Sacramentum Mundi Online

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The origin of the term “dialectic” (διαλέγεσθαι, “to discuss”, i.e., the for and against, thoroughly, by means of dialogue) points to the sphere of reasoning (λόγος, Spirit), but can have many shades, of meaning. We here examine (1) the early history of the term, (2) its main usage, as seen in Hegel, (3) the correctives to be applied to Hegel, with the resulting perspective of (4) a dialectic of freedom and (5) its theological significance.

1. Early history of the term. The history of the philosophical concept begins with Heraclitus's question: “How is that which differs fr…

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Walter Kern, “Dialectics”, in: Sacramentum Mundi Online, General Editor Karl Rahner, SJ. Consulted online on 03 October 2023 <>
First published online: 2016

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