Frames, Communication, and Public Policymaking

Frames, Communication, and Public Policymaking

My previous post was on introducing frames, framing and reframing. I focused on use of frames in areas of

  • Media
  • Communication
  • Sociology and Social Movements
  • Political Science
  • International Relations

Frames and Framing are used in two other areas

  • Frame Effects in Decision Making /Kahneman and Tversky
  • Frame Analysis in Public Policy Making / David Schon and Martin Rein

This post is focused on Frame Analysis as used in public policy making.

Frames and Frame Analysis

Source: From Policy “Frames” to “Framing”: Theorizing a More Dynamic, Political Approach.

The concept of frames or framing, especially cast as “frame analysis,” has an established history in public policy studies, building largely on the work of Donald Schön and Martin Rein. It is an important analytic “tool” for those seeking to understand, for instance, issues in the mismatch between administrators’ implementation of legislated policies and policy intent. Originally coined elsewhere (Bateson, 1955/1972a), the concept had, by the 1990s, been taken up in a wide range of academic disciplines. These included, in addition to public policy analysis (e.g., Rein, 1983a, 1983b; Rein & Schön, 1977; Schön, 1979/1993; Schön & Rein 1994, 1996), artificial intelligence and psychology (e.g., Minsky, 1975; Schank & Abelson, 1977; Tversky & Kahneman, 1981), linguistics (e.g., Fillmore, 1982; Lakoff, 1987; Tannen, 1979; see Cienki, 2007), social movement studies (e.g., Gamson, 1992; Morris & Mueller, 1992; Snow & Benford, 1988; Snow, Rochford, Worden, & Benford, 1986; for an overview, see Benford & Snow, 2000), communication studies (e.g., D’Angelo, 2002; de Vreese, 2012; Entman, 1993; for a critical overview, see Vliegenthart & van Zoonen, 2011), dispute resolution (e.g., Dewulf et al., 2009; Putnam & Holmer, 1992), and even music (Cone, 1968). Yet as the Rein–Schön policy analytic approach to framing is, today, less well known than its version in the social movement literature, public policy and administration scholars might be more likely to turn to the latter than the former in seeking to explain frame-related issues. Given what we see as the greater suitability of their approach for analyzing policy processes, we think the ideas they developed worth revisiting and extending in ways that enhance their applicability to dynamic, power-sensitive policy and administrative issues.

Although Schön also explored the subject in his own scholarship on metaphors (1979/1993) and reflective practice (e.g., 1983, 1987)—each of which might be understood, at least in part, as engaging aspects of framing—its policy applications are most fully elaborated in his collaborative work with Rein. Where Rein used “frame-reflective analysis” interchangeably with “value- critical analysis” (on this point, see Schmidt, 2006/2013), together they began focusing on frame analysis as “a methodology for problem setting” (Rein & Schön, 1977, p. 237). Later, they added its utility for investigating the possible resolution of policy controversies (Rein & Schön, 1986, 1993), and in particular those they saw as “stubborn” (Rein & Schön, 1991) or “intractable” (Rein & Schön, 1996; see also Rein, 1983a, 1983b; Schön, 1963/2001): prolonged debates on issues marked by uncertainties and ambiguities that were “highly resistant to resolution by appeal to evidence, research, or reasoned argument” (Schön & Rein, 1994, p. xi).1 Their collaboration ultimately led to the co-authored Frame Reflection (Schön & Rein, 1994).

Schön and Rein’s approach to frame analysis has been generative for many policy scholars across a range of topics, from waste management to immigrant integration, civil aviation to bovine TB (see, for example, Dudley, 1999; Grant, 2009; Hajer & Laws 2006; Hisschemöller & Hoppe, 1996; Kaufman & Smith, 1999; Laws & Rein, 2003; Rasmussen, 2011; Schmidt, 2006/2013; Scholten & Van Nispen, 2008; Sørensen, 2006; van Eeten, 2001; Yanow, 2009). Still, for all its utility, their approach warrants further development to realize its policy analytic potential in the context of intractable policy controversies, in particular with respect to the promise it holds out of a dynamic, process-oriented engagement that is politically nuanced and power-sensitive. In this context, it would be particularly suitable for understanding interactions not only in formal political arenas but also in governance networks (Koppenjan & Klijn, 2004) and in the more mundane encounters between street-level bureaucrats and their clients (Lipsky, 1980; Maynard-Moody & Musheno, 2003; Vinzant & Crothers, 1996). In extending their approach, we draw on various ideas we find in Schön’s earlier solo work (1963/2001, 1971), and we join Schön and Rein’s treatment of policy frame analysis with ideas deriving from category and narrative analyses, two related analytic modes.

To make the potential contributions of this policy analytic focus on framing clearer, we differentiate it from approaches that focus on frames. In our reading of these approaches, social movement theorizing chief among them, “frames” are often treated as objects people possess in their heads and develop for explicitly strategic purposes. By contrast, the policy analytic approach we engage here shifts the focus to “framing,” the interactive, intersubjective processes through which frames are constructed (cf. Weick, 1979).2 This distinction is more significant than mere differences between parts of speech: “frame” signifies a more definitional, static, and potentially taxonomizing approach to the subject; “framing” offers a more dynamic and, in our view, potentially politically aware engagement. Although the two treatments are not necessarily mutually exclusive,3 each brings different features of the processes conceptualized as frames/framing to light. To be sure, Schön and Rein’s work has aspects of both: Their case studies (e.g., of home- lessness; 1994) trace policy developments over time, listing policy programs adopted in specific cases whose names are the equivalent of different frames on the policy problem, and the policy settings of those cases introduce some elements of political processes. Our argument develops the political character of policy processes more fully, thereby enabling a policy-focused frame theorizing and analysis that flesh out the more dynamic and politically sensitive aspects of their work. This also enables us to address some of the issues raised by social movement and dispute resolution studies’ treatments of frames (e.g., Benford, 1997; Dewulf et al., 2009).

Knowing something of the conceptual history out of which frame analysis emerged clarifies what is at stake in these different approaches. We begin there and with Schön’s and Rein’s basic ideas before turning to the further development of a policy analytic approach.

Key Terms

  • Frame Analysis
  • Frame Reflection
  • Frames
  • Framing
  • Reframing
  • Media Frames
  • Communication
  • Policy making
  • Action Learning
  • Learning in Action
  • Reflection in Action
  • Organizational Learning
  • Double Loop Learning
  • Gregory Bateson
  • Erving Goffman
  • Chris Argyris
  • Martin Rein
  • Donald Schon
  • Reflective Practitioner
  • Interpretative Frames
  • Cognitive Frames
  • Interactional Frames
  • Contextual Frames
  • Sensemaking
  • Sensegiving
  • Priming
  • Agenda-setting
  • Persuasion
  • Schemas
  • Scripts. 
  • Levels of Analysis
  • Micro, Meso, Macro
  • Deep Frames
  • Issue Defining Frames
  • Surface Messages
  • Frame Alignment
  • Frame Consonance
  • Frame Discordance
  • Contested Frames

Categories of Frames: Policy Frames Codebook

Source: Identifying Media Frames and Frame Dynamics Within and Across Policy Issues

Our Policy Frames Codebook is intended to provide the best of both worlds: a general system for categorizing frames across policy issues designed so that it can also be specialized in issue-specific ways. The codebook contains 14 categories of frame “dimensions” (plus an “other” category) that are intended to be applicable to any policy issue (abortion, immigration, foreign aid, etc.) and in any communication context (news stories, Twitter, party manifestos, legislative debates, etc.). The dimensions are listed below.

  1. Economic frames: The costs, benefits, or monetary/financial implications of the issue (to an individual, family, community or to the economy as a whole).
  2. Capacity and resources frames: The lack of or availability of physical, geographical, spatial, human, and financial resources, or the capacity of existing systems and resources to implement or carry out policy goals.
  3. Morality frames: Any perspective—or policy objective or action (including proposed action)— that is compelled by religious doctrine or interpretation, duty, honor, righteousness or any other sense of ethics or social responsibility.
  4. Fairness and equality frames: Equality or inequality with which laws, punishment, rewards, and resources are applied or distributed among individuals or groups. Also the balance between the rights or interests of one individual or group compared to another individual or group.
  5. Constitutionality and jurisprudence frames: The constraints imposed on or freedoms granted to individuals, government, and corporations via the Constitution, Bill of Rights and other amendments, or judicial interpretation. This deals specifically with the authority of government to regulate, and the authority of individuals/corporations to act independently of government.
  6. Policy prescription and evaluation: Particular policies proposed for addressing an identified problem, and figuring out if certain policies will work, or if existing policies are effective.
  7. Law and order, crime and justice frames: Specific policies in practice and their enforcement, incentives, and implications. Includes stories about enforcement and interpretation of laws by individuals and law enforcement, breaking laws, loopholes, fines, sentencing and punishment. Increases or reductions in crime.
  8. Security and defense frames: Security, threats to security, and protection of one’s person, family, in-group, nation, etc. Generally an action or a call to action that can be taken to protect the welfare of a person, group, nation sometimes from a not yet manifested threat.
  1. Health and safety frames: Healthcare access and effectiveness, illness, disease, sanitation, obesity, mental health effects, prevention of or perpetuation of gun violence, infrastructure and building safety.
  2. Quality of life frames: The effects of a policy on individuals’ wealth, mobility, access to resources, happiness, social structures, ease of day-to-day routines, quality of community life, etc.
  3. Cultural identity frames: The social norms, trends, values and customs constituting culture(s), as they relate to a specific policy issue
  4. Public opinion frames: References to general social attitudes, polling and demographic information, as well as implied or actual consequences of diverging from or getting ahead of public opinion or polls.
  5. Political frames: Any political considerations surrounding an issue. Issue actions or efforts or stances that are political, such as partisan filibusters, lobbyist involvement, bipartisan efforts, deal-making and vote trading, appealing to one’s base, mentions of political maneuvering. Explicit statements that a policy issue is good or bad for a particular political party.
  6. External regulation and reputation frames: The United States’ external relations with another nation; the external relations of one state with another; or relations between groups. This includes trade agreements and outcomes, comparisons of policy outcomes or desired policy outcomes.
  7. Other frames: Any frames that do not fit into the above categories.

Researchers may choose to employ only these categories as listed here, or they could also nest issue-specific frames (or arguments) within each category. For example, in the case of capital punishment, the “innocence” frame would be a frame specific to that issue but categorized under the dimension of “fairness and equality.” In this way, scholars can apply the Policy Frames Codebook to new content analysis projects or take existing datasets that employed issue-specific frames and categorize those frames into the dimensions provided here.

We developed these categories through a mix of inductive and deductive methods. We began by brainstorming—amongst our team and several colleagues—categories that we imagined would cross- cut most, if not all, policy issues while also examining a random sampling of newspaper stories and blog posts to see which frames appeared and how we might categorize them. Then we tried applying our preliminary list of frame categories to a random sample of front-page newspaper stories covering a wide range of issues, and revised our categorization scheme accordingly. Next, we shopped our list around, sending it to additional colleagues and presenting it at an international conference (the 20th International Conference of Europeanists), again revising our schema based on this feedback. Finally, we did another round of test coding. Throughout this testing process, we developed and revised not only our list of categories but also a codebook that defines and gives examples for each category.

Framing: a Fractured Paradigm

Source: Putting Framing in Perspective: A Review of Framing and Frame Analysis across the Management and Organizational Literature

Framing and frames form an important cornerstone of many areas of management and organizational research – even if, at times, the interest in related constructs (such as schemas or categories) has seemingly had the upper hand. In one sense, our paper has been an attempt to take stock of the current literature while further advancing and invigorating research into the role of framing across the micro, meso and macro levels of analysis in management and organization studies. In part, this motivation has been driven by a recognition of the analytical strength and versatility of the construct, as evidenced by the various research streams that it has spawned within management, and indeed across the social sciences. At the same time, this vast influence across areas of research has perhaps also come at a price. It has led to a “fractured paradigm” (Entman, 1993), with researchers typically adopting a singular and more narrow focus on the construct at a particular level of analysis.

A general consequence of bracketing the broader construct in this way is that it has deflected attention away from processes of framing as meaning construction to a focus on frames as stable symbols or thoughts, with many studies setting out to “name” frames and explore how they prime certain thoughts and behaviours (e.g., Benford, 1997; Schneiberg & Clemens, 2006). The focus, in other words, is on the effects of cognitive frames, once these are established, in structuring expectations and cueing behavioural responses. This is useful for explaining how default frames may impinge on actors, and may script their behaviour, but does not account for how such frames of reference emerge in the first place. The bracketing of the construct may thus have blinded researchers to the active struggles and negotiations over meaning that take place before a frame might emerge, and before the meaning of an organized group or indeed an entire institutional field might contract around a frame.

We point in the paper to specific research opportunities and methods that enable further research to progress beyond “naming frames”, and explore framing as dynamic processes of meaning construction within and across groups and organizations. To a large extent, these opportunities will also involve research designs and methods that make stronger connections across levels of analysis, and consider the reciprocal influence between language, cognition, and culture. The methods that we have highlighted, ranging from interaction analysis to semantic-network analysis, are adept at this and allow for richer and more processual analyses of framing. Indeed, we hope that these methods will benefit researchers in realizing the highlighted opportunities and in advancing research on framing across a variety of organizational and institutional contexts.

Framing – Cognitive and Interactional

Source: Framing mechanisms: the interpretive policy entrepreneur’s toolbox

The framing literature is divided into two streams – a cognitive and an interactional type. Cognitive framing entails the individual understanding of a (policy) situation by assigning meaning to elements and binding them together in a coherent story (Scholten and Van Nispen 2008; Stone 2002; Van Hulst and Yanow 2014; Hawkins and Holden 2013). The interactional framing literature engages with the interactive effects of frames. Part of that literature focuses on the instrumental use of framing for ‘the rhetorical functions of persuasion, justification and symbolic display’ (Schön and Rein 1994, 32, cf.; Entman 1993; Gallo-Cruz 2012). However, the interactional framing literature, we use here, revolves around the function of actors making meaning together in interaction with each other (Dewulf and Bouwen 2012; Dodge 2015). Specifically, we follow Dewulf and Bouwen (2012, 169), who define framing as ‘the dynamic enactment and alignment of meaning in ongoing interactions’. In this understanding, framing is finding a consensus among actors over the meaning of a (policy) situation instead of doing so individually. We understand the interactional framing mechanisms Dewulf and Bouwen (2012) propose as processes initiated by an actor for meaning-making, and may also be used consciously in an instrumental way.

Figure 2. Flow chart of Interpretive Policy Entrepreneur characteristics.

Figure 3. Framing interaction mechanisms (adapted from Dewulf and Bouwen 2012).

Frame Constructs by Level of Analysis

Source: PUTTING FRAMING IN PERSPECTIVE: A REVIEW OF FRAMING AND FRAME ANALYSIS ACROSS THE MANAGEMENT AND ORGANIZATIONAL LITERATURE

Source: PUTTING FRAMING IN PERSPECTIVE: A REVIEW OF FRAMING AND FRAME ANALYSIS ACROSS THE MANAGEMENT AND ORGANIZATIONAL LITERATURE

Source: Integrated Framing: A Micro to Macro Case for The Landscape

Narratives, Frames, and Settings

Source: Narrative Frames and Settings in Policy Narratives

A unique aspect of the Narrative Policy Framework (NPF) is that it holds in the balance a social construction ontology with an objective epistemology. According to the NPF, policy realities are socially constructed through a particular perspective in a narrative, and our understanding of how these narratives operate in the policy space can be measured empirically through narrative elements and strategies (Shanahan, Jones, McBeth, and Radaelli, 2017). The NPF contends that empirically understanding the social construction of policy realities sheds light on enduring policy process questions such as why policy arenas remain intractable, how coalition learning and coordination occurs, and, ultimately, how and under what conditions policies change.

To address these broad research inquiries, much of the previous NPF research has focused on singular narrative elements such as characters (e.g., Weible, Olofsson, Costie, Katz, and Heikkila, 2016) and plot (e.g., Shanahan, Jones, McBeth, and Lane, 2013) as well as the narrative strategies of causal mechanism (e.g., Shanahan, Adams, Jones, and McBeth, 2014), distribution of costs and benefits (e.g., McBeth, Shanahan, Arnell, and Hathaway, 2007) and policy beliefs (Shanahan, Jones, and McBeth, 2011). Importantly, these elements and strategies have been generally studied as isolates; the next generation of NPF scholarship is beginning to explore how these narrative components array within the story, to proffer a particular policy perspective. What has not been studied or specified is the role of the narrative element settings in shaping the realities constructed in policy narratives, particularly with how characters array in different settings and how settings are situated within frames. By focusing on the nested nature of characters, settings, and frames, this study aims to reveal the dynamic workings of narratives in the policy terrain.

Why settings? Settings literally are the perspective given to an audience, whether a broad legalistic backdrop (e.g., a statute or Constitution), an aerial regional view (e.g., a map), or a ground-level geographic place (e.g., a landmark or house). Policy scholars (e.g., Weible 2014) often herald the import of context in understanding policy processes; we argue that a setting is the narrative interpretation of policy context. The policy context may include a particular geographic and/or political realm, but a narrative setting provides a particular viewpoint of this context. Such a backdrop delimits what the audience experiences of the narrative, whether the setting is micro (in a room) or macro (aerial view). In turn, settings come alive through the action of the characters. Thus, not only understanding and operationalizing settings, but also linking two narrative elements—characters and settings—are new steps in NPF research.

Why frames? How frames operate in or around narratives has been an issue over which NPF architects have puzzled. Functionally, frames and narratives have similar meaning-making cognitive processes (Jones and Song, 2014) and both shape people’s opinions about policy issues. Crow and Lawlor (2016) add that frames form the central organizing idea and turn facts into a story by selecting and emphasizing some attributes over others, as other framing and policy scholars note (e.g., Stone 2012; McCombs and Ghanem, 2001; Gamson and Madigliani, 1989; Druckman, 2001a). Thus, frames are important and shape the parameters in which narratives unfold. However, are there multiple narratives within one frame? Are divergent narratives housed within the same frame? Does one narrator use multiple frames? Answering these questions will help to shed light on the import of narratives in the context of frames.

My Related Posts

Frames, Framing and Reframing

Erving Goffman: Dramaturgy of Social Life

Key sources of Research

Perspectives on Framing

edited by Gideon Keren

2011

Identifying Media Frames and Frame Dynamics Within and Across Policy Issues

Amber E. Boydstun, University of California, Davis Justin H. Gross, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill Philip Resnik, University of Maryland, College Park Noah A. Smith, Carnegie Mellon University

September 16, 2013

Tracking the Development of Media Frames within and across Policy Issues

Amber E. Boydstun, University of California, Davis∗

Dallas Card, Carnegie Mellon University

Justin H. Gross, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Philip Resnik, University of Maryland, College Park

Noah A. Smith, Carnegie Mellon University

August 19, 2014

https://kilthub.cmu.edu/articles/journal_contribution/Tracking_the_Development_of_Media_Frames_within_and_across_Policy_Issues/6473780

Levels of Information: A Framing Hierarchy

Shlomi Sher Department of Psychology University of California, San Diego

Craig R. M. McKenzie
Rady School of Management and Department of Psychology University of California, San Diego

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.176.189&rep=rep1&type=pdf

From Policy “Frames” to “Framing”: Theorizing a More Dynamic, Political Approach.

van Hulst, M. J., & Yanow, D. (2016).

The American Review of Public Administration, 46(1), 92–112.

The Framing Theory

Frames

IDEAS, POLITICS, AND PUBLIC POLICY

John L. Campbell
Department of Sociology, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire 03755,

e-mail: john.l.campbell@dartmouth.edu

Annu.Rev. Sociol. 2002. 28:21-38

doi: 10.1146/annurev.soc.28.110601.14111

Click to access Ideas,%20behavior%20and%20politics%20review.pdf

Framing Shale Gas for Policy-Making in Poland,

Aleksandra Lis & Piotr Stankiewicz (2016):

Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning,

DOI: 10.1080/1523908X.2016.1143355

http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1523908X.2016.1143355

https://repozytorium.umk.pl/bitstream/handle/item/3061/Framing%20Shale%20Gas%20for%20Policy%20Making%20in%20Poland.pdf?sequence=1

Donald Schon

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Schön

Frame Reflection: Toward the Resolution of Intractable Policy Controversies

By Donald A. Schon and Martin Rein

Summary written by Conflict Research Consortium Staff

https://www.beyondintractability.org/bksum/schon-frame

Contesting media frames and policy change

The influence of media frames of immigration policy-related incidents contesting dominant policy frames on changes in Dutch immigration policies

Rianne Dekker & Peter Scholten Department of Public Administration Erasmus University Rotterdam P.O. Box 1738
3000 DR Rotterdam r.dekker@fsw.eur.nl

Framing Resilience. From a Model-based Approach to a Management Process

Hanneke Duijnhoven

Martijn Neef

Procedia Economics and Finance
Volume 18, 2014, Pages 425-430

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2212567114009599

Neighborhood, City, or Region: Deconstructing Scale in Planning Frames

By Kate Lowe

Reframing Problematic Policies

Martin Rein

The Oxford Handbook of Political Science Edited by Robert E. Goodin

Print Publication Date: Jul 2011

Online Publication Date: Sep 2013

DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199604456.013.0046

https://www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199604456.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780199604456-e-046?print=pdf

https://www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199604456.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780199604456-e-046

From Policy “Frames” to “Framing”

van Hulst, M.J.; Yanow, Dvora

The American Review of Public Administration, 46(1), 92–112

2016

Frame Analysis in Environmental Conflicts: The case of ethanol production in Brazil

Ester Galli

PhD Dissertation 2011

KTH – Royal Institute of Technology
School of Industrial Engineering and Management Division of Industrial Ecology
100 44 Stockholm

Donald Schon (Schön): learning, reflection and change

Chris Argyris: theories of action, double-loop learning and organizational learning

Reframing Policy Discourse

Martin Rein and Donald Schön

In book The Argumentative Turn in Policy Analysis and Planning

Edited by Frank Fischer and John Forester 1993

https://read.dukeupress.edu/books/book/1999/chapter-abstract/238545/Reframing-Policy-Discourse?redirectedFrom=fulltext

FRAMING CONTESTS: STRATEGY MAKING UNDER UNCERTAINTY

Sarah Kaplan
University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School 3620 Locust Walk, Suite 2019 Philadelphia, PA 19104-6370 215-898-6377 slkaplan@wharton.upenn.edu

Frame Reflection: A Critical Review of US Military Approaches to Complex Situations

Ben Zweibelson, Major, US Army
Grant Martin, Lieutenant Colonel, US Army
Dr. Christopher Paparone, Colonel (retired), US Army

Identifying policy frames through semantic network analysis : an examination of nuclear energy policy across six countries

Shim, J, Park, C and Wilding, M

http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11077­015­9211­3

Click to access Semantic%20network%20for%20nuclear%20energy%20policy%20_%20Accepted%20version.pdf

Critical Frame Analysis:
A Comparative Methodology for the ‘Quality in Gender+ Equality Policies’ (QUING) project

Tamas Dombos

Click to access cps-working-paper-critical-frame-analysis-quing-2012.pdf

Integrated Framing: A Micro to Macro Case for The Landscape

*Filip Aggestam

Department of Environmental Engineering, University of Natural Resources and Life sciences, Austria

Submission: February 22, 2017; Published: March 21, 2017
*Corresponding author: Filip Aggestam, Department of Environmental Engineering, University of Natural Resources and Life sciences, Vienna,

Austria,

Volume 2 Issue 1 – March 2017
DOI: 10.19080/IJESNR.2017.02.555578

Int J Environ Sci Nat Res 

https://juniperpublishers.com/ijesnr/IJESNR.MS.ID.555578.php

Where is urban food policy in Switzerland? A frame analysis

Heidrun Moschitz

Department of Socio-economics, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture, Frick, Switzerland

INTERNATIONAL PLANNING STUDIES, 2018
VOL. 23, NO. 2, 180–194 https://doi.org/10.1080/13563475.2017.1389644

Framing Environmental Health Decision-Making: The Struggle over Cumulative Impacts Policy


by Devon C. Payne-Sturges 1,*,†, Thurka Sangaramoorthy 2,†OrcID and Helen Mittmann 2,3
1
Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health, School of Public Health, University of Maryland, 2234 L SPH, 255 Valley Drive, College Park, MD 20742, USA
2
Department of Anthropology, University of Maryland, 1111 Woods Hall, 4302 Chapel Lane, College Park, MD 20742, USA
3
Department of Health Policy and Management, Milken Institute School of Public Health, George Washington University, 950 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20052, USA

Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(8), 3947; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18083947
Received: 14 March 2021 / Revised: 5 April 2021 / Accepted: 7 April 2021 / Published: 9 April 2021

https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/18/8/3947/htm

Narrative and Frame Analysis: Disentangling and Refining Two Close Relatives by Means of a Large Infrastructural Technology Case

Ewert J. Aukes, Lotte E. Bontje & Jill H. Slinger

FQS

Volume 21, No. 2, Art. 28 – May 2020

https://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/3422

https://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/3422/4620

Framing in policy processes: A case study from hospital planning in the National Health Service in England, 

Jones, L., Exworthy, M.,

Social Science & Medicine (2014),

doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.11.046

Click to access Jones_Exworthy_Framing_policy_processes_Social_Science_Medicine_2014.pdf

The Constructionist Approach to Framing: Bringing Culture Back In

Baldwin Van Gorp

Department of Communication Science, Radboud University Nijmegen, 6500 HC Nijmegen, The Netherlands

Journal of Communication ISSN 0021-9916

Framing Public Issues

Framework Institute

Framing mechanisms: the interpretive policy entrepreneur’s toolbox,

Ewert Aukes, Kris Lulofs & Hans Bressers (2017):

Critical Policy Studies,

DOI: 10.1080/19460171.2017.1314219

http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/19460171.2017.1314219

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/19460171.2017.1314219

Chapter 23: Between representation and narration: analysing policy frames

Kathrin Braun

Handbook of Critical Policy Studies

Edited by Frank Fischer, Douglas Torgerson, Anna Durnová and Michael Orsini

Published in print: 18 Dec 2015

ISBN: 9781783472345e

ISBN: 9781783472352

DOI: https://doi.org/10.4337/9781783472352

https://www.elgaronline.com/view/edcoll/9781783472345/9781783472345.00033.xml

Putting Framing in Perspective: A Review of Framing and Frame Analysis across the Management and Organizational Literature

Joep P. Cornelissen and Mirjam D. Werner

Published Online: 1 Jan 2014 

https://doi.org/10.5465/19416520.2014.875669

Academy of Management Annals VOL. 8, NO. 1

https://journals.aom.org/doi/full/10.5465/19416520.2014.875669

The sense of it all: Framing and narratives in sensegiving about a strategic change. 

