Hegelian Dialect

What is the Hegelian dialectic?

It is the system of reasoning put forth by German philosopher Georg Hegel (1770–1831), who theorized that at the center of the universe there is an absolute spirit that guides all reality. According to Hegel, all historical developments follow three basic laws: Each event follows a necessary course (in other words, it could not have happened in any other way); each historical event represents not only change but progress; and one historical event, or phase, tends to be replaced by its opposite, which is later replaced by a resolution of the two extremes. This third law of Hegel’s dialectic is the “pendulum theory” discussed by scholars and students of history: that events swing from one extreme to the other before the pendulum comes to rest at middle. The extreme phases are called the thesis and the antithesis; the resolution is called the synthesis. Based on this system, Hegel asserted that human beings can comprehend the unfolding of history. In this way, he viewed the human experience as absolute and knowable.


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