's school was only one of the numerous historical reminiscences in an area rich in history.
All the evidence points unmistakably to the same conclusion: the Academy was not a school in which an orthodox metaphysical doctrine was taught,
or an association of members who were expected to subscribe to the theory of ideas. Plato's influence on these men, then, was that of an intelligent
critic of method, not that of a technical mathematician with the skill to make great discoveries of his own; and it was by his criticism of method,
by his formulation of the broader problems to which the mathematician should address himself, and by arousing in those who took up philosophy
an interest in mathematics that he gave a great impulse to the development of the science.
One interesting 'fact' which is usually given about the Academy in Plato's time. At that time above the doors of sacred places there was often
placed an inscription "Let no unfair or unjust person enter". Above the door of his Academy Plato inscribed "Let no one who cannot
think geometrically enter".
Later, in Roman era for mass occasions the dialectic took the form of Forums where there was
a special rostrum for the speaking person (tribunal) and also arae and auguratorium. At Forum all important state and civil (fora civilia)
questions and problems were discussed.
Nowadays ancient Symposia and Forums were transformed into academic Conferences. An academic conference is a conference for
researchers (not always academics) to present and discuss their work. Together with academic or scientific journals, conferences provide an important channel
for exchange of information between researchers.
Generally, at such conferences the ideas or papers are presented in the form of short, concise presentations lasting about 10 to 30 minutes, usually
including discussion. The work may be bundled in written form as academic papers and published as the conference proceedings. Often there are one or
more keynote speakers (usually scholars of some standing), presenting a lecture that lasts an hour or so, and which is likely to be advertised before
the conference. Panel discussions, round tables on various issues, workshops may be part of the conference.
Prospective presenters are usually asked to submit a short abstract of their presentation, which will be reviewed before the presentation is accepted
for the meeting. Some disciplines require presenters to submit a paper of about 6 – 15 pages, which is peer reviewed by members of the program committee
or referees chosen by them.
In some disciplines it is common for presenters to read from a prepared script. In other disciplines such as the sciences, presenters usually base their
talk around a visual presentation that displays key figures and research results.
Academic conferences have usually a wider focus, with sessions on a wide variety of topics. These conferences are often organized by regional, national,
or international learned societies, and held annually or on some other regular basis.
The ancient tradition of Symposia and Forums gave birth to the second meaning of the word-homonym
dialectic – also called dialectics as the dialectical method. This meaning
was later widely used in classical philosophy until nowadays. It is a method of argument, which has been
central to both Eastern and Western philosophy since ancient times. From
History it is known that the word "dialectic" originates in Ancient
Greece, and was made popular by Plato's Socratic dialogues. Dialectic
is rooted in the ordinary practice of a dialogue between two or more people who
hold different ideas and wish to persuade each other. The presupposition of a
dialectical argument is that the participants, even if they do not agree, share
at least some meanings and principles of inference. Different forms of
dialectical reason have emerged in the East and in the West, as well as during
different eras of history. Among the major forms of dialectic reason are Socratic, Aristotle, Confucius, Hindu,
Buddhist, Medieval, Kantian, Hegelian, Marxist, and Talmudic.
Confucius (551-479 BC.), according to Chinese tradition, was a
thinker, political figure, educator, and founder of the Ru
School of Chinese thought. His teachings, preserved in the
Lunyu or Analects, form the foundation of much of
subsequent Chinese speculation on the education and comportment of the
ideal man, how such an individual should live his life and interact
with others, and the forms of society and government in which he
should participate. Fung Yu-lan, one of the great 20th
century authorities on the history of Chinese thought, compares
Confucius' influence in Chinese history with that of Socrates in the
Confucius' political philosophy is rooted in his belief that a
ruler should learn self-discipline, should govern his subjects by his
own example, and should treat them with love and concern. “If
the people be led by laws, and uniformity among them be sought by
punishments, they will try to escape punishment and have no sense of
shame. If they are led by virtue, and uniformity sought among them
through the practice of ritual propriety, they will possess a sense of
shame and come to you of their own accord.” (Lunyu 2.3;
see also 13.6.) It seems apparent that in his own day, however,
advocates of more legalistic methods were winning a large following
among the ruling elite. Thus Confucius' warning about the ill
consequences of promulgating law codes should not be interpreted as an
attempt to prevent their adoption but instead as his lament that his
ideas about the moral suasion of the ruler were not proving
Most troubling to Confucius was his perception that the political
institutions of his day had completely broken down. He attributed this
collapse to the fact that those who wielded power as well as those who
occupied subordinate positions did so by making claim to titles for
which they were not worthy. When asked by a ruler of the large state
of Qi, Lu's neighbor on the Shandong peninsula, about the principles
of good government, Confucius is reported to have replied: “Good
government consists in the ruler being a ruler, the minister being a
minister, the father being a father, and the son being a son.”
(Lunyu 12.11) If I claim for myself a title and attempt to
participate in the various hierarchical relationships to which I would
be entitled by virtue of that title, then I should live up to the
meaning of the title that I claim for myself. Confucius' analysis of
the lack of connection between actualities and their names and the
need to correct such circumstances is usually referred to as
Confucius' theory of zhengming. Elsewhere in the
Analects, Confucius says to his disciple Zilu that the first
thing he would do in undertaking the administration of a state is
zhengming. (Lunyu 13.3). Xunzi composed an entire
essay entitled Zhengming. But for Xunzi the term referred to
the proper use of language and how one should go about inventing new
terms that were suitable to the age. For Confucius, zhengming
does not seem to refer to the ‘rectification of names’
(this is the way the term is most often translated by scholars of the
Analects), but instead to rectifying behavior of people so
that it exactly corresponds to the language with which they identify
and describe themselves. Confucius believed that this sort of
rectification had to begin at the very top of the government, because
it was at the top that the discrepancy between names and actualities
had originated. If the ruler's behavior is rectified then the people
beneath him will follow suit. In a conversation with Ji Kangzi (who
had usurped power in Lu), Confucius advised: “If your desire is
for good, the people will be good. The moral character of the ruler is
the wind; the moral character of those beneath him is the grass. When
the wind blows, the grass bends.” (Lunyu 12.19)
For Confucius, what characterized superior rulership was the
possession of de or ‘virtue.’ Conceived of as a
kind of moral power that allows one to win a following without
recourse to physical force, such ‘virtue’ also enabled the
ruler to maintain good order in his state without troubling himself
and by relying on loyal and effective deputies. Confucius claimed
that, “He who governs by means of his virtue is, to use an
analogy, like the pole-star: it remains in its place while all the
lesser stars do homage to it.” (Lunyu 2.1) The way to
maintain and cultivate such royal ‘virtue’ was through the
practice and enactment of li or
‘rituals’ – the ceremonies that defined and punctuated
the lives of the ancient Chinese aristocracy. These ceremonies
encompassed: the sacrificial rites performed at ancestral temples to
express humility and thankfulness; the ceremonies of enfeoffment,
toasting, and gift exchange that bound together the aristocracy into a
complex web of obligation and indebtedness; and the acts of politeness
and decorum – such things as bowing and yielding – that
identified their performers as gentlemen. In an influential study,
Herbert Fingarette argues that the performance of these various
ceremonies, when done correctly and sincerely, involves a
‘magical’ quality that underlies the efficacy of royal
‘virtue’ in accomplishing the aims of the ruler.
