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The Medieval Dialectic

The Medieval Dialectic

Chapter:
(p.24) 2 The Medieval Dialectic
Source:
The Birth of Theory
Author(s):
Andrew Cole
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226135564.003.0002

Hegel’s dialectic is, fundamentally, the dialectic of identity/difference, and this chapter places the dialectic of identity/difference into historical perspective, asking (and then showing) when, exactly, did philosophers start talking about dialectic as almost exclusively the work of these two logical categories. The answers point to the dialectical precedents that most matter to Hegel, and these are from the Middle Ages, not from Antiquity, as so often assumed. As this chapter shows, Hegel turned to the Middle Ages, and its prominent instances of the dialectic of identity and difference, to develop his own dialectic and make history, renovating both ancient philosophy after Plato and modern “critical” philosophy after Kant. The implications of this account are far reaching for critical theory: Hegel must be acknowledged as the link between medieval and modern dialectical thinking and criticism.

Keywords:   Hegel, identity and difference, Plato, Aristotle, Neoplatonism, Plotinus, Proclus, Pseudo-Dionysius, Meister Eckhart, Heidegger

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