What is the Hegelian Dialectic?

The Hegelian Dialectic is a system of reasoning which was put forth by Georg Hegel (1770-1831), a German philosopher who theorized there is an absolute spirit at the center of the universe who guides all reality. According to the dialectic, there are three laws which all historical developments follow. The laws are;

  1. Each event follows a necessary course
  2. Each historical event represents change and progress
  3. Each historical event tends to be replaced by an opposite, which is later replaced by a resolution of two extremes

The third law of the dialectic is also known as the “pendulum theory” which is often discussed by scholars and students of history. The “pendulum theory” is when events swing from one extreme to the other before the pendulum comes to rest at the middle. These extreme phases are referred to as the thesis and antithesis, the resolution is called the synthesis. Hegel stated that humans can comprehend the unfolding of history. Hegel viewed the human experience as absolute and knowable.


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