Logemann, M., Piekkari, R., & Cornelissen, J. (2019).

Long Range Planning, 52(5), [101852]. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lrp.2018.10.002

The Aesthetics of Story-telling as a Technology of the Plausible

Esther Eidinow (Nottingham) and Rafael Ramirez (Oxford)

From Interactions to Institutions: Microprocesses of Framing and Mechanisms for the Structuring of Institutional Fields

Barbara Gray

Jill M. Purdy

University of Washington Tacoma, jpurdy@uw.edu 

Shahzad (Shaz) Ansari

2015

https://digitalcommons.tacoma.uw.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=&httpsredir=1&article=1078&context=business_pub

Placing Strategy Discourse in Context: Sociomateriality, Sensemaking, and Power.

Balogun, J., Jacobs, C., Jarzabkowski, P., Mantere, S. and Vaara, E. (2014).

Journal of Management Studies, 51(2), pp. 175-201. doi: 10.1111/joms.12059

https://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/8142/1/

Are Logics Enough? Framing as an Alternative Tool for Understanding Institutional Meaning Making

Jill Purdy

Milgard School of Business University of Washington Tacoma

Shaz Ansari

Cambridge Judge Business School University of Cambridge

Barbara Gray

Smeal College of Business The Pennsylvania State University

https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/bitstream/handle/1810/267326/Are+Logics+Enough+May+31+2017.pdf?sequence=3

Do Scale Frames Matter? Scale Frame Mismatches in the Decision Making Process of a “Mega Farm” in a Small Dutch Village

Maartje van Lieshout 1Art Dewulf 2Noelle Aarts 3,4 and Catrien Termeer 5


1PhD candidate Public Administration and Policy Group, Wageningen University, 2Assistant professor Public Administration and Policy Group Wageningen University, 3Associate professor Communication Science Group Wageningen University, 4Professor Strategic Communication University of Amsterdam, 5Professor of Public Administration and Policy Wageningen University

http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol16/iss1/art38/

The End of Framing as we Know it . . . and the Future of Media Effects

Michael A. Cacciatore

Department of Advertising and Public Relations University of Georgia

Dietram A. Scheufele

Department of Life Sciences Communication University of Wisconsin and Annenberg Public Policy Center, University of Pennsylvania

Shanto Iyengar

Department of Communication and Department of Political Science Stanford University

Mass Communication and Society, 19:7–23, 2016

Reframing as a Best Practice: The Priority of Process in Highly Adaptive Decision Making.

Dr. Gary Peters

March 24, 2008

Strategic Frame Analysis & Policy Making – Frameworks Institute

frameworksinstitute.org

https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/view/35169177/strategic-frame-analysis-policy-making-frameworks-institute

The Art and Science of Framing an Issue

Chapter 16: Frames and framing in policymaking

Handbook on Policy, Process and Governing
Edited by H. K. Colebatch and Robert Hoppe

Published in print: 28 Dec 2018

ISBN: 9781784714864e

ISBN: 9781784714871

DOI: https://doi.org/10.4337/9781784714871

Pages: c 528

https://www.elgaronline.com/view/edcoll/9781784714864/9781784714864.00024.xml

Frame Reflection: Toward the Resolution of Intractrable Policy Controversies 

Paperback – June 29, 1995

by Donald A. Schon (Author)

Narrative Frames and Settings in Policy Narratives

Kate French (kfrench406@gmail.com) Elizabeth A. Shanahan (shanahan@montana.edu)* Eric D. Raile (eric.raile@monatan.edu) Jamie McEvoy (Jamie.mcevoy@montana.edu)

Montana State University

Heuristics for practitioners of policy design: Rules-of-thumb for structuring unstructured problems

Robert Hoppe

University of Twente, The Netherlands

Public Policy and Administration

0(0) 1–25 / 2017

Competitive Framing in Political Decision Making (2019)

in: Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics

Chong, Dennis

Analysis of Framing on the Public Policies from the View of Rein & Schoen Approach

Challoumis, Constantinos,

(November 17, 2018).

Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3286338 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3286338

Policy framing in the European Union

DOI:10.1080/13501760701314474

Falk Daviter

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/248990447_Policy_framing_in_the_European_Union

Media in the Policy Process: Using Framing and Narratives to Understand Policy Influences

Deserai A. CrowAndrea Lawlor

First published: 07 September 2016

 https://doi.org/10.1111/ropr.12187

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/ropr.12187

In the frame: how policy choices are shaped by the way ideas are presented 

11th May 2018

Policy Framing Analysis.

Daviter F. (2011)

In: Policy Framing in the European Union.

Palgrave Studies in European Union Politics. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230343528_2

https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1057%2F9780230343528_2

Framing and the health policy process: a scoping review

Adam D Koon,*Benjamin Hawkins, and  Susannah H Mayhew

Health Policy Plan. 2016 Jul; 31(6): 801–816. 

Published online 2016 Feb 11. 

doi: 10.1093/heapol/czv128

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4916318/

Framing Shale Gas for Policy-Making in Poland

ALEKSANDRA LIS∗ & PIOTR STANKIEWICZ∗∗

∗Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poznan ́, Poland
∗∗Institute for Sociology, Nicholas Copernicus University in Torun, Torun ́, Poland

Frame-critical policy analysis and frame-reflective policy practice. 

Rein, M., Schön, D.

Knowledge and Policy 9, 85–104 (1996).

https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02832235

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF02832235

The Oxford Handbook of Public Policy, Volume 3

edited by Michael Moran, Martin Rein, Robert Edward Goodin, Robert E. Goodin, Professor of Urban Studies Martin Rein

Reframing Problematic Policies  

Martin Rein

The Oxford Handbook of Political Science

Edited by Robert E. Goodin

Print Publication Date: Jul 2011

Online Publication Date: Sep 2013

DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199604456.013.0046

https://www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199604456.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780199604456-e-046

Framing and Feedback

Constantinos Challoumis Κωνσταντίνος Χαλλουμής

National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

Date Written: November 24, 2018

https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3289905

Power to the Frame: Bringing Sociology Back to Frame Analysis

DOI:10.1177/0267323111404838

Authors:

Rens Vliegenthart

Liesbet van Zoonen

Frames, Framing and Reframing

Frames, Framing and Reframing

Sources: Locating Frames in the Discursive Universe

Scholars from a range of disciplines use the term ‘frame’ to mean a variety of disjointed and incompatible concepts. This paper examines a range of framing literature, from the writings of authors including Erving Goffman, Tuen van Dijk, Serge Moscovici, George Lakoff, Alan Johnson, William Gamson, David Snow, Robert Benford and Paolo Donati. Then it develops the theoretical case for defining frames as semi-structured elements of discourse which people use to make sense of information they encounter. Additionally, this paper demonstrates the need to include social system frames, which provide patterns for understanding social relations, among the presently acknowledged frame types. Frames develop in parallel with language, vary across cultures, and shape, but are distinct from other extra-linguistic discourse forms, including myths and ideologies.

Sources: Frames and Their Consequences

The concept of framing has been used to capture these diverse processes by scholars of the media (Gitlin 1980; Carragee and Woefs 2004), international relations (Bernstein 2002; Berejekian 1997), decisionmaking (Kahneman and Tversky 1986), policymaking (Schon and Rein 1994), and social movements.

Key Terms

  • Mental Models
  • World Views
  • Perspectives
  • Narratives
  • Retrospective Narrative
  • Multi Valent Logic
  • AnteNarrative
  • Law of Requisite Variety
  • Problem Structuring Methods
  • Drama
  • Scenarios
  • Dialectics
  • Meta Theater
  • Lenses
  • System in Focus
  • Focal Point
  • Boundaries
  • Inclusion and Exclusion
  • Frames
  • Framing
  • Reframing
  • Frames Rejected
  • Frames Accepted
  • Multi Perspectivism
  • Multiple Frames
  • Arguments
  • Biases and Prejudices
  • Counterfactuals (for past events)
  • What Ifs
  • Ideology
  • Mindset
  • Script
  • Preferences
  • Selection
  • Self Interest
  • Agenda
  • Why, What and How of a Narrative
  • Frame the Domain
  • Point of View
  • Field of Vision
  • Histories and Plots
  • Frame the issue

David Boje’s Dramatic Septet

David Boje expanded Kenneth Burke’s dramatic pentad to include Rhythms and Frames.

What are Frames?

Source: Critical Dramaturgical Analysis of Enron Antenarratives and Metatheatre

Source: Critical Dramaturgical Analysis of Enron Antenarratives and Metatheatre

Frames, Framing and Reframing

By
Sanda Kaufman
Michael Elliott
Deborah Shmueli

Original Publication September 2003

What Frames Are

Frames are cognitive shortcuts that people use to help make sense of complex information. Frames help us to interpret the world around us and represent that world to others. They help us organize complex phenomena into coherent, understandable categories. When we label a phenomenon, we give meaning to some aspects of what is observed, while discounting other aspects because they appear irrelevant or counter-intuitive. Thus, frames provide meaning through selective simplification, by filtering people’s perceptions and providing them with a field of vision for a problem.

Frames can significantly affect the intractability of a conflict by creating mutually incompatible interpretations of events. Because frames are built upon underlying structures of beliefs, values, and experiences, disputants often construct frames that differ in significant ways. A simple example is attitudes towards abortion in the US.  “Pro-life” advocates believe abortion is murder of an innocent, unborn child which has as much right to live as anyone else–thus they see the fetus as a person, and abortion as a willful act that murders a person. “Pro-choice” advocates, however, do not see the fetus as a “person” with human rights–not until it becomes “viable” outside the womb, at any rate.  Before then, they focus on the rights of the mother, asserting that she should have ultimate control and “choice” about her medical decisions and what happens to her body.

Frames often exist prior to conscious processing of information for decision-making[1] and affect subsequent individual decisions.[2] Thus, disputants are separated not only by differences in interests, beliefs, and values, but also in how they perceive and understand the world, both at a conscious and pre-conscious level.[3]  

Framing involves both the construction of interpretive frames and their representation to others. Disputants may use framing not only as an aid to interpreting events, but also to promote strategic advantage.[4] Framing can be useful for rationalizing self-interest, convincing a broader audience, building coalitions, or lending preferentiality to specific outcomes. As such, many factors affect how people frame a conflict, which, in turn, influences the direction the conflict takes.[5]

This essay explores the nature of frames and the framing process. It seeks to

  • clarify the basic concepts,
  • present an overview of what is known about frames and framing and their impact on conflict dynamics,
  • explore the forms of framing that are most significant to intractable conflicts,
  • examine the potential for reframing and frame changes as part of a process of reconciliation or conflict resolution, and
  • direct the reader to other web- and print-based resources that can provide more detail.
Definitions

Differing conceptual frames held by the parties involved in a dispute form the basis on which they act. Each party to a conflict has its own perception and understanding of their agenda, the relevance of various issues, their priorities, and the opportunities and risks involved with different choices. This assemblage of factors can be considered as a set of lenses, or filters, through which the various parties view the conflict, and is called the frame or conceptual frame.

In the English language, the word “frame” can be used both as a verb (to frame) or as a noun (a frame). As a noun, frame denotes the boundary within which the whole picture is displayed (similar to a frame placed around a picture or painting), and is used as a tool for interpreting and understanding the perceptions and underlying objectives of the various actors in the conflict. As a verb, framing refers to the creation of frames, either from a simple reading of the situation or through a deliberative, analytic, or strategic process.

The concept of frames has been developed as a tool for analysis in various fields, including psychology and sociology,[6] business management,[7] artificial intelligence,[8] decision-making,[9] negotiation,[10] and environmental conflict management.[11] Relevant to understanding intractable conflict are definitions given by such scholars as Minsky,[12] Tannen,[13] and Gray,[14] for whom frames are “cognitive structures held in memory and used to guide interpretation of new experience.” Furthermore, “parties rely on these mental structures to interpret or make sense of ongoing events.”[15] Frames are also defined as “collections of perceptions and thoughts that people use to define a situation, organize information, and determine what is important and what is not.”[16] We create frames to name a situation in which we find ourselves, to identify and interpret specific aspects that seem key to us in understanding the situation, and to communicate that interpretation to others.[17]

Why are Frames Important?

An essential element in conflict resolution is an understanding of how frames affect conflict development. In the context of a conflict, we create frames to help us understand why the conflict exists, what actions are important to the conflict, why the parties act as they do, and how we should act in response.[18] During the evolution of a conflict, frames act as sieves through which information is gathered and analyzed, positions are determined (including priorities, means, and solutions), and action plans developed. Depending on the context, frames may be used to conceptualize and interpret, or to manipulate and convince.

Putnam and Holmer[19] hold that framing and reframing are vital to the negotiationprocess and are tied to information processing, message patterns, linguistic cues, and socially constructed meanings. Knowing what types of frames are in use and how they are constructed allows one to draw conclusions about how they affect the development of a conflict, and can be used to influence it. Thus, analyzing the frames people use in a given conflict provides fresh insight and better understanding of the conflict dynamics and development. With such insight, and with the help of reframing, stakeholders may find new ways to reach agreements.

The Sources and Forms of Frames

Many factors influence frames and their formation. Intractable disputes are usually associated with a complex and reinforcing set of frames about oneself, the “others,” risks, what information should apply to the situation, and how decisions should be made. The frames of most importance to intractability usually include identity, characterization, power, conflict management/process, risk/information, and loss versus gain. Their forms and most common sources are as follows:

  • Identity frames: Disputants view themselves as having particular identities in the context of specific conflict situations.[20] These identities spring from the individuals’ self-conception and group affiliations. One might frame oneself as a Hutu or a Tutsi, a Muslim or a Christian, a man or a woman, or a Republican or Democrat.  The more central the challenge to one’s sense of self, the more oppositional one is likely to act. Typical responses to threats to identity include ignoring information and perspectives that threaten the core identity, reinforcing affiliations with like-minded individuals and groups, and negatively characterizing outsiders.
  • Characterization frames: Disputants view others in the conflict as having particular characteristics. Closely related to stereotyping, characterization frames may be either positive or negative. Parties to intractable conflicts often construct characterization frames for others that significantly differ from how the other parties view themselves. Such characterizations often undermine the others’ legitimacy, cast doubt on their motivations, or exploit their sensitivity. For example, many Americans characterize Al Queda as “terrorists,” yet they most certainly do not see themselves that way.  Rather, they see themselves as freedom-fighters, or jihadi warriors fighting for the protection of Islam.  Characterization frames are also often linked to identity frames, serving to strengthen one’s own identity while justifying your actions toward the other (e.g., for me to be a liberator, my opponent must be an oppressor).
  • Power frames: Because intractable conflicts are often imbedded in struggles to alter existing institutions or decision-making procedures, disputants’ conceptions of power and social control play a significant role in conflict dynamics. Power frames help the disputant determine not only which forms of power are legitimate (e.g., governmental, legal, civil disobedience) but also the forms of power that are likely to advance one’s own position (e.g., authority, resources, expertise, coalition-building, threat, voice). For instance, some people may see money as the best way to “buy influence,” while other people might rely more on technical expertise or personal charisma to sway people’s views..
  • Conflict management or process frames: Conflict over how best to manage or resolve differences is central to many intractable disputes. Depending on disputants’ identity, characterization of other disputants, perceived power, and perception of the available options, conflict frames may impel parties to seek very different remedies in response to common problems. These remedies may range from actions as disparate as violence, civil disobedience, litigation, and negotiation. Because of the wide complexity of possible actions and the uncertainty of their consequences, groups with shared interests and values may draw significantly different conclusions as to the best course of action within a particular dispute..One side, for instance, may be willing to sit down with a mediator and negotiate, while the other, thinking that it has the upper hand, may refuse negotiation, preferring litigation or violent action.
  • Risk and information frames: Intractable disputes often involve expectations about future events, in which the events are risky and the likelihood of the events occurring is uncertain.[21] In such conditions, disputants often construct risk and information frames that yield highly variable assessments about the level and extent of a particular risk. Additionally, these frames indicate to the disputant which sources of information are reliable and which are not. Risk and information frames depend not just on the disputant’s interests, but also on the disputant’s training, expertise, level of exposure to the risk, familiarity with the risk, potential for catastrophic impacts associated with the risk, and degree to which the risk is dreaded. People who are used to working and traveling in war-torn areas, for example, have a far different assessment of the risks of such activities than people who don’t do that (who thus are more likely to see the risk of doing so to be unacceptably high). Likewise, engineers who understand the technical aspects of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) are likely to access the risks of that process differently than “ordinary” people who live near the wells who have read popular media stories about the dangers of fracking–but also differently from the people working on the wells who simply want a job, and are much less worried about the impacts of their work than on the money it puts in their pockets.
  • Loss versus gain framesIn intractable disputes, it is common for most parties to the conflict to focus on threats of potential loss rather than on opportunities for gains. People tend to react differently to a proposed action when its expected consequences are framed in terms of losses as opposed to gains, where preventing a perceived loss is often more salient and more highly valued than capturing a commensurate gain.[22] Going back to the fracking example mentioned above, psychology tells us that most people are more likely to focus on the dangers of fracking (the potential loss of safe drinking water, clean habitat, and quiet) to be more significant than the gains that can be obtained from fracking–reduced reliance on foreign oil, and improved economy, and more jobs.

Many other types of frames can be constructed, but these six categories stand out as particularly applicable to intractable disputes.

Reframing

Within processes of reconciliationnegotiation, or joint problem solving, the explicit management of frames, and the framing process may lead to important shifts in both the frames themselves and in their impact on the conflict dynamics. This purposive management of frames is called reframing. Use of frame analysis and reframing processes have the following goals:

  • to clarify or “refresh” the perception of the issues in dispute (in order to promote more productive information exchange and listening to ideas not previously considered, and to expand the framework of discussion and explore means of action or solutions not yet attempted);
  • to sharpen the parties’ understanding of their interests and how the modes of action they have chosen serve those interests (in order to examine potential processes for managing conflict more productively and to reconsider patterns of relationships among stakeholders);
  • to identify those subjects which the involved parties view differently, even when the basis for the divergent frames are more fully understood (in order to identify opportunities for trade-offs based on clearly understood differences); and
  • to identify differences which cannot be bridged (in order to more fully appreciate conflict dynamics and to evaluate the potential for conflict reduction processes that do not violate these intractable differences, to determine the degree of importance attributed to these intractable differences in frames, and to seek ways to address them).

Thus, reframing, stemming from stakeholders’ understanding of their own as well as others’ expressed frames, may pave ways for resolving, or at least better managing, a dispute.

Framing diagram

Figure 1: Frames and their role in conflict development

Figure 1 illustrates the roles frames and framing play in the dynamics of conflict development. It demonstrates how a frame change (or reframing) may cause a shift in conflict development, towards conflict management and/or resolution. Types of frame categories are numerous and coined differently by researchers in various fields. The categories cited in this diagram are: substance (reframing that affects how one views the world today or potential future states of the world), process (reframing that affects how one interacts with others in the dispute), values (reframing that allows parties to clarify the relationship between values and interests for both themselves and for other parties), and phrasing (the language used by disputants to communicate with one other).

Frame Analysis and Reframing as Conflict Management Tools

Frame analysis can be used by both third party interveners and by individual stakeholders and conveners to better understand conflict dynamics. Frame analysis has been used both retrospectively (to understand past conflicts) and prospectively (as a tool for better managing an existing conflict). Retrospectively, it seeks to better understand conflict dynamics in order to glean lessons for the future. Prospectively, it advances consensus building in both the conflict assessments and intervention stages.

Analytic techniques for frame analysis include interviewing the various stakeholders to ascertain their perceptions and interpretations, feeding back to the parties the resulting analysis, and then exploring with the parties the meaning and impact of these frames on the conflict dynamics. Particularly within the framework of conflict assessments, [23] frame analysis and the resulting understanding of frames can help the stakeholders to better grasp the conflict, including the factors and contexts that can lead to changes within a frame or changes to the frames themselves. In this sense, framing becomes a formative analytic technique.

In intractable conflicts, frames are often quite stable over time, even when specific individuals move in and out of the conflict. This stability comes both because various frames held by an individual tend to be self reinforcing, and because frames are often shared within a community and therefore are socially reinforced through story-telling and shared perspectives. Yet research into intractable conflicts suggests that in at least some conflicts, frames can be altered over time through intentional interventions, and that the shift in frames helps to render disputes more tractable.[24]

At the same time, research shows that reframing is often not easy for parties. It requires taking on new perspectives, and often requires some degree of risk-taking on the part of the parties. As such, reframing works best when changes in the context of the dispute can be made, such that incentives to consider new perspectives increase, or in the context of careful and constructive dialogue, with a strong focus on improving communication and building trust.

A number of strategies and techniques exist in the use of dialogue to reframe intractable conflicts. These include:[25]

  • Reducing tension and promoting the de-escalation of hostility: by using techniques such as listening projects, study circles, and some forms of mediation which seek to reduce tension by creating forums that promote more effective communication around a set of limited objectives. The forums focus explicitly on improving communication and reducing escalatory cycles that are often associated with mutually-incompatible frames.
  • Perspective taking: techniques such as acknowledging critical identities, imaging of identities and characterizations, narrative forums, and listening circles allow disputants to understand the conflict and its dynamics from the perspective of other disputants. These approaches are particularly geared toward better understanding of identity and characterization frames, in order to see oneself more objectively and the other party in a more positive light. They seek to enable disputants to see the potential validity and credibility of other perspectives, and to examine the interplay between one’s own frames and those of other disputants.
  • Establishing a common ground as a basis for agreement: by using techniques such as visioning exercises and common-ground search processes which enable reframing around a smaller set of issues. Common ground processes are used in highly divisive issues (such as abortion and ethnic disputes) and seek to explore areas of agreement and possible joint action between parties who normally focus on their differences, in order to open up communication between the parties. Search processes seek to identify desired futures in order to shift the focus from a short-term perspective to a long-term one.
  • Enhancing the desirability of options and alternatives: Several approaches exist that may enhance the desirability of alternative options when presented to parties with divergent frames. For a disputant to examine options from the perspective of other parties, he or she must understand the other parties’ frames, and be able to view options from other perspectives. Third-party interveners are often helpful in this regard. In addition, seeking to reframe perceptions of losses as gains can enhance the openness and creativity of parties to a dispute.
Conclusion

Frames play a significant role in perpetuating intractable conflict. As lenses through which disputants interpret conflicts, frames limit the clarity of communication and the quality of information, as well as instigate escalatory processes. These frames, imbedded in personal, social, and institutional roles, are often quite stable over time, even through the ebb and flow of many dispute episodes. As such, they contribute to the intractability of the conflict. In addition, frames interact, often in ways that tend to reinforce the stability of other frames. Yet, in at least some intractable conflicts, changes in the context of the dispute or purposive interventions designed to alter frames have led to reframing that, in turn, has increased the tractability of the conflict. Strategies to accomplish this reframing include frame analysis and the construction of forums designed to enhance communication, understanding, and trust.


[1] Gray, B. and A. Donnellon, 1989. “An Interactive Theory of Reframing in Negotiation,” unpublished manuscript. Pennsylvania State University, College of Business Administration.

[2] Sheppard, B.H., K. Blumenfeld-Jones and J.W. Minton, 1987. “To control or not to control: Two models of conflict intervention,” unpublished manuscript sited in Pinkley, 1990).

[3] Elliott, M., Gray, B., & Lewicki, R., 2003. Lessons learned about the framing of intractable environmental conflicts. In R. Lewicki, B. Gray, & M. Elliott (Eds.), Making sense of intractable environmental conflicts: Concepts and cases (pp. 409-436), Washington, D.C.: Island Press.

[4] Kaufman, S. and J. Smith, 1999. “Framing and Reframing in Land Use Change Conflicts,” Journal of Architectural and Planning Research, Vol.16, no.2, Summer, pp. 164-180.

[5] Elliott, M., Kaufman, S., Gardner, R., and Burgess, G., 2002. “Teaching conflict Assessment and frame analysis through interactive web-based simulations ” The International Journal of Conflict Management, 13:4, pp. 320-340.

[6] e.g. Taylor , D.E., 2000. “The Rise of the Environmental Justice Paradigm. Injustice Framing and the Social Construction of Environmental Discourses,” American Behavioral Scientist. 43 (4), pp. 508-580; and Gonos, G., 1997. “Situation” versus “frame”: The “interactionist” and the “structualist” analyses of everyday life,” American Sociological Review, 42, pp. 854-867.

[7] Watzlawick, P., J. Weakland, and R. Fisch, 1974. Change, Principles of Problem Formation and Problem Resolution, Norton & Company, Inc.; and Goldratt, E.M., 1990. What is this thing called Theory of Constraints and how should it be implemented?, Corton-on-Hudson, NY: North River Press, Inc.

[8] e.g., Minsky, M., 1975. “A Framework for Representing Knowledge,” in Winston, P.H.( Ed.), The Psychology of Computer Vision, New York, NY: McGraw Hill, pp. 177-211.

[9] e.g., Kahneman, D. and A. Tversky, 1979. “Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision Under Risk, Econometrica 47, pp. 263-289.

[10] e.g., Neale, M.A. and M.H. Bazerman, 1985. “The Effects of Framing and Negotiator Overconfidence on Bargaining Behaviors and Outcomes,” Academy of Management Journal 28, pp. 34-49; Gray, B., 1989. Collaborating: Finding Common Ground for Multiparty Problems, San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Inc. Publication; and Pinkley, R.L., 1990. “Dimensions of Conflict Frame: Disputant Interpretations of Conflict,” Journal of Applied Psychology 75, pp. 117-126.

[11] Lewicki, R., Gray, B., & Elliott, M., 2003. Making sense of intractable environmental conflicts: Concepts and cases, Washington, D.C.: Island Press; Kaufman and Smith, 1999, op cit.; and Vaughan, E. and M. Seifert, 1992. “Variability in the Framing of Risk Issues,” Journal of Social Issues 48 (4), pp. 119-135.

[12] Minsky, 1975, op cit. 

[13] Tannen, D., 1979. “What’s in a Frame? Surface Evidence of Underlying Expectations,” In Freedle, R. (ed.), New Dimensions in Discourse Processes, Norwood, NJ: Albex, pp. 137-181.

[14] Gray, B., 1997. “Framing and Reframing of Intractable Environmental Disputes,” in Lewicki, R., R. Bies, and B. Sheppard (Eds.), Research on Negotiation in Organizations, 6, p. 171.

[15] Gray 1997, ibid.

[16] Lewicki, R, Saunders, D, and Minton, J., 1999. Negotiation. Burr Ridge, IL: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.

[17] Buechler, S., 2000. Social movements in advanced Capitalism. New York: Oxford University Press.

[18] Gray, B., 2003. Framing of environmental disputes. In R. Lewicki, B. Gray, & M. Elliott (Eds.), Making sense of intractable environmental conflicts: Concepts and cases (pp. 11-34), Washington, D.C.: Island Press.

[19] Putnam, L. and M. Holmer, 1992. “Framing, Reframing, and Issue Development”, in Putnam L. and Roloff, M.E. (Eds.), Communication and Negotiation, Newbury Park, CA: Sage, Vol. 20. pp.128-155.

[20] Rothman, J., 1997. Resolving Identity-Based Conflict in Nations, Organizations, and Communities, San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

[21] Heimer, C.A., 1988. “Social Structures, Psychology and the Estimation of Risk,” Annual Review of Sociology 14, pp. 491-519.

[22] Kahneman & Tverski, 1979, op cit.; Tversky, A. and D. Kahneman, 1981. “The Framing of Decisions and the Psychology of Choice,” Science 211, pp. 453-458; Schweitzer , M.E. and L.A. DeChurch, 2001. “Linking Frames in Negotiations: Gains, Losses and Conflict Frame Adoption.” International Journal of Conflict Management, Vol. 12 No. 2, pp. 100-113.

[23] Shmueli, D. and M. Ben Gal, 2000. “Reframing of Protracted Environmental Disputes”, interim report to the Israeli Ministry of Environment, March (Hebrew); Shmueli, D. and M. Ben Gal, 2001. “Conflict Assessment to Promote Dialogue between the Stakeholders involved in the Dispute Surrounding the Treatment and Discharge of Industrial Wastes in the Lower Kishon Basin,” draft June, final November (Hebrew); and Shmueli, D. and M. Ben Gal, forthcoming. “The Potential of Framing in Managing and Resolving Environmental Conflict.” In E. Feitelson, G. de Roo and D. Miller (Eds.), Advancing Sustainability at the Sub-National Level, Ashgate Press.

[24] Elliott, M., Gray, B., & Lewicki, R., 2003. Lessons learned about the framing of intractable environmental conflicts. In R. Lewicki, B. Gray, & M. Elliott (Eds.), Making sense of intractable environmental conflicts: Concepts and cases (pp. 409–436), Washington, D.C.: Island Press at 420.

[25] ibid, at 425-434.

What is Framed?

  • Situations
  • Attributes
  • Choices
  • Actions
  • Issues
  • Responsibility
  • News

Source: Seven Models of Framing: Implications for Public Relations


Frame Development, Generation, and Elaboration

Source: FRAMING PROCESSES AND SOCIAL MOVEMENTS: An Overview and Assessment

  • Discursive Processes
  • Strategic Processes
  • Contested Processes
Strategic Processes

Source: FRAMING PROCESSES AND SOCIAL MOVEMENTS: An Overview and Assessment

  • Frame Bridging,
  • Frame Amplification,
  • Frame Extension,
  • Frame Transformation.

Contested Processes in Social Movements

Source: FRAMING PROCESSES AND SOCIAL MOVEMENTS: An Overview and Assessment

There is widespread agreement among movement framing researchers that the development, generation, and elaboration of collective action frames are contested processes. All actors within the collective action arena who engage in this reality construction work are embroiled in the politics of signification. This means that activists are not able to construct and impose on their intended targets any version of reality they would like; rather there are a variety of challenges confronting all those who engage in movement framing activities. Thus far the literature elaborates on three forms these challenges tend to take: counterframing by movement opponents, bystanders, and the media; frame disputes within movements; and the dialectic between frames and events.

Frames and Scenarios

How are Frames related to Scenario Planning?

My Related Posts

Victor Turner’s Postmodern Theory of Social Drama

Erving Goffman: Dramaturgy of Social Life

Kenneth Burke and Dramatism

Truth, Beauty, and Goodness: Integral Theory of Ken Wilber

Dialogs and Dialectics

Global Trends, Scenarios, and Futures: For Foresight and Strategic Management

Shell Oil’s Scenarios: Strategic Foresight and Scenario Planning for the Future

Narrative, Rhetoric and Possible Worlds

Art of Long View: Future, Uncertainty and Scenario Planning

Strategy | Strategic Management | Strategic Planning | Strategic Thinking

Networks, Narratives, and Interaction

Levels of Human Psychological Development in Integral Spiral Dynamics

Key Sources of Research

Framing (Social Sciences)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Framing_(social_sciences)

Frames and Their Consequences

Francesca Polletta and M. Kai Ho

Click to access 2006%20polletta%20and%20ho%20frames%20and%20their%20consequences.pdf

“Finding frames in a web of culture: The case of the War on Terror,”

Stephen Reese,

in P. D’Angelo and J. Kuypers (eds.) Doing News Framing Analysis: Empirical, Theoretical, and Normative Perspectives (New York: Routledge, 2009).

Locating Frames in the Discursive Universe

K. Fisher

First Published September 1, 1997 

Sociological Research Online

Vol 2, Issue 3, 1997

https://doi.org/10.5153/sro.78

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.5153/sro.78

Seven Models of Framing: Implications for Public Relations

Kirk Hallahan

Department of Journalism and Technical Communication Colorado State University

JOURNAL OF PUBLIC RELATIONS RESEARCH, 11(3), 205–242 Copyright © 1999, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

FRAMING THEORY

Annu. Rev. Polit. Sci. 2007. 10:103–26 doi: 10.1146/annurev.polisci.10.072805.103054

Dennis Chong and James N. Druckman

Department of Political Science, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 60208; email: dchong@northwestern.edu; druckman@northwestern.edu

https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/full/10.1146/annurev.polisci.10.072805.103054

Frames, Framing and Reframing


Sanda Kaufman
Michael Elliott
Deborah Shmueli

Original Publication September 2003, updated in June, 2013 and again in June, 2017 by Heidi Burgess

https://www.beyondintractability.org/essay/framing

Reframing Organizations: Artistry, Choice and Leadership, 

Bolman, L. G., and Deal, T. E. 

7th ed., expected September, 2021.

https://sites.google.com/site/reframingorganizations1/home

FRAMING PROCESSES AND SOCIAL MOVEMENTS: An Overview and Assessment

Robert D. Benford

Department of Sociology, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska 68588-0324; e-mail: Rbenford1@unl.edu

David A. Snow

Department of Sociology, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85721; e-mail: snowd@u.arizona.edu

Annu. Rev. Sociol. 2000. 26:611–39

Documentary Impact: Social Change Through Storytelling

Five Framing Tips: Framing for Social Change

Nat Kendall-Taylor , Allison Stevens

PublishedJune 4, 2019

FrameWorks UK

https://www.frameworksinstitute.org/article/five-framing-tips-framing-for-social-change/

FUNDAMENTAL FRAMES: HOW CULTURAL FRAMES INFORM THE FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT

ANDERS WALKER

From theatrics to metatheatre: The Enron Drama

David Boje

https://davidboje.com/vita/pub/index.html

https://business.nmsu.edu/~dboje/theatrics/7/

LIFE IMITATES ART

Enron’s Epic and Tragic Narration

DAVID M. BOJE

GRACE ANN ROSILE 

New Mexico State University

Dramatic Septet

David Boje

https://business.nmsu.edu/~dboje/septet/

Critical Dramaturgical Analysis of Enron Antenarratives and Metatheatre

David M. Boje

New Mexico State University

July 10, 2002; July 31, 2002 version

https://business.nmsu.edu/~dboje/papers/ENRON_critical_dramaturgical_analysis.htm

Enron Metatheatre:

A Critical Dramaturgy Analysis of Enron�s Quasi-Objects

David M. Boje, New Mexico State University

Paper presented at the Networks, Quasi-Objects, and Identity: Reintegrating Humans, Technology, and Nature session of Denver Academy of Management Meetings. Tuesday August 13, 2002. http://business.nmsu.edu/~dboje/  Revision Date: August 9 2002.

https://business.nmsu.edu/~dboje/papers/enron_theatre_LJM.htm

Frame Analysis

Erving Goffman

Framers: Human Advantage in an Age of Technology and Turmoil

Book by Francis de Véricourt, Kenneth Cukier, and Viktor Mayer-Schönberger

2021

A Dialectic Perspective on the Organization Theatre Metaphor

David M. Boje, John T. Luhman, & Ann L. Cunliffe

American Communication Journal

Volume 6, Issue 2, Winter 2003

Doing A Boje: Using Dramaturgical Analysis In Critical Management Studies

Stream 4: Theatrics of Capitalism

Alexis Downs

Adrian N. Carr

From theatrics to metatheatre: The Enron Drama.

Boje, D. M.; Hansen, Hans; & Rosile, Grace Ann.

2007.

Revue Sciences do Gestion, Management Sciences, no 58, p63-83.

Social Movements and the Dramatic Framing of Social Reality

  • January 2013
  • In book: The Drama of Social Life: A Dramaturgical Sourcebook (pp.139-155)
  • Chapter: 9
  • Publisher: Ashgate
  • Editors: Charles Edgley

Robert D Benford

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/296333275_Social_Movements_and_the_Dramatic_Framing_of_Social_Reality

Frame Analysis

WIKI

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frame_analysis

THE EMERGENCE, DEVELOPMENT, AND FUTURE OF THE FRAMING PERSPECTIVE: 25+ YEARS SINCE “FRAME ALIGNMENT”*

David A. Snow, Robert D. Benford, Holly J. McCammon, Lyndi Hewitt, and Scott Fitzgerald

Ideology, Frame Resonance and Participant Mobilization

  • January 1988

Authors:

David Snow

Robert D Benford

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/285098685_Ideology_Frame_Resonance_and_Participant_Mobilization

Using Scenario Planning to reshape Strategy

Rafael Ramírez, Steve Churchhouse, Alejandra Palermo, and Jonas Hoffmann

June 13, 2017

https://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/using-scenario-planning-to-reshape-strategy/

Strategic Reframing

The Oxford Scenario Planning Approach

Rafael Ramírez and Angela Wilkinson

Print Length: 272 pages

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Publication Date: May 24, 2016

https://www.apf.org/blogpost/1784113/365221/Book-Review-Strategic-Reframing

https://oxford.universitypressscholarship.com/view/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198745693.001.0001/acprof-9780198745693

Our Scenario Approach

Center for Strategy and Scenario Planning

https://www.scenarioplanning.eu/our-scenario-approach

Scenario planning meets frame analysis: Using citizens’ frames as test conditions for policy measures

Petervan Wijcka

Bert Niemeijerbc

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0016328716000069

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/292679294_Scenario_planning_meets_frame_analysis_Using_citizens%27_frames_as_test_conditions_for_policy_measures

The use and abuse of scenarios

November 1, 2009 

McKinsey

https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/strategy-and-corporate-finance/our-insights/the-use-and-abuse-of-scenarios

Living in the Futures

From the Magazine (May 2013)

https://hbr.org/2013/05/living-in-the-futures

Scenarios: an Explorers Guide

Shell International

Victor Turner’s Postmodern Theory of Social Drama

Victor Turner’s Postmodern Theory of Social Drama

Although it might be argued that the social drama is a story in [Hayden] White’s sense, in that it has discernible inaugural, transitional, and terminal motifs, that is, a beginning, a middle, and an end, my observations convince me that it is, indeed, a spontaneous unit of social process and a fact of everyone’s experience in every human society. My hypothesis, based on repeated observations of such processual units in a range of sociocultural systems and in my reading in ethnography and history, is that social dramas, “dramas of living,” as Kenneth Burke calls them, can be aptly studied as having four phases. These I label breach, crisis, redress, and either reintegration or recognition of schism. Social dramas occur within groups of persons who share values and interests and who have a real or alleged common history. The main actors are persons for whom the group has a high value priority. Most of us have what I call our “star” group or groups to which we owe our deepest loyalty and whose fate is for us of the greatest personal concern. It is the one with which a person identifies most deeply and in which he finds fulfillment of his major social and personal desires. We are all members of many groups, formal or informal, from the family to the nation or some international religion or political institution. Each person makes his/her own subjective evaluation of the group’s respective worth: some are “dear” to one, others it is one’s “duty to defend,” and so on. Some tragic situations arise from conflicts of loyalty to different star groups.

Victor Turner is professor of anthropology and a member of the Center for Advanced Studies at the University of Virginia. His many publications include Schism and Continuity in an African Society, The Forest of Symbols, The Ritual Process, and, with Edith Turner, Image and Pilgrimage in Christian Culture

Social Dramas and Stories about Them
Victor Turner
Critical Inquiry 7 (1):141-168 (1980)

Key terms

  • Social Drama
  • Frames
  • Victor W Turner
  • David M Boje
  • Liminality
  • Meta theater
  • Meta Commentary
  • Conflict
  • Fragmentation
  • Spectcle
  • Carnival
  • Communitas
  • Anti structure
  • Mela
  • Tamasha
  • Circus
  • Khel
  • Natak
  • Nautanki
  • Leela
  • Communication
  • Reflexivity
  • Social Reflexivity
  • Public Reflexivity
  • Cybernetics
  • Higher Order Cybernetics
  • Processual
  • Performance processes
  • Interpretative Anthropology
  • Cultural Anthropology
  • Clifford Geertz

Below, I am reposting an article by David Boje on Victor Turner’s theory of social drama.

Victor Turner’s Postmodern Theory of Social Drama:

Implications for Organization Studies

David M. Boje, Ph.D., New Mexico State University

August 1, 2003

Abstract

I review Victor Turner’s more postmodern moves, such as process, indeterminacy, liminality, fragmentation, and metatheatre. 

The contribution to organization theory of studying Turner’s social drama is in developing a postmodern theatrics that is more processual and dynamitic than dramaturgical theories advanced by Burke and Goffman. Turner acknowledges the influence of Burke and Goffman in his postmodern theatre concepts, but moves off to explore the indeterminacy, liminality, and fragmentation aspects (defined below).  This postmodern dramaturgy allows us to explore how patterns emerged in the seeming chaos of successive situations. 

Theatre Theory

Most reviews of theatre theory focus on contrasts of Burke and Goffman (Boje, Luhman, Cunliffe, 2003; Gusfield, 1989; K’rreman, 2001; Oswick, Keenoy & Grant, 2001), while hardly mentioning Victor Turner’s work (1969; 1974, 1982a, 1982b, 1985). Goffman (1959, 1974) is often criticized, in these reviews, for using theatre as metaphor and for being less sociological than Burke. Burke (1937, 1945, 1972), by contrast, is said to view theatre as part of everyday life and extend literary criticism to politics and sociology.  Goffman is also criticized for engaging in “sociological reductionism” and for not being “particularly dramaturgical at all” (K’rreman, 2001: 96, 107).  

 Turner acknowledges roots to Burke (Turner, 1982a) and to Goffman (Turner, 1985: 181). Burke and Goffman have been applied to organization and public administration studies. Within organization studies, there is a growing body of research taking Goffman seriously. His approach fits neatly with Mintzberg’s (1973) managerial roles and more recent studies of charismatic leadership behavior as dramaturgic (Gardner & Alvolio, 1998; Harvey, 2001), emotional improvisation (Morgan & Krone, 2001) where the leader is the spokesperson and dramatist of organizational life.  Work by Czarniawska-Joerges (1997), Mangham (1990),  Mangham  and Overington (1987), and Rosen (1985, 1987) also seeks to apply tools and devices from theatre to organizational realities and the dramaturgical perspective has become quite central to charismatic leadership studies (Conger, 1991; Gardner & Alvolio, 1998; Harvey, 2001; Howell & Frost, 1989; Jones & Pittman, 1982). 

Theatre for Burke is not a metaphor used in some areas of organizational or social life; human action is dramatic (Gusfield, 1989; p. 36; K’rreman, 2001, p. 106).  As Maital (1999) puts it, “organizing is not like theatre — it is theatre” (as cited in Oswick, Keenoy & Grant, 2001, p. 219). Burke’s dramatistic pentad has been used widely to analyze organizations as theatres of action (Czarniawska-Joerges & Wolff, 1991; Mangham & Overington, 1987; Pine & Gilmour, 1999). Pine and Gilmour (1999) use Burke’s dramatism to assert work is theatre and every business is a stage. Czarniawska (1997) explores how the identities of organizational actors are constituted theatrically through role-playing and image construction.  

We see this critical postmodern integration in the writings of Guy Debord (1967) on “spectacle,” Mikhail Bakhtin (1984) on “carnivalesque,” and Augusto Boal (1972, 1992, 1995) on Theatre of the Oppressed.  

Social drama, says Turner, is defined as aharmonic or disharmonic social process, arising in conflict situations (1974: 37; 1985: 180).   Social drama is defined by Turner (1985: 196), as an eruption from the level surface of ongoing social life, with its interactions, transactions, reciprocities, its customs making for regular, orderly sequences of behavior. Turner’s social drama theory has four phases of public action:

  1. Breach of norm-governed social relations that have liminal characteristics, a liminal between more or less stable social processes;
  2. Crisis, during which there is a tendency for the breach to widen and in public forums, representatives of order are dared to grapple with it;
  3. Redressive action, ranging from personal advice and informal mediation or arbitration to formal juridical and legal machinery, and to resolve certain kinds of crisis or legitimate other modes of resolution, to the performance of public ritual. 
  4. Reintegration of the disturbed social group, or of the social recognition and legitimation of irreparable schism between the contesting parties. 

There is a sequence of processual acts and scenes across the four phases of social drama, with dynamic shifts in scripts, characterizations, rhetoric, and symbolism. The processes were more dynamic, rapid, and forceful during the crisis, and now there is a lull in the action.  There are six key concepts which we can use to explore the dialectic of spectacle and carnival, as well as reactionary counter-carnival theatrics. 

Conflict  Conflict situations between patriotic nationalism and the peaceniks make us aware of the beaches in the societal fabric. Conflict seems to bring fundamental aspects of society, normally overlaid by the customs and habits of daily intercourse, into frightening prominence (Turner, 1974).  People are divided, taking sides, using theatre to dramatize their differences.  In the weeks leading up to the war, and during the war, a cleavage occurs between antagonistic groups. At the same time in crisis, there is the flash of imaginative fire, an inspirational force to be harnessed. The conflict escalates locally, as a reflections of the globally conflict in the Middle East. Some crises spread, and more and more people turn out for vigils, marches, parades, rallies, and teach-ins. For Turner, public crisis has a liminal quality, betwixt and between, more or less stable phases of the social process. Antagonists dare and taunt each other, to deal with liminal forces. For example, the majority accept U.S. occupation of Iraq, even though no weapons of mass destruction were found. On May 30th, members of the administration disclosed that there never had been proof of WMD, but saying they were there, served as a way to rally the nation to go to war.

Within the spectacles and carnivals there are factions.  There were a series of social dramas in the U.S. that weakened the solidarity of the peace movement. Acts of repression under the U.S.A. PATRIOT act and Homeland Security were used to make peace people fearful of being blacklisted.  They have a chilling effect on free speech. We resist being reintegrated back into that social fabric of the status quo; communitas is broken, and our freedoms are curtailed.

Performance Processes  A society is defined by Turner (1985: 44, Paraphrasing) as a set of interactive processes that are punctuated by situations of conflict, with intervals between them.  Turner’s theatrical approach, being processual and dynamic, is more appropriate than Burke or Goffman’s to explore the rise and fall of social movements. In his 1985 book, (On the Edge of the Bush: Anthropology as Experience), Turner develops a postmodern treatment of social drama. He explores the contingent, ad hoc, and emergent character of the phases of social drama (breach, crisis, redress, & reintegration), focusing on how conflicts run their course. The situations interact over time. One set of interactions influence the premises for the next (Turner, 1985: 48).  During periods of intense global conflict, such as the outbreak of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, we became a dense network of social organizing. During the week leading up to March 19th war in Iraq, we had events, such as rallies, teach-ins, retreats, marches, and vigils happening daily.  We joined the millions of people who tried to persuade the administration not to go to war. Once war happened we persisted with our vigils and marches, trying to bring a swift end to the conflict.  After the administration declared an end to the war (though the fighting continued), our numbers dropped off, and many people reintegrated into more normal patterns of social life. 

As the antagonist to disputation play out the conflict phases of social drama, there is resistance to acts of suppression and repression (Turner, 1985: 44).  Contentious issues are kept in abeyance in ritual situations, but can surface again in public situations; some political situations threaten to turn violent, both in their protest and in their repression.  Solidarity of a nation at war, for example, has a chilling effect on political rivalry, so as not to threaten the safety of troops deployed in battle theatres.  The unresolved conflicts and rivalries carry over into subsequent ritual situations in ways that affect behavioral patterns. In this way as Pondy observed, conflict events are interdependent over time. 

The performance events interact such that situations develop spontaneously out of quarrels with domestic and foreign policy which rapidly acquire formalized or structural character (Turner, 1985: 45). For example, contending factions draw apart, consolidate their ranks, and develop spokesmen who represent their cases in terms of a rhetoric that is culturally standardized (p. 45). 

Liminality  Key to Turner is the ‘betwixt and between’ features that have liminal qualities (Turner, 1985: 113). Liminality is defined by Turner (1974: 52), as being ‘between successive participations in social milieu.’ There is a grander ‘liminal transition’ in the peace movement, and seemingly no way to stop the growth of fascism that embeds American governance (Turner, 1974: 47).  There is liminality in the transition from the conceptual system of democracy to another one, we in the movement call, fascism (Turner, 1974: 51). There is also liminal decay, a reluctant reincorporation into the charade and facade of polite society, into more stable social processes.  The reentry is accompanied by rituals of humiliation for the peace movement heroes, such as Susan Sarandon, Michael Moore, Gore Vidal, Howard Zinn, and Noam Chomsky. For example, status degradation and social leveling are indicated by the distribution of playing cards depicting peace heroes as traitors, and most wanted. The tricksters have won the symbolism wars, and liminality is existentially untenable to those of us hanging in with the peace movement. 

Each situation in the peace movement affects the premises of the next one.  There is am emergent pattern to the inter-situational events. The successive events have liminal spaces between them.  Liminal space is Turner’s concept of what is betwixt and between situated events.  In the liminality between situations, a leader is without a situation to rally around.  For example, as the Iraq invasion drew nearer, the number of local organizing events that I lead and facilitated was denser, and in the final weeks, there was an event every day.  Now that the invasion has morphed into an occupation, local events are few and far between.  This liminal space is a time for mourning our failure to get our President to stop the war; it is a time for rest and reflection, a time to plan for the next situation. For a few weeks in late April and early May, it looked like Syria would be the next campaign. But, that has subsided. The 2004 election is a bit far off to worry about. 

I am neither what I have been nor what I will become. Similarly, peace consciousness is a liminal space, not yet what it will be. The peace movement refuses reintegration until the social order transforms to something more non-violent than what it is.

Summer vacations, the exodus of students from a university town, also decreased our numbers. Our rebellion is low-key, smoldering factionalism divides us. Members of PeaceAware slip back into anonymity of daily routine. Only a few die-hards persist with vigils or demonstrations outside Congressman Peace’s events. 

Indeterminacy  Indeterminacy is always present in the background of any ritualized performance, ready to intrude. Spectacles, even with expert choreography, scripting, and stage handling, fail to contain the embedded chaos. For example, the search for weapons of mass destruction slips into a sea of indeterminacy along with the war on terror. Each emplotment unravels.  The exact meaning of a speaker’s utterance or performance is a contextualized exchange in which meaning is often indeterminate. Various stakeholders will apprehend different views of the performance. Aristotle’s poetic elements of theatre are in constant flux, with ever-shifting indeterminate plots, characters, themes, dialogs, rhythms, and spectacles. All the president’s men cannot bind chaos with the most advanced theatrics. The spectacle is always self-deconstructing.  Yet, chaos can be used to confuse. There is a sequence of rhetoric switching in the justification and legitimation for war. 

The rhetorical and speech styles have shifted since the war was a way to find weapons of mass destruction hidden from the UN inspectors, to war being way to protect the troops, to a way to support the president. On 30 May 2003, Paul Wolfowitz told Vanity Fair, they the administration did not believe there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; officials thought it was best way to get officials to go to war.[1] “For bureaucratic reasons we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on,” says Wolfowitz. It was also a way to get the public on board. In this sense, the spectators cannot determine the cause for the war, and now that war is declared officially over, the original premises no loner matter. 

Spectacle cannot fix the fluidity of context, nor bind the shifting context from infecting performance processes.  The situational adjustments of President Bush’s handlers, betrays the flux and fluidity, and indeterminacy of everyday life. This indeterminacy, says Turner (1985: 185), ‘is towards postmodern ways of thinking’ about social life. 

Fragmentation – Fragmentation is definable as a persistent dialectical ‘opposition of processes’ with many ‘levels of processes’ (Turner, 1985: 185). Postmodern theory spotlights moments when fragmentation takes center stage, revealing how social reality invades spectacle during moments of conflict.  Spectacle role-playing is not able to cover the breakdowns between official perspectives and countless counter stories revealing fragmentation.  For Turner ‘the truly ‘spontaneous’ unit of human social performance is not role-playing sequence in an institutionalized or ‘corporate group’ context; it is the social drama which results precisely form the suspension of normative role-playing, and in its passionate activity abolishes the usual distinction between flow and reflection, since in the social drama it becomes a matter of urgency to become reflexive about the cause and motive of action damaging to the social fabric (Turner, 1985: 196). 

There are moments in institutionalized spectacle, where the social drama of conflict emerges, and Bush engages in reflection. In such moments the fragmentarity of the social fabric becomes temporarily visible, ‘as factors giving meaning to deeds that may seem at first sight meaningless’ (p. 196). These are moments of reflection when we can see an irreparable schism between war and peace factions.

The more the Bush handlers defragment, the more Bush’s performance processes reveal oppositions and layers. The thespian nature of his performance unmasks itself, resulting in a media that begins to reflect upon the fragmentation covered over by performance controls. The president is detected as a performing actor. 

Metatheatre – Turner (1985: 181) invents the term ‘meta-theater.’ Where for Burke and Goffman, all the world is a theatre stage, for Turner, ‘meta-theatre’ is the communication about the communication process, spectators and actors reflect upon how the actors do what they do on stage, ‘the ability to communicate about the communication process itself’ (p. 181). In contrasting his own dramaturgy work with Goffman’s, Turner (1985; 181) says that for him ‘dramaturgical analysis begins when crises arise in the daily flow of social interaction.’   Turner continues, ‘Thus, if daily living is a kind of theater, social drama is a kind of meta-theater, that is, a dramaturgical language about the language of ordinary role-playing and status-maintenance which constitutes communication in the quotidian social process’ (p. 181). Metatheatre then is for Turner, reflexivity by everyday actors about the communication system, where they consciously show spectators what they are doing. Turner studies reflexivity in crisis phase of social interaction, but also within the redressive phase.  Turner theorizes four phases, breech, crisis, redressive action, and reintegration in what he calls ‘social drama.’

Metacommentary, is a term Turner, 1982a: 104) borrows from Geertz, ‘a story a group tells itself about itself’ or ‘a play a society acts about itself.’  Metatheatre then builds upon the idea of metacommentary, ‘an interpretive reenactment of its experience’ (Turner, 1982a: 104). In the positive, metatheatre reenacts conflicts, giving them contextualization, so that with metacommentary, facets are illuminated and accessible for remedial action. Through multiple reflections, spectators are able to provoke transformations in everyday life.  On the negative side, the metatheatre distorts event and context in ways that provoke conformity. For example, our weekly street theatre is a metacommentary on global, national, and local conflicts, a time for reflection and reflexivity. Our signs are commentary, and we resist conformity. We are opposed by metacommentary of our critics, what see our acts as traitorous, seditious, and rebellious. Both sides use drama to provoke and persuade.

Metatheatre is about the dialectic process of framing through theatre, in ways that appeal to the frame of mind of the spectator; resistance is about bringing counter-frames to bear on dominant frames.

In the next section I apply Turner’s constructs of conflict, performance processes, liminality, indeterminacy, fragmentation, and metatheatre to that antagonism of the war and peace movements. 

References

Aristotle (written 350BCE). Citing in the (1954) translation Aristotle: Rhetoric and poetics. Introduction by F. Solmsen, Rhetoric. (W Rhys Roberts, Tran.); Poetics (I. Bywater, Tran.).  New York, NY: The Modern Library (Random House).  Poetics was written 350 BCE. Custom is to cite part and verse (i.e. Aristotle, 1450: 5, p. 23) refers to part 1450, verse 5, on p. 23 of the Solmsen (1954) book.  There is also an on line version translated by S. H. Butcher http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/poetics.html or http://eserver.org/philosophy/aristotle/poetics.txt

Bakhtin, M. (1981). The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays (Caryl Emerson, Michael Holquist, Trans.). Austin: University of Texas Press.

Bakhtin, Mikhail M.  (1973). Rabelais and His World. Translated by H’ l’ ne Iswolsky. 1st ed. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Best, Steve & Douglas Kellner (1991) Postmodern Theory. NY: Guilford Press.

Best, Steve & Douglas Kellner (1997) Postmodern Turn. NY: Guilford Press.

Best, Steve & Douglas Kellner (2001) Postmodern Adventure. NY: Guilford Press.

Boal, A. (1992). Games for actors and non-actors. (A. Jackson, Trans). A conflation of two books, Stop C’est Magique (Paris: Hachette, 1980) and  Jeuz pour acteurs et non-acteurs (Paris: La D’couverte, 1989) with additions by Boal. London, UK: Routledge.  

Boje, David M. (2001). Carnivalesque resistance to global spectacle: A critical postmodern theory of public administration, Administrative Theory & Praxis, 23(3): 431-458.

Boje, David M. (2003). Theatres of Capitalism. NJ: Hampton Press. In press. 

Boje, David M.  John T. Luhman, & Ann L. Cunliffe (2003). A Dialectic Perspective on the Organization Theatre Metaphor American Communication Journal. Volume 6 (2): 1-16.

Bumiller, Elisabeth (2003). Keepers of Bush Image Lift Stagecraft to New Heights.  The New York Times. 16 May, accessed on the web May 31 2003 at http://www.nytimes.com/2003/05/16/politics/16IMAG.html

Burke, K. (1937). Attitudes toward history. Las Altos, CA: Hermes Publications. 

Burke, K. (1945). A grammar of motives. Berkeley: University of California Press.  

Burke, K. (1972). Dramatism and development. Barre, MA: Clark University Press with Barre Publishers.  

Carr, Adrian (1996) Putative Problematic Agency in a Postmodern World: Is It Implicit in the Text–Can It Be Explicit in Organization Analysis? Vol 18 (1): 79-.

Debord Guy (1967). Society of the Spectacle. La Soci’t’ du Spectacle was first published in 1967 by Editions, Buchet-Chastel (Paris); it was reprinted in 1971 by Champ Libre (Paris). The full text is available in English at http://www.nothingness.org/SI/debord/index.html It is customary to refer to paragraph numbers in citing this work. 

Fox, Charles J. and Miller Hugh T. (1996) Modern/Postmodern Public Administration: A Discourse About What is Real. Vol 18 (1): 41-.  

Fox, Charles J. and High T. Miller. (1995a). Postmodern Public Administration: A short treatise on self-referential epihenomena. Administrative Theory & Praxis 15(2): 52-70. 

Fox, Charles J. and High T. Miller. (1995b). Postmodern Public Administration: Toward Discourse. Thousand Oaks :Sage Publications, Inc.

Goffman, E. (1959). The presentation of self in everyday life. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin Books. 

Goffman, E. (1974). Frame analysis. New York, NY: Harper Books. 

Gusfield, J. R. (1989). The bridge over separated lands: Kenneth Burke’s significance for the study of social action.  In H. Simmons & T. Melia (Eds.), The legacy of Kenneth Burke, pp. 28-54. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press. 

Hoffman, Leslie (2003). Bush Brings Tax Cut Message To Bernalillo. The Associated Press, May 12. Accessed May 31st at http://www.abqjournal.com/news/apbush05-12-03.htm

K’rreman, D. (2001). The Scripted Organization: Dramaturgy from Burke to Baudrillard. Pp. 95-111 In R. Westwood and S. Linstead (Eds.) The language of organization.  London: Sage Publications.

Kristeva, Julia (1980a) Desire in Language: A Semiotic Approach to Literature and Art. Edited by L’on Roudiez. Translated by Alice Jardine, Thomas Gora and L’on Roudiez. New York, Columbia University Press, London, Basil Blackwell

Kristeva, Julia (1980b) “Word, Dialogue, and Novel.” Desire and Language. Ed. Leon S. Roudiez. Trans. Thomas Gora et al. New York: Columbia UP, pp. 64-91.

Kristeva, Julia (1986).  Word, dialogue, and the novel.    In T. Moi (Ed.), The Kristeva reader.    (pp. 35-61).   New York: Columbia University Press.

Oswick, C., Keenoy, T. & Grant, D. (2001). Dramatizing and organizing: Acting and being. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 14 (3), 218-224. 

Saunders, Doug (2003). White House insider cleans up Bush’s image on film. Globe and Mail. May 28th. On line at http://www.globeandmail.ca/servlet/story/RTGAM.20030528.ufilm0528/BNStory/International/

Swartz, Marc J., Victor W. Turner, & Arthur Tuden (1966) Political Anthropology. Chicago, IL: Aldine Publishing Company. 

Turner, Victor (1967) Carnival, Ritual, and play in Rio de Janeiro. pp. 74- 92. In Alessandro Falassi (Ed.) Time Out of Time: Essays on the Festival. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press.

Turner, Victor (1974). Dramas, Fields, and Metaphors: Symbolic Action in Human Society. Ithaca/London: Cornell University Press. 

Turner, Victor (1982a). From Ritual to Theatre: The Human Seriousness of Play. NY: PAJ Publications (Division of Performing Arts Journal, Inc.). 

Turner, Victor (1982b, Editor). Celebration: Studies in Festivity and Ritual. Washington, D. C.: Smithsonian Institution Press.

Turner, Victor (1985). On the Edge of the Bush: Anthropology as Experience. Edith L. B. Turner (Ed). Tucson, AZ: The University of Arizona Press. 

Zanetti, Lisa A. (1997) Advancing praxis: Connecting critical theory with practice in public administration. 27(2): 145-167.

Zanetti, Lisa A. and Carr, Adrian (1999) Exaggerating the Dialectic: Postmodernism’s ‘New Individualism’ and the Detrimental Effects on Citizenship.  AT&P Vol 21 (2) 205-.

Zanetti, Lisa A. & Carr, Adrian (1997). Putting critical theory to work: Giving the public administrator the critical edge. Administrative Theory & Praxis, 19(2): 208-224

My Related Posts

Erving Goffman: Dramaturgy of Social Life

Kenneth Burke and Dramatism

Dialogs and Dialectics

Narrative, Rhetoric and Possible Worlds

Networks, Narratives, and Interaction

The Social Significance of Drama and Narrative Arts

Drama Therapy: Self in Performance

Drama Theory: Acting Strategically

Drama Theory: Choices, Conflicts and Dilemmas

Third and Higher Order Cybernetics

Narrative Psychology: Language, Meaning, and Self

Psychology of Happiness: Value of Storytelling and Narrative Plays

Paradoxes, Contradictions, and Dialectics in Organizations

Key Sources of Research

Victor Turner’s Postmodern Theory of Social Drama:

Implications for Organization Studies

David M. Boje, Ph.D., New Mexico State University

August 1, 2003

https://business.nmsu.edu/~dboje/theatrics/7/victor_turner.htm

‘Themes in the Symbolism of Ndemdu Hunting Ritual, 

Turner, Victor (1962)

Anthropological Quarterly 35, pp. 37-57 reprinted in Myth and Cosmos: Readings in Methodology and Symbolism, edited by John Middleton, 1967, New York: Natural History Press, pp. 249-69.

“Betwixt and Between: The Liminal Period in Rites de Passage.” 

Turner, V.W. (1967)

The Forest of Symbols: Aspects of Ndembu Ritual pp. 93-111. Ithaca: Cornell UP.

The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure 

Turner, V.W. (1969) 

London: Routledge & Kegan Paul

Dramas, Fields and Metaphors 

Turner, V.W. (1974) 

Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press

The Anthropology of Performance 

Turner, V.W. (1988) 

New York: PAJ Publications.

From Ritual to Theatre: The Human Seriousness of Play

by Victor Turner

Social Dramas and Stories about Them

Victor Turner

Critical Inquiry 7 (1):141-168 (1980)

Frame, Flow and Reflection: Ritual and Drama as Public Liminality

Victor Turner

Japanese Journal of Religious Studies Vol. 6, No. 4 (Dec., 1979),

pp. 465-499 (35 pages) 

Published By: Nanzan University 

https://www.jstor.org/stable/30233219

“Symbols in African Ritual,” 

Victor Turner

Science March 16, 1972, vol. 179, 1100-05.

http://thury.org/Myth/Turner2.html

Performing Ethnography

Victor Turner; Edith Turner

The Drama Review: TDR, Vol. 26, No. 2, Intercultural Performance. (Summer, 1982), pp. 33-50. Stable URL:

http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0012-5962%28198222%2926%3A2%3C33%3APE%3E2.0.CO%3B2-C

Victor Turner

https://lindseypullum.wordpress.com/2017/01/17/victor-turner/

Victor Witter Turner

https://www.encyclopedia.com/people/social-sciences-and-law/sociology-biographies/victor-witter-turner

The Drama of Social Life 

A Dramaturgical Handbook

Edited By Charles Edgley

Edition 1st Edition

First Published 2013

DOI https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315615691 

https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/edit/10.4324/9781315615691/drama-social-life-charles-edgley?refId=08738592-4e3e-4260-a624-c2b9edd005f0

Notes towards an Anthropology of Political Revolutions

BJØRN THOMASSEN

Society and Globalization, Roskilde University

Comparative Studies in Society and History 2012;54(3):679–706.
0010-4175/12

# Society for the Comparative Study of Society and History 2012

doi:10.1017/S0010417512000278

Variations on a theme of Liminality

Victor Turner

chapter in a book Secular Ritual

The Ritual Process

Structure and Anti-Structure

VICTOR TURNER

Acting in Everyday life, Life in Everyday Acting

Click to access Turner.pdf

Dialogs and Dialectics

Dialogs and Dialectics

Hegel once described dialectics as “the grasping of opposites in their unity”.[1] Oppositions, it can be argued, provide the comparisons that make our experiences intelligible. Our understanding of the world is predicated on differentiation and comparison. We must compare this to that to know the identity of either or to assign relative value to both. This or that, and the excluded middle between… but what of the unbounded space beyond as well; beyond the binary oppositions, beyond the laws of non-contradiction, beyond the affordances and constraints of this or that?

“Scenarios are not seen as quasi-forecasts but as perception devices.” “Scenarios are used as a means of thinking through strategy against a number of structurally quite different, but plausible future models of the world”.
Kees van der Heijden

Definition of Dialectics

Source: Introduction/Dialectics for the New Century

Is a brief definition of ‘dialectics’ possible? In the history of Western thought the term has meant quite different things in different contexts. Dialectics in the Western tradition is customarily said to begin with Heraclitus. He insisted that the cosmos was in endless flux, in contrast to those for whom ‘true’ reality was immutable. For Socrates, dialectic had less to do with the dynamism of the cosmos than with the dynamism of intellectual discussion when pushed forward by challenges to the underlying assumptions of interlocutors. Aristotle then systematized Socratic dialectic, treating it as a form of argument that fell some- where between rhetoric and logic. While dialectical speech, like rhetoric, aimed at persuasion, Aristotle believed its efforts to overcome disagreements through rational discussion made it more like logic. Unlike logical argumentation, however, dialectical speech does not derive necessary consequences from universally accepted premises. Instead, by revealing the contradictions in particular arguments, it forces their modification or even abandonment, and moves the contending parties closer to a rational consensus. This notion of dialectics continued to hold sway in Western philosophy throughout the medieval and early modern periods.

A major shift occurred with Kant. For him, ‘dialectics’ does not refer to a process by which discussions can advance toward rational agreement, but to the frustrating and inclusive results that arise whenever reason transgresses its proper limits by attempting to investigate the ultimate nature of things. In Kant’s philosophy, dialectics becomes an endless series of debates in which each side reveals the contradictions of the other without being able to resolve its own. Following Kant, Hegel concedes that as long as contending positions are taken as complete and independent in themselves, the opposition between them is irresolvable. But why, Hegel asks, must we take the opposed positions as complete and independent? Why choose, for example, between ‘freedom’ and ‘necessity’? Another, far better option is available: to recognize that the apparently opposed positions only offer one-sided accounts of a complex reality. ‘Truth is the whole,’ he famously claims, and to be adequately comprehended we must find a place in our thinking for all these partial and one-sided truths. The key to Hegel’s notion of dialectic is the movement to a positive result in which previously antagonistic positions are reconciled within a higher-order framework (Pinkard, 1987). His Science of Logic is an unprecedented and unrepeatable attempt to show that all the fundamental categories of Western philosophy can be fit together in one coherent whole – once, that is, the contradictions which arise when they are taken as independent standpoints are rigorously confronted and resolved. In The Philosophy of Right Hegel attempted to show that neither a one-sided emphasis on the autonomous subjectivity of individual agents, nor a one-sided emphasis on the priority of the community over the individual, can adequately comprehend the reconciliation of both ‘principles’ found in the social and political institutions of modern society.

Key Terms

  • Plato’s Dialogues
  • Dialectic
  • Relational Dialectic
  • Hegel’s Dialectics
  • Marx’s Dialectics
  • Vygotskian Dialectics
  • Bakhtinian Dialogics
  • Contradictions
  • Relational process philosophy
  • Strategy
  • Development
  • Transformation
  • Constitutive relationships
  • Interaction
  • Multiple systems
  • Open systems
  • Metasystematic
  • Epistemic adequacy
  • Dialectical thinking
  • Dialectical philosophical perspective
  • Dialectical analysis
  • Psychotherapy
  • Higher education
  • AQAL Model of Ken Wilber
  • Quadrants in Scenario Planning
  • Possibilities
  • Uncertainty
  • Weak Signals
  • Constitutive and Interactive relationships
  • Dialectic Behavior Therapy DBT
  • Contradictions
  • Point of Views
  • Multiple Perspectives
  • Worldviews
  • Paradoxes
  • Complexity
  • Parts and Whole
  • Piaget
  • Oppositions
  • Informal Logic
  • Dialogue and Dialectics
  • Relational Dialectic
  • L S Vygotsky
  • Mikhail Bakhtin
  • Monologue
  • Discourse
  • Drama
  • Ensemble Theory

What is dialogue?

Source: Relating dialogue and dialectics: a philosophical perspective

Dialogue in different forms (political, philosophical, and dramatic) historically emerged in Ancient Greece in the context of the polis as a community of actively participating citizens (Dafermos, 2013a). Plato’s dialogues, the first written dialogical accounts in human history were formed in the context of ancient polis.

After a long eclipse in the history of human thought dialogue was reborn in the twentieth century in the writings of Russian literary theorist and philosopher Mikhail Bakhtin. He developed a multifaceted theory of dialogism based on a set of concepts such as dialogue, monologue, polyphony, heteroglossia, utterance, voice, speech genres and chronotope. Bakhtin’s writings inspired many scholars and practitioners to elaborate and apply various dialogical approaches in pedagogy (Matusov, 2009; Matusov, & Miyazaki, 2014), psychology (Shotter, 1995; Hermans, & Kempen, 1993), psychotherapy (Seikkula, 2011; Hermans, & Dimaggio, 2004) and cultural studies (Wertsch, 1993; Thornton, 1994).

One of the reasons for the apparent confusion in the emerging interdisciplinary field of dialogical studies is connected with the polysemy of the notion of dialogue and the multiple meanings of its use in different contexts. I will attempt to define several meanings of the term ‘dialogue’. In accordance with a first definition, dialogue is a live conversation between two or more people. In other words, dialogue can be identified with oral communication between two or more interlocutors. Being with other people and responding to their voices is an essential feature of a conversation. However, a difficult question at once arises whether dialogue is every form of conversation or a specific type of deep communication between different subjectivities. Nikulin (2010) defined four components that turn a conversation into a dialogue: a. the existence of personal other, b. voice, c. unfinalizability, d. allosensus (constant disagreement with other).

The second meaning of the term ‘dialogue’ refers to dialogue as a genre or literary device. Plato’s dialogues are one of the most famous forms of using a dialogical form as a genre. Plato’s written dialogues historically appeared as an imitation of oral communication in times of heated debates about the transition from oral to written communication. Dialogue as a genre has been used by many thinkers to formulate their ideas in various ways. However, the dialogical genre might be used as an external form for monological content. For exampledialogue might be used as a teaching method of catechesisIt refers to an instrumental approach to dialogue that tends to be considered as an “an effective means for non- dialogic ends, which are understood outside of the notion of dialogue, within a monological framework” (Matusov, & Miyazaki, 2014, p.2). However, if there is a perfect, final and absolute truth as in catechesis, there is no place and need for genuine dialogue.

In accordance with a third meaning, “…dialogue is the universal condition of using language at all” (Womack, 2011, p.48). From this perspective both oral and written speech, moreover, language itself has a dialogical character. Language can be considered mainly as an intersubjective communicative engagement, rather than a simple, formal, symbolic system.

Bakhtin offered a classic formulation of the dialogic nature of consciousness that can be regarded as the fourth meaning of the dialogue which goes beyond purely linguistic or literary phenomena: “I am conscious of myself and become myself only while revealing myself for another, through another, and with the help of another. The most important acts constituting self-consciousness are determined by a relationship toward another consciousness (toward a thou) … The very being of man (both external and internal) is the deepest communion. To be means to communicate … To be means to be for another, and through the other for oneself” (Bakhtin, 1981, p.287).

Dialogue is an essential characteristic of consciousness. The word ‘consciousness’ originates from the Latin ‘conscius’ (con- ‘together’ + scientia- ‘to know’). ‘Conscious’ means sharing knowledge. Toulmin (1982) offers a brilliant interpretation of the etymology of the term ‘consciousness:

“Etymologically, of course, the term ‘consciousness’ is a knowledge word. This is evidenced by the Latin form, –sci-, in the middle of the word. But what are we to make of the prefix con– that precedes it? Look at the usage in Roman Law, and the answer will be easy enough. Two or more agents who act jointly—having formed a common intention, framed a shared plan, and concerted their actions—are as a result conscientes. They act as they do knowing one another’s plans: they are jointly knowing” (Toulmin, 1982, p. 64).

In Latin “to be conscious of something was to share knowledge of it, with someone else, or with oneself” (Zeman, 2001, p.1265). “When two or more men know of one and the same fact, they are said to be conscious of it one to another” (Hobbes, 1660, Leviathan, chapt. VII). However, the predominant use of the term ‘consciousness’ is connected with John Locke’s definition: “Consciousness is the perception of what passes in a man’s own mind” (Locke, 1690, Essay Concerning Human Understanding, II, i, 19). It refers to ‘inner perceptions’ that are conceived by an individual. The understanding of consciousness as a private, internal awareness became dominant in contemporary scientific literature.

However, it is interesting to note that the term ‘consciousness’ has similar etymology in different languages: In Russian ‘Сознание’ (Со-знание), in Greek ‘συνείδηση’ (συν- ειδέναι), in English ‘Con- scientia,’ in French ‘Conscience’ (Con-science), in Italian ‘Coscienza’ (Co-scienza). The prefix ‘co’ refers to joint action, reciprocal interaction between people. The concept of ‘consciousness’ includes knowledge as its essential moment. However, consciousness is not reducible to simple knowledge but it refers to co- producing knowledge in the process of communication between different subjects. It refers to joining knowledge with another or shared knowledge. From this perspective, consciousness has dialogic structure and orientation.

The understanding of the dialogic nature of consciousness enables the demonstration of the mirrors of cognitivism and scientism. One of the most powerful objections to cognitivism has been formulated by Michael Bakhtin: “Truth is not born nor is it to be found inside the head of an individual person, it is born between people collectively searching for truth, in the process of their dialogic interaction” (Bakhtin, 1984, p. 110).

Dialogue has been defined by Bakhtin as opposed to monologism. Individual consciousness cannot grasp the complexity and variety of the human world. In contrast to the single, isolated, monological consciousness, a dialogical coexistence of different irreducible consciousnesses develops. Bakhtin argued that the idea is not developed in isolated individual consciousness but in dialogic communication between several consciousnesses. “…the idea is inter-individual and inter-subjective – the realm of its existence is not individual consciousness but dialogic communion between consciousnesses. The idea is a live event, played out at the point of dialogic meeting between two or several consciousnesses” (Bakhtin, 2003, p.98). The meeting spaces and dramatic processes of making meaning between different and not reducible consciousnesses constitute the ontological foundation of dialogue. The “ontological dialogue” (Sidorkin, 1999; Matusov, & Miyazaki, 2014) between consciousnesses penetrates the deeper and most important aspects of human existence.

Although dialogue has been defined as being contrary to monologue, the consideration of dialogue as a positive and monologue as a negative term leads inevitably to oversimplification of dialectic relationships between them. I totally agree with Matusov’s position that “Bakhtin’s notions of dialogue and monologue is complementary” (Matusov, 2009, p.112). Matusov argues that the concepts of dialogicity and monologicity mutually constitute each other. “Monologicity makes clear who is speaking (i.e., authorship and responsibility) and what is said (i.e., the message). In other words, monologicity objectivizes others and the themes of communication… Monologicity reflects centripetal forces of language, communication, and community oriented on centralization, unification, unity with action, seriousness, cohesiveness and integrity of voice (and position), articulateness, globalization, decontextualization, exactness and correctness of meaning (finalizing the meaning)” (Matusov, 2009, p. 131).

However, many Bakhtinian scholars tend to interpret the concepts ‘dialogue-monologue’ in terms of Western post-modernism such as ‘the death of author’ (more generally, the ‘death of subject’), ‘deconstruction,’ ‘decentration,’ ‘intertextuality’ (Bell, & Gardiner, 1998; Holquist, 2002). From the perspective of post-modernism, monologue is defined as a ‘grand narrative’ that should be ‘killed’ and ‘destroyed’. With the total ‘death of monologue’ any claims for ‘seriousness,’ ‘cohesiveness,’ ‘integrity of voice (and position),’ ‘articulateness’ and ‘correctness of meaning’ might disappear. The celebration of post-modern, deconstructionist discourse tends to lead to the deconstruction not only of ‘old’ metaphysics and ‘grand’ monologic narratives, but also of scientific thinking and knowledge itself. “…the deconstruction of metaphysics is the deconstruction of the scientificity of science. The deconstructive strategy aims at the very source of science itself, at the kind of question that gives rise to scientific investigation” (Evans, 1999, p.156).

It could be argued that the destruction of reason itself may give rise to a new form of irrationalism. Based on the analysis of post-Hegelian philosophical tradition, Lukács (1954) demonstrated that the destruction of reason and the advent of irrationalism prepared the ground for fascist ideas.

What is dialectics?

Source: Relating dialogue and dialectics: a philosophical perspective

The concept ‘dialectics’ has acquired different forms and meanings in various historical contexts. In ancient Greece dialectics emerged as an art of dialogue and a problem solving method through argumentation. The term ‘dialectics’ has a similar origin of the term ‘dialogue’. It refers to the art of conversation or debate that is connected with seeking truth through reasoning. “… someone tries, by means of dialectical discussion and without the aid of any sense-perceptions, to arrive through reason at the being of each thing itself” (Plato, 2004, Republic, 532a). By the power of discussions, dialectics provides genuine knowledge. Dialectics as a method originates from the Socratic elenchus, a method of hypothesis elimination that takes the form of a question-answer dialogue and brings out the contradictions in the interlocutor’s arguments.

Dialectics constitutes a way of thinking based on the understanding of the contradictory nature of both reason and being. Naive, spontaneous dialectics had been developed by ancient thinkers as an attempt to offer a living, sensory concrete perception of the world in the process of its change and becoming. “Tao-Te-Ching” in Ancient China as well as Heraclitus’ philosophy in Ancient Greece were forms of ancient spontaneous dialectics that were expressed in the idea that “everything is in a state of flux” (Skirbekk, & Gilje, 2001, p.13). Although Heraclitus didn’t use the term ‘dialectic,’ he developed a dialectical understanding that everything is becoming. However, a conceptual, categorical system for the representation of things as processes did not yet exist in the ancient world. Becoming is expressed through metaphors, images of an aesthetic equivalent such as the image of a river: “you cannot step into the same river twice” (Plato, 1997, Cratylus, 402a).

The meaning of the concept ‘dialectics’ was transformed by Aristotle. For Aristotle dialectic wasn’t a form of being but rather a method of logical argumentation. Moreover, dialectic broke down its interconnection with dialogue and became mainly a method of building knowledge. In the Middle Ages dialectic was constructed as a method of argumentation on the basis of a set of logical rules (Nikulin, 2010).

During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries an analytic method of knowledge production dominated in concrete sciences and a metaphysical mode of thinking in the field of philosophy (Pavlidis, 2010). The metaphysical mode of thinking is based on the consideration of reality as a sum of separated, unconnected independent entities. A metaphysical outlook considers things as self-subsistent, isolated and abstracted from their context (Sayers, 1976). It denies fundamentally both the internal relatedness of all things and their development.

The concept of ‘dialectic’ was reborn and acquired new meanings and connotations in the context of German classical philosophy from Kant to Hegel and later in Marxism. Kant proposed “transcendental dialectic” as the logic of errors and illusions that arise when reason goes beyond its proper role in attempting to grasp the actual objects themselves (the thing-in-itself) (Williams, 2014). Kant demonstrated the structural necessity and inevitability of illusions. According to Kant, thinking confronts antinomies and falls into conflict with itself. Challenging Kant’s concept of dialectic as a logic of illusions, Hegel developed a “positive” dialectic based on the examination of a universal as a concrete unity of multiple determinations (Hegel, 2010). Dialectics was developed by Hegel as a method of thought that included the process of expounding contradictions and their resolution in the corpus of a rational understanding of an object (Ilyenkov, 1977). Materialistic dialectics developed by K. Marx as an attempt of the theoretical reconstruction of a concrete organic whole (the capitalist mode of production) through the creation of a system of interconnected concepts.

The conscious (or systematic) dialectics stood against the metaphysical method of thinking. Dialectics and metaphysics constitute two different ways of thinking about thinking. In contrast to the metaphysical method based on one-dimensional, abstract analysis of an object and its elements as unchanging and immutable, dialectical thinking examines an object in the process of its change. The dialectical method focuses on the examination of things in their mutual connections, movement and development. Dialectics as a way of thinking grasps and represents the developmental process of a concrete object in its interconnections with other objects (Pavlidis, 2010).

In the late 19th century and early 20th century the tendency of the rejection of dialectic and the acceptance of other trends such as Kantianism, philosophy of life and positivism became dominant in Western academy. The bulk of research for a long period in the Western academy was primarily associated with the assumptions of positivism and reductionism. In contrast to widespread reductionism in concrete disciplines which focuses on analysis of isolated elements of reality, the dialectic approach is oriented to grasp full complexity of interrelationships of reality and the contradictions that embody them (Bidell, 1988). The famous formula ‘thesis-antithesis-synthesis’ represents a very schematic and over simplistic description of the dialectical understanding of development. Such kind of caricatured representation of dialectics can give rise to the negative stance (or total rejection) of dialectical thinking. Laske (2009) argues that the dialectical mode of thinking “remains a closed book for the majority of adults in the Western world, while in Asian cultures nurtured by Buddhism it more easily assumes a common sense form” (Laske, 2009). Although the explanation of the negative stance toward a dialectical mode of thinking is out of scope of the present paper, I would like only to note that the increasing individualization, fragmentation and commercialization of social life in North America and Western Europe is not unconnected to a lack of understanding of dialectic at the level of everyday life.

The multiple crises (economic, political, ecological and scientific) as a result of the increasing social contradictions and asymmetries in a rapidly changing world may provoke interest in dialectics as a way of the conceptualization of contradictions. However, dialectics is not a given system of postulates that can be immediately applied as an external guiding system for investigating problems. The application of dialectics to the concrete fields presupposes its essential development. The question of how to further develop dialectics in a rapidly changing world remains open for future investigation.

Interconnection between consciousness and knowledge

Source: Relating dialogue and dialectics: a philosophical perspective

Dialectics and dialogue constitute two distinct traditions and each of them has its own logic of development in the history of human thought. Nevertheless, there was not an absolute gap between these traditions and it is possible to find complex relationships between them.

Traditionally, dialectics has been conceived as a mode of thinking connected with a concrete form of knowledge production. “…modern dialectic still tends to become the organon of thinking…” (Nikulin, 2010, p.71). Dialogue, on the other hand, has been traditionally conceptualized as a particular type of communication that creates shared meanings between different subjects. The concept of dialogue is more connected with the communication between consciousnesses rather than with knowledge production. However, there is not a gap between consciousness and knowledge. Dialectic connections develop in the interspace between consciousness and knowledge. On one side, consciousness includes knowledge as one of its moments. On the other side, reflective thinking has been involved in the dialogic communication between different subjects. Thus, thinking is not a solitary activity of a purely autonomous subject but a dialogical act, unfolding between different subjects. The knowledge representation of an object is socially mediated and the path to knowledge passes through relationships between subjects. Knowing with the other evidences the dialogical quality of consciousness (Shotter, 2006).

The investigation of developing interrelations between thinking and speech was examined by Vygotsky (1987) as the key to understanding the nature of human consciousness. The analysis of the internal relations between thinking and speaking as sides of human consciousness constitutes one of the most important foundations for linking dialectics and dialogue. Vygotsky (1987) addressed this crucial issue from a psychological perspective, but it remains under-investigatedHowever, it is worth emphasizing that dialectical thinking is a specific type of thinking that develops at a concrete stage of the process of historical development of human consciousness. Dialectical thinking offers the opportunity to overcome widespread positivism and reductionism in science (Ilyenkov, 1982a, 1982b; Dafermos, 2014).

In contrast to monologism, the dominant ‘paradigm’ in social and human sciences, Bakhtin revealed not only the dialogic nature of consciousness but also the perspective of conceptualization of thinking as a dialogue. “This mode of thinking makes available those sides of a human being, and above all the thinking human consciousness and the dialogic sphere of its existence, which are not subject to artistic assimilation from monologic positions” (Bakhtin, 1984, p.270). Dialogue was portrayed by Bakhtin as a unique meeting between several consciousnesses in a concrete moment of a historical and cultural chronotope.

Bringing together dialectics and dialogue, Feuerbach pointed out that “The true dialectic is not a monologue of the solitary thinker with himself. It is a dialogue between “I” and “You” (Feuerbach, 1843). Criticizing Hegelian philosophy, Feuerbach demonstrated the shortcomings of a pure speculation, which a single thinker carries on by or with himself, and subsequently, he focused on dialogue between “I” and “You” as sensuous and concrete human beings. It is worth mentioning that Feuerbach’s ideas on dialogue inspired Vygotsky to develop his theory of social education in the field of defectology: “Only social education can lead severely retarded children through the process of becoming human by eliminating the solitude of idiocy and severe retardation. L. Feuerbach’s wonderful phrase, might be taken as the motto to the study of development in abnormal children: ‘That which is impossible for one, is possible for two.’ Let us add: That which is impossible on the level of individual development becomes possible on the level of social development” (Vygotsky, 1993, pp. 218-219).

Development

Source: Relating dialogue and dialectics: a philosophical perspective

Contrary to the view about an absolute gap between a dialogical approach and a dialectical concept of development, it is possible to find in Bakhtin’s writings some ideas that seem unpredictably closer to dialectical understanding than to postmodernist celebration of the fragmentation of culture. “The study of culture (or some area of it) at the level of system and at the higher level of organic unity: open, becoming, unresolved and unpredetermined, capable of death and renewal, transcending itself, that is, exceeding its own boundaries” (Bakhtin, 1986a, p.135). Bakhtin’s idea of an open, developing organic unity is a truly dialectical insight in the theorizing of human sciences. The contradictory coexistence of ‘death’ and ‘rebirth’ constitutes a moment of a dialectical understanding of culture. I don’t claim that Bakhtin was a dialectical theorist, but only that it is possible to find influences of dialectics in his writings. In other words, there is no absolute gap or a rupture between dialogic and dialectic traditions but paradoxically, a dramatic relation between them might be detected.

From a developmental perspective, dialogue cannot be reduced to a simple communicative interaction or a conversation. Not every communicative interaction or conversation promotes human development. Dialogue is such a conversation that does promote human development. Dramatic tensions and collisions in a dialogue might become a source of personal growth for their participants. In other words, dialogue opens up the perspective of personal growth for subjects engaged in it (Apatow, 1998). “…the discursive dynamics has as its central question the ways to critically negotiate/collaborate meanings, highlighting the contradiction as a driving force for the development between participants with different social, historical, cultural and political constitutions” (Magalhães, Ninin, & Lessa, 2014, p.142).

Explaining the deep meaning of the general genetic law of cultural development as it was formulated by Vygotsky, Veresov notes: “Dramatic character development, development through contradictory events (acts of development), category (dramatic collision) — this was Vygotsky’s formulation and emphasis” (Veresov, 2010, p.88). The dramatic collision, conflicts and contradictory relations that emerge in a dialogue as they are experienced by its participants may promote their self reflection and personal growth.

The dialectic of change constitutes an essential dimension of a dialogue. “…neither a first nor a last word and there are no limits to the dialogic context (it extends into the boundless past and the boundless future). Even past meanings, that is, those born in the dialogue of past centuries, can never be stable (finalized, ended once and for all) – they will always change (be renewed) in the process of subsequent development of the dialogue” (Bakhtin, 1986a, p.170).

Dialectics encountered: the origins of great strategies

Source: Strategy and dialectics: Rejuvenating a long-standing relationship

A group of strategy scholars recently joined to explore the origins of great strategies—a question infused with theoretical and practical significance (Gavetti and Porac, 2018). While not claiming to capture the field’s diversity in its entirety, the set of papers compiled represents a wide range of perspectives on strategy. As they traced the evolution of firms, capabilities, strategies, and industries in contemporary business environments, authors have built on diverse literatures such as complexity theory, evolutionary theory, attention-based view, Weberian sociology, practice theory, institutional logics, relational contracts, social movements, behavioral strategy, and social networks, to name but a few. Curiously, none of the papers explicitly used the word “dialectics” or referred to dialectics as a guiding perspective.

For the more initiated, however, dialectics is highly present in this collection of readings. Dialectics ideas underlie several of the featured theories, particularly complexity theory, practice theory, institutional logics, social movements, and behavioral strategy. The different papers also employ several time-honored dialectics concepts. For instance, the notion of “creative destruction” (Podolny, 2018) has been inspired by Marx; the dialectics of “presence” and “absence” (Powell, 2018) features in Hegel’s writings. Key means for generating creative strategies— combination, contrast, constraint, and intersecting contexts (Brandenburger, 2017)—resonate with dialectics’ notions of synthesis, negation, contradiction, and overlap. Dialectics stress on conflict and opposition is echoed too: it features in the emergence of powerful strategies such as Apple’s, reflecting broader clash between the oppositional movements and cultures of personal and corporate computing (Rao and Datta, 2018); it is illustrated in the concept of Judo strategies in which firms turn their opponents’ strengths against them (Brandenburger, 2017). Finally, in line with dialectics stress on asynchrony as a stimulus for movement and development, effective strategies, such as used in the drone industry, successively built on disequilibria and bottlenecks (Eisenhardt and Bingham, 2017).

Process, conflict, contradiction, disequilibria, disruption, oppositions, and synthesis are dialectics’ stock in trade. These, and other dialectics’ notions, also bear on several of strategy’s core research streams: they inform the literature on innovation and technological change (Bodrožić and Adler, 2017; Schumpeter, 1942; Tushman and Nelson, 1990), the resource-based view of firm’s growth (Penrose, 1959; Vidal and Mitchel, 2018), and strategy-as-practice research (Jarzabkowski, 2003; Nicolini, 2012); they have also been incorporated into managerial tools such as scenario analysis, system dynamics, and red teams.

I submit that dialectics is more present in strategy that many realize and holds a great potential to become even more central to the field. Dialectics’ distinctive view on social processes and relations is particularly relevant for comprehending and navigating a world in flux, a welcome counterpart to more simplistic, reductionist, and binary models, and an alternative to views on strategy stressing equilibrium, linearity, and coherence. Dialectics holistic stance can serve to counteract the field’s notorious fragmentation (e.g. Durand et al., 2017; Hambrick, 2004). Moreover, dialectics’ philosophical foundations and its stress on critique and reconstruction makes it particularly attractive means for challenging established models, questioning existing ideologies and reconsidering alternatives.

To reassert dialectics in new, promising areas such as competitive advantage and shaping strategies (the “where”), strategy researchers first need to become more familiar with dialectics ideas (the “what”) and with potential ways they can be used (the “how”).

Dialectical Thinking

Source: John Rowan: Dialectical Thinking

Dialectics is a form of thought which goes back a long way. In the West, Heraclitus in Ancient Greece was aware of it, and in the East, there are a number of thinkers who practised it. The Tao-Te-Ching is a good example of dialectical writing.

Change

The first characteristic of dialectical thinking is that it places all the emphasis on change. Instead of talking about static structures, it talks about process and movement. Hence it is in line with all those philosophies which say – “Let’s not be deceived by what it is is now as we perceive it – let’s not pretend we can fix it and label it and turn it into something stiff and immutable – let’s look instead at how it changes.” Hence it denies much of the usefulness of formal logic, which starts from the proposition that “A is A,” and is nothing but A. For dialectics the corresponding proposition is “A is not simply A.” This is even true for things, but much more obviously true for people.

Conflict and Opposition

But the second characteristic, which sets it apart from any philosophy which emphasises smooth continuous change or progress, is that it states that the way change takes place is through conflict and opposition. Dialectics is always looking for the contradictions within people or situations as the main guide to what is going on and what is likely to happen. There are in fact three main propositions which are put forward about opposites and contradictions.

The interdependence of opposites

This is the easiest thing to see: opposites depend on one another. It wouldn’t make sense to talk about darkness if there were no such thing as light. I really start to understand my love at the moment when I permit myself up understand my hate. In practice, each member of a polar opposition seems to need the other to make it what it is.

The interpenetration of opposites

Here we see that opposites can be found within each other. Just because light is relative to darkness, there is some light in every darkness, and some darkness in every light. There is some hate in every love, and some love in every hate. If we look into one thing hard enough, we can always find its opposite right there. To see this frees us from the “either-or” which can be so oppressive and so stuck.

The unity of opposites

So far we have been talking about relative opposites. But dialectics goes on to say that if we take an opposite to its very ultimate extreme, and make it absolute, it actually turns into its opposite. Thus if we make darkness absolute, we are blind – we can’t see anything. And if we make light absolute, we are equally blind and unable to see. In psychology, the equivalent of this is to idealise something. So if we take love to its extreme, and idealise it, we get morbid dependence, where our whole existence depends completely on the other person. And if we take hate to its extreme, and idealise it, we get morbid counterdependence, where our whole existence again depends completely on the other person. This appreciation of paradox is one of the strengths of the dialectical approach, which makes it superior to linear logic.

A good symbol for these three processes is the Yin-Yang symbol of Taoism. The interdependence of opposites is shown in each half being defined by the contours of the other. The interpenetration of opposites is expressed by having a black spot in the innermost centre of the white area, and a white spot in the innermost centre of the black area. The unity of opposites is shown by the circle surrounding the symbol, which expresses total unity and unbroken serenity in and through all the seeming opposition. It is, after all, one symbol.

The lessons of the dialectic are hard ones. It tells us that any value we have, if held to in a one-sided way, will become an illusion. We shall try to take it as excluding its opposite, but really it will include it. And if we take it to its extreme, and idealise it, it will turn into its opposite. So peace and love, cosmic harmony, the pursuit of happiness and all the rest are doomed, if held to in this exclusive way.

The only values which will be truly stable and coherent are those which include opposition rather than excluding it. And all such values appear to be nonsense, because they must contain paradoxes. “Self-actualization” is one such value, because the concept of the self is self-contradictory, paradoxical and absurd. The self is intensely personal and completely impersonal at one and the same time. It is the lowest of the low and the highest of the high at the same time. And this is why, when we contact the self in a peak experience, our description of what happened is invariably a paradoxical one.

There is a logic of paradox, which enables the intellect to handle it without getting fazed, and its name is the dialectic. It is complex because it involves holding the spring doors of the mind open – hence it often tries to say everything at once. But it shows how we do not have to give up in the face of paradox and abandon the intellect as a hopeless case.

Hegel’s Dialectics

Source: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/hegel-dialectics/

First published Fri Jun 3, 2016; substantive revision Fri Oct 2, 2020

“Dialectics” is a term used to describe a method of philosophical argument that involves some sort of contradictory process between opposing sides. In what is perhaps the most classic version of “dialectics”, the ancient Greek philosopher, Plato (see entry on Plato), for instance, presented his philosophical argument as a back-and-forth dialogue or debate, generally between the character of Socrates, on one side, and some person or group of people to whom Socrates was talking (his interlocutors), on the other. In the course of the dialogues, Socrates’ interlocutors propose definitions of philosophical concepts or express views that Socrates challenges or opposes. The back-and-forth debate between opposing sides produces a kind of linear progression or evolution in philosophical views or positions: as the dialogues go along, Socrates’ interlocutors change or refine their views in response to Socrates’ challenges and come to adopt more sophisticated views. The back-and-forth dialectic between Socrates and his interlocutors thus becomes Plato’s way of arguing against the earlier, less sophisticated views or positions and for the more sophisticated ones later.

“Hegel’s dialectics” refers to the particular dialectical method of argument employed by the 19th Century German philosopher, G.W.F. Hegel (see entry on Hegel), which, like other “dialectical” methods, relies on a contradictory process between opposing sides. Whereas Plato’s “opposing sides” were people (Socrates and his interlocutors), however, what the “opposing sides” are in Hegel’s work depends on the subject matter he discusses. In his work on logic, for instance, the “opposing sides” are different definitions of logical concepts that are opposed to one another. In the Phenomenology of Spirit, which presents Hegel’s epistemology or philosophy of knowledge, the “opposing sides” are different definitions of consciousness and of the object that consciousness is aware of or claims to know. As in Plato’s dialogues, a contradictory process between “opposing sides” in Hegel’s dialectics leads to a linear evolution or development from less sophisticated definitions or views to more sophisticated ones later. The dialectical process thus constitutes Hegel’s method for arguing against the earlier, less sophisticated definitions or views and for the more sophisticated ones later. Hegel regarded this dialectical method or “speculative mode of cognition” (PR §10) as the hallmark of his philosophy and used the same method in the Phenomenology of Spirit [PhG], as well as in all of the mature works he published later—the entire Encyclopaedia of Philosophical Sciences (including, as its first part, the “Lesser Logic” or the Encyclopaedia Logic [EL]), the Science of Logic [SL], and the Philosophy of Right[PR].

Note that, although Hegel acknowledged that his dialectical method was part of a philosophical tradition stretching back to Plato, he criticized Plato’s version of dialectics. He argued that Plato’s dialectics deals only with limited philosophical claims and is unable to get beyond skepticism or nothingness (SL-M 55–6; SL-dG 34–5; PR, Remark to §31). According to the logic of a traditional reductio ad absurdum argument, if the premises of an argument lead to a contradiction, we must conclude that the premises are false—which leaves us with no premises or with nothing. We must then wait around for new premises to spring up arbitrarily from somewhere else, and then see whether those new premises put us back into nothingness or emptiness once again, if they, too, lead to a contradiction. Because Hegel believed that reason necessarily generates contradictions, as we will see, he thought new premises will indeed produce further contradictions. As he puts the argument, then, 

the scepticism that ends up with the bare abstraction of nothingness or emptiness cannot get any further from there, but must wait to see whether something new comes along and what it is, in order to throw it too into the same empty abyss. (PhG-M §79) 

Hegel argues that, because Plato’s dialectics cannot get beyond arbitrariness and skepticism, it generates only approximate truths, and falls short of being a genuine science (SL-M 55–6; SL-dG 34–5; PR, Remark to §31; cf. EL Remark to §81). The following sections examine Hegel’s dialectics as well as these issues in more detail.


1. Hegel’s description of his dialectical method

Hegel provides the most extensive, general account of his dialectical method in Part I of his Encyclopaedia of Philosophical Sciences, which is often called the Encyclopaedia Logic [EL]. The form or presentation of logic, he says, has three sides or moments (EL §79). These sides are not parts of logic, but, rather, moments of “every concept”, as well as “of everything true in general” (EL Remark to §79; we will see why Hegel thought dialectics is in everything in section 3). The first moment—the moment of the understanding—is the moment of fixity, in which concepts or forms have a seemingly stable definition or determination (EL §80).

The second moment—the “dialectical” (EL §§79, 81) or “negatively rational” (EL §79) moment—is the moment of instability. In this moment, a one-sidedness or restrictedness (EL Remark to §81) in the determination from the moment of understanding comes to the fore, and the determination that was fixed in the first moment passes into its opposite (EL §81). Hegel describes this process as a process of “self-sublation” (EL §81). The English verb “to sublate” translates Hegel’s technical use of the German verb aufheben, which is a crucial concept in his dialectical method. Hegel says that aufheben has a doubled meaning: it means both to cancel (or negate) and to preserve at the same time (PhG §113; SL-M 107; SL-dG 81–2; cf. EL the Addition to §95). The moment of understanding sublates itself because its own character or nature—its one-sidedness or restrictedness—destabilizes its definition and leads it to pass into its opposite. The dialectical moment thus involves a process of self-sublation, or a process in which the determination from the moment of understanding sublates itself, or both cancels and preserves itself, as it pushes on to or passes into its opposite.

The third moment—the “speculative” or “positively rational” (EL §§79, 82) moment—grasps the unity of the opposition between the first two determinations, or is the positive result of the dissolution or transition of those determinations (EL §82 and Remark to §82). Here, Hegel rejects the traditional, reductio ad absurdum argument, which says that when the premises of an argument lead to a contradiction, then the premises must be discarded altogether, leaving nothing. As Hegel suggests in the Phenomenology, such an argument 

is just the skepticism which only ever sees pure nothingness in its result and abstracts from the fact that this nothingness is specifically the nothingness of that from which it results. (PhG-M §79) 

Although the speculative moment negates the contradiction, it is a determinate or defined nothingness because it is the result of a specific process. There is something particular about the determination in the moment of understanding—a specific weakness, or some specific aspect that was ignored in its one-sidedness or restrictedness—that leads it to fall apart in the dialectical moment. The speculative moment has a definition, determination or content because it grows out of and unifies the particular character of those earlier determinations, or is “a unity of distinct determinations” (EL Remark to §82). The speculative moment is thus “truly not empty, abstract nothing, but the negation of certain determinations” (EL-GSH §82). When the result “is taken as the result of that from which it emerges”, Hegel says, then it is “in fact, the true result; in that case it is itself a determinate nothingness, one which has a content” (PhG-M §79). As he also puts it, “the result is conceived as it is in truth, namely, as a determinate negation [bestimmteNegation]; a new form has thereby immediately arisen” (PhG-M §79). Or, as he says, “[b]ecause the result, the negation, is a determinate negation [bestimmte Negation], it has a content” (SL-dG 33; cf. SL-M 54). Hegel’s claim in both the Phenomenology and the Science of Logic that his philosophy relies on a process of “determinate negation [bestimmte Negation]” has sometimes led scholars to describe his dialectics as a method or doctrine of “determinate negation” (see entry on Hegel, section on Science of Logic; cf. Rosen 1982: 30; Stewart 1996, 2000: 41–3; Winfield 1990: 56).

There are several features of this account that Hegel thinks raise his dialectical method above the arbitrariness of Plato’s dialectics to the level of a genuine science. First, because the determinations in the moment of understanding sublate themselves, Hegel’s dialectics does not require some new idea to show up arbitrarily. Instead, the movement to new determinations is driven by the nature of the earlier determinations and so “comes about on its own accord” (PhG-P §79). Indeed, for Hegel, the movement is driven by necessity (see, e.g., EL Remarks to §§12, 42, 81, 87, 88; PhG §79). The natures of the determinations themselves drive or force them to pass into their opposites. This sense of necessity—the idea that the method involves being forced from earlier moments to later ones—leads Hegel to regard his dialectics as a kind of logic. As he says in the Phenomenology, the method’s “proper exposition belongs to logic” (PhG-M §48). Necessity—the sense of being driven or forced to conclusions—is the hallmark of “logic” in Western philosophy.

Second, because the form or determination that arises is the result of the self-sublation of the determination from the moment of understanding, there is no need for some new idea to show up from the outside. Instead, the transition to the new determination or form is necessitated by earlier moments and hence grows out of the process itself. Unlike in Plato’s arbitrary dialectics, then—which must wait around until some other idea comes in from the outside—in Hegel’s dialectics “nothing extraneous is introduced”, as he says (SL-M 54; cf. SL-dG 33). His dialectics is driven by the nature, immanence or “inwardness” of its own content (SL-M 54; cf. SL-dG 33; cf. PR §31). As he puts it, dialectics is “the principle through which alone immanent coherence and necessity enter into the content of science” (EL-GSH Remark to §81).

Third, because later determinations “sublate” earlier determinations, the earlier determinations are not completely cancelled or negated. On the contrary, the earlier determinations are preservedin the sense that they remain in effect within the later determinations. When Being-for-itself, for instance, is introduced in the logic as the first concept of ideality or universality and is defined by embracing a set of “something-others”, Being-for-itself replaces the something-others as the new concept, but those something-others remain active within the definition of the concept of Being-for-itself. The something-others must continue to do the work of picking out individual somethings before the concept of Being-for-itself can have its own definition as the concept that gathers them up. Being-for-itself replaces the something-others, but it also preserves them, because its definition still requires them to do their work of picking out individual somethings (EL §§95–6).

The concept of “apple”, for example, as a Being-for-itself, would be defined by gathering up individual “somethings” that are the same as one another (as apples). Each individual apple can be what it is (as an apple) only in relation to an “other” that is the same “something” that it is (i.e., an apple). That is the one-sidedness or restrictedness that leads each “something” to pass into its “other” or opposite. The “somethings” are thus both “something-others”. Moreover, their defining processes lead to an endless process of passing back and forth into one another: one “something” can be what it is (as an apple) only in relation to another “something” that is the same as it is, which, in turn, can be what it is (an apple) only in relation to the other “something” that is the same as it is, and so on, back and forth, endlessly (cf. EL §95). The concept of “apple”, as a Being-for-itself, stops that endless, passing-over process by embracing or including the individual something-others (the apples) in its content. It grasps or captures their character or quality as apples. But the “something-others” must do their work of picking out and separating those individual items (the apples) before the concept of “apple”—as the Being-for-itself—can gather them up for its own definition. We can picture the concept of Being-for-itself like this:an oval enclosing two circles, left and right; an arrow goes from the interior of each circle to the interior of the other. The oval has the statement 'Being-for-itself embraces the something-others in its content'. The circles have the statement 'the something-others'. The arrows have the statement 'the process of passing back-and-forth between the something-others'.

Figure 1

Later concepts thus replace, but also preserve, earlier concepts.

Fourth, later concepts both determine and also surpass the limits or finitude of earlier concepts. Earlier determinations sublate themselves—they pass into their others because of some weakness, one-sidedness or restrictedness in their own definitions. There are thus limitations in each of the determinations that lead them to pass into their opposites. As Hegel says, “that is what everything finite is: its own sublation” (EL-GSH Remark to §81). Later determinations define the finiteness of the earlier determinations. From the point of view of the concept of Being-for-itself, for instance, the concept of a “something-other” is limited or finite: although the something-others are supposed to be the same as one another, the character of their sameness (e.g., as apples) is captured only from above, by the higher-level, more universal concept of Being-for-itself. Being-for-itself reveals the limitations of the concept of a “something-other”. It also rises above those limitations, since it can do something that the concept of a something-other cannot do. Dialectics thus allows us to get beyond the finite to the universal. As Hegel puts it, “all genuine, nonexternal elevation above the finite is to be found in this principle [of dialectics]” (EL-GSH Remark to §81).