A hallmark of Confucius' thought is his emphasis on education and
study. He disparages those who have faith in natural understanding or
intuition and argues that the only real understanding of a subject
comes from long and careful study. Study, for Confucius, means finding
a good teacher and imitating his words and deeds. A good teacher is
someone older who is familiar with the ways of the past and the
practices of the ancients. (See Lunyu 7.22) While he
sometimes warns against excessive reflection and meditation,
Confucius' position appears to be a middle course between studying and
reflecting on what one has learned. “He who learns but does not
think is lost. He who thinks but does not learn is in great
danger.” (Lunyu 2.15) Confucius, himself, is credited
by the tradition with having taught altogether three thousand
students, though only seventy are said to have truly mastered the arts
he cherished. Confucius is willing to teach anyone, whatever their
social standing, as long as they are eager and tireless. He taught his
students morality, proper speech, government, and the refined
arts. While he also emphasizes the “Six Arts” – ritual,
music, archery, chariot-riding, calligraphy, and computation – it is
clear that he regards morality the most important subject. Confucius'
pedagogical methods are striking. He never discourses at length on a
subject. Instead he poses questions, cites passages from the
classics, or uses apt analogies, and waits for his students to arrive
at the right answers. “I only instruct the eager and enlighten
the fervent. If I hold up one corner and a student cannot come back to
me with the other three, I do not go on with the lesson.”
Confucius' goal is to create gentlemen who carry themselves with
grace, speak correctly, and demonstrate integrity in all things. His
strong dislike of the sycophantic “petty men,” whose
clever talk and pretentious manner win them an audience, is reflected
in numerous Lunyu passages. Confucius finds himself in an age
in which values are out of joint. Actions and behavior no longer
correspond to the labels originally attached to them. “Rulers do
not rule and subjects do not serve,” he
observes. (Lunyu 12.11; cf. also 13.3) This means that words
and titles no longer mean what they once did. Moral education is
important to Confucius because it is the means by which one can
rectify this situation and restore meaning to language and values to
society. He believes that the most important lessons for obtaining
such a moral education are to be found in the canonical Book of
Songs, because many of its poems are both beautiful and
good. Thus Confucius places the text first in his curriculum and
frequently quotes and explains its lines of verse. For this reason,
the Lunyu is also an important source for Confucius'
understanding of the role poetry and art more generally play in the
moral education of gentlemen as well as in the reformation of
society. Recent archaeological discoveries in China of previously lost
ancient manuscripts reveal other aspects of Confucius's reverence for
the Book of Songs and its importance in moral
education. These manuscripts show that Confucius had found in the
canonical text valuable lessons on how to cultivate moral qualities in
oneself as well as how to comport oneself humanely and responsibly in
So, the Dialectic is a line of thought, originating in ancient Greek philosophy, which is organically combined with the ancient Chinese (East) philosophy, stresses
development through a back and forth movement between opposing propositions. It
thus stands in stark contrast to Western philosophy’s general emphasis on the
permanence of being. The dialectic movement refers either to a mental process
or to a process believed to occur in objective reality. One way - the Socratic method -
is to show that a given hypothesis (with other
admissions) leads to a contradiction; thus, forcing the withdrawal of the
hypothesis as a candidate for truth. Another way of trying to resolve a
disagreement is by denying some presupposition of the contending thesis and
antithesis; thus moving to a third thesis.
When the dialectic
movement is seen as occurring in the mind, as in the Socratic dialectic,
it essentially means a process by which a
person gradually comes to reach a certain insight. That understanding of the
dialectic is generally compatible with
traditional ontology and its focus on eternal being (for example, the Platonic
ideas). When the dialectic is seen as
a movement inherent to objective reality, it has frequently implied a
conflicting development, as in Marxism, rather than a harmonious type of
development, as the fundamental characteristic of reality.
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. Conflict in nature may also beget
development, but acting in a different way.
The term dialectic
has accompanied most of the history of Western philosophy, but its meaning has
varied considerably. Differences have been due to a great diversity of
terminological uses, but more essentially to a tension between two fundamental
tendencies. With thinkers such as Heraclitus, Hegel and Marx, the dialectic
refers essentially to a conflictual movement inherent to reality. With Socrates,
Plato and the scholastic tradition initiated by Aristotle, the dialectic
refers to a movement of the mind in search for truth.
The term "dialectic" owes much of its initial prestige to its role in the
philosophy of Plato, where it figures as the logical method of philosophy in
the Socratic dialectical method of cross-examination. The term was given new
life by Hegel, whose dialectically dynamic model of nature and history made it
a fundamental aspect of the nature of reality. In the mid-nineteenth century,
the concept of "dialectic" was appropriated by Marx and retooled in a
non-idealist manner, becoming a crucial notion in their philosophy of dialectical materialism.
