From ProleWiki, the proletarian encyclopedia

Dialectics is the method of studying change and transformation through internal contradictions. The opposite of dialectics is metaphysics.

History of the term

The word "dialectics" initially meant, primarily, the art or the science of argumentative discussion.

For Plato, dialectics is, firstly, the art of extracting all the positive and negative consequences contained in an idea or principle. Secondly, it is the rational movement of the mind which ascends by successive stages, from perceptible data to ideas, the eternal and immutable principles of things, and, finally, to the primary idea of all, the idea of the Good. Since for Plato ideas are the only reality worthy of the name, dialectics or the science of ideas comprises science itself.

For Hegel dialectics is the movement of ideas through the successive stages of overcoming (negation of the negation) until the absolute idea is attained.

For Karl Marx and Marxists, dialectics is not only the movement of ideas, but rather the movement of things themselves through contradictions, of which the movement of the mind is but the conscious reflection. An extensive study of Marxist dialectics can be found in the fourth part of the present work.[1]


Singular, particular, universal

Quantity and quality

Quality may be described as the determinate mode immediate and identical with Being – as distinguished from Quantity (to come afterwards), which, although a mode of Being, is no longer immediately identical with Being, but a mode indifferent and external to it. A something is what it is in virtue of its quality, and losing its quality it ceases to be what it is.

— Hegel, Shorter Logic

In dialectics, quality is an aspect of the thing's character; quantity refers to an aspect of a thing that does not directly change a thing's nature. Quality and quantity form a contradiction, and therefore are united, which is termed as measure by Hegel. Quantity becomes quality when quantity greatly changes an object's nature; therefore quality becomes quantity when quality no longer changes an objects nature.

Form and content


See main article: Contradiction

Negation of the negation

Further Reading


See Also


  1. “For it [dialectical philosophy], nothing is final, absolute, sacred. It reveals the transitory character of everything and in everything; nothing can endure before it except the uninterrupted process of becoming and of passing away, of endless ascendancy from the lower to the higher. And dialectical philosophy itself is nothing more than the mere reflection of this process in the thinking brain.”

    Friedrich Engels (1886). Ludwig Feuerbach and the end of classical German philosophy.