is a philosopher
or similar thinker who views the world in terms of complementary opposites and the interactions thereof. The central feature of dialectic
is the concept of 'thesis, antithesis, synthesis,' meaning that when an idea or phenomena (thesis) arises, it carries within itself the seed of its opposite (antithesis), and the juxtaposition of these polarities leads to a synthesis
which is somehow 'beyond' the scope of either polarity alone. Of course, when this happens, the synthesis is now itself a new thesis, and the entire process can begin again. Dialecticians sometimes refer to this as 'the negation of the negation,' meaning that as soon as the contradiction between thesis and antithesis is resolved by synthesis, the fact that a new thesis has emerged gives rise in turn to a new antithesis and therefore another contradiction. This process of successive negation is not seen as self-defeating, however, for it is progressive
, and each new synthesis is seen as an improvement (or at least a refinement) of the premises from which it was derived.
Historically, dialecticians and dialectical thought have been most prevelant under Marxist regimes, as the philosophical aspects of Marxism are based on a modification of Hegelian dialectic. However, individuals widely recognized as dialecticians exist outside of Marxism. Chief amongst these is Nagarjuna, an early Buddhist scholar whose dialgoues attempt to show the absurdity of adhereing to any metaphysical position by using nagative dialectics to undermine the arguments of his opponents.
List of dialecticians
- Kung-sun Lung (third or fourth centuries BC)