Dialecticism

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Description

Otto Laske:

"Dialecticism is a frame of reference that becomes accessible to adults only after formal logical thinking is mastered in early or middle adulthood. It remains a closed book for the majority of adults in the Western world, while in Asian cultures nurtured by Buddhism it more easily assumes a common sense form. Dialecticism is based on the experience (stance) that the world (including people) is in itself contradictory and full of crevices. In this frame of reference, negativity is acknowledged and considered an integral part of reality. Dialectical frames of reference have a long historical tradition, both in Asia and the Western world, and this tradition has important things to say about the nature of change and crisis.

A simple-minded definition of dialecticism would be that contradiction lies in the nature of things, and that wherever reality is thought about holistically, the perception of contradictions enforces a privileging of larger organized wholes over isolated individuals and entities. Felicitously put, Reality is perceived as pervaded by negativity or absence (Bhaskar, 1993), simply because “something” is defined as being both itself and not itself, and this “not itself” stems from its intrinsic relationship to “something else” without which it could not be what it is. To refer to Hegel (1806), being and non-being (nothingness) are inseparable (Sartre, 1943).

While Asian dialecticism is largely part of people’s common sense, in Western culture dialecticism has never penetrated culture as a whole but has remained more of a philosophical tradition. Due to this fact, Western dialectical thinking has retained a semblance of “high-brow” thinking (if not leftist ideology), and has set itself apart from understanding (including scientific understanding) as reason. This distinction has been elucidated by 20th century studies in cognitive development that, even when restricted to formal logical thought (Commons, 1981 f.), have shown empirically that adults’ thinking increasingly tends to re-fashion logical tools as a means of dialectical (meta-systemic) discourse and dialog.

A not immediately obvious consequence of this is that a purely positive definition of reality—as if no contradictions existed—robs reality of its potential for change since contradiction introduces negativity or “otherness.” Change is nothing but an “othering” of things compared to the way they presently are (or are understood), and is not “something” that is external but rather intrinsic to them as finite things.

As Hegel demonstrated in his Logic (1812), when we scrutinize the structure of language, it becomes clear that a sentence like “I am changing” makes sense only if we assume that the “I” that is changing is the pivot of the change since it remains the same because of and through its changes. The changes of the “I” convey its transformative structure. Thus, speaking of “change” makes no sense unless we simultaneously think of the transformative identity of the subject, I. Change is always relative to ”something” that remains the same throughout and on account of the change. Transferring this to our notion of language, we can say that when taken in a positivistic sense, language only describes reality, whereas in a dialectical frame of reference speaking a language creates reality before our eyes and ears." (http://integralleadershipreview.com/4578-feature-article-change-and-crisis-in-dialectical-thinking-on-the-need-to-think-again-when-getting-involved-with-change/)