Friday, February 27, 2009

Dialectic

George W.F. Hegel, an early 19th century philosopher, made a name for himself by developing a system of inquiry into the nature of reality called dialectic. This system recognizes the tension that exists between two conflicting or interacting forces, elements, or ideas. Commonly we know this system by three words; thesis, antithesis, and synthesis.

Hegel’s philosophy regarding dialectic embraces the concept that a conflict of opposites is a struggle between actual and potential worlds. If this sounds familiar, it is, because as we try to evolve into better humans we are bound to face a battle between our actual and our potential. Successful navigation through this process is not a one over the other system; it is a collection of understood truths within ourselves that blends the actual and potential, creating the real.

How we get to the real is through thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. Without this three phase process we never really allow ourselves to enter our own personal reality. While dialectic is more commonly applied in discussion between two people, knowing that we frequently hold internal conversations regarding our own state, dialectic holds water internally as well. Think of it as the devil and angel on opposing shoulders and it will begin to make better sense.

Thesis is an intellectual proposition that we come up with regarding our present state. Considering that we are eternally seeking advancement in life, we frequently come up with ideas about how we can begin to act in a way that will facilitate advancement, which is essentially an internal proposition or our angel talking to us.

Antithesis is the negative reaction to the proposition, or a denial of our thesis. This is our internal voice that tells us we are thinking wishfully, that we don’t have the skill to accomplish our ideas, or our thoughts of past experiences saying that we are not qualified to achieve. This is the devil on our other shoulder that continually denies us our happiness by negating our ability to believe in our potential. This is the point where many good plans go to die because we convince ourselves that the antithesis is the voice of truth and fall back on what we have determined acceptable and comfortable.

The only way to overcome antithesis is through synthesis. Synthesis allows us to resolve inner conflict by reconciling the common truths between thesis and antithesis. This combination of ideas and influences allows us to create a new whole so that we can begin to form a new reality. This reality is formed through the understanding that our ideas, goals, and dreams are not as easy as we might believe them to be, nor are they as impossible as we convince ourselves they are.

Our internal conversations hold truths on both shoulders, never complete truths, but truths within the main ideas. Successful outcomes are dependant on our ability to separate our absolute truths and our perceived truths so that we can come to an understanding that will allow us to create the opportunity for new potential. Essentially in creating new dialectic we create progress through understanding reality and by creating a new thesis, antithesis, and synthesis within our lives.

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