What is the Dialectical Method?June 27, 2021
Plato proposes a method that does not change from person to person and always reaches the right one in his own way, in order to reveal the knowledge of ideas hidden in the human soul (The Statesman, 266d).
According to him, this method is dialectic, which is the method of philosophy, and its ultimate aim is to grasp the order of ideas. Plato saw thinking as the basic condition of being human, and argued that the ability of any soul to live as a human being on earth depends on its ability to think, that is, its ability to reduce the knowledge of the multiplicity of sensations to the unity called idea. Thus, understanding the knowledge of the ideas, that is, their mutual association, participation, mixing, and sharing relations, is the basic condition for meaningful thinking and speaking (Çakmak, 1991: 139). Understanding these relations will only be possible with the dialectical method.
Thinking is the basic condition of being human and is based on the ability to reduce the knowledge of the multiplicity of sensations to the oneness called Idea. This makes the knowledge of ideas a condition of being human.
The dialectical method is based on two main activities: “collecting scattered concepts into a general definition” and “dividing thought into its elements at natural joints.” Plato named the first of these two activities as “collecting” (sunagoge) and the second as “separating” (diairesin) (Statesman, 282b). In the second, it is aimed to reach simple and basic units that cannot be further analyzed and divided. That is, in order to grasp the truth of the sensible world, it will be necessary to decompose the sensible things in compound state into their simple elements. Because the dialectician knows the ideas and their arrangement, he can decompose them down to their most basic units in the way they unite. Thus, the dialectic evokes the regulative activity of Nous, which brings things out of the state of chaos in which they are mixed together and sets certain boundaries by separating them from each other.
Dialectics is based on two separate activities, addition and separation. In the first of these, scattered concepts are tried to be gathered around a general definition, and in the second, integrities are resolved into their elements from natural joints.
Plato’s dialectical method is in many ways diametrically opposed to the Sophists’ rhetorical method. The sophists deceived their listeners by misrepresenting deceptive copies of things. However, dialectics will provide us with the knowledge of the immutable, as it deals with the immutable essence beyond words and objects, the order of ideas. Due to the order of the ideas, a speech or thought about the idea is necessarily organized correctly.
The dialectical method is a process that raises people in knowledge step by step and reaches its end by comprehending or contemplating the idea of Good. Plato explains in detail in the Symposium dialogue, by which process the knowledge of this highest being, who is also beauty and justice, will be attained. According to this, for example, a person first loves individual things, then discovers the common qualities between them, and reaches the Beautiful itself, that is, the idea of the Beautiful, in the final stage (Symposium, 210 a-d). This is the culmination of the “dialectical march” (State, 532b) in which the soul ascends step by step. In the Symposium, the moment when the Beautiful or the Good itself is contemplated and contacted with its pure being is considered the only moment worth living (Symposium, 211d-e).
As it is seen, Plato does not completely discard the sensible things, but sees them as a step in the ascension process leading to the idea of Good. This ascension process is based on a hierarchical order made by Plato among beings or knowledge subjects. In this order, the degree of certainty and immutability of a knowledge is directly related to the state of the being that it is the subject of, and Platonic ontology (philosophy of being) and epistemology (philosophy of knowledge) are intertwined at this point.
Dialectic thinking and application technique. All natural, social and conscious phenomena are formed by dialectical development laws. So, in order to understand this formation, it is necessary to approach it dialectically. Dialectic is therefore as much the law of development as it is the method of studying it. It is also a method of changing reality, as well as a method of examining and knowing. Because when it is known how the formation takes place, it is also known how to examine that formation and how to behave in order to change the formation.
Using the dialectical method in the study of any phenomenon means looking at that phenomenon with dialectical information. This information is the exact opposite of metaphysical and mechanical information. Dialectal understanding is multifaceted; therefore, it cannot be attached to formulas and prescribed. First of all, it is necessary to get rid of the habit of metaphysical and mechanical thinking, and for this, a thorough knowledge of (metaphysics and N.) dialectic is the main condition.
“When we examine nature, history or our conscious activity, nothing stays as it is and where it is, everything is