Fifth, because the determination in the speculative moment grasps the unity of the first two moments, Hegel’s dialectical method leads to concepts or forms that are increasingly comprehensive and universal. As Hegel puts it, the result of the dialectical process

is a new concept but one higher and richer than the preceding—richer because it negates or opposes the preceding and therefore contains it, and it contains even more than that, for it is the unity of itself and its opposite. (SL-dG 33; cf. SL-M 54) 

Like Being-for-itself, later concepts are more universal because they unify or are built out ofearlier determinations, and include those earlier determinations as part of their definitions. Indeed, many other concepts or determinations can also be depicted as literally surrounding earlier ones (cf. Maybee 2009: 73, 100, 112, 156, 193, 214, 221, 235, 458).

Finally, because the dialectical process leads to increasing comprehensiveness and universality, it ultimately produces a complete series, or drives “to completion” (SL-dG 33; cf. SL-M 54; PhG §79). Dialectics drives to the “Absolute”, to use Hegel’s term, which is the last, final, and completely all-encompassing or unconditioned concept or form in the relevant subject matter under discussion (logic, phenomenology, ethics/politics and so on). The “Absolute” concept or form is unconditioned because its definition or determination contains all the other concepts or forms that were developed earlier in the dialectical process for that subject matter. Moreover, because the process develops necessarily and comprehensively through each concept, form or determination, there are no determinations that are left out of the process. There are therefore no left-over concepts or forms—concepts or forms outside of the “Absolute”—that might “condition” or define it. The “Absolute” is thus unconditioned because it contains all of the conditions in its content, and is not conditioned by anything else outside of it. This Absolute is the highest concept or form of universality for that subject matter. It is the thought or concept of the whole conceptual system for the relevant subject matter. We can picture the Absolute Idea (EL §236), for instance—which is the “Absolute” for logic—as an oval that is filled up with and surrounds numerous, embedded rings of smaller ovals and circles, which represent all of the earlier and less universal determinations from the logical development (cf. Maybee 2009: 30, 600):Five concentric ovals; the outermost one is labeled 'The Absolute Idea'.

Figure 2

Since the “Absolute” concepts for each subject matter lead into one another, when they are taken together, they constitute Hegel’s entire philosophical system, which, as Hegel says, “presents itself therefore as a circle of circles” (EL-GSH §15). We can picture the entire system like this (cf. Maybee 2009: 29):A circle enclosing enclosing 10 ovals. One oval is labeled 'Phenomenology', another 'Logic', and two others 'Other philosophical subject matters'. The enclosing circle is labeled: the whole philosophical system as a 'circle of circles'

Figure 3

Together, Hegel believes, these characteristics make his dialectical method genuinely scientific. As he says, “the dialectical constitutes the moving soul of scientific progression” (EL-GSH Remark to §81). He acknowledges that a description of the method can be more or less complete and detailed, but because the method or progression is driven only by the subject matter itself, this dialectical method is the “only true method” (SL-M 54; SL-dG 33).

2. Applying Hegel’s dialectical method to his arguments

So far, we have seen how Hegel describes his dialectical method, but we have yet to see how we might read this method into the arguments he offers in his works. Scholars often use the first three stages of the logic as the “textbook example” (Forster 1993: 133) to illustrate how Hegel’s dialectical method should be applied to his arguments. The logic begins with the simple and immediate concept of pure Being, which is said to illustrate the moment of the understanding. We can think of Being here as a concept of pure presence. It is not mediated by any other concept—or is not defined in relation to any other concept—and so is undetermined or has no further determination (EL §86; SL-M 82; SL-dG 59). It asserts bare presence, but what that presence is like has no further determination. Because the thought of pure Being is undetermined and so is a pure abstraction, however, it is really no different from the assertion of pure negation or the absolutely negative (EL §87). It is therefore equally a Nothing (SL-M 82; SL-dG 59). Being’s lack of determination thus leads it to sublate itself and pass into the concept of Nothing (EL §87; SL-M 82; SL-dG 59), which illustrates the dialectical moment.

But if we focus for a moment on the definitions of Being and Nothing themselves, their definitions have the same content. Indeed, both are undetermined, so they have the same kind of undefined content. The only difference between them is “something merely meant” (EL-GSH Remark to §87), namely, that Being is an undefined content, taken as or meant to be presence, while Nothing is an undefined content, taken as or meant to be absence. The third concept of the logic—which is used to illustrate the speculative moment—unifies the first two moments by capturing the positive result of—or the conclusion that we can draw from—the opposition between the first two moments. The concept of Becoming is the thought of an undefined content, taken as presence (Being) and then taken as absence (Nothing), or taken as absence (Nothing) and then taken as presence (Being). To Become is to go from Being to Nothing or from Nothing to Being, or is, as Hegel puts it, “the immediate vanishing of the one in the other” (SL-M 83; cf. SL-dG 60). The contradiction between Being and Nothing thus is not a reductio ad absurdum, or does not lead to the rejection of both concepts and hence to nothingness—as Hegel had said Plato’s dialectics does (SL-M 55–6; SL-dG 34–5)—but leads to a positive result, namely, to the introduction of a new concept—the synthesis—which unifies the two, earlier, opposed concepts.

We can also use the textbook Being-Nothing-Becoming example to illustrate Hegel’s concept of aufheben (to sublate), which, as we saw, means to cancel (or negate) and to preserve at the same time. Hegel says that the concept of Becoming sublates the concepts of Being and Nothing (SL-M 105; SL-dG 80). Becoming cancels or negates Being and Nothing because it is a new concept that replaces the earlier concepts; but it also preserves Being and Nothing because it relies on those earlier concepts for its own definition. Indeed, it is the first concrete concept in the logic. Unlike Being and Nothing, which had no definition or determination as concepts themselves and so were merely abstract (SL-M 82–3; SL-dG 59–60; cf. EL Addition to §88), Becoming is a “determinate unity in which there is both Being and Nothing” (SL-M 105; cf. SL-dG 80). Becoming succeeds in having a definition or determination because it is defined by, or piggy-backs on, the concepts of Being and Nothing.

This “textbook” Being-Nothing-Becoming example is closely connected to the traditional idea that Hegel’s dialectics follows a thesis-antithesis-synthesis pattern, which, when applied to the logic, means that one concept is introduced as a “thesis” or positive concept, which then develops into a second concept that negates or is opposed to the first or is its “antithesis”, which in turn leads to a third concept, the “synthesis”, that unifies the first two (see, e.g., McTaggert 1964 [1910]: 3–4; Mure 1950: 302; Stace, 1955 [1924]: 90–3, 125–6; Kosek 1972: 243; E. Harris 1983: 93–7; Singer 1983: 77–79). Versions of this interpretation of Hegel’s dialectics continue to have currency (e.g., Forster 1993: 131; Stewart 2000: 39, 55; Fritzman 2014: 3–5). On this reading, Being is the positive moment or thesis, Nothing is the negative moment or antithesis, and Becoming is the moment of aufheben or synthesis—the concept that cancels and preserves, or unifies and combines, Being and Nothing.

We must be careful, however, not to apply this textbook example too dogmatically to the rest of Hegel’s logic or to his dialectical method more generally (for a classic criticism of the thesis-antithesis-synthesis reading of Hegel’s dialectics, see Mueller 1958). There are other places where this general pattern might describe some of the transitions from stage to stage, but there are many more places where the development does not seem to fit this pattern very well. One place where the pattern seems to hold, for instance, is where the Measure (EL §107)—as the combination of Quality and Quantity—transitions into the Measureless (EL §107), which is opposed to it, which then in turn transitions into Essence, which is the unity or combination of the two earlier sides (EL §111). This series of transitions could be said to follow the general pattern captured by the “textbook example”: Measure would be the moment of the understanding or thesis, the Measureless would be the dialectical moment or antithesis, and Essence would be the speculative moment or synthesis that unifies the two earlier moments. However, before the transition to Essence takes place, the Measureless itself is redefined as a Measure (EL §109)—undercutting a precise parallel with the textbook Being-Nothing-Becoming example, since the transition from Measure to Essence would not follow a Measure-Measureless-Essence pattern, but rather a Measure-(Measureless?)-Measure-Essence pattern.

Other sections of Hegel’s philosophy do not fit the triadic, textbook example of Being-Nothing-Becoming at all, as even interpreters who have supported the traditional reading of Hegel’s dialectics have noted. After using the Being-Nothing-Becoming example to argue that Hegel’s dialectical method consists of “triads” whose members “are called the thesis, antithesis, synthesis” (Stace 1955 [1924]: 93), W.T. Stace, for instance, goes on to warn us that Hegel does not succeed in applying this pattern throughout the philosophical system. It is hard to see, Stace says, how the middle term of some of Hegel’s triads are the opposites or antitheses of the first term, “and there are even ‘triads’ which contain four terms!” (Stace 1955 [1924]: 97). As a matter of fact, one section of Hegel’s logic—the section on Cognition—violates the thesis-antithesis-synthesis pattern because it has only two sub-divisions, rather than three. “The triad is incomplete”, Stace complains. “There is no third. Hegel here abandons the triadic method. Nor is any explanation of his having done so forthcoming” (Stace 1955 [1924]: 286; cf. McTaggart 1964 [1910]: 292).

Interpreters have offered various solutions to the complaint that Hegel’s dialectics sometimes seems to violate the triadic form. Some scholars apply the triadic form fairly loosely across several stages (e.g. Burbidge 1981: 43–5; Taylor 1975: 229–30). Others have applied Hegel’s triadic method to whole sections of his philosophy, rather than to individual stages. For G.R.G. Mure, for instance, the section on Cognition fits neatly into a triadic, thesis-antithesis-synthesis account of dialectics because the whole section is itself the antithesis of the previous section of Hegel’s logic, the section on Life (Mure 1950: 270). Mure argues that Hegel’s triadic form is easier to discern the more broadly we apply it. “The triadic form appears on many scales”, he says, “and the larger the scale we consider the more obvious it is” (Mure 1950: 302).

Scholars who interpret Hegel’s description of dialectics on a smaller scale—as an account of how to get from stage to stage—have also tried to explain why some sections seem to violate the triadic form. J.N. Findlay, for instance—who, like Stace, associates dialectics “with the triad, or with triplicity”—argues that stages can fit into that form in “more than one sense” (Findlay 1962: 66). The first sense of triplicity echoes the textbook, Being-Nothing-Becoming example. In a second sense, however, Findlay says, the dialectical moment or “contradictory breakdown” is not itself a separate stage, or “does not count as one of the stages”, but is a transition between opposed, “but complementary”, abstract stages that “are developed more or less concurrently” (Findlay 1962: 66). This second sort of triplicity could involve any number of stages: it “could readily have been expanded into a quadruplicity, a quintuplicity and so forth” (Findlay 1962: 66). Still, like Stace, he goes on to complain that many of the transitions in Hegel’s philosophy do not seem to fit the triadic pattern very well. In some triads, the second term is “the direct and obvious contrary of the first”—as in the case of Being and Nothing. In other cases, however, the opposition is, as Findlay puts it, “of a much less extreme character” (Findlay 1962: 69). In some triads, the third term obviously mediates between the first two terms. In other cases, however, he says, the third term is just one possible mediator or unity among other possible ones; and, in yet other cases, “the reconciling functions of the third member are not at all obvious” (Findlay 1962: 70).

Let us look more closely at one place where the “textbook example” of Being-Nothing-Becoming does not seem to describe the dialectical development of Hegel’s logic very well. In a later stage of the logic, the concept of Purpose goes through several iterations, from Abstract Purpose (EL §204), to Finite or Immediate Purpose (EL §205), and then through several stages of a syllogism (EL §206) to Realized Purpose (EL §210). Abstract Purpose is the thought of any kind of purposiveness, where the purpose has not been further determined or defined. It includes not just the kinds of purposes that occur in consciousness, such as needs or drives, but also the “internal purposiveness” or teleological view proposed by the ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle (see entry on Aristotle; EL Remark to §204), according to which things in the world have essences and aim to achieve (or have the purpose of living up to) their essences. Finite Purpose is the moment in which an Abstract Purpose begins to have a determination by fixing on some particular material or content through which it will be realized (EL §205). The Finite Purpose then goes through a process in which it, as the Universality, comes to realize itself as the Purpose over the particular material or content (and hence becomes Realized Purpose) by pushing out into Particularity, then into Singularity (the syllogism U-P-S), and ultimately into ‘out-thereness,’ or into individual objects out there in the world (EL §210; cf. Maybee 2009: 466–493).

Hegel’s description of the development of Purpose does not seem to fit the textbook Being-Nothing-Becoming example or the thesis-antithesis-synthesis model. According to the example and model, Abstract Purpose would be the moment of understanding or thesis, Finite Purpose would be the dialectical moment or antithesis, and Realized Purpose would be the speculative moment or synthesis. Although Finite Purpose has a different determination from Abstract Purpose (it refines the definition of Abstract Purpose), it is hard to see how it would qualify as strictly “opposed” to or as the “antithesis” of Abstract Purpose in the way that Nothing is opposed to or is the antithesis of Being.

There is an answer, however, to the criticism that many of the determinations are not “opposites” in a strict sense. The German term that is translated as “opposite” in Hegel’s description of the moments of dialectics (EL §§81, 82)—entgegensetzen—has three root words: setzen (“to posit or set”), gegen, (“against”), and the prefix ent-, which indicates that something has entered into a new state. The verb entgegensetzen can therefore literally be translated as “to set over against”. The “engegengesetzte” into which determinations pass, then, do not need to be the strict “opposites” of the first, but can be determinations that are merely “set against” or are different from the first ones. And the prefix ent-, which suggests that the first determinations are put into a new state, can be explained by Hegel’s claim that the finite determinations from the moment of understanding sublate (cancel but also preserve) themselves (EL §81): later determinations put earlier determinations into a new state by preserving them.

At the same time, there is a technical sense in which a later determination would still be the “opposite” of the earlier determination. Since the second determination is different from the first one, it is the logical negation of the first one, or is not-the-first-determination. If the first determination is “e”, for instance, because the new determination is different from that one, the new one is “not-e” (Kosek 1972: 240). Since Finite Purpose, for instance, has a definition or determination that is different from the definition that Abstract Purpose has, it is not-Abstract-Purpose, or is the negation or opposite of Abstract Purpose in that sense. There is therefore a technical, logical sense in which the second concept or form is the “opposite” or negation of—or is “not”—the first one—though, again, it need not be the “opposite” of the first one in a strict sense.

Other problems remain, however. Because the concept of Realized Purpose is defined through a syllogistic process, it is itself the product of several stages of development (at least four, by my count, if Realized Purpose counts as a separate determination), which would seem to violate a triadic model. Moreover, the concept of Realized Purpose does not, strictly speaking, seem to be the unity or combination of Abstract Purpose and Finite Purpose. Realized Purpose is the result of (and so unifies) the syllogistic process of Finite Purpose, through which Finite Purpose focuses on and is realized in a particular material or content. Realized Purpose thus seems to be a development of Finite Purpose, rather than a unity or combination of Abstract Purpose and Finite Purpose, in the way that Becoming can be said to be the unity or combination of Being and Nothing.

These sorts of considerations have led some scholars to interpret Hegel’s dialectics in a way that is implied by a more literal reading of his claim, in the Encyclopaedia Logic, that the three “sides” of the form of logic—namely, the moment of understanding, the dialectical moment, and the speculative moment—“are moments of each [or every; jedeslogically-real, that is each [or every; jedes] concept” (EL Remark to §79; this is an alternative translation). The quotation suggests that each concept goes through all three moments of the dialectical process—a suggestion reinforced by Hegel’s claim, in the Phenomenology, that the result of the process of determinate negation is that “a new form has thereby immediately arisen” (PhG-M §79). According to this interpretation, the three “sides” are not three different concepts or forms that are related to one another in a triad—as the textbook Being-Nothing-Becoming example suggests—but rather different momentary sides or “determinations” in the life, so to speak, of eachconcept or form as it transitions to the next one. The three moments thus involve only two concepts or forms: the one that comes first, and the one that comes next (examples of philosophers who interpret Hegel’s dialectics in this second way include Maybee 2009; Priest 1989: 402; Rosen 2014: 122, 132; and Winfield 1990: 56).

For the concept of Being, for example, its moment of understanding is its moment of stability, in which it is asserted to be pure presence. This determination is one-sided or restricted however, because, as we saw, it ignores another aspect of Being’s definition, namely, that Being has no content or determination, which is how Being is defined in its dialectical moment. Being thus sublates itself because the one-sidedness of its moment of understanding undermines that determination and leads to the definition it has in the dialectical moment. The speculative moment draws out the implications of these moments: it asserts that Being (as pure presence) implies nothing. It is also the “unity of the determinations in their comparison [Entgegensetzung]” (EL §82; alternative translation): since it captures a process from one to the other, it includes Being’s moment of understanding (as pure presence) and dialectical moment (as nothing or undetermined), but also compares those two determinations, or sets (-setzen) them up against (-gegen) each other. It even puts Being into a new state (as the prefix ent– suggests) because the next concept, Nothing, will sublate (cancel and preserve) Being.

The concept of Nothing also has all three moments. When it is asserted to be the speculative result of the concept of Being, it has its moment of understanding or stability: it is Nothing, defined as pure absence, as the absence of determination. But Nothing’s moment of understanding is also one-sided or restricted: like Being, Nothing is also an undefined content, which is its determination in its dialectical moment. Nothing thus sublates itself: since it is an undefined content, it is not pure absence after all, but has the same presence that Being did. It is present as an undefined content. Nothing thus sublates Being: it replaces (cancels) Being, but also preserves Being insofar as it has the same definition (as an undefined content) and presence that Being had. We can picture Being and Nothing like this (the circles have dashed outlines to indicate that, as concepts, they are each undefined; cf. Maybee 2009: 51):two circles with dashed outlines, one labeled 'Being' and one 'Nothing'.

Figure 4

In its speculative moment, then, Nothing implies presence or Being, which is the “unity of the determinations in their comparison [Entgegensetzung]” (EL §82; alternative translation), since it both includes but—as a process from one to the other—also compares the two earlier determinations of Nothing, first, as pure absence and, second, as just as much presence.

The dialectical process is driven to the next concept or form—Becoming—not by a triadic, thesis-antithesis-synthesis pattern, but by the one-sidedness of Nothing—which leads Nothing to sublate itself—and by the implications of the process so far. Since Being and Nothing have each been exhaustively analyzed as separate concepts, and since they are the only concepts in play, there is only one way for the dialectical process to move forward: whatever concept comes next will have to take account of both Being and Nothing at the same time. Moreover, the process revealed that an undefined content taken to be presence (i.e., Being) implies Nothing (or absence), and that an undefined content taken to be absence (i.e., Nothing) implies presence (i.e., Being). The next concept, then, takes Being and Nothing together and draws out those implications—namely, that Being implies Nothing, and that Nothing implies Being. It is therefore Becoming, defined as two separate processes: one in which Being becomes Nothing, and one in which Nothing becomes Being. We can picture Becoming this way (cf. Maybee 2009: 53):Same as the previous figure except arched arrows from the Nothing circle to the Being circle and vice versa. The arrows are labeled 'Becoming'.

Figure 5

In a similar way, a one-sidedness or restrictedness in the determination of Finite Purpose together with the implications of earlier stages leads to Realized Purpose. In its moment of understanding, Finite Purpose particularizes into (or presents) its content as “something-presupposed” or as a pre-given object (EL §205). I go to a restaurant for the purpose of having dinner, for instance, and order a salad. My purpose of having dinner particularizes as a pre-given object—the salad. But this object or particularity—e.g. the salad—is “inwardly reflected” (EL §205): it has its own content—developed in earlier stages—which the definition of Finite Purpose ignores. We can picture Finite Purpose this way:4 concentric ovals with the innermost one enclosing an oval and a circle; an arrow points inward from the outermost oval and is labeled 'Presents into or particularizes as'. The outermost oval is labeled 'Finite Purpose (the universality; e.g. 'dinner')'. The next most oval is labeled 'A pre-given object (e.g., 'salad')'. The next oval and the circle and oval in the center are labeled 'The content of the object, developed in earlier stages, that Finite Purpose is ignoring'.

Figure 6

In the dialectical moment, Finite Purpose is determined by the previously ignored content, or by that other content. The one-sidedness of Finite Purpose requires the dialectical process to continue through a series of syllogisms that determines Finite Purpose in relation to the ignored content. The first syllogism links the Finite Purpose to the first layer of content in the object: the Purpose or universality (e.g., dinner) goes through the particularity (e.g., the salad) to its content, the singularity (e.g., lettuce as a type of thing)—the syllogism U-P-S (EL §206). But the particularity (e.g., the salad) is itself a universality or purpose, “which at the same time is a syllogism within itself [in sich]” (EL Remark to §208; alternative translation), in relation to its own content. The salad is a universality/purpose that particularizes as lettuce (as a type of thing) and has its singularity in this lettuce here—a second syllogism, U-P-S. Thus, the first singularity (e.g., “lettuce” as a type of thing)—which, in this second syllogism, is the particularity or P—“judges” (EL §207) or asserts that “U is S”: it says that “lettuce” as a universality (U) or type of thing is a singularity (S), or is “this lettuce here”, for instance. This new singularity (e.g. “this lettuce here”) is itself a combination of subjectivity and objectivity (EL §207): it is an Inner or identifying concept (“lettuce”) that is in a mutually-defining relationship (the circular arrow) with an Outer or out-thereness (“this here”) as its content. In the speculative moment, Finite Purpose is determined by the whole process of development from the moment of understanding—when it is defined by particularizing into a pre-given object with a content that it ignores—to its dialectical moment—when it is also defined by the previously ignored content. We can picture the speculative moment of Finite Purpose this way:4 concentric ovals with the innermost one enclosing an oval and a circle; arrows point inward from the outermost 3 ovals to the next one in. The outermost oval is labeled 'Finite Purpose (the universality; e.g. 'dinner')'. The nextmost oval is labeled both 'The Particularity or object (e.g., 'salad')' and 'The object (e.g., 'salad') is also a Purpose or universality with its own syllogism'. The next oval is labeled both 'The Singularity (e.g., 'lettuce' as a type)' and 'The Particularity (e.g., 'lettuce' as type)'. And the 4th oval is labeled both 'Inner' and 'The Singularity (e.g., 'this lettuce is here')'. The circle in the middle is labeled 'Outer' and the oval in the middle 'Mutually-defining relationship'. The 3 interior ovals (not including the innermost) are also labeled 'The second syllogism U-P-S'. The 3 outer ovals are also labeled 'The first syllogism U-P-S'.

Figure 7

Finite Purpose’s speculative moment leads to Realized Purpose. As soon as Finite Purpose presents all the content, there is a return process (a series of return arrows) that establishes each layer and redefines Finite Purpose as Realized Purpose. The presence of “this lettuce here” establishes the actuality of “lettuce” as a type of thing (an Actuality is a concept that captures a mutually-defining relationship between an Inner and an Outer [EL §142]), which establishes the “salad”, which establishes “dinner” as the Realized Purpose over the whole process. We can picture Realized Purpose this way:4 concentric ovals with the innermost one enclosing an oval and a circle; arrows point inward from the outermost 3 ovals to the next one in and arrows also point in the reverse direction. The outermost oval is labeled 'Realized Purpose: the Purpose (e.g., 'dinner') is established as the Purpose or universality over the whole content'. The outward pointing arrows are labeled 'The return process established the Purpose (e.g., 'dinner') as the Purpose or universality over the whole content'. The nextmost oval is labeled 'The object and second Purpose (e.g., 'salad')'. The one next in is labeled 'The Singularity/Particularity (e.g., 'lettuce' as a type)'. The 3rd inward oval is labeled 'The second Singularity (e.g., 'this lettuce is here')'.

Figure 8

If Hegel’s account of dialectics is a general description of the life of each concept or form, then any section can include as many or as few stages as the development requires. Instead of trying to squeeze the stages into a triadic form (cf. Solomon 1983: 22)—a technique Hegel himself rejects (PhG §50; cf. section 3)—we can see the process as driven by each determination on its own account: what it succeeds in grasping (which allows it to be stable, for a moment of understanding), what it fails to grasp or capture (in its dialectical moment), and how it leads (in its speculative moment) to a new concept or form that tries to correct for the one-sidedness of the moment of understanding. This sort of process might reveal a kind of argument that, as Hegel had promised, might produce a comprehensive and exhaustive exploration of every concept, form or determination in each subject matter, as well as raise dialectics above a haphazard analysis of various philosophical views to the level of a genuine science.

3. Why does Hegel use dialectics?

We can begin to see why Hegel was motivated to use a dialectical method by examining the project he set for himself, particularly in relation to the work of David Hume and Immanuel Kant (see entries on Hume and Kant). Hume had argued against what we can think of as the naïve view of how we come to have scientific knowledge. According to the naïve view, we gain knowledge of the world by using our senses to pull the world into our heads, so to speak. Although we may have to use careful observations and do experiments, our knowledge of the world is basically a mirror or copy of what the world is like. Hume argued, however, that naïve science’s claim that our knowledge corresponds to or copies what the world is like does not work. Take the scientific concept of cause, for instance. According to that concept of cause, to say that one event causes another is to say that there is a necessary connection between the first event (the cause) and the second event (the effect), such that, when the first event happens, the second event must also happen. According to naïve science, when we claim (or know) that some event causes some other event, our claim mirrors or copies what the world is like. It follows that the necessary, causal connection between the two events must itself be out there in the world. However, Hume argued, we never observe any such necessary causal connection in our experience of the world, nor can we infer that one exists based on our reasoning (see Hume’s A Treatise of Human Nature, Book I, Part III, Section II; Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, Section VII, Part I). There is nothing in the world itself that our idea of cause mirrors or copies.

Kant thought Hume’s argument led to an unacceptable, skeptical conclusion, and he rejected Hume’s own solution to the skepticism (see Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, B5, B19–20). Hume suggested that our idea of causal necessity is grounded merely in custom or habit, since it is generated by our own imaginations after repeated observations of one sort of event following another sort of event (see Hume’s A Treatise of Human Nature, Book I, Section VI; Hegel also rejected Hume’s solution, see EL §39). For Kant, science and knowledge should be grounded in reason, and he proposed a solution that aimed to reestablish the connection between reason and knowledge that was broken by Hume’s skeptical argument. Kant’s solution involved proposing a Copernican revolution in philosophy (Critique of Pure Reason, Bxvi). Nicholas Copernicus was the Polish astronomer who said that the earth revolves around the sun, rather than the other way around. Kant proposed a similar solution to Hume’s skepticism. Naïve science assumes that our knowledge revolves around what the world is like, but, Hume’s criticism argued, this view entails that we cannot then have knowledge of scientific causes through reason. We can reestablish a connection between reason and knowledge, however, Kant suggested, if we say—not that knowledge revolves around what the world is like—but that knowledge revolves around what we are like. For the purposes of our knowledge, Kant said, we do not revolve around the world—the world revolves around us. Because we are rational creatures, we share a cognitive structure with one another that regularizes our experiences of the world. This intersubjectively shared structure of rationality—and not the world itself—grounds our knowledge.

However, Kant’s solution to Hume’s skepticism led to a skeptical conclusion of its own that Hegel rejected. While the intersubjectively shared structure of our reason might allow us to have knowledge of the world from our perspective, so to speak, we cannot get outside of our mental, rational structures to see what the world might be like in itself. As Kant had to admit, according to his theory, there is still a world in itself or “Thing-in-itself” (Ding an sich) about which we can know nothing (see, e.g., Critique of Pure Reason, Bxxv–xxvi). Hegel rejected Kant’s skeptical conclusion that we can know nothing about the world- or Thing-in-itself, and he intended his own philosophy to be a response to this view (see, e.g., EL §44 and the Remark to §44).

How did Hegel respond to Kant’s skepticism—especially since Hegel accepted Kant’s Copernican revolution, or Kant’s claim that we have knowledge of the world because of what we are like, because of our reason? How, for Hegel, can we get out of our heads to see the world as it is in itself? Hegel’s answer is very close to the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle’s response to Plato. Plato argued that we have knowledge of the world only through the Forms. The Forms are perfectly universal, rational concepts or ideas. Because the world is imperfect, however, Plato exiled the Forms to their own realm. Although things in the world get their definitions by participating in the Forms, those things are, at best, imperfect copies of the universal Forms (see, e.g., Parmenides 131–135a). The Forms are therefore not in this world, but in a separate realm of their own. Aristotle argued, however, that the world is knowable not because things in the world are imperfect copies of the Forms, but because the Forms are in things themselves as the defining essences of those things (see, e.g., De Anima [On the Soul], Book I, Chapter 1 [403a26–403b18]; Metaphysics, Book VII, Chapter 6 [1031b6–1032a5] and Chapter 8 [1033b20–1034a8]).

In a similar way, Hegel’s answer to Kant is that we can get out of our heads to see what the world is like in itself—and hence can have knowledge of the world in itself—because the very same rationality or reason that is in our heads is in the world itself. As Hegel apparently put it in a lecture, the opposition or antithesis between the subjective and objective disappears by saying, as the Ancients did, 

that nous governs the world, or by our own saying that there is reason in the world, by which we mean that reason is the soul of the world, inhabits it, and is immanent in it, as it own, innermost nature, its universal. (EL-GSH Addition 1 to §24) 

Hegel used an example familiar from Aristotle’s work to illustrate this view: 

“to be an animal”, the kind considered as the universal, pertains to the determinate animal and constitutes its determinate essentiality. If we were to deprive a dog of its animality we could not say what it is. (EL-GSH Addition 1 to §24; cf. SL-dG 16–17, SL-M 36-37)

Kant’s mistake, then, was that he regarded reason or rationality as only in our heads, Hegel suggests (EL §§43–44), rather than in both us and the world itself (see also below in this section and section 4). We can use our reason to have knowledge of the world because the very same reason that is in us, is in the world itself as it own defining principle. The rationality or reason in the world makes reality understandable, and that is why we can have knowledge of, or can understand, reality with our rationality. Dialectics—which is Hegel’s account of reason—characterizes not only logic, but also “everything true in general” (EL Remark to §79).

But why does Hegel come to define reason in terms of dialectics, and hence adopt a dialectical method? We can begin to see what drove Hegel to adopt a dialectical method by returning once again to Plato’s philosophy. Plato argued that we can have knowledge of the world only by grasping the Forms, which are perfectly universal, rational concepts or ideas. Because things in the world are so imperfect, however, Plato concluded that the Forms are not in this world, but in a realm of their own. After all, if a human being were perfectly beautiful, for instance, then he or she would never become not-beautiful. But human beings change, get old, and die, and so can be, at best, imperfect copies of the Form of beauty—though they get whatever beauty they have by participating in that Form. Moreover, for Plato, things in the world are such imperfect copies that we cannot gain knowledge of the Forms by studying things in the world, but only through reason, that is, only by using our rationality to access the separate realm of the Forms (as Plato argued in the well-known parable of the cave; Republic, Book 7, 514–516b).

Notice, however, that Plato’s conclusion that the Forms cannot be in this world and so must be exiled to a separate realm rests on two claims. First, it rests on the claim that the world is an imperfect and messy place—a claim that is hard to deny. But it also rests on the assumption that the Forms—the universal, rational concepts or ideas of reason itself—are static and fixed, and so cannot grasp the messiness within the imperfect world. Hegel is able to link reason back to our messy world by changing the definition of reason. Instead of saying that reason consists of static universals, concepts or ideas, Hegel says that the universal concepts or forms are themselves messy. Against Plato, Hegel’s dialectical method allows him to argue that universal concepts can “overgrasp” (from the German verb übergreifen) the messy, dialectical nature of the world because they, themselves, are dialectical. Moreover, because later concepts build on or sublate (cancel, but also preserve) earlier concepts, the later, more universal concepts grasp the dialectical processes of earlier concepts. As a result, higher-level concepts can grasp not only the dialectical nature of earlier concepts or forms, but also the dialectical processes that make the world itself a messy place. The highest definition of the concept of beauty, for instance, would not take beauty to be fixed and static, but would include within it the dialectical nature or finiteness of beauty, the idea that beauty becomes, on its own account, not-beauty. This dialectical understanding of the concept of beauty can then overgrasp the dialectical and finite nature of beauty in the world, and hence the truth that, in the world, beautiful things themselves become not-beautiful, or might be beautiful in one respect and not another. Similarly, the highest determination of the concept of “tree” will include within its definition the dialectical process of development and change from seed to sapling to tree. As Hegel says, dialectics is “the principle of all natural and spiritual life” (SL-M 56; SL-dG 35), or “the moving soul of scientific progression” (EL §81). Dialectics is what drives the development of both reason as well as of things in the world. A dialectical reason can overgrasp a dialectical world.

Two further journeys into the history of philosophy will help to show why Hegel chose dialectics as his method of argument. As we saw, Hegel argues against Kant’s skepticism by suggesting that reason is not only in our heads, but in the world itself. To show that reason is in the world itself, however, Hegel has to show that reason can be what it is without us human beings to help it. He has to show that reason can develop on its own, and does not need us to do the developing for it (at least for those things in the world that are not human-created). As we saw (cf. section 1), central to Hegel’s dialectics is the idea that concepts or forms develop on their own because they “self-sublate”, or sublate (cancel and preserve) themselves, and so pass into subsequent concepts or forms on their own accounts, because of their own, dialectical natures. Thus reason, as it were, drives itself, and hence does not need our heads to develop it. Hegel needs an account of self-driving reason to get beyond Kant’s skepticism.

Ironically, Hegel derives the basic outlines of his account of self-driving reason from Kant. Kant divided human rationality into two faculties: the faculty of the understanding and the faculty of reason. The understanding uses concepts to organize and regularize our experiences of the world. Reason’s job is to coordinate the concepts and categories of the understanding by developing a completely unified, conceptual system, and it does this work, Kant thought, on its own, independently of how those concepts might apply to the world. Reason coordinates the concepts of the understanding by following out necessary chains of syllogisms to produce concepts that achieve higher and higher levels of conceptual unity. Indeed, this process will lead reason to produce its own transcendental ideas, or concepts that go beyond the world of experience. Kant calls this necessary, concept-creating reason “speculative” reason (cf. Critique of Pure Reason, Bxx–xxi, A327/B384). Reason creates its own concepts or ideas—it “speculates”—by generating new and increasingly comprehensive concepts of its own, independently of the understanding. In the end, Kant thought, reason will follow out such chains of syllogisms until it develops completely comprehensive or unconditioned universals—universals that contain all of the conditions or all of the less-comprehensive concepts that help to define them. As we saw (cf.section 1), Hegel’s dialectics adopts Kant’s notion of a self-driving and concept-creating “speculative” reason, as well as Kant’s idea that reason aims toward unconditioned universality or absolute concepts.

Ultimately, Kant thought, reasons’ necessary, self-driving activity will lead it to produce contradictions—what he called the “antinomies”, which consist of a thesis and antithesis. Once reason has generated the unconditioned concept of the whole world, for instance, Kant argued, it can look at the world in two, contradictory ways. In the first antinomy, reason can see the world (1) as the whole totality or as the unconditioned, or (2) as the series of syllogisms that led up to that totality. If reason sees the world as the unconditioned or as a complete whole that is not conditioned by anything else, then it will see the world as having a beginning and end in terms of space and time, and so will conclude (the thesis) that the world has a beginning and end or limit. But if reason sees the world as the series, in which each member of the series is conditioned by the previous member, then the world will appear to be without a beginning and infinite, and reason will conclude (the antithesis) that the world does not have a limit in terms of space and time (cf. Critique of Pure Reason, A417–18/B445–6). Reason thus leads to a contradiction: it holds both that the world has a limit and that it does not have a limit at the same time. Because reason’s own process of self-development will lead it to develop contradictions or to be dialectical in this way, Kant thought that reason must be kept in check by the understanding. Any conclusions that reason draws that do not fall within the purview of the understanding cannot be applied to the world of experience, Kant said, and so cannot be considered genuine knowledge (Critique of Pure Reason, A506/B534).

Hegel adopts Kant’s dialectical conception of reason, but he liberates reason for knowledge from the tyranny of the understanding. Kant was right that reason speculatively generates concepts on its own, and that this speculative process is driven by necessity and leads to concepts of increasing universality or comprehensiveness. Kant was even right to suggest—as he had shown in the discussion of the antinomies—that reason is dialectical, or necessarily produces contradictions on its own. Again, Kant’s mistake was that he fell short of saying that these contradictions are in the world itself. He failed to apply the insights of his discussion of the antinomies to “things in themselves” (SL-M 56; SL-dG 35; see also section 4). Indeed, Kant’s own argument proves that the dialectical nature of reason can be applied to things themselves. The fact that reason develops those contradictions on its own, without our heads to help it, shows that those contradictions are not just in our heads, but are objective, or in the world itself. Kant, however, failed to draw this conclusion, and continued to regard reason’s conclusions as illusions. Still, Kant’s philosophy vindicated the general idea that the contradictions he took to be illusions are both objective—or out there in the world—and necessary. As Hegel puts it, Kant vindicates the general idea of “the objectivity of the illusion and the necessity of the contradictionwhich belongs to the nature of thought determinations” (SL-M 56; cf. SL-dG 35), or to the nature of concepts themselves.

The work of Johann Gottlieb Fichte (see entry on Fichte) showed Hegel how dialectics can get beyond Kant—beyond the contradictions that, as Kant had shown, reason (necessarily) develops on its own, beyond the reductio ad absurdum argument (which, as we saw above, holds that a contradiction leads to nothingness), and beyond Kant’s skepticism, or Kant’s claim that reason’s contradictions must be reined in by the understanding and cannot count as knowledge. Fichte argued that the task of discovering the foundation of all human knowledge leads to a contradiction or opposition between the self and the not-self (it is not important, for our purposes, why Fichte held this view). The kind of reasoning that leads to this contradiction, Fichte said, is the analytical or antithetical method of reasoning, which involves drawing out an opposition between elements (in this case, the self and not-self) that are being compared to, or equated with, one another. While the traditional reductio ad absurdum argument would lead us to reject both sides of the contradiction and start from scratch, Fichte argued that the contradiction or opposition between the self and not-self can be resolved. In particular, the contradiction is resolved by positing a third concept—the concept of divisibility—which unites the two sides (The Science of Knowledge, I: 110–11; Fichte 1982: 108–110). The concept of divisibility is produced by a synthetic procedure of reasoning, which involves “discovering in opposites the respect in which they are alike” (The Science of Knowledge, I: 112–13; Fichte 1982: 111). Indeed, Fichte argued, not only is the move to resolve contradictions with synthetic concepts or judgments possible, it is necessary. As he says of the move from the contradiction between self and not-self to the synthetic concept of divisibility, 

there can be no further question as to the possibility of this [synthesis], nor can any ground for it be given; it is absolutely possible, and we are entitled to it without further grounds of any kind. (The Science of Knowledge, I: 114; Fichte 1982: 112)

Since the analytical method leads to oppositions or contradictions, he argued, if we use only analytic judgments, “we not only do not get very far, as Kant says; we do not get anywhere at all” (The Science of Knowledge, I: 113; Fichte 1982: 112). Without the synthetic concepts or judgments, we are left, as the classic reductio ad absurdum argument suggests, with nothing at all. The synthetic concepts or judgments are thus necessary to get beyond contradiction without leaving us with nothing.

Fichte’s account of the synthetic method provides Hegel with the key to moving beyond Kant. Fichte suggested that a synthetic concept that unifies the results of a dialectically-generated contradiction does not completely cancel the contradictory sides, but only limits them. As he said, in general, “[t]o limit something is to abolish its reality, not wholly, but in part only” (The Science of Knowledge, I: 108; Fichte 1982: 108). Instead of concluding, as a reductio ad absurdum requires, that the two sides of a contradiction must be dismissed altogether, the synthetic concept or judgment retroactively justifies the opposing sides by demonstrating their limit, by showing which part of reality they attach to and which they do not (The Science of Knowledge, I: 108–10; Fichte 1982: 108–9), or by determining in what respect and to what degree they are each true. For Hegel, as we saw (cf. section 1), later concepts and forms sublate—both cancel and preserve—earlier concepts and forms in the sense that they include earlier concepts and forms in their own definitions. From the point of view of the later concepts or forms, the earlier ones still have some validity, that is, they have a limited validity or truth defined by the higher-level concept or form.

Dialectically generated contradictions are therefore not a defect to be reigned in by the understanding, as Kant had said, but invitations for reason to “speculate”, that is, for reason to generate precisely the sort of increasingly comprehensive and universal concepts and forms that Kant had said reason aims to develop. Ultimately, Hegel thought, as we saw (cf. section 1), the dialectical process leads to a completely unconditioned concept or form for each subject matter—the Absolute Idea (logic), Absolute Spirit (phenomenology), Absolute Idea of right and law (Philosophy of Right), and so on—which, taken together, form the “circle of circles” (EL §15) that constitutes the whole philosophical system or “Idea” (EL §15) that both overgrasps the world and makes it understandable (for us). 

Note that, while Hegel was clearly influenced by Fichte’s work, he never adopted Fichte’s triadic “thesis—antithesis—synthesis” language in his descriptions of his own philosophy (Mueller 1958: 411–2; Solomon 1983: 23), though he did apparently use it in his lectures to describe Kant’s philosophy (LHP III: 477). Indeed, Hegel criticized formalistic uses of the method of “triplicity [Triplizität]” (PhG-P §50) inspired by Kant—a criticism that could well have been aimed at Fichte. Hegel argued that Kantian-inspired uses of triadic form had been reduced to “a lifeless schema” and “an actual semblance [eigentlichen Scheinen]” (PhG §50; alternative translation) that, like a formula in mathematics, was simply imposed on top of subject matters. Instead, a properly scientific use of Kant’s “triplicity” should flow—as he said his own dialectical method did (see section 1)—out of “the inner life and self-movement” (PhG §51) of the content. 

4. Is Hegel’s dialectical method logical?

Scholars have often questioned whether Hegel’s dialectical method is logical. Some of their skepticism grows out of the role that contradiction plays in his thought and argument. While many of the oppositions embedded in the dialectical development and the definitions of concepts or forms are not contradictions in the strict sense, as we saw (section 2, above), scholars such as Graham Priest have suggested that some of them arguably are (Priest 1989: 391). Hegel even holds, against Kant (cf. section 3 above), that there are contradictions, not only in thought, but also in the world. Motion, for instance, Hegel says, is an “existent contradiction”. As he describes it:

Something moves, not because now it is here and there at another now, but because in one and the same now it is here and not here, because in this here, it is and is not at the same time. (SL-dG 382; cf. SL-M 440) 

Kant’s sorts of antinomies (cf. section 3 above) or contradictions more generally are therefore, as Hegel puts it in one place, “in all objects of all kinds, in all representations, concepts and ideas” (EL-GSH Remark to §48). Hegel thus seems to reject, as he himself explicitly claims (SL-M 439–40; SL-dG 381–82), the law of non-contradiction, which is a fundamental principle of formal logic—the classical, Aristotelian logic (see entries on Aristotle’s Logic andContradiction) that dominated during Hegel’s lifetime as well as the dominant systems of symbolic logic today (cf. Priest 1989: 391; Düsing 2010: 97–103). According to the law of non-contradiction, something cannot be both true and false at the same time or, put another way, “x” and “not-x” cannot both be true at the same time.

Hegel’s apparent rejection of the law of non-contradiction has led some interpreters to regard his dialectics as illogical, even “absurd” (Popper 1940: 420; 1962: 330; 2002: 443). Karl R. Popper, for instance, argued that accepting Hegel’s and other dialecticians’ rejection of the law of non-contradiction as part of both a logical theory and a general theory of the world “would mean a complete breakdown of science” (Popper 1940: 408; 1962: 317; 2002: 426). Since, according to today’s systems of symbolic logic, he suggested, the truth of a contradiction leads logically to any claim (any claim can logically be inferred from two contradictory claims), if we allow contradictory claims to be valid or true together, then we would have no reason to rule out any claim whatsoever (Popper 1940: 408–410; 1962: 317–319; 2002: 426–429).

Popper was notoriously hostile toward Hegel’s work (cf. Popper 2013: 242–289; for a scathing criticism of Popper’s analysis see Kaufmann 1976 [1972]), but, as Priest has noted (Priest 1989: 389–91), even some sympathetic interpreters have been inspired by today’s dominant systems of symbolic logic to hold that the kind of contradiction that is embedded in Hegel’s dialectics cannot be genuine contradiction in the strict sense. While Dieter Wandschneider, for instance, grants that his sympathetic theory of dialectic “is not presented as a faithful interpretation of the Hegelian text” (Wandschneider 2010: 32), he uses the same logical argument that Popper offered in defense of the claim that “dialectical contradiction is not a ‘normal’ contradiction, but one that is actually only an apparent contradiction” (Wandschneider 2010: 37). The suggestion (by the traditional, triadic account of Hegel’s dialectics, cf. section 2, above) that Being and Nothing (or non-being) is a contradiction, for instance, he says, rests on an ambiguity. Being is an undefined content, taken to mean being or presence, while Nothing is an undefined content, taken to mean nothing or absence (section 2, above; cf. Wandschneider 2010: 34–35). Being is Nothing (or non-being) with respect to the property they have as concepts, namely, that they both have an undefined content. But Being is not Nothing (or non-being) with respect to their meaning(Wandschneider 2010: 34–38). The supposed contradiction between them, then, Wandschneider suggests, takes place “in different respects”. It is therefore only an apparent contradiction. “Rightly understood”, he concludes, “there can be no talk of contradiction” (Wandschneider 2010: 38).

Inoue Kazumi also argues that dialectical contradiction in the Hegelian sense does not violate the law of non-contradiction (Inoue 2014: 121–123), and he rejects Popper’s claim that Hegel’s dialectical method is incompatible with good science. A dialectical contradiction, Inoue says, is a contradiction that arises when the same topic is considered from different vantage points, but each vantage point by itself does not violate the law of non-contradiction (Inoue 2014: 120). The understanding leads to contradictions, as Hegel said (cf. section 3 above), because it examines a topic from a fixed point of view; reason embraces contradictions because it examines a topic from multiple points of view (Inoue 2014: 121). The geocentric theory that the sun revolves around the Earth and the heliocentric theory that the Earth revolves around the sun, for instance, Inoue suggests, are both correct from certain points of view. We live our everyday lives from a vantage point in which the sun makes a periodic rotation around the Earth roughly every 24 hours. Astronomers make their observations from a geocentric point of view and then translate those observations into a heliocentric one. From these points of view, the geocentric account is not incorrect. But physics, particularly in its concepts of mass and force, requires the heliocentric account. For science—which takes all these points of view into consideration—both theories are valid: they are dialectically contradictory, though neither theory, by itself, violates the law of non-contradiction (Inoue 2014: 126–127). To insist that the Earth really revolves around the sun is merely an irrational, reductive prejudice, theoretically and practically (Inoue 2014: 126). Dialectical contradictions, Inoue says, are, as Hegel said, constructive: they lead to concepts or points of view that grasp the world from ever wider and more encompassing perspectives, culminating ultimately in the “Absolute” (Inoue 2014: 121; cf. section 1, above). Hegel’s claim that motion violates the law of non-contradiction, Inoue suggests, is an expression of the idea that contradictory claims can be true when motion is described from more than one point of view (Inoue 2014: 123). (For a similar reading of Hegel’s conception of dialectical contradiction, which influenced Inoue’s account [Inoue 2014: 121], see Düsing 2010: 102–103.)

Other interpreters, however, have been inspired by Hegel’s dialectics to develop alternative systems of logic that do not subscribe to the law of non-contradiction. Priest, for instance, has defended Hegel’s rejection of the law of non-contradiction (cf. Priest 1989; 1997 [2006: 4]). The acceptance of some contradictions, he has suggested, does not require the acceptance of allcontradictions (Priest 1989: 392). Popper’s logical argument is also unconvincing. Contradictions lead logically to any claim whatsoever, as Popper said, only if we presuppose that nothing can be both true and false at the same time (i.e. only if we presuppose that the law of non-contradiction is correct), which is just what Hegel denies. Popper’s logical argument thus assumes what it is supposed to prove or begs the question (Priest 1989: 392; 1997 [2006: 5–6]), and so is not convincing. Moreover, consistency (not allowing contradictions), Priest suggests, is actually “a very weak constraint” (Priest 1997 [2006: 104]) on what counts as a rational inference. Other principles or criteria—such as being strongly disproved (or supported) by the data—are more important for determining whether a claim or inference is rational (Priest 1997 [2006: 105]). And, as Hegel pointed out, Priest says, the data—namely, “the world as it appears” (as Hegel puts it in EL) or “ordinary experience itself” (as Hegel puts it in SL)—suggest that there are indeed contradictions (EL Remark to §48; SL-dG 382; cf. SL-M 440; Priest 1989: 389, 399–400). Hegel is right, for instance, Priest argues, that change, and motion in particular, are examples of real or existing contradictions (Priest 1985; 1989: 396–97; 1997 [2006: 172–181, 213–15]). What distinguishes motion, as a process, from a situation in which something is simply here at one time and then some other place at some other time is the embodiment of contradiction: that, in a process of motion, there is one (span of) time in which something is both here and not here at the same time (in that span of time) (Priest 1985: 340–341; 1997 [2006: 172–175, 213–214]). A system of logic, Priest suggests, is always just a theory about what good reasoning should be like (Priest 1989: 392). A dialectical logic that admits that there are “dialetheia” or true contradictions (Priest 1989: 388), he says, is a broader theory or version of logic than traditional, formal logics that subscribe to the law of non-contradiction. Those traditional logics apply only to topics or domains that are consistent, primarily domains that are “static and changeless” (Priest 1989: 391; cf. 395); dialectical/dialetheic logic handles consistent domains, but also applies to domains in which there are dialetheia. Thus Priest, extending Hegel’s own concept of aufheben (“to sublate”; cf. section 1, above), suggests that traditional “formal logic is perfectly valid in its domain, but dialectical (dialetheic) logic is more general” (Priest 1989: 395). (For an earlier example of a logical system that allows contradiction and was inspired in part by Hegel [and Marx], see Jaśkowski 1999: 36 [1969: 143] [cf. Inoue 2014: 128–129]. For more on dialetheic logic generally, see the entry on Dialetheism.)

Worries that Hegel’s arguments fail to fit his account of dialectics (see section 2, above) have led some interpreters to conclude that his method is arbitrary or that his works have no single dialectical method at all (Findlay 1962: 93; Solomon 1983: 21). These interpreters reject the idea that there is any logical necessity to the moves from stage to stage. “[T]he important point to make here, and again and again”, Robert C. Solomon writes, for instance, 

is that the transition from the first form to the second, or the transition from the first form of the Phenomenology all the way to the last, is not in any way a deductive necessity. The connections are anything but entailments, and the Phenomenology could always take another route and other starting points. (Solomon 1983: 230) 

In a footnote to this passage, Solomon adds “that a formalization of Hegel’s logic, however ingenious, is impossible” (Solomon 1983: 230).

Some scholars have argued that Hegel’s necessity is not intended to be logical necessity. Walter Kaufmann suggested, for instance, that the necessity at work in Hegel’s dialectic is a kind of organic necessity. The moves in the Phenomenology, he said, follow one another “in the way in which, to use a Hegelian image from the preface, bud, blossom and fruit succeed each other” (Kaufmann 1965: 148; 1966: 132). Findlay argued that later stages provide what he called a “higher-order comment” on earlier stages, even if later stages do not follow from earlier ones in a trivial way (Findlay 1966: 367). Solomon suggested that the necessity that Hegel wants is not “‘necessity’ in the modern sense of ‘logical necessity,’” (Solomon 1983: 209), but a kind of progression (Solomon 1983: 207), or a “necessity within a context for some purpose” (Solomon 1983: 209). John Burbidge defines Hegel’s necessity in terms of three senses of the relationship between actuality and possibility, only the last of which is logical necessity (Burbidge 1981: 195–6).

Other scholars have defined the necessity of Hegel’s dialectics in terms of a transcendental argument. A transcendental argument begins with uncontroversial facts of experience and tries to show that other conditions must be present—or are necessary—for those facts to be possible. Jon Stewart argues, for instance, that “Hegel’s dialectic in the Phenomenology is a transcendental account” in this sense, and thus has the necessity of that form of argument (Stewart 2000: 23; cf. Taylor 1975: 97, 226–7; for a critique of this view, see Pinkard 1988: 7, 15).

Some scholars have avoided these debates by interpreting Hegel’s dialectics in a literary way. In his examination of the epistemological theory of the Phenomenology, for instance, Kenneth R. Westphal offers “a literary model” of Hegel’s dialectics based on the story of Sophocles’ playAntigone (Westphal 2003: 14, 16). Ermanno Bencivenga offers an interpretation that combines a narrative approach with a concept of necessity. For him, the necessity of Hegel’s dialectical logic can be captured by the notion of telling a good story—where “good” implies that the story is both creative and correct at the same time (Bencivenga 2000: 43–65).

