what the fuck is a dialectic?

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what would help me understand these words “dialectic” and “dialectical”?

  • examples of literally something that is a dialectic (the noun)
  • examples of using dialectic as a noun in a sentence
  • examples of using dialectic as an adjective in a sentence not describing the noun materialism because i also don’t know what the fuck that is really
  • examples of using the word dialectical in sentences

The process of understanding the word dialectic is dialectical because first you completely don’t understand what the word means and then you think you understand what the word means and then eventually you kind of vaguely understand what it means but not really. Are dialectic as an adjective and dialectical interchangeable? Sometimes I think dialectics is reconciling contradictions and other times I think dialectics is experiences informing theory informing experience and other times I think it’s other types of interrelationships and I don’t know which is correct or all or none because I swear every definition I read is different and also poorly described.


It’s not light or recommended reading, but (largely due to my religious upbringing) the first thing I think of when I think of a dialectic is Luther’s Small Catechism which tries to (badly) mimic the dialectical style of earlier Christian and Roman and Greek thinkers/writers. By proposing question / counter question / question / counter question / answer.

It’s on Though the DIalectical bits start about twenty pages in or so.

EDIT: Another (better / slightly more classical?) religious example would be a lot of the writings of Thomas Aquinas. These religious ones stand out in my head too, because I personally found them a little bit more approachable than what usually passes for logic with theological thinkers.



There are multiple and subtly different senses of the word dialectic used by many philosophers and schools of philosophy; all of which are KINDA similar but some of which have very different philosophical underpinnings. If you start doing something crazy like comparing Hegel’s deffinition to Wittgenstein’s usage of the word you probably have gone down the rabbit hole too far.


@judytuna I largely gave examples of greek and medieval dialectic. I suddenly caught your usage of the “materialism” word. Are you trying to parse Marx?

If you are it’s a very related take; but instead of ideas in tension conversationally going back and forth playing off each other; boiling away to a synthesis of truth; Marx is applying the same kind of tensions to both sides of a social/economic class struggle. Thus the word “materialism”. (Counter to “idealism” or a dialectic of ideas. Marx wants to study the material world as a dialectic.)

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I just saw it used at:


is the madonna-whore complex a dialectic? a dialectical system? a dialecticlickletlieducklingleticalic?

Is highly paid tech workers with loads of perks still being oppressed as workers a dialectic situation?

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Taking you completely seriously for a second, I think it’s an example of the extreme stratification of “late capitalism”

Early communists thought revolution would come from the factory floor because everyone shared the same experience and worked closely together…I don’t think revolution will come from tech workers because they’ve essentially been bought off and aren’t willing to lose their class position by risking it in concert with lower-paid workers in worse conditions…

I think this is a great short definition of Marx’s dialectic as I understand it!


Damn, by the way I really love that Eightfold Path outline for a fantasy roleplaying campaign based on enlightenment!

ETA: Although this is basically also the outline for Edmund Spenser’s 1590 epic poem The Faerie Queene, so I dunno…although I always wanted to run a Faerie Queene campaign so I’m back on board again.


please do run a faerie queene campaign!


I’m very serious haha

I don’t necessarily agree, but a massive amount of consciousness raising remains to be done, work conditions shift, and it’s impossible to say how things will turn out.


I was being too glib! I’m much less certain than I made myself sound, and I think you’re right in the end


i am trying to parse marx’s ideas, yes, though i’m not reading him at the moment. the way i heard of the word “dialectical” was in the phrase “dialectical materialism.” the way i heard that was when i was told after a talk i disagreed with by another person that my lived experience of oppression as a woman of color didn’t matter and i’d understand if i’d read marx that “class is the only thing that matters because of dialectical materialism, and if we work on the class issues then everything else (racism, sexism) will follow, and that’s why i agree with the speaker when he said we shouldn’t waste our time making white men feel bad when they make mistakes at meetings and if we have to spend time sitting around talking about racism and that which divides us then we’ll never have the mass movement of our dreams”

i was rly mad

i am pretty sure those people wrong about a lot of things, but it left a lasting impression on me. the impression was that i disliked and mistrusted every person who ever told me to shut up about racism because i didn’t understand dialectical materialism.

all of that was just to say i really appreciate your other examples of “dialectics” and “dialectic analysis” in history, @trashHeap, because it helps me situate the concepts and because i am jon snow and i know nothing.

i still don’t understand dialectical anything despite @evergreen’s best efforts at complying with my wishes by using it several times in different ways. actually my experience of @evergreen’s reply is dialectical because i both understand that it is a funny meta-joke and don’t understand at the same time. no, that’s just cognitive dissonance.

actually, is cognitive dissonance a requisite part of dialectical analysis? by its very nature of thesis and antithesis, you have to hold opposing-in-some-way ideas (or materials (fuck me)) in your head and that produces cognitive dissonance, does it not?


dialectical analysis

I thought that was just the format of trying to explain something in writing by doing a back and forth between two characters. Plato and Aristotle for example.

I kind of parse dialectic as a fancy term for “back and forth” in the same way that “Scrumm certification” is really just todo list certification.


I kind of parse your reply as primarily a burn against Scrumm, and I endorse this message.


Their moral argument: side with racists.

Fuck racists. Racists want us to stop talking about racism. So fuck their argument by proximity. Don’t like it? Blame racists!

9 times out of 10, racists are the cause of discussing racism. The other one is Judy misunderstanding dialectical materialism.

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:no_good_woman: :no_good_woman: :no_good_woman: :no_good_woman: :no_good_woman: :no_good_woman: :no_good_woman: :no_good_woman:

This is how I feel about my comment as well. Thank you, I feel rly seen

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lmao “class is the only thing that matters because of dialectic materialism” im pretty sure that in contrast to the back and forth, thesis-antithesis-synthesis, “rooted in human ideas and rights” dialectics that earlier philosophers held, marxist dialectics much more simply just referred to “philosophy that bases itself in history and then applies marxist material power analysis to it.” the fact of this analysis being rooted in the conditions of the actual world including historical context and oppression and power dynamics means that identity based arguments are 1000% central to the discussion of dialectic materialism. white dsa member racial guilt avoidance notwithstanding.

a hundred years after karl, marxist-leninist scientists in the USSR were working on cybernetics to make resource distribution more efficient with computers and they were probably at the cutting edge of applied marxist “dialectics”, had bureaucracy and adherence to Old School marxist ideals not fucked everything up. if my definition is correct, these old school ideals were just aesthetic and not in fact dialectic because they like a lot of pre-20th century analysis took top-down (or in marx’s case bottom-up) approaches to power analysis at a very macro level, ignoring the interactions between the components of the system that produced those numbers.

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@malatesta, would you help me out by restating the part of this that I bolded in other words? Even though you sort of did right before the bolded part?

Or maybe I can try? Something like: they believed the forward movement was caused by the presence of conflicting ideologies (or realities, or frameworks, or concepts, something, I don’t know what word to use here. You simply used ideas so I should just do that). The key things are that the ideas were opposed and there was discourse that happened about them, and then a synthesis of the opposing ideas that created a new idea (or reality or whatever), and then other ideas were developed that opposed that synthesized idea, forming a dialectical relationship, which was then synthesized, and so on, and that’s what the “Americanized Hegelians” believed was progress?

Now I’m asking what is progress! lol