Dialectic or dialectics (Greek: διαλεκτική, dialektikḗ), also known as the dialectical method, is a discourse between two or more people holding different points of view about a subject but wishing to establish the truth through reasoned arguments. In philosophy, dialectic or dialectical method implied a methodology used for examining and cognition of philosophical objects. Dialectical methods demands the users to examine the objects in relation to other objects and to the whole system, and examine the objects within a dynamic, evolutionary environment. Dialectical method is usually contrasted with metaphysical method, which examine the objects in a separated, isolated and static environment. Dialectical method has three main forms corresponding to three developmental stages. Naive dialectic, emerging in ancient history, mainly relied on intuition and personal experience with limited supporting scientific evidences. Idealistic dialectic, a product of classic German idealism and reaching its zenith in the works of Hegel, was the first systematic form of dialectical method. Materialistic dialectics, built mainly by Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and Vladimir Lenin, adapted the Hegelian dialectic into traditional materialism. The term dialectic is not synonymous with the term debate. While in theory debaters are not necessarily emotionally invested in their point of view, in practice debaters frequently display an emotional commitment that may cloud rational judgment. Debates are won through a combination of persuading the opponent, proving one’s argument correct, and proving the opponent’s argument incorrect. Debates do not necessarily require promptly identifying a clear winner or loser; however, clear winners are frequently determined by a judge, a jury or group consensus. The term dialectics is also not synonymous with the term rhetoric, a method or art of discourse that seeks to persuade, inform, or motivate an audience. Concepts like “logos” or rational appeal, “pathos” or emotional appeal, and “ethos” or ethical appeal, are intentionally used by rhetoricians to persuade an audience. Socrates favoured truth as the highest value, proposing that it could be discovered through reason and logic in discussion: ergo, dialectic. Socrates valued rationality (appealing to logic, not emotion) as the proper means for persuasion, the discovery of truth, and the determinant for one’s actions. To Socrates, truth, not aretē (moral virtue), was the greater good, and each person should, above all else, seek truth to guide one’s life. Therefore, Socrates opposed the Sophists and their teaching of rhetoric as art and as emotional oratory requiring neither logic nor proof. Different forms of dialectical reasoning have emerged throughout history from the Indosphere (Greater India) and the West (Europe). These forms include the Socratic method, Hindu, Buddhist, Medieval, Hegelian, Marxist, Talmudic, and Neo-orthodoxy dialectics.” ref

I don’t really follow the Socratic method, as I feel it is limited for me, it mainly is a dialectical only approach, seeking truth without persuasion. Like most dialectical approaches, It is a form of cooperative dialogue to stimulate critical thinking and to draw out ideas and underlying presumptions.
Religions have undialectical rhetoric = non-truth persuasion
I use a kind of Dialectical Rhetoric = truth persuasion (motivational teaching)
Aristotelian Rhetoric as Proof-Centered and Pertinent
“Aristotle joins Plato in criticizing contemporary manuals of rhetoric. But how does he manage to distinguish his own project from the criticized manuals? The general idea seems to be this: Previous theorists of rhetoric gave most of their attention to methods outside the subject; they taught how to slander, how to arouse emotions in the audience, or how to distract the attention of the hearers from the subject. This style of rhetoric promotes a situation in which juries and assemblies no longer form rational judgments about the given issues, but surrender to the litigants. Aristotelian rhetoric is different in this respect: it is centered on the rhetorical kind of proof, the enthymeme (see below §6), which is called the most important means of persuasion. Since people are most strongly convinced when they suppose that something has been proven (Rhet. I.1, 1355a5f.), there is no need for the orator to confuse or distract the audience by the use of emotional appeals, etc. In Aristotle’s view, an orator will be even more successful when he just picks up the convincing aspects of a given issue, thereby using commonly-held opinions as premises. Since people have a natural disposition for the true (Rhet. I.1, 1355a15f.) and every man has some contribution to make to the truth (Eudemian Ethics I.6, 1216b31,) there is no unbridgeable gap between the commonly-held opinions and what is true. This alleged affinity between the true and the persuasive justifies Aristotle’s project of a rhetoric that essentially relies on the persuasiveness of pertinent argumentation, and it is just this argumentative character of Aristotelian rhetoric that explains the close affinity between rhetoric and dialectic. Aristotle’s point of view: Even those who just try to establish what is just and true need the help of rhetoric when they are faced with a public audience. Aristotle tells us that it is impossible to teach such an audience, even if the speaker had the most exact knowledge of the subject. Obviously, he thinks that the audience of a public speech consists of ordinary people who are not able to follow an exact proof based on the principles of a science. Further, such an audience can easily be distracted by factors that do not pertain to the subject at all; sometimes they are receptive to flattery or just try to increase their own advantage. And this situation becomes even worse if the constitution, the laws, and the rhetorical habits in a city are bad. Finally, most of the topics that are usually discussed in public speeches do not allow of exact knowledge, but leave room for doubt; especially in such cases, it is important that the speaker seems to be a credible person and that the audience is in a sympathetic mood. For all those reasons, affecting the decisions of juries and assemblies is a matter of persuasiveness, not of knowledge. It is true that some people manage to be persuasive either at random or by habit, but it is rhetoric that gives us a method to discover all means of persuasion on any topic whatsoever.”ref

