Welcome to the Dialectic Revival
By Alyce Santoro / alycesantoro.com

Here in the United States, whether we look to the language used amongst ourselves, in the media, or by politicians, we may find that our standard method of communication is based on rhetoric – a style of argument that relies on a set of distinctly isolated viewpoints, with each view-holder applying a range of persuasive techniques in an effort to prevail over a perceived opponent.

As we navigate our way into increasingly fragile ecological and social conditions unfolding around the world, however, another lesser-known approach with roots in ancient Greek, European, and Asian thought may be worth revisiting.

In stark contrast to the goal of rhetoric – to win an argument at all costs with all forms of manipulation (including willful dishonesty) on the table – the goal of dialectic is to earnestly expand overall understanding of a situation and the conditions that surround it.

It is not surprising that dialectic is so little-known and little-understood in contemporary culture; throughout the course of history the term has been appropriated by different people for different purposes. Heraclitus, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Hegel, and Marx each developed their own signature varieties. If we could get all of these thinkers in a room together to engage in a dialectical discussion about the definition of dialectic, they may or may not agree on at least two basic tenets: 1) participants in a dialectic dialog understand that reality and our perception of it is in a constant state of flux, therefore definitive conclusions may not be necessary 2) apparent paradoxes and contradictions are identified and embraced as inherently interdependent conditions whenever possible (cases in point: the notion of “light” ceases to be meaningful without darkness by which to compare it; each of us is simultaneously an individual and part of a society).

Throughout history, forms of dialectic reasoning have been applied to discussions of a wide range of political, philosophical, spiritual, and scientific matters. While horns are locked and the clock ticks away on all manner of pressing social and environmental issues, I am suggesting that now is a fitting moment to evaluate the effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of prevailing mechanisms for the exchange of ideas, and develop a more modern, appropriate, efficient, and constructive paradigm.

I am proposing a dialectic revival.

A new dialectic method has revolutionary potential. Transparency in communication is a radical act. The powers of obfuscation, confusion, and polarization are wielded with great skill by those who seek to suppress and control, often inadvertently drawing in even those with an earnest interest in clarity. Dialectic technique is an antidote, a way of dissolving veils of calculated deception to reveal the inner workings of an underlying reality.

A dialectic method would be applied like a scientific method especially for communication and distillation of understanding. Like the scientific method, it would be taken for granted that any practitioner who wished to be recognized by his or her peers as a clear, principled communicator would be obliged to employ it.

In order for the dialectic method to work effectively, a few parameters would need to be established at the outset. All participants must understand that the primary goal of the dialectic method is to pool knowledge and compare and contrast differing viewpoints on a matter for the purpose of deepening overall understanding. Unlike forms of debate in which one side attempts to demonstrate the superiority of a singular view over an opposing one by any means available (including emotional persuasion not based in reason), those willing to engage in a new dialectic favor logic, analytical proof, and rational deduction. Those who participate in dialectic discourse recognize that all conditions are in a continuous state of flux, and therefore definitive resolution may not be possible.


A preliminary outline of steps in a new DIALECTIC METHOD:

1. Establish the matter to be considered.

2. Identify and define abstract or ambiguous terminology and concepts.

3. Acknowledge the existence of apparent contradiction, paradox, and nuance.

4. Determine commonalities and points of connection.

5. Reevaluate the matter in light of information gleaned through elucidation of both paradox and connection.

6. Develop and implement solutions based on a refined understanding of the matter at hand. If further clarification is desired, begin again at step 1.





campaign to celebrate paradox

respectful discourse



0.0 ·
What's Next
Trending Today
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 41,725 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
Dinosaur explains Trump policies better than Trump!
8 min · 18,961 views today · Donald Trump is actually the corporate triceratops, Mr. Richfield, from the 90's TV show sitcom, "Dinosaurs". 
Noam Chomsky Has 'Never Seen Anything Like This'
Chris Hedges · 9,909 views today · Noam Chomsky is America’s greatest intellectual. His massive body of work, which includes nearly 100 books, has for decades deflated and exposed the lies of the power elite...
How Big Banks Launder Money and Get Away With It
9 min · 3,712 views today · 'I wrote about how money laundering was actually done... they spiked it.' Parliamentary Candidate David Malone was a popular second choice in the UK Green Party leadership...
Why I Didn't Vote Trump or Hillary
Joe Brewer · 3,646 views today ·   This is my ballot. It arrived in the mail where I live in Washington state — and I’ve already sent it back to the elections committee. Note how I didn’t vote for either...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 3,355 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
Three Massive Mergers - Millions for One Bank and a Disaster for Food, Water, and Climate
Wenonah Hauter · 3,332 views today · In addition to advising on all three mega-mergers, Credit Suisse is playing a big role behind the scenes of the Dakota Access pipeline.
Heartbreaking Animation Reveals Plight of Animals Under Threat of Extinction
3 min · 3,312 views today · This stunning and heartbreaking animation gives voice to animals under threat from human activity. Made as part of the Wildlife Conservation Film Festival, it features a...
A Beautiful Reflection on What It Means to Be Human
8 min · 2,281 views today · Hello! We are Oh Wonder, a musical duo from London. We believe that everyone is equal. We are all human. We all deserve the world. And we can build that equality by sharing...
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad · 1,581 views today · Call-out culture refers to the tendency among progressives, radicals, activists, and community organizers to publicly name instances or patterns of oppressive behaviour and...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 1,028 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Speaking Out Against Australia's Unforgiving Refugee Policy
42 min · 957 views today · The Forgotten Children: More than a hundred child refugees are stuck in asylum limbo on the island of Nauru as a result of Australia's harsh and unsympathetic border policies...
Donald Trump Is the Mirror and Hillary Clinton Is the Mask
Chris Agnos · 849 views today · Disclaimer: I do not support Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton for president. I think the scope of the political debate is far too narrow for the kinds of actions that need to...
HyperNormalisation (2016)
161 min · 754 views today · We live in a time of great uncertainty and confusion. Events keep happening that seem inexplicable and out of control. Donald Trump, Brexit, the War in Syria, the endless...
10 Quotes From an Oglala Lakota Chief That Will Make You Question Everything About Our Society
Wisdom Pills · 693 views today · Luther Standing Bear was an Oglala Lakota Sioux Chief who, among a few rare others such as Charles Eastman, Black Elk and Gertrude Bonnin occupied the rift between the way of...
Schooling the World (2010)
66 min · 659 views today · If you wanted to change an ancient culture in a generation, how would you do it? You would change the way it educates its children. The U.S. Government knew this in the 19th...
The White Man in That Photo
Riccardo Gazzaniga · 616 views today · Sometimes photographs deceive. Take this one, for example. It represents John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s rebellious gesture the day they won medals for the 200 meters at the...
The Burden of the New Story
Adebayo Akomolafe · 548 views today · The 'new story' - that longed for milieu when all is right with the world and things are set straight - seems to be taking its sweet time coming. Why?
Donald and Hobbes Is Genius
Various · 443 views today · Some clever folk have been replacing precocious 6-year-old Calvin, from the Calvin and Hobbes comic strips, with Donald Trump and the results are, well, take a look...
The Top 100 Documentaries We Can Use to Change the World
Films For Action · 440 views today · A more beautiful, just and sustainable world is possible. Take this library and use it to inspire global change!
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
Welcome to the Dialectic Revival