Definition of dialectic in English:


(also dialectics)


  • 1The art of investigating or discussing the truth of opinions.

    • ‘The first of these preliminary considerations is related to some discussions within the art of dialectic whereas the second is theological in nature.’
    • ‘Marx took the Hegelian dialectic and placed it on a materialist base.’
    • ‘Cloaked words can always be brought to the light of Truth by the subtle use of dialectics in debate.’
    • ‘That is to say, we want to carve out a place for conversation, dialogue, dialectic, and debate.’
    • ‘With the second and third steps, one can see a similarity to Plato's idea of dialectic understood as collection and division.’
    reasoning, argumentation, contention, logic
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  • 2Inquiry into metaphysical contradictions and their solutions.

    • ‘But in Berio it is an element that generally functions within a complex dialectic.’
    • ‘The motivation for this negative dialectic is not simply conceptual, however, nor are its intellectual resources.’
    • ‘The classical methodology of rational dialectic is our only road to truth!’
    • ‘Hare, in fact, constantly creates a form of internal dialectic.’
    • ‘Before the appendices he includes a jokey bit of philosophical dialectic.’
    1. 2.1 The existence or action of opposing social forces, concepts, etc.
      • ‘For Brother Jack, individuals (even entire communities) are expendable, if the historical dialectic so dictates.’
      • ‘The second is that human beings have existed in a historical dialectic with the natural world for thousands of years.’
      • ‘This is the spurious, evolving dialectic of electoral democracy.’
      • ‘The master-slave dialectic in which French existence has been caught was briefly ruptured only when the first postwar generation reached the age of majority in May 1968.’
      • ‘As a result of this dialectic, social policy must become more visibly coercive in providing new forms of control over the working class, in the context of a growing chasm between the reserve army and surplus population.’


  • Relating to dialectic or dialectics; dialectical.

    • ‘But the dialectic method of argument is undoubtedly a good one if used properly, as it is dynamic, progressive and evolutionary (as opposed to being static, reactionary and revolutionary).’
    • ‘Because of these problems, there is a danger that the dialectic approach will seem unscientific and its strengths will be overlooked.’
    • ‘Quite the contrary, assimilation and ethnic identification are two distinct poles of a dialectic process of reidentification that involves creative cultural crisscrossing.’
    • ‘To carry on that wise injunction, we have to engage in a process of self-reflection that unavoidably opens up to scrutiny the dialectic processes between self and context and contexts of contexts.’
    • ‘The dialectic narrative took the form of a collage, crafted with an uncommon conceptual and cinematographic rigour.’
    rational, rationalistic, logical, analytical
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Late Middle English: from Old French dialectique or Latin dialectica, from Greek dialektikē (tekhnē) ‘(art) of debate’, from dialegesthai ‘converse with’ (see dialogue).