Dialectic and Dialogue

Dialectic and Dialogue

Dialectic and Dialogue

Dialectic and Dialogue

Synopsis

This book considers the emergence of dialectic out of the spirit of dialogue and traces the relation between the two. It moves from Plato, for whom dialectic is necessary to destroy incorrect theses and attain thinkable being, to Cusanus, to modern philosophers- Descartes, Kant, Hegel, Schleiermacher and Gadamer, for whom dialectic becomes the driving force behind the constitution of a rational philosophical system. Conceived as a logical enterprise, dialectic strives to liberate itself from dialogue, which it views as merely accidental and even disruptive of thought, in order to become a systematic or scientific method. The Cartesian autonomous and universal yet utterly monological and lonely subject requires dialectic alone to reason correctly, yet dialogue, despite its unfinalizable and interruptive nature, is what constitutes the human condition.

Excerpt

In conversation and dialogue with others, we discuss things that often seem trifling and insignificant, as well as things that appear important and even sublime. We are; we exist dialogically as beings that communicate with one another at the very moment that we are talking with others. But when we arrive at a conclusion by accepting some arguments and rejecting others, we are using an implicit method or set of methods of reasoning traditionally called dialectic. One can be in dialogue about dialectic; one can be in dialogue without using dialectic; and one can use dialectic outside of dialogue. the main questions discussed in this book are: What are dialogue and dialectic? and how are they related to one another? This is not, however, a systematic dialectical argument about dialectic; nor is it a historical reconstruction of dialectic and its development, where each historical stage might constitute a necessary step in a logical sequence of stages. It is also not a dialogue on dialogue. Rather, what follows is a story: one that discusses a tradition of philosophizing through dialogue while practicing dialectic. It is a story about the birth of dialectic out of the spirit of dialogue. Once dialectic is dissociated from dialogue, it understands (and misunderstands) itself in many different ways: as an art of conversing about any given thing, a universal method of correct reasoning, and even the completion of philosophy. However, all of these characterizations still seem to point toward the origin of dialectic as that of an unassuming simple conversation and oral dialogical exchange.

The consideration of dialectic and dialogue in their mutual relation is complicated by the fact that it is not ultimately clear where each of them belongs in the traditional division of philosophy, the sciences, and art. Despite its codification in literature and philosophy, dialogue is primarily live conversation. As such, it is spontaneous, which means that in dialogue every interlocutor is free. Therefore the outcome of a conversation can never . . .

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