By Virginia Vallee
If the fate of the mankind were to hang on one philosophical term, it would be the word ‘dialectic’. This is because the dialectic a thinker endorses is the key to the inner rooms of his hidden intensions and true values. From this point of view, the safety and sanity of the world depends on which dialectical system a society underwrites.
There is no denying the importance of the term dialectic but scholarship in this area is fraught with confusion. For one thing, this issue is rarely discussed in polite conversation. Even in the academic world the subject is often taboo. Vast numbers of people appear to be unaware of the role dialectic plays in shaping the fortunes of our families and how their lives are influenced by various dialectical movements.
Some few are in on the secret. An elite pool of super thinkers know the power of the dialectic. These worthies can discuss dialectical differences among Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Hegel, Marx, Sorel, Sartre and relate past theories to modern trends. To this handful, it is no secret that the dialectic is the hinge on which the philosophical enterprise swings.
However, the number of those who genuinely appreciate the significance of dialectical theory is small. As we mentally play with nuclear weapons and flirt with doom, most of us muddle class Americans are blissfully ignorant of the importance The Dialectic exerts on our lives. Even worse, we are critically unaware of how much our future rides on the choice we make as to which dialectical style we lend our support.
Isn’t this intriguing? The most important happening of our day is a secret known only to a few. It stays that way because it is impolite to bring up the subject. Even though our society is technically advanced, most of us stubbornly refuse to examine the motor we use to drive our society? What is the answer to this mystery?
After stewing over dialectical conundrums for years, I see two solutions, one simple and one complex. The simple solution is to continue as we are and drive by “the seat of our pants”. Perhaps our native commonsense and good will holds enough power to bring civil discourse into dominance in the land.
We, the moderate middle, have the power, by sheer numbers, to subdue the nefarious force of negative dialectics and demand that cultivated logical intuition and fair play become the dominating method of political discourse. If we keep our feet on the ground, our head on our shoulders, and our heart in the right place we could squeeze out enough totalitarian propensities of social manipulators to keep the crazies from spoiling the good life. This is a simple solution.
However, this simple solution does not always work. If the millions of tortured victims of the old Soviet Dialectic could speak, they would say it takes more than workaday commonsense to stand against the mesmeration of sophistic imperial dialectic once it penetrates the engines of power. Adept at thought management, Clever Imperial masterminds can gain control behind the backs of the many and grab the wheel. If the tortured victims of despotic dialectics could speak, they would tell us that there is an ever present danger, even in societies that claim to be free.
When intuition and commonsense are not enough to meet the challenge, we must have the courage to enter the realm of critical philosophy and intellectually study the matter. This brings us to my second answer, the complex solution. If we are to introduce a measure of intelligent control over powerful despotic dialectical trends, then we must intellectually study the situation and make a conscious choice about which dialectic we prefer. This takes time and effort.
To gain a notion of the power of the term dialectic, we need to go back in time and learn how the idea has been used in the past. This means opening history books and at least glance at the role of the dialectic in history. If we do this, we will find that the power of the dialectic comes not only from its present role in directing our lives but also from the role it has played in years gone by.
In the following discourse, I use the English translations done by reputable scholars. This method is accurate enough for an introductory overview. [See Translation Essay]