Dialectic and Didactic: Divergent Paths to Contemporary Discourse
This paper attempts to uncover the semantic history of the concepts of “dialectic” and “didactic” which goes back to the Ancient Greece. I compare and contrast Socrates/Plato’s and Aristotle’s approaches to dialectic. Dialectic became associated with formal logic in Scholasticism, and, as such, came under attack by secular and religious humanists in late Medieval Europe. The history of didactic began with Aristotle who introduced it in Sophistical Refutations to indicate a type of argument, synonymous to demonstration, but not antonymous to dialectic. Almost forgotten during the late Antiquity and early Middle Ages, didactic enjoyed wide acceptance by Ramists, especially Commenius, who saw in it a revolutionary methodological approach to education differing from the Scholastic trivium. While the contemporary use of didactic, whose intellectual value has significantly diminished since Commenius, is largely confined to the realm of instruction, dialectic became associated with the ideas of Hegel and Marx.
Key words: Dialectic; Didactic; Discourse; Plato; Aristotle; Ramus; Commenius; Descartes; Hegel
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