dialectic (dĪəlĕkˈtĭk) [key] [Gr., = art of conversation], in philosophy, term originally applied to the method of philosophizing by means of question and answer employed by certain ancient philosophers, notably Socrates. For Plato the term came to apply more strictly to logical method and meant the reduction of what is multiple in our experience of phenomena to the unity of systematically organized concepts or ideas. Immanuel Kant gave the name "Transcendental Dialectic" (the title of one section of his Critique of Pure Reason ) to his endeavor to expose the illusion of judgments that attempt to transcend the limits of experience. G. W. F. Hegel applied the term dialectic to the logical method of his philosophy, which proceeds from thesis through antithesis to synthesis. Hegel's method was appropriated by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in their philosophy of dialectical materialism.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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