Thursday, April 3, 2008

Tapping Philosophy: Dialectic

Hey everyone,

Tapping Philosophy will be on Thursday this week at its regular time at 8:00 at Yeats' Pub. Meet me in Connelly at 7:30 if you need a ride. This one's for you Dr. Prosch. I don't have any lengthy quotes this time.

Tapping Philosophy: The Dialectic

Dialectical thinking is often characterized as a movement from a logical hypothesis, to its contradictory counterpart, to a synthesized principle (thesis, antithesis, synthesis). Dialectical thinking has been around since ancient Greece, and is implemented by thinkers including Hegel, Marx, and Nagarjuna. My concern is with the dialectic's more (relatively) contemporary manifestations, although other crusty old thinkers are certainly open for discussion.

What has been the historical impact of the practice of dialectical thinking? What do Hegel's dialectic and Marx's dialectic share, and where do they differ? Is there a space in the historical determinism of dialectical thinking for the subject as constituted by free will? Is it possible to have dialectical thinking without creating a philosophical system, or is the gesture of dialectic always a constructivist gesture?

We could also examine the relationship between dialectic and deconstruction. Dialectic seems to proceed towards a notion of the absolute, in a process of actualization, while deconstruction proceeds by opening up new possibilities of understanding a given text in terms of an implied text, which is the condition of possibility for all text. What separates this notion of the implied text from a philosophical absolute? Is deconstruction simply an anti-teleological way of thinking dialectically and is such an understanding of dialectical thinking even intelligible?

The question of the dialectic's intelligibility in general could also be an investigative concern. Do the basic premises of the dialectic simply flout the law of non- contradiction? Is the Hegelian synthesis ultimately going to provide us with claims that are true in the sense of being verifiable? Can an idealistically synthetic claim serve as that which grounds the sciences? Is Hegelian dialectic simply "reason gone mad" in search of an unconditioned principle, as Kant might say?

So is dialectical thinking still useful or relevant today, if we assume its intelligibility? Many of those critical of narratives that posit an unconditioned philosophical absolute might give an emphatic "no," claiming that history has no underlying theme or spirit, and abandon the dialectic as modernist garbage. Are there ways of thinking dialectically that avoid the dangers of thinking absolutely, or is the dialectic a lost cause?

I look forward to seeing everyone there.

Love and Peace,
Francis Prior
Villanova Philosophy Club Website
Villanova Phi Sigma Tau Minutes:

No comments: