Dialectic is a method of reasoning used for arriving at the truth by the exchange of logical arguments, with a specific focus on the interaction between contrary positions. The dialectical method thus requires opposing viewpoints to be put into friction with one another. Generally this takes the form of a thesis (the point you seek to prove) being brought to bear against an antithesis (the counterpoint), with the final synthesis of these two offering a coherent resolution.
Reasoning in Dialogue
Dialectics is not simply argument (in the sense of a dispute); instead, it follows a very precise and structured methodology in which contrary ideas are systematically weighted again each other so as to test the validity of apparent or real contradictions. So, contradiction is an essential component of dialectics because it constitutes the starting point of the discovery of truth.
You might find it easier to think about this as a kind of dialogue within the essay, between opposing viewpoints. Your text should vocalise both points of view on the topic at issue, paying close attention to the interaction between these perspectives.
Being able to argue for and against a particular vantage, with equal clarity and conviction is a valuable skill. Nothing will better equip you to defend a position than being able to mount a persuasive case against that position.
You want to structure your essay after the Five Paragraph format, with an Introduction, Argument Body and Conclusion. Your Introduction will introduce the overall subject matter and principle line of approach – via the thesis statement.
In the first body paragraph you will elaborate on the thesis by establishing a key point of argumentation. The succeeding paragraph accordingly must present the counterpoint to the latter. Remember, you are not trying to discredit the premise of the thesis statement. Rather, you are demonstrating critical thinking, allowing that the case at hand may be interpreted in a variety of ways.
The third paragraph should respond to the counterclaim made in the second. This should in some way resolve the ambiguity introduced by the counterclaim. Further, it should round off the primary argument which the thesis statement initiated.
Your Conclusion should reiterate the thesis statement in a manner that exhibits how you have addressed it. The original statement may have been informed or modified by the dialectic in the essay body, but it should not have changed dramatically.
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