Religion vs. Science
Don’t Confuse Beliefs

Science is a system where justified true beliefs are derived from objective methodologies such as the scientific method and religion is a system of unjustified beliefs based on subjective faith or revelation. We must not confuse beliefs, religion is beliefs built from myths devoid of corroborating evidence. Science uses corroborating evidence to establish what is true and that offers something worthy to believe. Modern Science is not a thing, it’s a group of different specialties aiming to test (generally with the scientific method) and try to figure out the world as it presents itself in reality, which is devoid of supernatural magic.

We must not confuse beliefs, religion is beliefs from myths devoid of corroborating evidence or reason. Whereas, science uses as well as demands corroborating evidence and reason to establish what is true and that offers something worthy to believe in. Thus, we have a belief without valid and reliable warrant or justification, so it’s an issue involving religion believers violating the ethics of belief. Do you believe in god? What is a god? When someone asks me if I believe in gods I think, are you asking me if magic exists? Well my answer as an ignostic atheist is, first prove the actuality of simple magic before you try to ask anyone about the possibility of some supreme magic, i.e. the claims of gods. So, let’s recap, likely no religion follower is honestly going to stop belief because of lack of evidence or reason, or they would have already done so. Just as no science follower is honestly going to start believing something if it has a lack of evidence or reason. Remember, we honest thinkers need to adhere to beliefs in an ethical way, like exhibit good belief etiquette: reasoned belief-acquisitions, good belief-maintenance, and honest belief relinquishment. I can’t stand when people try to say that atheism and religion use faith. We atheists, have archaeology that proves religion is a lie, so no faith is needed. Moreover, We atheists, have science which shows that every mystery has ever turned out to be nature and not magic. There is nothing that the only explanation is magic or supernatural anything, so for religion it has no evidence at all. All religion has is faith without any proof and do not try to say that atheism is anything like that. Promoting religion as real is mentally harmful to a flourishing humanity. To me, promoting religion as real is too often promote a toxic mental substance that can divide a person from who they are shaming them for being human. In addition, religion is a toxic mental substance that can divide a person from real history, real science or real morality to pseudohistory, pseudoscience and pseudomorality. Moreover, religion is a toxic mental substance that can divide a person from rational thought, critical thinking, or logic. Likewise, religion is a toxic mental substance that can divide a person from justice, universal ethics, equality, and liberty. Yes, religion is a toxic mental substance that can divide a person from loved ones, and religion is a toxic mental substance that can divide a person from humanity. Therefore, to me, promoting religion as real is too often promote a toxic mental substance that should be rejected as not only false but harmful as well even if you believe it has some redeeming quality. To me, promoting religion as real is mentally harmful to a flourishing humanity. Religion may have once seemed great when all you had or needed was to believe. Science now seems great when we have facts and need to actually know. I proudly reject all gods and religions. It should be understood, that religion as well as its love of gods, must be seen for what they are, which beyond their pomp and circumstance are exposed as little more than indoctrinated cultural products, the conspiracy theories of reality no one should believe today in our world of science. Simply, religion and its gods are the leftovers of an ignorant age trying to explain and control a fearful world which seems now favored by the uninformed, misinformed, emotional/physical/social support seekers and conmen. To me, a rational mind values humanity and rejects religion and gods as real until valid and reliable reason and evidence that passes scientific consensus that what is being offered is as it is claimed, so no belief without proof. A truly rational mind sees the need for humanity, as they too live in the world and see themselves as they actually are an alone body in the world seeking comfort and safety. Thus, see the value of everyone around them as they too are the same and therefore rationally as well a humanistically we should work for this humanity we are part of and can either dwell in or help its flourishing as we are all in the hands of each other. You are Free to think as you like but REALITY is unchanged. While you personally may react, or think differently about our shared reality (the natural world devoid of magic anything), We can play with how we use it but there is still only one communal reality (a natural non-supernatural one), which we all share like it or not and you can’t justifiably claim there is a different reality. This is valid as the only one of warrant is the non-mystical natural world around us all, existing in or caused by nature; not made or caused by superstitions like gods or other monsters to many sill fear irrationally.

Who knows what a “god-claim” really is?
Who knows a god rather they simply believe in a god claim they think they know on faith as if that is proof of anything but feelings. Be honest, who knows a what a god claim really is outside am empty claim, as it’s all make believe. I mean come on, you don’t know a god anything as you only remember the myths don’t you or you make up your own that are no better right? All I have ever hear are evidence lacking claims or misiturpraded nature claimed as being god or evidence of god but not one god claim ever is any more true than any others as they are all reality confused claims, yes most are quite domb outright as not once has magic ever been proven, not even in small ways. So claims of super magic gods are thus even more ridiculous claims to believe right? I know what all god claims are, which is they are flawed conspiracy theories of reality.

You will always fail to prove a specific god?
Religion is big on claims but small of real reasoning. Take the Abrahamic faiths they propose a very specific well-defined god but are fond of a very unspecified god of naturalistic inferred theistic creationism or intelligent design. In other words when pressed to demonstrate god in the world or as the reason for the big bang they can only at best try and surmise a magical power or unknown and unknowable possible something as the “creator” but how does that do a thing to prove any specific anything. So even if we were to concede for the sake of argument that some god phantom menace started things they still have to show it’s their very specific claimed god. But the issues don’t stop there, as they also would have to prove or give warrant as well as justification for every attribute and claimed character trait attached to their specific god using only nature arguments, not some holy book or otherworldly revelation. The truth is for all the appeals to nature for god they do, not one is valid in any way to confirm that their god and only their god is true, they must always leave the facts and return to faith. Thus they always will fail to show any naturalistic reasons for believing their special needs god. What they show instead is a belief not in the god of some myth or scriptures but belief in a projected somethingism god attributed to nature which is indistinguishable from a nothingism godless reality attributed by nature.

Do Beliefs Need justification?

Yes, it all requires a justification and if you think otherwise you should explain why but then you are still trying to employ a justification to challenge justification. So, I still say yes it all needs a justification and I know everything is reducible to feeling the substation of existence. I feel my body and thus I can start my justificationism standard right there and then build all logic inferences from that justified point and I don’t know a more core presupposition to start from. A presupposition is a core thinking stream that like how a tree of beliefs always has a set of assumed sets of presuppositions or a presupposition is relatively a thing/thinking assumed beforehand at the beginning of a line of thinking point, belief projection, argument or course of action. And that as well as everything needs justification to be concluded as reasonable. Sure, you can believe all kinds of things with no justification at all but we can’t claim them as true, nor wish others to actually agree unless something is somehow and or in some way justified. When is something true that has no justification? If you still think so then offer an example, you know a justification. Sure, there can be many things that may be true but actually receiving rational agreement that they are intact true needs justification. Remembering my past, it all goes back to such troubles, which were so dark as was my mind, it was like being dead while alive. I had made my life unclean with excessive or even exclusive concern, for myself, my own advantage, and relatively my own pleasure regardless of the welfare of others or with little concern for them. Limited in caring I looked only for me, me, me getting what I could take from life not what I could give and was almost drowning in selfishness and pain. Trying to have fun no matter the cost. I was left feeling worthless. I needed something for my insides felt empty. I was like a screen smeared with darkness of selfness. My hearts tongueless words sang of my despair. My dark mind felt lost in a crowd. I needed to do something. It is as if my log lost empathy start to feel a call. Yes, I started to see past the mountain of me that strong and selfish tree. Something is changing. It’s as if my inner being has a mind of its own or it cries out for change. Bright life seems at hand by caring, to feel the connection not just with others but indeed a new and welcoming empathetic new me. I now seek that sweet day of caring connection and stop this night only selfishness bent on care of only me. My frozen shell shatters. It is hard to trust, but I must and seek others to help. I cried out, and listened to my need for change for the first time! I want to be more than my dark mind and self-limited life. I want to be my bright emotional wellbeing! Then joy spring forth in my every fiber mind and inner being. It’s as if I am on fire. Hope touch like a flame is was a soft breath that sets me free. I feel it, my bright inner thinking of love and care I now live in me adding to the freedom in the world. I may still have at times have a dark mind but have now created a bright life full of concern for the welfare of myself and others. I wish you to a bright life especially if you to suffer with a dark mind. However, when I was young I raged at the world, for abuse I received from my religious parents. Then I developed some, so I held my parents accountable, raging at them and the world; as so much was out there, like them. Then I fully developed and became an atheist, thus I started to see my parents were two different versions of christofascism (christian and fascism), as well as I saw that relatively all religions in some way are part of religiofascism (religion and fascism) especially how they often force hereditary religion of children by cursive force or oppression and I became an antireligionist atheist raging against religion as well as the lies of gods.

Religion and Science are Completely Different Epistemologies

Some try to say that science and religion ear not that different saying they both use faith. This is utter nonsense, not only does science not use faith as a method for anything, religion and science are completely different epistemologies. Scientists reason differently than most nonscientists because of a standardized focus on scientific based reasoning and scientific epistemology.
A basic outline of scientific epistemology:
Science: Hypotheses (Rationalism/Deductive, Inductive, or Abductive Reasoning etc.) + Testing (Empiricism/Systematic Observation) – Checking for errors (Skepticism/Fallibilism) + Interpret/Draw a Conclusion (Rationalism/Deductive, Inductive, or Abductive Reasoning etc.) *if valid* = Scientific Laws (describes observed phenomena) or Scientific Theory (substantiated and repeatedly tested explanation of phenomena) = Justified True Belief = Scientific Knowledge = Epistemic Certainty supportive of correctability
*being epistemic certainty is believing a truth has the highest epistemic status, often with warranted psychological certainty but it may not, neither is it a requirement*
A basic outline of religious epistemology:
Religion: Culture/Testimony/ Myths/Scriptures/Revelation/Prophecies (arbitrary and unjustified way of coming to ideas or Idealism) + Mysticism, Supernaturalism, Spirtualism, or Theology (arbitrary and unjustified to form explanations, Idealism or misuse of Rationalism; often self-justified or even believe they are beyond a need for justification) – Denial of Relevant Alternatives and Basis (Fideism/Dogmatic Foundationalism/Pseudo-Skepticism/Anti-Rationalism/Anti-Empiricism or Anti-Skepticism) + Superstition, Falsehood, Misconception, Fantasy, or Delusion (unsubstantiated ideas and unjustified way of coming to ideas or Idealism) = Religion Reality Theory = Unjustified Untrue Faith Belief = Religion Faith or Beliefs as Knowledge = Unwarranted Psychological Certainty supportive of incorrectability
*being psychologically certain believing a truth does not mean that something is not actually false*

The Earth is approximately 4.6 billion years old, an estimate is that a terrestrial biosphere emerged as early as 4.1 billion years ago. Ref The earliest evidences for life on Earth is 3.7 billion years old from Greenland and 3.48 billion years old from Australia. Ref The earliest evidences for sexual reproduction first appears 1200 million years ago and may have increased the rate of evolution and kick started or probably contributed to the evolution of sexual dimorphism (two sexes), where organisms within a species adopted different strategies of parental investment and what would later involve a reliance on caregiver compassion. Most plants unlike most animals are hermaphroditic (both male and female sexes) but approximately 6% of plants have separate males and females or have what amounts to serial sexual dimorphism. Most animals unlike plants are not hermaphroditic but approximately 5% are as well as some are sequential hermaphrodites in which the individual is born as one sex, but can later change into the opposite sex. Ref Ref Ref

Forget Survival of the Fittest: It Is Kindness That Counts

Moreover, we may never completely know when and why caregiver compassion in general or familial compassion specifically. However, the fossil record can, in principle, provide a glimpse and what we see is altruism and even levels of compassion are seen in a variety of species and Kin Selection (genetic), Familial (upbringing) or Familiars (chance) Compassion are the primary evolutionary mechanism. Ref The fossil record shows the arthropod “Kunmingella douvillei” 515 million years ago, arthropod “Waptia fieldensis” 508 million years ago, and arthropod “Ostracods” 450 million years ago to exhibit changes that played a key role in the early evolution of parental care. Ref 1.9 million years ago Homo habilis, the first of our genus Homo who appeared, with modest expansion of a language part of the brain and 1.8 million years ago Homo erectus appeared and had a larger expansion of brain beginning to be regulated as an emotion integrated with rational thought and seem to demonstrate forms of compassion such as caring of sick which represents an extensive compassionate investment. By 500,000 years ago Homo heidelbergensis developed language skills and intelligence and what seems to have been upward march in the commitments to the welfare of others. And evidence from 120,000 years ago demonstrates modern humans where involved in compassion which was extended to strangers, animals, objects and abstract concepts. Thus we cannot think of survival of the fittest without realizing that the aspects of altruism, compassion, empathy, and kindness are part of what assists in that survival. Ref Ref

In general, all social animals (which includes humans and their evolutionary ancestors) have had to modify or restrain their behaviors for group living which involves iinteractinghighly with other animals, usually of their own species. Social animals are cooperative animals adding to their evolutionary fitness in this solidarity and can roughly be said to exhibit one of more of these behaviors: cooperative sustenance, cooperative upbringing, cooperative generational living, cooperative defense, and cooperative learning. Ref

Kindness is in our genes, how desire to do good deeds is hard-wired into us by evolution

The Evolutionary Biology of Altruism, Compassion, cooperation, and community are key to our survival 

What Price Kindness: Exposing the life and work of a visionary and troubled scientist opens a window onto the evolution of altruism. 

The Evolution of Empathy by Frans de Waal We tend to think of empathy as a uniquely human trait. But it’s something apes and other animals demonstrate as well, says primatologist Frans de Waal. He shows how our evolutionary history suggests a deep-rooted propensity for feeling the emotions of others. Ref

Compassion: An Evolutionary Analysis: What is compassion? And how did it evolve? In this review, we integrate three evolutionary arguments that converge on the hypothesis that compassion evolved as a distinct affective experience whose primary function is to facilitate cooperation and protection of the weak and those who suffer. Our empirical review reveals compassion to have distinct appraisal processes attuned to undeserved suffering, distinct signaling behavior related to caregiving patterns of touch, posture, and vocalization, and a phenomenological experience and physiological response that orients the individual to social approach. This response profile of compassion differs from those of distress, sadness, and love, suggesting that compassion is indeed a distinct emotion. We conclude by considering how compassion shapes moral judgment and action, how it varies across different cultures, and how it may engage specific patterns of neural activation, as well as emerging directions of research.  Ref Human inclinations are not primarily selfish: kindness and altruism have been evolutionarily valued in mates, and even the youngest children often try to be helpful. Ref

Endangered Bonobos Reveal Evolution of Human Kindness: Experiments show the great apes share with strangers and empathize. 

The Homeless Scientist Who Tried to Prove Selflessness Doesn’t Exist. 

Does evolution explain human nature.

 A.T.H.E.I.S.T.= Against Theological Heresy Endangering Intelligent Sensible Thinking

I will now offer helpful but simplistic definitions of why a position of atheism could be chosen it is of course just an over generalization but it will highlight the main idea though it always will be more substantive in reality and who is applying it.

Here is my list of non-theistic and theistic assumptions


  1. Weakest implicit Nontheistic/Atheism “negative” / “weak” / “soft” nonbelief similar to Non-Theism
  2. Strong implicit Atheism “negative” / “weak” / “soft” nonbelief similar to Apatheist Atheism.
  3. Weak Explicit Atheism “negative” / “weak” / “soft” atheists similar to Agnostic Atheism.
  4. Strong Explicit Atheism “negative” / “weak” / “soft” atheists similar to Ignostic Atheism.
  5. Strongest Explicit Atheism “positive” / “strong” / “hard” atheists similar to Antitheist Atheism.


  1. Weakest implicit Theistic thinking/Theism “negative” / “weak” / “soft” belief similar to Vague Theism
  2. Weak implicit Theism “negative” / “weak” / “soft” belief similar to apatheist theists.
  3. Weak Explicit Theism “negative” / “weak” / “soft” theists similar to agnostic theism.
  4. Strong Explicit Theism “positive” / “strong” / “hard” theists similar to standard theism.
  5. Strongest Explicit Theism “positive” / “strong” / “hard” theists similar to gnostic theism.

But Why do I Hate Religion?
I was asked why I openly and publicly am so passionate in my hate of religion. further asking what specifically in your life contributed to this outcome.
I hate harm, oppression, bigotry, and love equality, self-ownership, self-empowerment, self-actualization and self-mastery, as well as truth and not only does religion lie, it is a conspiracy theory of reality. Moreover, not only is religion a conspiracy theories of reality, it is a proud supporter of pseudohistory and or pseudoscience they also push pseudomorality. Religion on the whole to me deserves and earns hate, or at least disfavor when you really analyze it. Not to mention the corruption it has on politics or laws. As well as how destructive this unworthy political influence has and creates because of these false beliefs and the harm to the life of free adults but to the lives of innocent children as well (often robbed of the right to choose and must suffer indoctrination) as the disruption of educated even in public schools. Etc…
I as others do have the right to voice our beliefs, just as I or others then have the right to challenge voiced beliefs.
Long live mental freedom…

I value good Belief-Etiquette​: 

reasoned belief-acquisitions​, good belief-maintenance, and honest belief relinquishment.

Here is an example of the problem

“Ever heard of a band called Tool? Personally it’s hard believing we don’t have souls or something with music like that. And as god is the highest spirit then god exists.” -Challenger

My response, “are you serious? I like Tool but there are no souls, gods, or magic. As to your question and statement, we can add passion as we are emotional being, we are feeling and connecting to is our social needs, such as personal and social expression as well as being inspired with the passion others create, no god needed. There are no spirits or gods whatsoever to be involved, even if needed. Belief in such things as souls, god, or magic, are seemingly the embodiment of fears from the fanciful, the indoctrinated or the duped.”

To me, most theists need our help thinking (Dialectical Rhetoric = truth persuasion/motivational teaching), as many only do it for the first time because of us atheists challenge them. We must not stop challenging them as it is a public service.

But Why do I Hate Religion?
I was asked why I openly and publicly am so passionate in my hate of religion. further asking what specifically in your life contributed to this outcome.
I hate harm, oppression, bigotry, and love equality, self-ownership, self-empowerment, self-actualization and self-mastery, as well as truth and not only does religion lie, it is a conspiracy theory of reality. Moreover, not only is religion a conspiracy theories of reality, it is a proud supporter of pseudohistory and or pseudoscience they also push pseudomorality. Religion on the whole to me deserves and earns hate, or at least disfavor when you really analyze it. Not to mention the corruption it has on politics or laws. As well as how destructive this unworthy political influence has and creates because of these false beliefs and the harm to the life of free adults but to the lives of innocent children as well (often robbed of the right to choose and must suffer indoctrination) as the disruption of educated even in public schools. Etc…
I as others do have the right to voice our beliefs, just as I or others then have the right to challenge voiced beliefs.
Long live mental freedom…

Hegel’s Dialectics (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

According to The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “Dialectics” is a term used to describe a method of philosophical argument that involves some sort of contradictory process between opposing sides. In what is perhaps the most classic version of “dialectics”, the ancient Greek philosopher, Plato (see entry on Plato), for instance, presented his philosophical argument as a back-and-forth dialogue or debate, generally between the character of Socrates, on one side, and some person or group of people to whom Socrates was talking (his interlocutors), on the other. In the course of the dialogues, Socrates’ interlocutors propose definitions of philosophical concepts or express views that Socrates challenges or opposes. The back-and-forth debate between opposing sides produces a kind of linear progression or evolution in philosophical views or positions: as the dialogues go along, Socrates’ interlocutors change or refine their views in response to Socrates’ challenges and come to adopt more sophisticated views. The back-and-forth dialectic between Socrates and his interlocutors thus becomes Plato’s way of arguing against the earlier, less sophisticated views or positions and for the more sophisticated ones later.

“Hegel’s dialectics” refers to the particular dialectical method of argument employed by the 19th Century German philosopher, G.W.F. Hegel (see entry on Hegel), which, like other “dialectical” methods, relies on a contradictory process between opposing sides. Whereas Plato’s “opposing sides” were people (Socrates and his interlocutors), however, what the “opposing sides” are in Hegel’s work depends on the subject matter he discusses. In his work on logic, for instance, the “opposing sides” are different definitions of logical concepts that are opposed to one another. In the Phenomenology of Spirit, which presents Hegel’s epistemology or philosophy of knowledge, the “opposing sides” are different definitions of consciousness and of the object that consciousness is aware of or claims to know. As in Plato’s dialogues, a contradictory process between “opposing sides” in Hegel’s dialectics leads to a linear evolution or development from less sophisticated definitions or views to more sophisticated ones later. The dialectical process thus constitutes Hegel’s method for arguing against the earlier, less sophisticated definitions or views and for the more sophisticated ones later. Hegel regarded this dialectical method or “speculative mode of cognition” (PR §10) as the hallmark of his philosophy, and used the same method in the Phenomenology of Spirit [PhG], as well as in all of the mature works he published later—the entire Encyclopaedia of Philosophical Sciences (including, as its first part, the “Lesser Logic” or the Encyclopaedia Logic [EL]), the Science of Logic [SL], and the Philosophy of Right [PR].

Note that, although Hegel acknowledged that his dialectical method was part of a philosophical tradition stretching back to Plato, he criticized Plato’s version of dialectics. He argued that Plato’s dialectics deals only with limited philosophical claims and is unable to get beyond skepticism or nothingness (SL-M 55–6; SL-dG 34–5; PR, Remark to §31). According to the logic of a traditional reductio ad absurdumargument, if the premises of an argument lead to a contradiction, we must conclude that the premises are false—which leaves us with no premises or with nothing. We must then wait around for new premises to spring up arbitrarily from somewhere else, and then see whether those new premises put us back into nothingness or emptiness once again, if they, too, lead to a contradiction. Because Hegel believed that reason necessarily generates contradictions, as we will see, he thought new premises will indeed produce further contradictions. As he puts the argument, then,

the scepticism that ends up with the bare abstraction of nothingness or emptiness cannot get any further from there, but must wait to see whether something new comes along and what it is, in order to throw it too into the same empty abyss. (PhG §79)

Hegel argues that, because Plato’s dialectics cannot get beyond arbitrariness and skepticism, it generates only approximate truths, and falls short of being a genuine science (SL-M 55–6; SL-dG 34–5; PR, Remark to §31; cf. EL Remark to §81).

Hegel provides the most extensive, general account of his dialectical method in Part I of his Encyclopaedia of Philosophical Sciences, which is often called the Encyclopaedia Logic [EL]. The form or presentation of logic, he says, has three sides or moments (EL §79). These sides are not parts of logic, but, rather, moments of “every logical concept”, as well as “of everything true in general” (EL Remark to §79; we will see why Hegel thought dialectics is in everything in section 4). The first moment—the moment of the understanding—is the moment of fixity, in which concepts or forms have a seemingly stable definition or determination (EL §80).

