Saturday, April 5, 2008

Tapping Philosophy: Dialectic Summary

Dialectic: Summary
• First we attempted to differentiate between the different varieties of dialectic, namely the ideally driven Hegelian dialectic, and the practically driven Marxist dialectic.

• Both philosophers, because they are using the dialectical method depend on notions of the absolute in order to ground their inquiry. Also, for both philosophers this absolute is self-consciousness, deriving from the project of German Idealism.
o However, we discussed how Hegel’s dialectical absolute was the self-consciousness of the divine being that creates the world so that it is able to be ultimately conscious of the world as a part of itself.
o Marx’s dialectic is different due to its basis in the material practice of human beings. As a result, the absolute for Marx is the actualized self-consciousness of humanity as a socialized species being, in the practice of communism. Thus, Marxist dialectical materialism and praxis is rooted in humanism, as opposed to transcendental idealism.

• We briefly addressed the relationship between deconstruction and dialectic, only to say that there is a sort of binary opposition operative in both of these ways of thinking, and that while the dialectic leads to something, deconstruction works from a deferred instability, and ultimately fails on its own terms in its attempts to avoid binary thought.

• Finally we addressed the question of whether dialectical thought was still viable today. Certainly versions of dialectical thought were complete failures, such as Fukuyama’s interpretation of liberal democracy and capitalism as the end of history. Also the appropriation of dialectical thinking by the Stalinist regime could be considered a failure of a much more drastic variety. However, most people were in support of the notion that dialectical thinking could be used for progressive ends, although there were very few people in support of Hegelian abstract dialectic, even though it’s a useful object of study when engaging in thinking about thinking.

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