Wednesday, September 08, 2004

And now a Word from Our Sponsor: Hegel

Remember good ol' Hegel? He's the one who invented the dialectic. Well, maybe it was Plato, but Hegel ended up getting the credit. Hegel's dialectic can get rather cerebral, so I will attempt to recreate it here, using my own vernacular, as filtered through the leaky sieve of my memory. Please don't take this post as pedantic or condescending. I merely bring it up because it's like "Robert's Rules of Order" when it comes to how I see political argumentation. The dialectic approach to argumentation assumes that both parties are valid, intelligent people who have their point of view for a reason. It assumes that both people really do want to know the truth, and are willing to eschew their old beliefs if they are convinced of a better truth. You'll probably remark at this time that most arguments do not begin with those assumptions, and therefore cannot apply the Hegelian Dialectic. That is correct. But let's must move on, shall we? The Hegelian Dialectic begins with an initial assertion, called a "thesis." Thesis Example: Bush's War in Iraq is bad. A thesis needs to be declarative and simple. The more declarative and simple it is, the more likely that the Hegelian approach will succeed. Next, someone comes along who disagrees, and states their "Antithesis." Antithesis Example: Bush's War in Iraq is good. Now we are ready to dialog. It's important to remember our assumptions: Both parties respect the validity of the other's viewpoint, and both parties are eager to arrive at a higher truth than the one they currently hold, if there is one. The arguers for this thesis might say that people are dying for a cause that cannot be related to the goals originally stated. Arguers for the antithesis might say that those goals *will* be reached, and enumerate his rationale as to how or why. The dialog portion should attack only the thesis and/or antithesis and not the person making them, because the end goal is the higher truth: The Synthesis. Synthesis Example: Bush's War is difficult to evaluate at this time. The higher truth is sometimes useful, and sometimes, as in the above, not. It is a very very rare person who can abandon his thesis or antithesis and embrace the synthesis. I always strive for synthesis because, as Hegel did, I believe that the truth is in the synthesis. And now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

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