The second moment—the “dialectical” (EL §§79, 81) or “negatively rational” (EL §79) moment—is the moment of instability. In this moment, a one-sidedness or restrictedness (EL Remark to §81) in the determination from the moment of understanding comes to the fore, and the determination that was fixed in the first moment passes into its opposite (EL §81). Hegel describes this process as a process of “self-sublation” (EL §81). The English verb “to sublate” translates Hegel’s technical use of the German verb aufheben, which is a crucial concept in his dialectical method. Hegel says that aufheben has a doubled meaning: it means both to cancel (or negate) and to preserve at the same time (PhG §113; SL-M 107; SL-dG 81–2; cf. EL the Addition to §95). The moment of understanding sublates itself because its own character or nature—its one-sidedness or restrictedness—destabilizes its definition and leads it to pass into its opposite. The dialectical moment thus involves a process of self-sublation, or a process in which the determination from the moment of understanding sublates itself, or both cancels and preserves itself, as it pushes on to or passes into its opposite.

The third moment—the “speculative” or “positively rational” (EL §§79, 82) moment—grasps the unity of the opposition between the first two determinations, or is the positive result of the dissolution or transition of those determinations (EL §82 and Remark to §82). Here, Hegel rejects the traditional, reductio ad absurdum argument, which says that when the premises of an argument lead to a contradiction, then the premises must be discarded altogether, leaving nothing. As Hegel suggests in thePhenomenology, such an argument

is just the skepticism which only ever sees pure nothingness in its result and abstracts from the fact that this nothingness is specifically the nothingness of that from which it results. (PhG §79)

Although the speculative moment negates the contradiction, it is a determinate or defined nothingness because it is the result of a specific process. There is something particular about the determination in the moment of understanding—a specific weakness, or some specific aspect that was ignored in its one-sidedness or restrictedness—that leads it to fall apart in the dialectical moment. The speculative moment has a definition, determination or content because it grows out of and unifies the particular character of those earlier determinations, or is “a unity of distinct determinations” (EL §82). The speculative moment is thus “truly not empty, abstract nothing, but the negation of certain determinations” (EL §82). When the result “is taken as the result of that from which it emerges”, Hegel says, then it is “in fact, the true result; in that case it is itself a determinate nothingness, one which has a content” (PhG §79). As he also puts it, “the result is conceived as it is in truth, namely, as adeterminate negation [bestimmte Negation]; a new form has thereby immediately arisen” (PhG §79). Or, as he says, “[b]ecause the result, the negation, is a determinatenegation [bestimmte Negation], it has a content” (SL-dG 33; cf. SL-M 54). Hegel’s claim in both the Phenomenology and the Science of Logic that his philosophy relies on a process of “determinate negation [bestimmte Negation]” has sometimes led scholars to describe his dialectics as a method or doctrine of “determinate negation” (see entry on Hegel, section on Science of Logic; cf. Rosen 1982: 30; Stewart 1996, 2000: 41–3; Winfield 1990: 56).

There are several features of this account that Hegel thinks raise his dialectical method above the arbitrariness of Plato’s dialectics to the level of a genuine science. First, because the determinations in the moment of understanding sublate themselves, Hegel’s dialectics does not require some new idea to show up arbitrarily. Instead, the movement to new determinations is driven by the nature of the earlier determinations. Indeed, for Hegel, the movement is driven by necessity (see, e.g., EL Remarks to §§12, 42, 81, 87, 88). The nature of the determinations themselves drives or forces them to pass into their opposites. This sense of necessity—the idea that the method involves being forced from earlier moments to later ones—leads Hegel to regard his dialectics as a kind of logic. As he says in the Phenomenology, the method’s “proper exposition belongs to logic” (PhG §48). Necessity—the sense of being driven or forced to conclusions—is the hallmark of “logic” in Western philosophy.

Second, because the form or determination that arises is the result of the self-sublation of the determination from the moment of understanding, there is no need for some new idea to show up from the outside. Instead, the new determination or form is necessitated by earlier moments and hence grows out of the process itself. Unlike in Plato’s arbitrary dialectics, then—which must wait around until some other idea comes in from the outside—in Hegel’s dialectics “nothing extraneous is introduced”, as he says (SL-M 54; cf. SL-dG 33). His dialectics is driven by the nature, immanence or “inwardness” of its own content (SL-M 54; cf. SL-dG 33; cf. PR §31). As he puts it, dialectics is “the principle through which alone immanent coherence and necessityenter into the content of science” (EL Remark to §81).

Third, because later determinations “sublate” earlier determinations, the earlier determinations are not completely cancelled or negated. On the contrary, the earlier determinations are preserved in the sense that they remain in effect within the later determinations. When Being-for-itself, for instance, is introduced in the logic as the first concept of ideality or universality and is defined by embracing a set of “something-others”, Being-for-itself replaces the something-others as the new concept, but those something-others remain active within the definition of the concept of Being-for-itself. The something-others must continue to do the work of picking out individual somethings before the concept of Being-for-itself can have its own definition as the concept that gathers them up. Being-for-itself replaces the something-others, but it also preserves them, because its definition still requires them to do their work of picking out individual somethings (EL §§95–6).

