Deanya asks why dialectic fell out of acceptability. "We now try to define rhetoric as epistemic, but to me, that was always the job of dialectic. I'm thinking that noone wants to use the word dialectic (in my field) anymore because of all that this entails philosophically."
Later Deanya added, "can dialectic be practiced between people, or does it clearly stand apart as "knowledge" generated between the single bit of consciousness and the larger whole; OR is there any difference, as all people are also part of the larger whole? If dialectic is available for meaning-making between people, what is rhetoric?"
‘Dialectic fell out of acceptability,’ suggests religion (Ge. 2,25 "they were naked and not ashamed." Later comes Ge. 3,7, "their eyes were opened and they knew that they were naked..." they feared and hid). Has dialectic, like philosophy, has fallen out of favour? I think so! For dialectic is the heart of philosophy, once "the Queen of the Sciences," and will be so again.
Deanya’s OR, as a Boolean operator, suggests mathematics. Deeper than religion and math is biology, the real basis of Hegel’s philosophical science.
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First of all I would note that dialectic is not discussion, but discussion directed to attaining the truth. Of what? Of anything. Of thought itself. It is almost incestuous, thought thinking about thought itself. Completely turned in on itself, universal.
Once the truth of thought is established (philosophy), then the truth of anything else can be attained. Rhetoric belongs to this second step.
Start with rhetoric. From Greek rhema word, we have rhetor, a teacher of rhetoric, so skill in the use of language. What then is language? A system given to the expression of thoughts, feelings etc., by the use of spoken sounds or conventional symbols. An instrument in the practice of communication.
Notice that language is not thought, but by definition, a system for the expression of thought. So how do thought and its expression differ?
Well, thought is generated in the process of thinking, which, for referential purposes is often assigned to the brain, whether this is a correct description of the brain’s function or not. We claim no more for thought at the moment than that it is a biological function; that it is biological in origin.
The brain in turn is the centre of the nervous system, the latter being the general integrative system in each body’s individuality. So, just as the circulation of the blood is referred to the heart (though there is much more to it), the circulation of nervous energy that we call thought is referred to the brain.
The expression of thought is largely in word (remember the Greek, rhema, rhetoric), and ‘word’ is the work of the tongue (language, from L. lingua, tongue). We step from epistemology to etymology.
Lung, larynx and tongue are governed by the brain, but language typically steps from the tongue, through air to eardrum. Its domain or operating space is outside the body. The comparable ‘space’ of thought is the brain, which is inside the body. But there is more to the difference. Whereas body and brain exist in space (strictly speaking, in space/time), thought, which arises in the function of the brain, has its domain in time (strictly speaking, time/space). We can distinguish between thought as ‘internal universal’, and its expression, language, as ‘external particular’.
If we want to study the intelligent function of mind-in-body (the generation of thought), our starting point and object should be the dialectic. For dialectic is the map, the blueprint of that internal function (thought).
If we want to study the effective use of words to communicate opinion and/or knowledge; to influence, involve, inflame, persuade, educate or instruct, our starting point and object is rhetoric.
Dialectic and rhetoric are as close as lips and teeth. If dialectic is the inside, the life, rhetoric is the shell, the expression or outside. The hand which can create a work of art can also deliver a blow. Both dialectic, which is creative, and rhetoric, which is effective, are necessary in the creation of an effect.
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Can dialectic be practiced between people, or does it clearly stand apart as "knowledge"?
I think it depends on context. Rhetoric can be taught, and teaching, as between teacher and pupil, is ‘between people’. Dialectic can be developed in and through intuitive discussion. Both can be practiced, so a process between individuals or parties, each at the same time being ‘something’, or substantial in itself.
Dialectic was said to apply to a form of discussion wherein both parties, exchanging observation and opinion, had one goal in view––to arrive at the truth of (whatever was being discussed). As it progressed this ‘whatever’ narrowed down or became focussed upon the nature of truth itself, or the true nature of thought ‘in itself’. So in dialectic, where all is subordinated to the search for truth, the accent is upon consensus in attaining to reason. In rhetoric, which pivots on persuasion (the art of using words), the accent is on overcoming conjectural opposition. Social position comes into it, the goal of one side being to impose its belief, thought, interest or attitude on another.
If this is unclear, may I refer to the religious, mathematical and biological aspects mentioned above? Rhetoric, we may say, is male. Dialectic is its female counterpart. The reference is biological. The male is typically aggressive, the female creative.
What is ‘female’? Female is xx. The male is xy.
We all have a mother and a father, so we are each, whether externally male OR female, both male AND female within ourselves. Notice the Boolean operators. Every cell in our body, within its own nucleus, carries one set of chromosomes, origin man; one set of chromosomes, origin woman. So how are we not male AND female, each in our every cell, and male OR female in our overall self?
Because she is xx every gamete contributed by a mother is x. Because he is xy, every gamete contributed by a father is x OR y. There is no difference in plan between our thinking and our being; between our philosophical and biological expression. Because she is xx the female is universal. Her every gamete is x. The accent is upon identity. Because he is xy the male is particular. His every gamete is x OR y. The accent is on difference. The female is the apostle of universality, sameness; the male of particularity, difference. The whole thing is Boolean (mathematical). The whole thing is religious, the expression of shame. The whole thing is biological, this being the underlying nature, if not patent truth of the Hegelian philosophy.
Stephen W. Taylor MBChB email swtaylor- at -xtra.co.nz 07 8243043
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