Dialectic is "that branch of logic which teaches the rules and modes of reasoning." Dialectic is a philosophical term, which for our purposes requires a precise set of definitions. On the Via Christa, we subscribe only to the Platonic usage and definition of dialectic, although we approve Kant's usage as well. We thoroughly disavow all other worldly "brands" of dialectic (see 3.) as mere degrees of the sophistical disguises of varying perversions of reality.

Dialective is defined as "1. a: Discussion and reasoning by dialogue as a method of intellectual investigation, specifically the Socratic techniques of exposing false beliefs and eliciting truth; b: The Platonic investigation of the eternal ideas. 2. The logic of appearances and of illusions, the logic of fallacy (the dialectic of Kant). 3. a: the Hegelian process of change in which a concept or its realization passes over into and is preserved and fulfilled by its opposite, also the critical investigation of this process; b. Marxism: development through the stages of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis in accordance with the laws of dialectical materialism; the investigation of this process; the theoretical application of this process especially in the social sciences.

"4. a: any systematic reasoning, exposition, or argument that juxtaposes opposed or contradictory ideas and usually seeks to resolve their conflict; a method of examining and discussing opposing ideas in order to find the truth. b: an intellectual exchange of ideas. 5. The dialectical tension or opposition between two interacting forces or elements.

Dialectic: Logic Through Conversation

Dialectic is a term used in philosophy, and the fact that it is closely connected to the ideas of Socrates and Plato is completely logical — even from an etymological point of view. Plato's famous dialogues frequently presented Socrates playing a leading role, and dialogue comes from the Greek roots dia- ("through" or "across") and -logue ("discourse" or "talk"). Dialect and dialectic come from dialecktos ("conversation" or "dialect") and ultimately back to the Greek word dialegesthai, meaning "to converse."

Conversation or dialogue was indeed at the heart of the "Socratic method," through which Socrates would ask probing questions which cumulatively revealed his students' unsupported assumptions and misconceptions. The goal, according to the definition in our Unabridged Dictionary, was to "elicit a clear and consistent expression of something supposed to be implicitly known by all rational beings."

Other philosophers had specific uses of the term dialectic, including Aristotelianism, Stoicism, Kantianism, Hegelianism, and Marxism.

Asking a series of questions was considered by Socrates to be a method of "giving birth" to the truth, and a related word, maieutic, defined as "relating to or resembling the Socratic method of eliciting new ideas from another," comes from the Greek word meaning "of midwifery." Socrates referred to himself as a midwife to the birth of a soul (Theaetetus 150).

Platonic Dialectic

"The full meaning of dialectics in Plato would demand a treatise. It is almost the opposite of what Hegelians call by that name, which is represented in Plato by the second part of the Parmenides. The characteristic Platonic dialectic is the checking of the stream of thought by the necessity of securing the understanding and assent of an intelligent interlocutor at every step, and the habit of noting all relevant distinctions, divisions, and ambiguities, in ideas and terms. When the interlocutor is used merely to relieve the strain on the leader's voice or the reader's attention, as in some of the later dialogues, dialectic becomes merely a literary form." Paul Shorey, Republic Book VII. p. 201. Top ↑


"Dialectic." Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, accessed January 14, 2021.

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