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3. Dialectic

Dialectic is another Greek word and goes back 2,500 years. Over that time, it has come to mean a few different things. Dialectic is a form of argument with three parts:

A thesis, or proposition,
An antithesis, or counter-proposition, and
a conclusion, which in many cases is a synthesis, or a kind of blending of the thesis and antithesis.

Socrates (the man who is mortal, but also one of humanity's earliest and greatest philosophers) would set up a proposition, an idea, and then set counter-propositions against it. The idea was to find contradictions and ultimately to find the most basic principles of all – those basic ideas that it is not possible to oppose or contradict. These are called first principles, but humans being creative, there is no universal agreement on what these "first principles" are. So Socratic dialectic did not end up with a blend of two ideas, but rather a way of either dismissing one idea as a candidate for an ultimate truth or, indeed, a way of identifying an idea that might be an ultimate truth.

Since Socrates, the word dialectic has come to focus more on the types of argument that do produce a synthesis or blend.

Karl Marx famously made a special use of dialectic in applying this form of logical argument to historical analysis. In the mid-1800s, Marx said that feudal economics was being contradicted by capitalist industrialism, and predicted that these two opposing systems would synthesize or blend into socialism.

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