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Hegel's Dialectic

One of the earliest forms of employing the dialectical method was the Dialogues of Greek philosopher Plato. in which the author sought to study truth through discussion in the form of questions and answers. The Greek philosopher, Aristotle, thought of dialectic as the search for the philosophic basis of science, and he frequently used the term as a synonym for the science of logic.

“Hegel's aim was to set forth a philosophical system so comprehensive that it would encompass the ideas of his predecessors and create a conceptual framework in terms of which both the past and future could be philosophically understood. Such an aim would require nothing short of a full account of reality itself. Thus, Hegel conceived the subject matter of philosophy to be reality as a whole. This reality, or the total developmental process of everything that is, he referred to as the Absolute, or Absolute Spirit. According to Hegel, the task of philosophy is to chart the development of Absolute Spirit. This involves (1) making clear the internal rational structure of the Absolute; (2) demonstrating the manner in which the Absolute manifests itself in nature and human history; and (3) explicating the teleological nature of the Absolute, that is, showing the end or purpose toward which the Absolute is directed.”

Hegel, following the ancient Greek philosopher Parmenides, argued that "what is rational is real and what is real is rational." This must be understood in terms of Hegel's further claim that the Absolute must ultimately be regarded as pure Thought, or Spirit, or Mind, in the process of self-development

Traditionally, this dimension of Hegel's thought has been analyzed in terms of the categories of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. Although Hegel tended to avoid these terms, they are helpful in understanding his concept of the dialectic. The thesis, then, might be an idea or a historical movement. Such an idea or movement contains within itself incompleteness that gives rise to opposition, or an antithesis, a conflicting idea or movement. As a result of the conflict a third point of view arises, a synthesis, which overcomes the conflict by reconciling at a higher level the truth contained in both the thesis and antithesis. This synthesis becomes a new thesis that generates another antithesis, giving rise to a new synthesis, and in such a fashion the process of intellectual or historical development is continually generated” (reference- Encarta Encyclopedia)

Hegel believed that the evolution of ideas occurs through a dialectical process-that is, a concept gives rise to its opposite, and as a result of this conflict, a new and third view, the synthesis, arises. This synthesis is at a higher level of truth than the first two views. Hegel's work is based on the idealistic concept of a universal mind that, through evolution, seeks to arrive at the highest level of self-awareness and freedom.

At Nuremberg Hegel worked on his 'Science of Logic', which was published between 1812 and 1816. The success of this work brought him three offers of professorships. He taught at Heidelberg for a time and then in 1818 went to the University of Berlin (reference- Compton’s Encyclopedia)


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