Thus, this concept came, for a time, to play a prominent role on the world stage and in
world history. Today, "dialectics" can also refer to an understanding
of how one can or should perceive the world (epistemology), an assertion of the
interconnected, contradictory and dynamic nature of the world outside their
perception of it (ontology), or a method of presentation of ideas or
The ancient dialectic
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
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. In fact, Heraclitus was an earlier pre-Socratic than
Parmenides, and his thought is proof that the dialectical frame of mind has
been with Western philosophy from the very beginning.
Heraclitus’thought was dialectical in the sense that he believed everything to have
originated from fire, the symbol of movement and development through
self-consumption. 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. 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.
The aim of the dialectical method, often known as dialectic or dialectics, is to
try to resolve the disagreement through rational
discussion, and ultimately, the search for truth. A controversy or dispute is a
commencement of a conflict between statements of accepted fact and a new or
unaccepted proposal that disagrees with argues against. One way to proceed – the
Socratic method – is to show that a given hypothesis
(with other admissions) leads to a contradiction; thus,
forcing the withdrawal of the hypothesis as a candidate for
truth (see also reductio ad absurdum). The
Socratic Method (or Method of Elenchus or Socratic Debate) named after the Classical
Greek philosopher Socrates, is a form of A hypothesis (from Greek) consists
either of a suggested explanation for a phenomenon (an event that is observable) or of a reasoned proposal suggesting a possible display.
In Classical logic, a contradiction consists of a logical
incompatibility between two or more propositions. It occurs when the
propositions taken together yield the meaning of the word truth extends
from Honesty, Good faith, and Sincerity in general to agreement with Fact or
Reality Reductio ad absurdum (Latin
for "reduction to the absurd") also known as an apagogical argument,
reductio ad impossibile. Another way of trying to resolve a disagreement
is by denying some presupposition
of both the contending thesis and antithesis; thereby moving to a third
(syn)thesis or "sublation".
In the linguistic branch of Pragmatics,
a presupposition is an implicit assumption about the world or background belief
relating to an utterance whose truth is taken for granted in Sublation
is an English term used to translate Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel's German
term Aufhebung. However, the rejection of the participant's presuppositions can
be resisted, which might generate a second order controversy.
According to Aristotle, the dialectic proper originated
with Zeno of Elea. Zeno is famous for his paradoxes, according to which, for
instance, a flying arrow can never reach its destination, because it first has
to cross half the distance, and before that, half of that half, and so on ad
infinitum. Zeno’s paradoxes are counter-intuitive in that they seem to prove
the impossibility of something that is obviously true.
have long been denigrated as mere sophistry, but they have recently received
renewed attention and praise for their insight into the nature of mathematics.
Zeno was a disciple of Parmenides, the philosopher who first introduced the
notion of the permanence of Being as opposed to the primacy of movement
stressed by Heraclitus. 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.
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. Movement as the prime
nature of reality was first conceptualized by Heraclitus and permanence was
conceptualized by Parmenides’ nascent ontology (the science of Being). After
Parmenides and Zeno, the notion of a permanent, unmoving Being took on an
overwhelming importance in Greek thought and subsequent philosophical
developments. Movement as the essence of reality was not rediscovered until the
nineteenth century, and the two (immutability and movement) were never
satisfactorily reconciled in a consistent system.
Accordingly, after Zeno, the dialectic has become
known as the art of logical discourse - the ability to analyze and control the
workings of the human mind from a variety of perspectives. In other words, the
dialectical movement was reduced to the human mind’s handling of eternal and
immutable ideas, not to the acknowledgment of a continuous movement within
Zeno of Elea (pronounced/ˈziːnoʊ əv ˈɛliə/, Greek: Ζήνων ὁ Ἐλεάτης) (ca. 490 BC. – ca. 430 BC.)
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".
Little is known for certain about Zeno's life. Although written nearly a century after Zeno's
death, the primary source of biographical information about Zeno is the
dialogue of Plato called the Parmenides. In the dialogue, Plato
describes a visit to Athens by Zeno and Parmenides, at a time when
Parmenides is "about 65," Zeno is "nearly 40" (Parmenides
127b) and Socrates is "a very young man" (Parmenides 127c). Assuming an age for
Socrates of around 20, and taking the date of Socrates' birth as 470 BC, gives
an approximate date of birth for Zeno of 490 BC.
Zeno's arguments are perhaps the first examples of a method of proof called reductio ad absurdum,
literally meaning to reduce to the absurd. Parmenides is said to be the
first individual to implement this style of argument. This form of argument
soon became known as the epicheirema. In Book VII of his Topica,
Aristotle says that an epicheirema is a dialectical syllogism.
It is a connected piece of reasoning which an opponent has put forward as true.
The disputant sets out to break down the dialectical syllogism.
In the Fresco in the Library of El Escorial, Madrid, Zeno of Elea
shows Youths the Doors to Truth and Falsity (Veritas et Falsitas).
Following Zeno, the school of the Sophists
transformed the dialectical method into a mere tool of persuasion, even through
the use of invalid arguments, eventually giving the school the bad name
associated with the notion of sophistry, called “eristic” by Plato.
In contrast to the Sophists, Socrates professed
to search for nothing but the truth. By applying his well-known “Socratic
irony,” pretending to know nothing and letting his partner in dialogue expose
and discover the inconsistencies of his own thought, Socrates sought to help
others discover the truth. Thus, the Socratic dialectic is not altogether
different from Zeno’s dialectic. Simply, instead of seeking to expose the
inconsistency of familiar notions about reality (as Zeno did), Socrates sought
to expose people’s prejudice and intellectual laziness. With Socrates in
particular, the dialectic comes very close to the related notion of dialogue – an
exchange that eventually leads to the truth. Once the eternal truth is
attained, the movement stops.
In Plato's early dialogues, Socrates typically argues by cross-examining someone's claims in
order to draw out a contradiction among them. 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 quarrel some 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 cannot be correct. This particular example has
become known as the Euthyphro dilemma: Is something good because it is willed by
God (or the gods), or is it willed by God because it is good? It shows that,
underneath what appears as a simple contradiction due to prejudice and
ignorance, issues much deeper and more difficult to resolve involving the
nature of ultimate reality remain.
