Dialectical Logic

  • Ermanno Bencivenga
Part of the Historical-Analytical Studies on Nature, Mind and Action book series (HSNA, volume 4)


In Hegel’s dialectical logic, arguments never come to an end, and continuing them often results in proving consequences contrary to what was proved before: by continuing an argument that proves the mortality of Socrates, we may end up proving his immortality. Since not even contrariety can determine radical differences, those who reason according to this logic (like Hegel himself) have a tendency to deny such differences, and to think of world history as a single connected narrative—they have a tendency to monism. But note that, insofar as the word “narrative” is suggestive of a temporal development, this suggestion must be resisted: that one thing follows another in time must still be explained logically; history itself must turn from chronicle to demonstration. Time presents us with the immediacy of dialectical development; but this immediacy must be redeemed by being mediated conceptually; time parameters are promissory notes to be paid off by providing an account of why certain things did not just follow but had to follow certain other things—at which point the time parameters can be dispensed with.

Optimism is also naturally forthcoming in this framework, not so much because a point of view is available which is external to the narrative and argues for a positive resolution of it as rather because each phase of the narrative can only be spelling out its own (internal) values and seeing them reflected in the ways in which that phase is in fact turning out. On the other hand, dialectical logic cannot be formalized, because the whole context in which an argument is phrased (which, tendentially, is really the whole context) must always remain available for the next steps of the argument to be made. No abstraction from content is ever going to be legitimate.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ermanno Bencivenga
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CaliforniaIrvineUSA

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