Encyclopedia of Critical Psychology

2014 Edition
| Editors: Thomas Teo


Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-5583-7_338


The splitting of a single whole [a totality, JPL] and the cognition of its contradictory parts […] is the essence […] of dialectics. This is precisely how Hegel, too, puts the matter (Lenin, 1915/1977, p. 381).

Totality is the idea that a phenomenon can be comprehended only by first inserting it in the broader structure of which it is a part and in which it has a function, the latter being its objective meaning independently of whether or not the men acting and creating it are conscious of it. It is the category of meaningful structure (Goldmann, 1970, quoted by Jay, 1984, p. 325, from the essay “The dialectics today”).

For Hegel […] the power of the spirit lies in synthesis as the mediation of all contradictions (Gadamer, 1971, p.105).

Dialectic (or dialectics) was originally the art of dialogue and problem-solving method based on argumentation. This is what we find in Plato and Socrates. Later, with Hegel and Marx, it became a method for investigating competing processes...

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I am grateful to Antonio Ferraz, Janice Johnson, Sergio Morra, W.F. Overton, and David Rennie (in alphabetic order), whose comments helped to improve the document.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyYork UniversityTorontoCanada