In Plato’s later dialogues that are believed to express his own thought
(even though Socrates still appears as the protagonist) the dialectic appears as a method of
division in which concepts and ideas are sorted out in a hierarchy, from the
more general to the more particular. Whereas Socrates’ method was more
inductive and synthetic, consisting in gradually helping his discussion partner
reconstruct an idea of the truth in his own mind, Plato went on to a method
emphasizing analysis and the organization of ideas in one’s own mind.
In the Republic (VI-VII), Plato presents the dialectic
as the supreme art to be mastered by the philosopher-king of his ideal state.
The dialectic had become the art of practicing logical thinking,
rather than the art of discovering the truth through discussion.
Inheriting Plato’s tradition of thought, Aristotle developed his systematic
logic with the use of syllogisms. For him, the dialectic proper had become
secondary, a method for intellectual training and searching for truth based on
Aristotle also connected the term dialectic with the meaning development.
The development of potentiality to actuality is one of the most important aspects of Aristotle’s
dialectical philosophy. It was intended to solve the difficulties which earlier thinkers had raised with
reference to the beginnings of existence and the relations of the one and many. The actual vs. potential
state of things is explained in terms of the causes which act on things.
Another innovation of Aristotle was the combining of the dialectic with morality in his Ethics.
He believed, that happiness cannot be found in any abstract or ideal notion, but it must be something practical and human.
It must then be found in the work and life which is unique to humans. But this is neither the vegetative life we share with plants
nor the sensitive existence which we share with animals. It follows therefore that true happiness lies in the active life of
a rational being or in a perfect realization and outworking of the true soul and self, continued throughout a lifetime.
Justice, as one of the main aspects of morality, is used both in a general and in a special sense.
In its general sense it is equivalent to the observance of law. As such it is the same thing as virtue, differing only
insofar as virtue exercises the disposition simply in the abstract, and justice applies it in dealings with people.
Particular justice displays itself in two forms. First, distributive justice hands out honors and rewards according
to the merits of the recipients. Second, corrective justice takes no account of the position of the parties concerned,
but simply secures equality between the two by taking away from the advantage of the one and adding it to the disadvantage of the other.
Strictly speaking, distributive and corrective justice are more than mere retaliation and reciprocity. However, in concrete
situations of civil life, retaliation and reciprocity is an adequate formula since such circumstances involve money, depending
on a relation between producer and consumer. Since absolute justice is abstract in nature, in the real world it must be supplemented
with equity, which corrects and modifies the laws of justice where it falls short. Thus, morality requires a standard which will
not only regulate the inadequacies of absolute justice but be also an idea of moral progress.
This idea of morality is given by the faculty of moral insight. The truly good person is at the same time a person of perfect insight,
and a person of perfect insight is also perfectly good. Our idea of the ultimate end of moral action is developed through habitual
experience, and this gradually frames itself out of particular perceptions. It is the job of reason to apprehend and organize these
particular perceptions. However, moral action is never the result of a mere act of the understanding, nor is it the result of a simple
desire which views objects merely as things which produce pain or pleasure. We start with a rational conception of what is advantageous,
but this conception is in itself powerless without the natural impulse which will give it strength. The will or purpose implied by
morality is thus either reason stimulated to act by desire, or desire guided and controlled by understanding.
These factors then motivate the willful action. Freedom of the will is a factor with both virtuous choices and vicious choices.
Actions are involuntary only when another person forces our action, or if we are ignorant of important details in actions. Actions
are voluntary when the originating cause of action (either virtuous or vicious) lies in ourselves.
Moral weakness of the will results in someone does what is wrong, knowing that it is right, and yet follows his desire against reason.
For Aristotle, this condition is not a myth, as Socrates supposed it was. The problem is a matter of conflicting moral principles.
Moral action may be represented as a syllogism in which a general principle of morality forms the first (i.e. major) premise,
while the particular application is the second (i.e. minor) premise. The conclusion, though, which is arrived at through speculation,
is not always carried out in practice. The moral syllogism is not simply a matter of logic, but involves psychological drives and desires.
Desires can lead to a minor premise being applied to one rather than another of two major premises existing in the agent’s mind.
Animals, on the other hand, cannot be called weak willed or incontinent since such a conflict of principles is not possible with them.
Friendship is an indispensable aid in framing for ourselves the higher moral life; if not itself a virtue, it is at least
associated with virtue, and it proves itself of service in almost all conditions of our existence. Such results, however, are to be derived
not from the worldly friendships of utility or pleasure, but only from those which are founded on virtue. The true friend is in fact a second self,
and the true moral value of friendship lies in the fact that the friend presents to us a mirror of good actions, and so intensifies
our consciousness and our appreciation of life.
On the top of the meanings of the term dialectic Aristotle placed its connection with politics.
Aristotle does not regard politics as a separate science from ethics, but as the completion, and almost a verification of it.
The moral ideal in political administration is only a different aspect of that which also applies to individual happiness.
Humans are by nature social beings, and the possession of rational speech (logos) in itself leads us to social union.
The state is a development from the family through the village community, an offshoot of the family. Formed originally
for the satisfaction of natural wants, it exists afterwards for moral ends and for the promotion of the higher life.
The state in fact is no mere local union for the prevention of wrong doing, and the convenience of exchange. It is also
no mere institution for the protection of goods and property. It is a genuine moral organization for advancing
the development of humans!
The family, which is chronologically prior to the state, involves a series of relations between husband and wife,
parent and child, master and slave. Aristotle regards the slave as a piece of live property having no existence except in relation to his master.
Slavery is a natural institution because there is a ruling and a subject class among people related to each other as soul to body;
however, we must distinguish between those who are slaves by nature, and those who have become slaves merely by war and conquest.
Household management involves the acquisition of riches, but must be distinguished from money-making for its own sake.
Wealth is everything whose value can be measured by money; but it is the use rather than the possession of commodities which constitutes riches.
Which is the best state is a question that cannot be directly answered. Different races are suited for different forms of government,
and the question which meets the politician is not so much what is abstractly the best state, but what is the best state under existing circumstances.