The concept of “apple”, for example, as a Being-for-itself, would be defined by gathering up individual “somethings” that are the same as one another (as apples). Each individual apple can be what it is (as an apple) only in relation to an “other” that is the same “something” that it is (i.e., an apple). That is the one-sidedness or restrictedness that leads each “something” to pass into its “other” or opposite. The “somethings” are thus both “something-others”. Moreover, their defining processes lead to an endless process of passing back and forth into one another: one “something” can be what it is (as an apple) only in relation to another “something” that is the same as it is, which, in turn, can be what it is (an apple) only in relation to the other “something” that is the same as it is, and so on, back and forth, endlessly (cf. EL §95). The concept of “apple”, as a Being-for-itself, stops that endless, passing-over process by embracing or including the individual something-others (the apples) in its content. It grasps or captures their character or quality as apples. But the “something-others” must do their work of picking out and separating those individual items (the apples) before the concept of “apple”—as the Being-for-itself—can gather them up for its own definition. We can picture the concept of Being-for-itself like this:

Later concepts thus replace, but also preserve, earlier concepts.

Fourth, later concepts both determine and also surpass the limits or finitude of earlier concepts. Earlier determinations sublate themselves—they pass into their others because of some weakness, one-sidedness or restrictedness in their own definitions. There are thus limitations in each of the determinations that lead them to pass into their opposites. As Hegel says, “that is what everything finite is: its own sublation” (EL Remark to §81). Later determinations define the finiteness of the earlier determinations. From the point of view of the concept of Being-for-itself, for instance, the concept of a “something-other” is limited or finite: although the something-others are supposed to be the same as one another, the character of their sameness (e.g., as apples) is captured only from above, by the higher-level, more universal concept of Being-for-itself. Being-for-itself reveals the limitations of the concept of a “something-other”. It also rises above those limitations, since it can do something that the concept of a something-other cannot do. Dialectics thus allows us to get beyond the finite to the universal. As Hegel puts it, “all genuine, nonexternal elevation above the finite is to be found in this principle [of dialectics]” (EL Remark to §81).

Fifth, because the determination in the speculative moment grasps the unity of the first two moments, Hegel’s dialectical method leads to concepts or forms that are increasingly comprehensive and universal. As Hegel puts it, the result of the dialectical process

is a new concept but one higher and richer than the preceding—richer because it negates or opposes the preceding and therefore contains it, and it contains even more than that, for it is the unity of itself and its opposite. (SL-dG 33; cf. SL-M 54)

Like Being-for-itself, later concepts are more universal because they unify or are built out of earlier determinations, and include those earlier determinations as part of their definitions. Indeed, many other concepts or determinations can also be depicted as literally surrounding earlier ones (cf. Maybee 2009: 73, 100, 112, 156, 193, 214, 221, 235, 458).

Finally, because the dialectical process leads to increasing comprehensiveness and universality, it ultimately produces a complete series, or drives “to completion” (SL-dG 33; cf. PhG §79). Dialectics drives to the “Absolute”, to use Hegel’s term, which is the last, final, and completely all-encompassing or unconditioned concept or form in the relevant subject matter under discussion (logic, phenomenology, ethics/politics and so on). The “Absolute” concept or form is unconditioned because its definition or determination contains all the other concepts or forms that were developed earlier in the dialectical process for that subject matter. Moreover, because the process develops necessarily and comprehensively through each concept, form or determination, there are no determinations that are left out of the process. There are therefore no left-over concepts or forms—concepts or forms outside of the “Absolute”—that might “condition” or define it. The “Absolute” is thus unconditioned because it contains all of the conditions in its content, and is not conditioned by anything else outside of it. This Absolute is the highest concept or form of universality for that subject matter. It is the thought or concept of the whole conceptual system for the relevant subject matter. We can picture the Absolute Idea (EL §236), for instance—which is the “Absolute” for logic—as an oval that is filled up with and surrounds numerous, embedded rings of smaller ovals and circles, which represent all of the earlier and less universal determinations from the logical development (cf. Maybee 2009: 30, 600):

Since the “Absolute” concepts for each subject matter lead into one another, when they are taken together, they constitute Hegel’s entire philosophical system, which, as Hegel says, “presents itself therefore as a circle of circles” (EL §15). We can picture the entire system like this (cf. Maybee 2009: 29):

Together, Hegel believes, these characteristics make his dialectical method genuinely scientific. As he says, “the dialectical constitutes the moving soul of scientific progression” (EL Remark to §81). He acknowledges that a description of the method can be more or less complete and detailed, but because the method or progression is driven only by the subject matter itself, this dialectical method is the “only true method” (SL-M 54; SL-dG 33).