Dialectic resembles debate , but the concept excludes subjective elements such as emotional appeal and the modern pejorative sense of rhetoric. Dialectic is alternatively known as minor logic , as opposed to major logic or critique. Within Hegelianism , the word dialectic has the specialised meaning of a contradiction between ideas that serves as the determining factor in their relationship. Dialectic comprises three stages of development : first, the thesis , a statement of an idea; second, the antithesis , a reaction that contradicts or negates the thesis; and third, the synthesis , a statement through which the differences between the two points are resolved. Dialectical materialism , a theory or set of theories produced mainly by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels , adapted the Hegelian dialectic into arguments regarding traditional materialism. Dialectic tends to imply a process of evolution and so does not naturally fit within formal logic see Logic and dialectic. This process is particularly marked in Hegelian dialectic, and even more so in Marxist dialectic, which may rely on the evolution of ideas over longer time periods in the real world; dialectical logic attempts to address this. There are a variety of meanings of dialectic or dialectics within Western philosophy. The outcome of such a dialectic might be the refutation of a relevant proposition, or of a synthesis, or a combination of the opposing assertions, or a qualitative improvement of the dialogue. Moreover, the term "dialectic" owes much of its prestige to its role in the philosophies of Socrates and Plato , in the Greek Classical period 5th to 4th centuries BCE. Aristotle said that it was the pre-Socratic philosopher Zeno of Elea who invented dialectic, of which the dialogues of Plato are the examples of the Socratic dialectical method. According to Kant , however, the ancient Greeks used the word "dialectic" to signify the logic of false appearance or semblance. To the Ancients, "it was nothing but the logic of illusion. It was a sophistic art of giving to one's ignorance, indeed even to one's intentional tricks, the outward appearance of truth, by imitating the thorough, accurate method which logic always requires, and by using its topic as a cloak for every empty assertion. The Socratic dialogues are a particular form of dialectic known as the method of elenchus literally, "refutation, scrutiny" [7] whereby a series of questions clarifies a more precise statement of a vague belief, logical consequences of that statement are explored, and a contradiction is discovered. The method is largely destructive, in that false belief is exposed [8] and only constructive in that this exposure may lead to further search for truth. The detection of error does not amount to a proof of the antithesis; for example, a contradiction in the consequences of a definition of piety does not provide a correct definition. The principal aim of Socratic activity may be to improve the soul of the interlocutors, by freeing them from unrecognized errors; or indeed, by teaching them the spirit of inquiry. In common cases, Socrates used enthymemes as the foundation of his argument. For example, in the Euthyphro , Socrates asks Euthyphro to provide a definition of piety. Euthyphro replies that the pious is that which is loved by the gods. But, Socrates also has Euthyphro agreeing that the gods are quarrelsome and their quarrels, like human quarrels, concern objects of love or hatred. Therefore, Socrates reasons, at least one thing exists that certain gods love but other gods hate. Again, Euthyphro agrees. Socrates concludes that if Euthyphro's definition of piety is acceptable, then there must exist at least one thing that is both pious and impious as it is both loved and hated by the gods —which Euthyphro admits is absurd. Thus, Euthyphro is brought to a realization by this dialectical method that his definition of piety is not sufficiently meaningful. Because Socrates' ultimate goal was to reach true knowledge, he was even willing to change his own views in order to arrive at the truth. The fundamental goal of dialectic, in this instance, was to establish a precise definition of the subject in this case, rhetoric and with the use of argumentation and questioning, make the subject even more precise. In the Gorgias, Socrates reaches the truth by asking a series of questions and in return, receiving short, clear answers. There is another interpretation of dialectic, suggested in The Republic , as a procedure that is both discursive and intuitive. The philosopher is consequently a "dialectician". It slowly embraces the multiplicity in unity. Simon Blackburn writes that the dialectic in this sense is used to understand "the total process of enlightenment, whereby the philosopher is educated so as to achieve knowledge of the supreme good, the Form of the Good". Aristotle stresses that rhetoric is closely related to dialectic. He offers several formulas to describe this affinity between the two disciplines: first of all, rhetoric is said to be a "counterpart" antistrophos to dialectic Rhet. In saying that rhetoric is a counterpart to dialectic, Aristotle obviously alludes to Plato's Gorgias bff. Since, in this passage, Plato uses the word 'antistrophos' to designate an analogy, it is likely that Aristotle wants to express a kind of analogy too: what dialectic is for the private or academic practice of attacking and maintaining an argument, rhetoric is for the public practice of defending oneself or accusing an opponent. The analogy to dialectic has important implications for the status of rhetoric. Logic, which could be considered to include dialectic, was one of the three liberal arts taught in medieval universities as part of the trivium ; the other elements were rhetoric and grammar.

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