Generally, however, the best state will enable anyone to act in the best and live in the happiest manner. To serve this end the ideal state
should be neither too great nor too small, but simply self-sufficient. It should occupy a favorable position towards land and sea and
consist of citizens gifted with the spirit of the northern nations, and the intelligence of the Asiatic nations. It should further
take particular care to exclude from government all those engaged in trade and commerce; “the best state will not make the “working man”
a citizen; it should provide support religious worship; it should secure morality through the educational influences of law and early training".
Law, for Aristotle, is the outward expression of the moral ideal without the bias of human feeling. It is thus no mere agreement or convention,
but a moral force coextensive with all virtue. Since it is universal in its character, it requires modification and adaptation to particular
circumstances through equity.
Education should be guided by legislation to make it correspond with the results of psychological analysis, and follow
the gradual development of the bodily and mental faculties. Children should during their earliest years be carefully protected from
all injurious associations, and be introduced to such amusements as will prepare them for the serious duties of life. Their literary
education should begin in their seventh year, and continue to their twenty-first year. This period is divided into two courses of training,
one from age seven to puberty, and the other from puberty to age twenty-one. Such education should not be left to private enterprise,
but should be undertaken by the state.
There are four main branches of education: reading and writing, Gymnastics, music, and painting. They should not be studied to achieve
a specific aim, but in the liberal spirit which creates true freemen. Thus, for example, gymnastics should not be pursued by itself exclusively,
or it will result in a harsh savage type of character. Painting must not be studied merely to prevent people from being cheated in pictures,
but to make them attend to physical beauty. Music must not be studied merely for amusement, but for the moral influence which it exerts on the feelings.
Indeed all true education is, as Plato saw, a training of our sympathies so that we may love and hate in a right manner.
Aristotle did his best to teach the developed ideas of philosophy to young people-students at his philosophical schools. The most famous
pupil, who was educated by Aristotle during five years, was 13 year old Alexander, who later became Alexander the Great.
Those were the main achievements that the dialectic gained with Aristotle's assistance. Later, under the leadership of Chrysippus,
the ancient Stoics developed a well-known school of formal logic, which they called the dialectic.
But the term dialectic was also used by them to refer to a variety of intellectual activities, including grammatical
theory. The tradition of equating the dialectics and logic with a broad range of
applications became the norm into the Middle Ages.
Thus, the dialectic came to be known as one of the three original liberal arts or trivium (the
other members are rhetoric and grammar) in Western culture. In ancient
and medieval times, the rhetoric and
the dialectic (or logic) were both understood to aim at
being persuasive (through dialogue). While the rhetoric focused on the art of
speaking, the dialectic dealt with the logical skills of analysis, the examination
of theses and antitheses, and the use of syllogisms.
The end of Ancient Greek born tradition as Dialectic was similar to the first
Ancient tradition end - the Olympics games were
officially prohibited by the Roman emperor Theodosius I in 393 AD.
The second Ancient Greek famous tradition was ended by
the Edict of the last Roman emperor Justinian I, who in 529 AD together with Roman-Greek
paganism prohibited the teaching in Athens Academy of Plato, which was placed under
strict state control, effectively strangling this training-school for
Hellenism. He closed all the philosophical schools of Athens and banished their
teachers to Persia. Thus, together with paganism all those brilliant ideas of dialectical Classical Philosophy
were buried for the Humanity for long centuries and did not recover fully until nowadays.
Since that time the large part of the Humanity was obliged to forget the teachings of the Dialectics
and many generations started and had to live on the basis of the Codex Justinianus I.
The Codex Justinianus (Code of Justinian, Justinian's Code) was the first part to be
completed on April 7, 529. It collects the constitutiones of the Roman
Emperors. The compilers of the code were able to draw on earlier works such as
the official Codex Theodosianus and private collections like the Codex
Gregorianus and the Codex Hermogenianus. The emperor was an absolute
monarch, considered indeed God's regent on earth, answerable only to God, and
consequently his legislative, executive and judicial powers were unlimited and
accurate throughout. Due to legal reforms by Justinian himself, this work later
needed to be updated, so a second edition of the Codex (the so-called
"Codex repetitae praelectionis") was issued in 534, after the Digest.
The social order is shown in the later Empire. According to Justinian, the
Codex regulated all human and divine affairs and laws from the time of the
foundation of Rome by Romulus and Remus into a clear system that was not confusing
to the public. The emperor also removed repetitive or iniquitous laws, in order
to “afford all men the ready assistance of true meaning.”
The Justinian’s Codex includes the following juridical acts:
Legislation about religion. Numerous
provisions serve to secure the status of Orthodox Christianity as the state
religion of the empire, uniting Church and state, and making anyone who was not connected to the Christian church a non-citizen.
Laws against heresy. The very
first law in the Codex requires all persons under the jurisdiction of the
Empire to hold the holy Orthodox (Christian) faith. This was primarily aimed
against heresies such as Arianism. This text later became the
springboard for discussions of international law, especially the question of
just what persons are under the jurisdiction of a given state or legal system.
Laws against paganism. Other laws,
while not aimed at pagan belief as such, forbid particular pagan practices. For
example, it is provided that all persons present at a pagan sacrifice may be
indicted as if for murder. Paganism (from Latin paganus, meaning "country dweller", "rustic")
is a blanket term used to refer to various polytheistic, non-Abrahamic
religious traditions. Its exact definition may vary. It is primarily used in a
historical context, referring to Greco-Roman polytheism as well as the
polytheistic traditions of Europe before Christianization.
In a wider sense, extended to contemporary religions, it includes most of the Eastern
religions, and the indigenous traditions of the Americas ("Shamanism"), Central Asia, Australia
and Africa, as well as non-Abrahamic folk religion in general. More narrow definitions will not
include any of the world religions and restrict the term to local or rural currents not
organized as civil religions. Characteristic of pagan traditions is the absence of proselytism and
the presence of a living mythology, which explains religious practice.
