In order to understand the DIALECTIC,

we need to start with


That's Greek to me, too!  (In English, ARISTOTLE).

The philosopher Aristotle lived about twenty-three centuries ago, and wrote books on logic, philosophy, rhetoric and ethics that are still read to this day. (He also wrote books about science and medicine that are full of the most ridiculous hogwash, and which aren't read today by anybody but specialist scholars.) In the Middle Ages, Christian religious authorities in Western Europe considered Aristotle virtually infallible, and his teachings (as interpreted by Thomas Aquinas) became unquestionable dogma.  Aristotle taught things like:

Sounds an awful lot like the Middle Ages, doesn't it?

 Actually, even before Aristotle, the philosopher Plato had used the word "dialectic" to describe a reasoned discussion contrasting two different points of view.  But, Aristotle, who was Plato's student, took a different point of view. Aristotle taught that things have an eternal, unchanging "essence" (for example, the essential "doggy-ness" of a dog, the "strawberry-ness" of strawberries, the "bricky-ness" of a brick, etc.) that never changes.  Any aspects of a thing that change are only "accidental," he said.  The true "essence" of a thing NEVER changes. 

This is a very good philosophy for people who hope things never change!  A ruler or a slave-owner might be very happy with the way things are right now.  The slaves, and the people who work to puff the pillows and cook the peacock's tongue-stew for the idle rulers generally have a very different take on things!

Aristotle made his philosophy into a system of logic proper for the kind of world that would be comfortable for him and his followers...





Owen M. Williamson     

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