Dialectics and World Politics: The Story So Far
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The question 'What is dialectics?' is notoriously difficult to answer. Theoretical obfuscation and ideological baggage have fostered widespread misunderstandings of the concept. This article is intended to go some way in providing an answer, though one offered as a heuristic in which further developments can be made, rather than as doctrinaire statement of first principles. This introductory account of dialectics proceeds in four steps. It begins with a basic definitional and conceptual outline of dialectics before offering a brief philosophical history of dialectics in Eastern and Western philosophical traditions; its re-emergence from scholasticism through Kant and Hegel; its vivification in Marx's thought (and subsequent decline under 'Diamat'); and its development in Western Marxism and on into contemporary political philosophy. The third part then explores the more modest engagements with dialectics that have taken place within IR theory before closing with a discussion of some of the ongoing tensions and key themes in dialectical thought. These center on the question of understanding dialectics as a process of reflection and an objective logic traceable in human praxis, highlighting the ongoing critical and revolutionary essence of dialectics.
Copyright 2014 Taylor & Francis (Routledge). This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Globalizations on 28 Oct 2014, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14747731.2014.972064
Political Theory and Political Philosophy