Laws against Judaism
* *Alphabetical index on the Corpus Juris (Index omnium legum et
paragraphorum quae in Pandectis, Codice et Institutionibus continentur, per literas
digestus.), printed by Gulielmo Rovillio, Lyon, 1571
By his Edict Justinian I reduced the classical Philosophy on the same footing as heresy
and paganism and due to this since that time the Humanity lost WISDOM and MORALITY as prime values in human life.
And they do not exist as prime values on the Earth until now.
The modern dialectic
The pressure of the emperor
Justinian I’s ban was so hard that we feel it until now. Due to this fact the dialectics
(also called logic) started to appear again only in the 12th century as one of the three
liberal arts taught in medieval universities as part of the trivium (education). The trivium also
included rhetoric and grammar.
Universities were established in Italy, France and England for the study of
arts, law, medicine and theology.
In Medieval Europe, dialectics (or logic) was an integral part of educational Curriculum
broadly defined as a Classical education. In ancient and medieval times both
rhetoric and dialectic were understood to aim at being persuasive (through dialogue).
A more modern use of the dialectic was introduced
by Kant’s critique of traditional dogmatism
in nineteenth to mid-twentieth century. Later it was given entirely new meaning
by the German idealists, particularly Hegel; then transformed again into dialectical
materialism by Karl Marx.
Immanuel Kant (1724 - 1804).
Since Plato, and
through all its metamorphoses and varied terminological uses, the dialectic had essentially been a means
for handling an eternal truth that was assumed as given by the laws of logic. In the medieval period, the
authority of revelation was added as a further irrefutable point of reference.
With the advent of Kant’s philosophy, this would dramatically change. Since, for Kant, it was
not possible for humans to reach any certain theoretical knowledge about the
ultimate nature of things, much less about those issues that are not objects of
the senses (God, freedom, and eternal life), the dialectic came to take on a negative connotation.
In Kant’s system, the ancient dialectic is called the
“logic of illusion,” because it is seen as the intellectual play with
propositions the validity of which thinkers had no way of ever verifying.
In the “Transcendental Dialectic,” an important section of his Critique of Pure
Reason, Kant makes use of so-called Antinomies, which are four sets
of opposing propositions on issues such as the existence of God. Thereby, Kant
intends to show that both contending propositions, the thesis as well as the
antithesis, can be proved right, though they are mutually exclusive, thereby
exposing the futility of a reasoning involving propositions that are beyond the
grasp of human intellect. The thesis and antithesis thus are not followed by a
synthesis that would conclude a dialectical movement. Rather, they are followed
by the realization that such movement is impossible, or at least that it cannot
possibly lead to valid conclusions.
In any case, the dialectic
is neither fiction nor mysticism, but a science of the forms of our thinking insofar
as it is not limited to the daily problems of life but attempts to arrive at an
understanding of more complicated and drawn-out processes. The dialectic and formal
logic bear a relationship similar to that between higher and lower mathematics.
Dialectical thinking is related to vulgar thinking in the same way that a motion picture is
related to a still photograph. The motion picture does not outlaw the still
photograph but combines a series of them according to the laws of motion. Dialectics
does not deny the syllogism,
but teaches us to combine syllogisms in such a way as to bring our
understanding closer to the eternally changing reality.
We call our dialectic, materialist, since its roots
are neither in heaven nor in the depths of our 'free will', but in objective
reality, in nature. Consciousness grew out of the unconscious, psychology out
of physiology, the organic world out of the inorganic, the solar system out of
nebulae. On all the rungs of this ladder of development, the qualitative changes are combined with quantitative ones and all together with space and time. Our thought, including dialectical
thought, is only one of the forms of the expression of changing matter. There
is place within this system for neither God, nor Devil, nor immortal soul, nor
eternal norms of laws and morals. The dialectic of thinking, having grown out
of the dialectic of nature, possesses consequently a thoroughly materialist
Darwinism, which explained the evolution of species through qualitative transformations, was the highest triumph of the dialectic in the whole field
of organic matter. Another great triumph was the discovery of the table of atomic weights of chemical elements
and further quantitative transformation of one element into another, but with different qualitative characteristics.
With these transformations (species, elements, etc.) is closely linked the question of
classification, equally important in the natural as in the social sciences. Linnaeus'
system (18th century), utilising as its starting point the immutability of
species, was limited to the description and classification of plants according
to their external characteristics. The infantile period of botany is analogous
to the infantile period of logic, since the forms of our thought develop like
everything that lives. Only decisive repudiation of the idea of fixed species,
only the study of the history of the evolution of plants and their anatomy,
prepared the basis for a really scientific classification.
The concept of dialectics was given new life by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (following Fichte), whose
dialectically dynamic 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). According to Hegel, "dialectic" is the method by which human history
unfolds; that is to say, history progresses as a dialectical process.
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 non-idealist manner, becoming a crucial notion in their
philosophy of Dialectical materialism. Thus this concept has played a prominent role on the world stage and in world history.
Marx, who in distinction from Darwin considered himself as a conscious dialectician, has
brought the big confusion into dialectical ideas and the dialectical method. He
completely ignored the Plato-Aristotle-Hegel’s dialectical classification of
human societies (states) based on wisdom
and reason and offered the new basis
for the classification of states - the productive
forces. After that the structure of the relations in states became to be
considered on the grounds of ownership which constituted the anatomy of
society. Through this way Marxism substituted the pure scientific state
classification and relationship in societies for the vulgar descriptive
classification of societies and states, which even up to now is still in use in
some universities under the name - a materialistic dialectical classification. The Plato-Aristotle-Hegel’s true dialectical classification of human
societies (states) is completely forgotten and not used.
Dialectical logic expresses the laws of motion in contemporary scientific
thought. The struggle against materialist dialectics on the contrary expresses
a distant past, and ... a spark of hope for an after-life.
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); or it can refer to a method of presentation of ideas and conclusions (discourse).
In a dialectic process describing the interaction and resolution between multiple paradigms
or ideologies, one putative solution establishes primacy over the others. The goal of a
dialectic process is to merge point and counterpoint (thesis and antithesis)
into a compromise or other state of agreement via conflict and tension
(synthesis). "Synthesis that evolves from the opposition between thesis
and antithesis." (Eisenstein, "The Dramaturgy of Film Form", 23).
