There are two types of philosophical systems in this world: There are those that seek to divide the world into two types of philosophical systems, and those that don't.
I like to think that I am part of the latter group. However, on reading the opening sentence to this essay, I suddenly fear that I might be a member of the former.
To expand: I am writing a work titled "Rich Theory." Rich Theory states that we live in a rich, multidimensional universe. To thrive in this universe, we need a rich, multidimensional way of thinking. I believe that the world found such a system in the Classical Liberal tradition.
Rich Theory stands in stark contrast to myriad of modern philosophies such as Transfinite Theory and Marxist Dialectics that try to reduce our rich universe down to foundational conflicts or paradoxes.
To help make my case for Rich Theory, I wish to draw a contrast between divisive and multidimensional thinking. So, at first appearance, Rich Theory appears to be just one more philosophy that divides the world into us v. them. However, I hope that the reader finds more than just a restatement of partisan thinking in this work.
The act of drawing contrasts between different ideas is not inherently evil. For that matter, it is a very good way to live. For a society to prosper, it needs to find a way to reject ideas that lead to ruin while promoting ideas that lead to success.
Life seems to require that we make choices. Societies advance by filtering out and disgarding the ideas that lead to ruin, while selecting and promoting those that lead to properity.
For example, gun duels were the rage in the early 19th century. Gun duels took the lives of many great thinkers including Hamilton and Galois. Gradually we rejected the idea.
To make this project work, I need to have a negative term to denote the methodologies that I reject.
For a variety of historical reasons, I've settled on the term "Foundational Dialectics." Foundational Dialectics refers to any system of thought that injects paradox or conflict into the foundations of reason.
This stipulated definition is a rather large and emcompassing term that includes all of the tricks people use to inject conflict into the foundations of reason such as the manipulation of terms or masked logical fallacies.
The Dialectical Argument
The one great draw back in using the term "Dialectics" in a negative sense is that, like most words in the philosophical lexicon, the term "dialectics" has a rich history with multiple meanings.
In its most benign sense, dialectics is simply a synonymn for "dialog." I am not opposed to dialog.
For many centuries, the term "dialectics" was used to describe a type of argument used to test the strength of premises in an analytic framework. This type of reasoning is extremely valuable.
In the classical tradition, the dialectical argument was used to hone premises in an overall analytic framework.
The goal of the dialectical argument in classical thinking was to draw out short comings in the current system of thought with the aim of improving the current system of thought. I consider this classical use of the dialectical argument as one of the highest forms of reason.
We can see a positive example of the dialectical argument in the work of Albert Einstein. Einstein questioned the many shortcomings of traditional Newtonian Physics. He then developed a new set of ideas called Relativity Theory which dramatically improved our understanding of the physics of our universe.
I do not consider the dialectical argument as bad or evil. In coining the term "Foundational Dialectics," I do not advocate the elmination of the dialectical argument. What I object to is using the dialectical argument in the wrong place.
Location, Location, Location
The dialectical argument is extremely powerful when it is used to improve our understanding of the universe. Unfortunately, a number of modern philosophers created a great deal of havoc by trying to make the dialectical argument itself the foundations of our system of thought.
These philosophers create a world view where mankind (the world spirit) would go through a series of thesis/antithesis conflicts. The conflicts would often be resolved in political turmoil or violence called a catharsis. Each catharsis would lead to another thesis anti-thesis conflict.
In classical reasoning, the dialectical argument was something that thinkers would use to improve their understanding of the world. The modern world holds that the dialectical argument is happening at a subliminal level.
In the classical system of reasoning, the dialectical argument has the positive effect of drawing out the limitations of our system of thought. This creates a framework where we can improve our society. The classical use of the dialectical argument often minimizes the damages done by a conflict.
In the modern system of thinking, philosphers drive the roots of our system of thought where it becomes a foundational conflict. The resolution of the conflict often rocks the world in a violent fashion. Driving the dialectical argument into the foundations magnifies the negative effects of the argument.
A common pattern of the modern era is for a major philospher to point out a conflict in society. An avant-garde will harp on the conflict until it becomes a major divided and leads to an upheaval in the society. The avant-garde will then ride the chaos into power.
The Material Dialectics
Marx's Material Dialectics is a prime example of Foundational Dialectics.
Marx claimed that the great conflict of the modern era was a class struggle between a group called the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The catharsis of this conflict was to be a revolution. From this revolution a new world order called "communism" would take root.
It is very important to note in reading Marx is that Marx did not lay the foundation for communism. He laid the foundation for a revolution that was to lead to a new world order.
Conflict and Paradox Exist
The key to understanding this stipulated definition of "Foundational Dialectics" is the location of the argument. I do not reject all uses of the term "dialectics," nor do I hold the utopian view that we can create a world without conflict.
My concern is the location of the argument. When our philosophers drive conflict and paradox into the foundation of reason, they create a mean, base, fractured society that is prone to violence.
I advocate that we should follow the classical liberal model where one bases the functioning of society on a analytical model, but simply uses the dialectical model to hone and improve the model.
What Links Here
The following list shows "internal" pages that link to this page.
The following lists shows links to external articles that link to this page.
- Foundational Dialectics (added 2008-04-23 by kd) I introduce the term with this blog post.
- Dialectics of Zeno (added 2008-06-28 by kd) In this blog post I contend that both Zeno and the sophists had good intents for their actions. Their collective actions led to a dimished quality of discourse.
- Dialectic: Which is Which (added 2009-02-18 by Virginia Vallee) An essay on historical meanings of the term dialectics.
- Actuarial v. Lifecycle Analysis (added 2009-05-09 by Kevin Delaney) The piece talks about the differing perspectives on health care with some interesting observations on the misuse of derivative information. One care create the illusion of a conflict by treating derivative info as if it were primery info.
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