Examples of dialectic process can be found in Plato's Republic.
In a dialogic process, various approaches coexist and are comparatively existential
and relativistic in their interaction. Here, each ideology can hold more
salience in particular circumstances. Changes can be made within these
ideologies if a strategy does not have the desired effect.
These two distinctions are observed in studies of personal identity, group
identity and national identity.
For example, studies of the "dialogical self" is a psychological concept which describes the mind's
ability to imagine the different positions of participants
in an internal dialogue,
in close connection with external dialogue. The "dialogical self" is
the central concept in the Dialogical Self Theory (DST), as created and
developed by the Dutch psychologist Hubert Hermans since the 1990s.
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 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. A prime example of the European tradition is "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. 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 which we have adopted here - “philosophy-becoming-the world.”
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
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 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 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" (The
Open Society and Its Enemies, 5th rev. ed., vol. 2 [Princeton: Princeton
University Press, 1966], p. 395).
However, the most realistic approach in understanding of modern meaning of the term-homonym dialectic should be considered reasonings of
the German philosopher Frederick Engels (1820-1895), made by him in his book “Dialectics of Nature” in 1883 where he tried to discover the essence of the Fundamental Laws of Dialectics.
In this book, Engels argues that Dialectics, or so-called objective dialectics, prevails throughout nature,
and what can be called subjective dialectics, or dialectical thinking, is only the reflection of the motion through
opposites which asserts itself everywhere in nature, and which by the continual conflict of the opposites and
their final passage into each other, or into higher forms, determines the life of nature including man as its integral part.
Engels could not finish his book as he died in 1895. 100 years later a new book - DIALECTICS of MATTER
was published with my name as its author. In this book, the ideas of dialectics have been further developed, thus proving that a positive development, or progress, it is impossible to stop. This objective law of being is the main proof of the meaning and essence of the dialectics itself.
For those, who is interested in the subject and wishes to learn more about modern understanding of laws of dialectical development of the life, the nature surrounding us and societies, they can find this description to the address, they can find the description at
in my book DIALECTICS of MATTER - Systemic approach to fundamentals of philosophy.
The book describes the foundations of the World surrounding us, reminding that Matter is the objective reality, the nature of which are different forms of motion, being itself its attributes. Hence, there is nothing in the universe except motion, all existing construction material is motion. Matter is woven with motion. Any particle of any substance is a regulated motion of micro motions; any event is a determinated motion of elements of the system of motions. It is possible to resolve mentally any phenomena, events or substance into different forms of motion as well as out of different forms of motion in conformity with certain Laws it is possible to synthesize any phenomena, event or substance of Matter. Therefore in order to know how it happens it is necessary to learn the dialectical Laws, that regulate different forms of Matter's motion
Until now most of philosophers associate the motion of Matter on the whole only with its motion in space and in time, mixing at the same time philosophical and physical aspects of these two principle categories. Owing to this the attention of most researchers is drawn mainly to technical problems of calculating and measuring distances in space and intervals in time, disregarding fundamental philosophical problems of the space and of the time. Generally speaking, the present-day ontological model of understanding the World, the Universe is constructed purely on the basis of only these two fundamental categories.
And partially it is true. It is impossible to imagine no one event, phenomenon or material formation out of space and out of time. However, a more deep reflection of the essence of Being, if to realize it on the basis of only these two global categories, brings us to the disappointing conclusion, that we have nothing more except a mechanical motion, i.e. spatial displacement of a material point (or a system of points) relatively some point of counting off. Therefore there are so much unclear in the existing picture of the World construction, due to what a lot of various present-day explanations of ontological principles and foundations exist. Owing exactly to this fact we have now about 400 theistic versions of the creation of the world, because the only atheistic theory could not present until nowadays a convincing enough plan or model of the universe, logically explaining all phenomena and events of life, surrounding us, and also giving clear answers to many most important for the human being questions.
Realizing the limits of the current scientifically-philosophical explanations of the construction of the world, some thinkers long ago started to doubt that only the two basis categories - space and time - are quite enough for the description of the on-going evolution of Matter and for the causality of this development. Thus, an ancient Greek philosopher Protagor in the Vth century BC announced inconstancy, variability as the main attribute of matter. The great Aristotle in the IVth century BC attributed a quality change, or transmuting of characteristics to one of the form of motion beside such a form of motion, as the spatial displacement. Even Phoma Akvinsky in the XIII century accepted the earth inconstancy as the main object in theology, the motion in quality as an essential not removing part of the universe. It is also well known the attitude of supporters of the emergent evolution, who dispute their point of view for the concept of development as the process of appearance of new higher characteristics.
The first and the most precise definition of obligatory study of the organization of the construction of Matter adding the third component - the motion in quality - was given by F. Engels in his book Dialectics of Nature. "...There are also many qualitative changes to be taken into account," he wrote, "whose dependence on quantitative change is by no means proven. ... Any motion includes mechanical motion, change of place of the largest or smallest portions of matter; to obtain knowledge of this mechanical motion is the first task of science (philosophy), but only its first task. But this mechanical motion does not exhaust motion as a whole. Motion is not merely a change of place [that is motion in space-time - I.K.], in fields higher than mechanics it is also change of quality." (my emphasis - I.K.).
Among opinions on this subject of our contemporaries one should note the definition of the Russian academician A. Oparin, who characterized "the process of evolution of matter as the way of genesis of new, not existing before qualities".
But what should we understand under the motion in quality?
According to an ordinary definition quality is a structurally undivided combination of indications, features, characteristics of some substance, field or a thing revealed in a system of relations with other substances, things or other similar material formations. Quality is the essential determination of substance, field or a thing, due to which they are given but not any other material formation and are different from other formations. Hence, each qualitative form of matter has its own definite composition of peculiarities and signs, which it reveals while relating with other forms of Matter. But as it is well known an external revealing of qualitative characteristics of an object in a presumed system of relations is its function. That is why with a change of qualitative characteristics of any material formation its functional characteristics are changing as well.
Hence, a change in quality or a motion in quality one should consider as motion in functional heterogeneity of substances realized through systemic organization of material forms.
But how to explain that namely quality and not any other philosophical category should be put in one row of global categories together with space and time? It comes fist of all from the nature of the category quality, which also, as the two others, is immanent to motion and owing to this can have its own separate ordinate. Quality is as relative as space and time and can go both to the deep and to the width of Matter, i.e. from 1/to?. Also, as in case of space and time, we cannot find in quality the smallest unit of motion, i.e. 1/? as well as to define the maximum value - infinity, eternity and the final goal of Evolution. But in all the three categories we can point out both the actual point and any point of counting off on their ordinates of motion.
At the same time the motion in quality is as tightly linked with the motion in time as the motion in space. Without motion in time it is impossible to imagine qualitative changes, it is the independent variable of the said interrelation. Therefore the motion in quality one should comprehend only as the motion in quality-time. All of this can be logically put into the formula of quantity of motion . If we put the meaning of quality increase instead of featureless physical mass, it would give us finally its sense completeness, at the same time cutting down all other further substitutions. This formula also defines the sense ratio between all the three fundamental forms of motion of Matter, which provide universal evolution. It is impossible neither to stop, nor to accelerate both the evolution and time. It is going at the rate (at least on Earth) defined by the sense ratio , deduced from the physical formula E = m x S2/2t2.
In order to prove the life truth of the new ontological approach, which is being offered, it is enough to remember the fact, that in the reality of the Earth planet the earth globe, according to the objective circumstances, has the unchanged limited surface. So, there is no space increase of biosphere for considerably long period of time (+S = 0). Because of that fact the above sense ratio became as - i.e. with ongoing of time the constant increase of quality takes place, and the whole evolution of the earth material totality during any period of time is going only due to the addition of its qualitative characteristics. But the present-day ontological plan or models, to which people refer until now, do not even have the sense formula of the development of the environment, that means they have no explanation of the cause, of reasons of its self-development, of its evolution.
Thus, the human cognition, which is based on the scientific philosophy, at present time has reached such a limit, when our ideas regarding the way of the material objectivity, which until now are grounded on two global categories - space and time, stopped to be sufficient and require a more expanded approach, taking into account all the latest achievements in this field of knowledge, but first of all its connection with the motion of matter along the ordinate of the third global category - quality.
So, in order to create the full and complete picture of the formation and evolution of the material World it is necessary to observe the motion of material forming in three equivalent philosophical categories: in space - time - quality.
As the quite new elements of the suggested theory it is necessary to consider the introduction into the philosophical categorical circulation never used until now notions: a functional cell and a functioning unit, which are being the elements of structural analyses put at the same time the basis for the systemic approach in the scientific philosophy in connection with improving its ontological model by adding the motion in quality into it.
A functional cell means a field of concentration in time-space of a certain number of functional needs of some level, which are being actualized with the help of strictly specific “functional algorithms” by an appropriate for the given cell functioning unit, that has corresponding functional capabilities (abilities). All things and formations in the surrounding world are in fact some functioning units or a group, or a system of functioning units, which fill in these or those functional cells of its strictly designated structure.
The analysis of forming and maintenance of functional capabilities of units of formations through organizational levels of the systemic cascade of construction and evolution of the material world allows to reveal peculiarities of its structural architectonics and its progress. There are all reasons to affirm, that the mysterious or even mystical “Creator” - it is only just the motion in quality, which with going of time consecutively designate on its ordinate functional cells of still higher and higher category, which the Nature has to fill in opportunely without fail with corresponding to them functioning units.
In order to have an ocular notion about that it is enough to lay out mentally, for example, the human organism to organs, organs to tissues, tissues to cells, cells to macromolecules and molecules, those in its turn to atoms, atoms to nucleuses and electrons, nucleuses to protons and neutrons, those to quarks and gluons, and so on into the depth of matter until the zero vibration of vacuum. However, until nowadays nobody can explain why all those operations take place continuously around us in the opposite direction, what is the driving and guiding force of this synthesizing process, or moreover, why the Nature does not stay as long as possible in the condition of being laid out to sub-elements of some level.
The joining of all stages of the evolutionary development of Matter - from the lowest forms of its existence till the most developed ones - into the three-dimensional continuum (space - time - quality) forms a kind of the new ontological model, reflecting the unified, lasting in time, integral picture of the World, allowing to trace the historic going of the development of Matter from early to late, from small to big, from simple to complex. This model gives the possibility in the only way to explain the causal condition of the process of evolution of lower forms into higher ones as well as the objective regularity of this process. After introduction into our practice of notions functional cells and functioning units as well as functional significance of all material formations on the ordinate of quality the science is provided with capability not only to answer to numerous questions when and where?, but also to why? Together with the new ontological model the atheistic version acquires at last not only other sound, but also its indisputable evidence, that allows to raise its logic over arguments of theistic versions.
Thus, the ideas of the new conception of ontological model and conclusions received due to that according to “the conformity principle” can be referred exactly to “strictly scientific philosophy”, become actual supplementation of really scientific philosophical knowledge on the way of a more objective ontological comprehension of our Being, of the dialectical laws of development of the human civilization and the Universe as a whole. This knowledge can be successfully used for the description of the realistic paradigm of Being, in explanations of the meaning of Life.
However, the broad use of this knowledge would be possible after when not only philosophical elite masters it for themselves, but when also a considerable part of society learns it. In the current conditions of not so high authority of philosophy among ordinary people this is not a less complicated task, but a very important one. Therefore only the scientific philosophy is in a position to increase according to Immanuel Kant “the thinking society”, only its spreading will help in protection and evolution of the human civilization.
The Humanity has now many common questions to discuss and vital problems to solve in order to survive. Until recently, it was not done properly. Therefore, it seems, the time came to revive the second ancient Greek tradition of Dialectical symposia based on WISDOM, REASON and MORALITY, making this tradition innovative, and to start to solve with its help pressing problems of mankind of our days. No other reasonable alternative exists for humanity. And before it is too late the World Philosophical Forum is engaged in this process trying to do its best depending on its might and opportunities.
WISDOM and MORALS should be returned to Humanity in a new, modern quality!
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