Debate over whether Hegel’s dialectical logic is logical may also be fueled in part by discomfort with his particular brand of logic. Unlike today’s symbolic logics, Hegel’s logic is not only syntactic, but also semantic (cf. Berto 2007; Maybee 2009: xx–xxv; Margolis 2010: 193–94). Hegel’s interest in semantics appears, for instance, in the very first stages of his logic, where the difference between Being and Nothing is “something merely meant” (EL-GSH Remark to §87; cf. section 2 above). While some of the moves from stage to stage are driven by syntactic necessity, other moves are driven by the meanings of the concepts in play. Indeed, Hegel rejected what he regarded as the overly formalistic logics that dominated the field during his day (EL Remark to §162; SL-M 43–44; SL-dG 24). A logic that deals only with the forms of logical arguments and not the meanings of the concepts used in those argument forms will do no better in terms of preserving truth than the old joke about computer programs suggests: garbage in, garbage out. In those logics, if we (using today’s versions of formal, symbolic logic) plug in something for the P or Q (in the proposition “if P then Q” or “P → Q”, for instance) or for the “F”, “G”, or “x” (in the proposition “if F is x, then G is x” or “Fx → Gx”, for instance) that means something true, then the syntax of formal logics will preserve that truth. But if we plug in something for those terms that is untrue or meaningless (garbage in), then the syntax of formal logic will lead to an untrue or meaningless conclusion (garbage out). Today’s versions of prepositional logic also assume that we know what the meaning of “is” is. Against these sorts of logics, Hegel wanted to develop a logic that not only preserved truth, but also determined how to construct truthful claims in the first place. A logic that defines concepts (semantics) as well as their relationships with one another (syntax) will show, Hegel thought, how concepts can be combined into meaningful forms. Because interpreters are familiar with modern logics focused on syntax, however, they may regard Hegel’s syntactic and semantic logic as not really logical (cf. Maybee 2009: xvii–xxv).

In Hegel’s other works, the moves from stage to stage are often driven, not only by syntax and semantics—that is, by logic (given his account of logic)—but also by considerations that grow out of the relevant subject matter. In the Phenomenology, for instance, the moves are driven by syntax, semantics, and by phenomenological factors. Sometimes a move from one stage to the next is driven by a syntactic need—the need to stop an endless, back-and-forth process, for instance, or to take a new path after all the current options have been exhausted (cf. section 5). Sometimes, a move is driven by the meaning of a concept, such as the concept of a “This” or “Thing”. And sometimes a move is driven by a phenomenological need or necessity—by requirements of consciousness, or by the fact that the Phenomenology is about a consciousnessthat claims to be aware of (or to know) something. The logic of the Phenomenology is thus a phenomeno-logic, or a logic driven by logic—syntax and semantics—and by phenomenological considerations. Still, interpreters such as Quentin Lauer have suggested that, for Hegel, 

phenomeno-logy is a logic of appearing, a logic of implication, like any other logic, even though not of the formal entailment with which logicians and mathematicians are familiar. (Lauer 1976: 3) 

Lauer warns us against dismissing the idea that there is any implication or necessity in Hegel’s method at all (Lauer 1976: 3). (Other scholars who also believe there is a logical necessity to the dialectics of the Phenomenology include Hyppolite 1974: 78–9 and H.S. Harris 1997: xii.)

We should also be careful not to exaggerate the “necessity” of formal, symbolic logics. Even in these logics, there can often be more than one path from some premises to the same conclusion, logical operators can be dealt with in different orders, and different sets of operations can be used to reach the same conclusions. There is therefore often no strict, necessary “entailment” from one step to the next, even though the conclusion might be entailed by the whole series of steps, taken together. As in today’s logics, then, whether Hegel’s dialectics counts as logical depends on the degree to which he shows that we are forced—necessarily—from earlier stages or series of stages to later stages (see also section 5).

5. Syntactic patterns and special terminology in Hegel’s dialectics

Although Hegel’s dialectics is driven by syntax, semantics and considerations specific to the different subject matters (section 4 above), several important syntactic patterns appear repeatedly throughout his works. In many places, the dialectical process is driven by a syntactic necessity that is really a kind of exhaustion: when the current strategy has been exhausted, the process is forced, necessarily, to employ a new strategy. As we saw (section 2), once the strategy of treating Being and Nothing as separate concepts is exhausted, the dialectical process must, necessarily, adopt a different strategy, namely, one that takes the two concepts together. The concept of Becoming captures the first way in which Being and Nothing are taken together. In the stages of Quantum through Number, the concepts of One and Many take turns defining the whole quantity as well as the quantitative bits inside that make it up: first, the One is the whole, while the Many are the bits; then the whole and the bits are all Ones; then the Many is the whole, while the bits are each a One; and finally the whole and the bits are all a Many. We can picture the development like this (cf. Maybee 2009, xviii–xix):4 figures each contains a rounded corner rectangle bisected by a vertical rod. In #1 the rectangle boundary is labeled 'One' and each half is labeled 'Many'; the caption reads:'Quantum: 'one' refers to the outer boundary, 'many' within. #2 has the boundary also labeled 'One' but the halves labeled 'ones'; the caption reads: Number: 'one' on all sides. #3 has the boundary labeled 'Many' and the halves labeled 'Each a one'; the caption reads: Extensive and Intensive Magnitude: 'many' on the outer boundary, 'one' within'. #4 the rounded rectangle is enclosed by a box; the two halves are labeled 'Many (within)' and the space between the rectangle and the box is labeled 'Many (without)'; the caption reads: Degree: 'many' on all sides.

Figure 9

Since One and Many have been exhausted, the next stage, Ratio, must, necessarily, employ a different strategy to grasp the elements in play. Just as Being-for-itself is a concept of universality for Quality and captures the character of a set of something-others in its content (seesection 1), so Ratio (the whole rectangle with rounded corners) is a concept of universality for Quantity and captures the character of a set of quantities in its content (EL §105–6; cf. Maybee 2009, xviii–xix, 95–7). In another version of syntactic necessity driven by exhaustion, the dialectical development will take account of every aspect or layer, so to speak, of a concept or form—as we saw in the stages of Purpose outlined above, for instance (section 2). Once all the aspects or layers of a concept or form have been taken account of and so exhausted, the dialectical development must also, necessarily, employ a different strategy in the next stage to grasp the elements in play.

In a second, common syntactic pattern, the dialectical development leads to an endless, back-and-forth process—a “bad” (EL-BD §94) or “spurious” (EL-GSH §94) infinity—between two concepts or forms. Hegel’s dialectics cannot rest with spurious infinities. So long as the dialectical process is passing endlessly back and forth between two elements, it is never finished, and the concept or form in play cannot be determined. Spurious infinities must therefore be resolved or stopped, and they are always resolved by a higher-level, more universal concept. In some cases, a new, higher-level concept is introduced that stops the spurious infinity by grasping the whole, back-and-forth process. Being-for-itself (cf. section 1), for instance, is introduced as a new, more universal concept that embraces—and hence stops—the whole, back-and-forth process between “something-others”. However, if the back-and-forth process takes place between a concept and its own content—in which case the concept already embraces the content—then that embracing concept is redefined in a new way that grasps the whole, back-and-forth process. The new definition raises the embracing concept to a higher level of universality—as a totality (an “all”) or as a complete and completed concept. Examples from logic include the redefinition of Appearance as the whole World of Appearance (EL §132; cf. SL-M 505–7, SL-dG 443–4), the move in which the endless, back-and-forth process of Real Possibility redefines the Condition as a totality (EL §147; cf. SL-M 547, SL-dG 483), and the move in which a back-and-forth process created by finite Cognition and finite Willing redefines the Subjective Idea as Absolute Idea (EL §§234–5; cf. SL-M 822–3, SL-dG 733–4).

Some of the most famous terms in Hegel’s works—“in itself [an sich]”, “for itself [für sich]” and “in and for itself [an und für sich]”—capture other, common, syntactic patterns. A concept or form is “in itself” when it has a determination that it gets by being defined against its “other” (cf. Being-in-itself, EL §91). A concept or form is “for itself” when it is defined only in relation to its own content, so that, while it is technically defined in relation to an “other”, the “other” is not really an “other” for it. As a result, it is really defined only in relation to itself. Unlike an “in itself” concept or form, then, a “for itself” concept or form seems to have its definition on its own, or does not need a genuine “other” to be defined (like other concepts or forms, however, “for itself” concepts or forms turn out to be dialectical too, and hence push on to new concepts or forms). In the logic, Being-for-itself (cf. section 1), which is defined by embracing the “something others” in its content, is the first, “for itself” concept or form.

A concept or form is “in and for itself” when it is doubly “for itself”, or “for itself” not only in terms of content—insofar as it embraces its content—but also in terms of form or presentation, insofar as it also has the activity of presenting its content. It is “for itself” (embraces its content) for itself (through its own activity), or not only embraces its content (the “for itself” of content) but also presents its content through its own activity (the “for itself” of form). The second “for itself” of form provides the concept with a logical activity (i.e., presenting its content) and hence a definition that goes beyond—and so is separate from—the definition that its content has. Since it has a definition of its own that is separate from the definition of its content, it comes to be defined—in the “in itself” sense—against its content, which has become its “other”. Because this “other” is still its own content, however, the concept or form is both “in itself” but also still “for itself” at the same time, or is “in and for itself” (EL §§148–9; cf. Maybee 2009: 244–6). The “in and for itself” relationship is the hallmark of a genuine Concept (EL §160), and captures the idea that a genuine concept is defined not only from the bottom up by its content, but also from the top down through its own activity of presenting its content. The genuine concept of animal, for instance, is not only defined by embracing its content (namely, all animals) from the bottom up, but also has a definition of its own, separate from that content, that leads it to determine (and so present), from the top down, what counts as an animal.

Other technical, syntactic terms include aufheben (“to sublate”), which we already saw (section 1), and “abstract”. To say that a concept or form is “abstract” is to say that it is only a partial definition. Hegel describes the moment of understanding, for instance, as abstract (EL §§79, 80) because it is a one-sided or restricted definition or determination (section 1). Conversely, a concept or form is “concrete” in the most basic sense when it has a content or definition that it gets from being built out of other concepts or forms. As we saw (section 2), Hegel regarded Becoming as the first concrete concept in the logic.

Although Hegel’s writing and his use of technical terms can make his philosophy notoriously difficult, his work can also be very rewarding. In spite of—or perhaps because of—the difficulty, there are a surprising number of fresh ideas in his work that have not yet been fully explored in philosophy. 

Bibliography
English Translations of Key Texts by Hegel
  • [EL], The Encyclopedia Logic [Enzyklopädie der philosophischen Wissenschaften I]. Because the translations of EL listed below use the same section numbers as well as sub-paragraphs (“Remarks”) and sub-sub-paragraphs (“Additions”), citations simply to “EL” refer to either translation. If the phrasing in English is unique to a specific translation, the translators’ initials are added.
  • [EL-BD], Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences in Basic Outline Part I: Science of Logic [Enzyklopädie der philosophischen Wissenschaften I], translated by Klaus Brinkmann and Daniel O. Dahlstrom, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.
  • [EL-GSH], The Encyclopedia Logic: Part 1 of the Encyclopaedia of Philosophical Sciences [Enzyklopädie der philosophischen Wissenschaften I], translated by T.F. Geraets, W.A. Suchting, and H.S. Harris, Indianapolis: Hackett, 1991.
  • [LHP], Lectures on the History of Philosophy [Geschichte der Philosophie], in three volumes, translated by E.S. Haldane and Frances H. Simson, New Jersey: Humanities Press, 1974.
  • [PhG], Phenomenology of Spirit [Phänomenologie des Geistes]. Because the translations of PhG listed below use the same section numbers, citations simply to “PhG” refer to either translation. If the phrasing in English is unique to a specific translation, the translator’s initial is added.
  • [PhG-M], Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit [Phänomenologie des Geistes], translated by A.V. Miller, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977.
  • [PhG-P], Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel: The Phenomenology of Spirit [Phänomenologie des Geistes], translated and edited by Terry Pinkard, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018.
  • [PR], Elements of the Philosophy of Right [Philosophie des Rechts], edited by Allen W. Wood and translated by H.B. Nisbet, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.
  • [SL-dG], Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel: The Science of Logic [Wissenschaft der Logik], translated by George di Giovanni, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010.
  • [SL-M], Hegel’s Science of Logic [Wissenschaft der Logik], translated by A.V. Miller, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977.
English Translations of Other Primary Sources
  • Aristotle, 1954, The Complete Works of Aristotle: The Revised Oxford Translation (in two volumes), edited by Jonathan Barnes. Princeton: Princeton University Press. (Citations to Aristotle’s text use the Bekker numbers, which appear in the margins of many translations of Aristotle’s works.)
  • Fichte, J.G., 1982 [1794/95], The Science of Knowledge, translated by Peter Heath and John Lachs, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Citations to Fichte’s work include references to the volume and page number in the German edition of Fichte’s collected works edited by I.H Fichte, which are used in the margins of many translations of Fichte’s works.)
  • Kant, Immanuel, 1999 [1781], Critique of Pure Reason, translated and edited by Paul Guyer and Allen Wood. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Citations to Kant’s text use the “Ak.” numbers, which appear in the margins of many translations of Kant’s works.)
  • Plato, 1961, The Collected Dialogues of Plato: Including the Letters, edited by Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns. Princeton: Princeton University Press. (Citations to Plato’s text use the Stephanus numbers, which appear in the margins of many translations of Plato’s works.)
Secondary Literature
  • Bencivenga, Ermanno, 2000, Hegel’s Dialectical Logic, New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Berto, Francesco, 2007, “Hegel’s Dialectics as a Semantic Theory: An Analytic Reading”, European Journal of Philosophy, 15(1): 19–39.
  • Burbidge, John, 1981, On Hegel’s Logic: Fragments of a Commentary, Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press.
  • Düsing, Klaus, 2010, “Ontology and Dialectic in Hegel’s Thought”, translated by Andrés Colapinto, in The Dimensions of Hegel’s Dialectic, Nectarios G. Limmnatis (ed.), London: Continuum, pp. 97–122.
  • Findlay, J.N., 1962, Hegel: A Re-Examination, New York: Collier Books.
  • –––, 1966, Review of Hegel: Reinterpretation, Texts, and Commentary, by Walter Kaufmann.The Philosophical Quarterly, 16(65): 366–68.
  • Forster, Michael, 1993, “Hegel’s Dialectical Method”, in The Cambridge Companion to Hegel, Frederick C. Beiser (ed.), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 130–170.
  • Fritzman, J.M., 2014, Hegel, Cambridge: Polity Press.
  • Harris, Errol E., 1983, An Interpretation of the Logic of Hegel, Lanham, MD: University Press of America.
  • Harris, H.S. (Henry Silton), 1997, Hegel’s Ladder (in two volumes: vol. I, The Pilgrimage of Reason, and vol. II, The Odyssey of Spirit), Indianapolis, IN: Hackett).
  • Hyppolite, Jean, 1974, Genesis and Structure of Hegel’s “Phenomenology of Spirit”, Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.
  • Inoue, Kazumi, 2014, “Dialectical Contradictions and Classical Formal Logic”, International Studies in the Philosophy of Science, 28(2), 113–132.
  • Jaśkowski, Stanislaw, 1999 [1969], “A Propositional Calculus for Inconsistent Deductive Systems”, translated by Olgierd Wojtasiewicz and A. Pietruszczak, Logic and Logical Philosophy (7)7: 35–56. (This article is a republication, with some changes, of a 1969 translation by Wojtasiewicz entitled “Propositional Calculus for Contradictory Deductive Systems (Communicated at the Meeting of March 19, 1948)”, published in Studia Logica, 24, 143–160.)
  • Kaufmann, Walter Arnold, 1965, Hegel: Reinterpretation, Texts, and Commentary, Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company Inc.
  • –––, 1966, A Reinterpretation, Garden City, NY: Anchor Books. (This is a republication of the first part of Hegel: Reinterpretation, Texts, and Commentary.)
  • –––, 1976 [1972], “The Hegel Myth and its Method”, in Hegel: A Collection of Critical Essays, Alasdair MacIntyre (ed.), Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press: 21–60. (This is a republication of the 1972 Anchor Books/Doubleday edition.)
  • Kosok, Michael, 1972, “The Formalization of Hegel’s Dialectical Logic: Its Formal Structure, Logical Interpretation and Intuitive Foundation”, in Hegel: A Collection of Critical Essays, Alisdair MacIntyre (ed.), Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press: 237–87.
  • Lauer, Quentin, 1976, A Reading of Hegel’s “Phenomenology of Spirit”, New York: Fordham University Press.
  • Margolis, Joseph, 2010, “The Greening of Hegel’s Dialectical Logic”, in The Dimensions of Hegel’s Dialectic, Nectarios G. Limmnatis (ed.), London: Continuum, pp. 193–215.
  • Maybee, Julie E., 2009, Picturing Hegel: An Illustrated Guide to Hegel’s “Encyclopaedia Logic”, Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.
  • McTaggart, John McTaggart Ellis, 1964 [1910], A Commentary of Hegel’s Logic, New York: Russell and Russell Inc. (This edition is a reissue of McTaggart’s book, which was first published in 1910.)
  • Mueller, Gustav, 1958, “The Hegel Legend of ‘Synthesis-Antithesis-Thesis’”, Journal of the History of Ideas, 19(3): 411–14.
  • Mure, G.R.G., 1950, A Study of Hegel’s Logic, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Pinkard, Terry, 1988, Hegel’s Dialectic: The Explanation of a Possibility, Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
  • Priest, Graham, 1985, “Inconsistencies in Motion”, American Philosophical Quarterly, 22(4): 339–346.
  • –––, 1989, “Dialectic and Dialetheic”, Science and Society, 53(4): 388–415.
  • –––, 1997 [2006], In Contradiction: A Study of the Transconsistent, expanded edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press; first edition, Martinus Nijhoff, 1997.
  • Popper, Karl R., 1940, “What is Dialectic?”, Mind, 49(196): 403–426. (This article was reprinted, with some changes, in two different editions of Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge, listed below.)
  • –––, 1962, Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge, New York: Basic Books.
  • –––, 2002, Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge, second edition, London: Routledge Classics.
  • –––, 2013, The Open Society and its Enemies, Princeton: Princeton University Press. (This is a one-volume republication of the original, two-volume edition first published by Princeton University Press in 1945.)
  • Rosen, Michael, 1982, Hegel’s Dialectic and its Criticism, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Rosen, Stanley, 2014, The Idea of Hegel’s “Science of Logic”, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Singer, Peter, 1983, Hegel, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Solomon, Robert C., 1983, In the Spirit of Hegel: A Study of G.W.F. Hegel’s “Phenomenology of Spirit”, New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Stace, W.T., 1955 [1924], The Philosophy of Hegel: A Systematic Exposition, New York: Dover Publications. (This edition is a reprint of the first edition, published in 1924.)
  • Stewart, Jon, 1996, “Hegel’s Doctrine of Determinate Negation: An Example from ‘Sense-certainty’ and ‘Perception’”, Idealistic Studies, 26(1): 57–78.
  • –––, 2000, The Unity of Hegel’s “Phenomenology of Spirit”: A Systematic Interpretation, Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.
  • Taylor, Charles, 1975, Hegel, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Wandschneider, Dieter, 2010, “Dialectic as the ‘Self-Fulfillment’ of Logic”, translated by Anthony Jensen, in The Dimensions of Hegel’s Dialectic, Nectarios G. Limmnatis (ed.), London: Continuum, pp. 31–54.
  • Westphal, Kenneth R., 2003, Hegel’s Epistemology: A Philosophical Introduction to the “Phenomenology of Spirit”, Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company.
  • Winfield, Richard Dien, 1990, “The Method of Hegel’s Science of Logic”, in Essays on Hegel’s Logic, George di Giovanni (ed.), Albany, NY: State University of New York, pp. 45–57.

My Related Posts

Networks, Narratives, and Interaction

Phenomenology and Symbolic Interactionism

Narrative, Rhetoric and Possible Worlds

Kenneth Burke and Dramatism

Erving Goffman: Dramaturgy of Social Life

Phenomenological Sociology

Drama Therapy: Self in Performance

Drama Theory: Choices, Conflicts and Dilemmas

Drama Theory: Acting Strategically

Global Trends, Scenarios, and Futures: For Foresight and Strategic Management

Shell Oil’s Scenarios: Strategic Foresight and Scenario Planning for the Future

Strategy | Strategic Management | Strategic Planning | Strategic Thinking

Third and Higher Order Cybernetics

Society as Communication: Social Systems Theory of Niklas Luhmann

Key Sources of Research

Dialectic

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dialectic

Hegel’s Dialectic

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/hegel-dialectics/

A Study of Hegelian Dialectical Embodiment in “Nostromo” written by Joseph Conrad

Asieh Beiranvand , Shahram Afrougheh , Elham Ahmadi

“Organizational Research Methods: Storytelling In Action”

Boje, David M. (2018)

URL = <https://davidboje.com/ORM_Storytelling_in_Action_Book/index&gt;

https://davidboje.com/655/ORM_Storytelling_in_Action_BOOK/Hegel_dialectics_chapter.htm

Using Dialectical Thinking to Manage Emotions

https://www.mindsoother.com/blog/using-dialectical-thinking-to-manage-emotions

ON CREATIVE DIALECTICS

OR WHY ISN’T THERE A SEAM ON THE COLORWHEEL?

Ian Gonsher

Dialectics for the New Century

Edited by
Bertell Ollman and Tony Smith

Strategies in Dialectic and Rhetoric

Erik C W Krabbe Groningen University

on ‘The Dialectics of Outside and Inside’ and ‘Intimate Immensity’

The Dialectic of the Nature-Society-System

  • Christian Fuchs
  • ICT&S Center – Advanced Studies and Research in Information and Communication Technologies & Society, University of Salzburg

DOI: https://doi.org/10.31269/triplec.v4i1.24

https://www.triple-c.at/index.php/tripleC/article/view/24

Dialectics and Systems Theory 

Richard Levins

Chapter 3 in Book Dialectics for the New Century

Edited by Bertell Ollman and Tony Smith

Contradictions, Dialectics and Paradoxes

  • January 2016
  • In book: SAGE HANDBOOK OF PROCESS ORGANIZATION STUDIES
  • Publisher: Sage
  • Editors: Ann Langley, Haridimos Tsoukas

Moshe Farjoun

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/282730228_Contradictions_Dialectics_and_Paradoxes

Strategy and dialectics: Rejuvenating a long-standing relationship

Moshe Farjoun

York University, Canada

Strategic Organization 2019, Vol. 17(1) 133–144

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1476127018803255

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1476127018803255

Contradictions, Dialectics, and Paradoxes in Organizations: A Constitutive Approach

Linda L. Putnam, Gail T. Fairhurst and Scott Banghart

Published Online:1 Jan 2016

https://doi.org/10.5465/19416520.2016.1162421

The Development of Dialectical Thinking As An Approach to Integration

  • June 2005

Michael Basseches

  • Suffolk University

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/26507960_The_Development_of_Dialectical_Thinking_As_An_Approach_to_Integration

CULTURE, DIALECTICS, AND REASONING ABOUT CONTRADICTION

Kaiping Peng
University of California at Berkeley

Richard E. Nisbett University of Michigan

https://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/handle/2027.42/91930/culture_and_dialectics.pdf?sequence=1

Relating dialogue and dialectics: a philosophical perspective

Manolis Dafermos

University of Crete, Greece

Dialogic Pedagogy: An International Online Journal | http://dpj.pitt.edu

DOI: 10.5195/dpj.2018.189 | Vol. 6 (2018)

Towards a Social-Relational Dialectic for World Politics

Brincat, Shannon

2011

European Journal of International Relations

https://research-repository.griffith.edu.au/bitstream/handle/10072/60820/94160_1.pdf;jsessionid=F573AC5F1A7F3EBB5E6A5F325C8886C5?sequence=1

How to Actualize the Whole Possibility: The Necessity-Contingency Dialectic in Hegel’s Science of Logic

by Nahum Brown

Guelph, Ontario, Canada © Nahum Brown, 2014

John Rowan: Dialectical Thinking

http://gwiep.net/wp/?p=427

The current state of scenario development: an overview of techniques

Peter Bishop, Andy Hines and Terry Collins

foresight. VOL. 9 NO. 1 2007

Ensemble Theory: Arguing Across and Within Scenarios

Peter McBurney

Department of Computer Science University of Liverpool Liverpool L69 7ZF UK p.j.mcburney@csc.liv.ac.uk Tel: + 44 151 794 6760

Simon Parsons
Sloan School of Management Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge MA USA sparsons@mit.edu

In Conference Probing the Future: Developing Organizational Foresight in the Knowledge Economy

11-13th July 2002

The art of disputation: dialogue, dialectic and debate around 800

Irene van Renswoude

First published: 06 January 2017 

https://doi.org/10.1111/emed.12185

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/emed.12185


Dialogic and Dialectic: clarifying an important distinction

29/6/2017

Rupert Wegerif

https://www.rupertwegerif.name/blog/dialogic-and-dialectic-clarifying-an-important-distinction

Shaping the Next One Hundred Years

New Methods for Quantitative, Long-Term Policy Analysis

Robert J. Lempert Steven W. Popper Steven C. Bankes

Published 2003 by RAND
1700 Main Street, P.O. Box 2138, Santa Monica, CA 90407-2138

1200 South Hayes Street, Arlington, VA 22202-5050
201 North Craig Street, Suite 202, Pittsburgh, PA 15213-1516

RAND URL: http://www.rand.org/

DIALECTIC: EUROPEAN AND ASIAN VARIETIES

Revised version of an article published as “Dialectic: East and West,” Indian Philosophical Quarterly 10 (January, 1983), pp. 207-218.

https://www.webpages.uidaho.edu/ngier/dialectic.htm

DESIGN FOR SUPPORTING DIALECTICAL CONSTRUCTIVIST LEARNING ACTIVITIES

Yu Wu1, Patrick C. Shih1, John M. Carroll1

College of Information Sciences and Technology, Penn State University

Political Event and Scenario Analysis Using GDSS: An Application to the Business Future of Hong Kong

Robert Blanning

Vanderbilt University

Bruce Reinig

Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Rhetoric and dialectic in the twenty-first century 

Michael Leff

(1999). OSSA Conference Archive. 3.

https://scholar.uwindsor.ca/ossaarchive/OSSA3/keynotes/3

https://scholar.uwindsor.ca/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1847&context=ossaarchive&httpsredir=1&referer=

Dialogical and Dialectical Thinking

Culture, Dialectics, and Reasoning About Contradiction

Kaiping Peng

Richard E. Nisbett

September 1999 • American Psychologist

structural dialectical approach in psychology: problems and research results

Nikolay E. Veraksa*, Anastasiya K. Belolutskaya**,
Irina I. Vorobyeva*, Eugene E. Krasheninnikov*,
Elena V. Rachkova***, Igor B. Shiyan**, Olga A. Shiyan

Psychology in Russia: State of the Art
Russian Psychological Volume 6, Issue 2, 2013

Click to access veraksa_pr_2013_2_65-77.Pdf

Integrating Dialectical and Paradox Perspectives on Managing Contradictions in Organizations

Timothy J Hargrave

Central Washington University, USA

Andrew H Van de Ven

University of Minnesota, USA

Organization Studies 2017, Vol. 38(3-4) 319–339

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0170840616640843

ORGANIZATIONAL DIALECTICS

Stewart Clegg

Grasping the dynamics within paradox
– comparing exogenous and endogenous approaches to paradox using social systems theory

Harald Tuckermann, Simone Gutzan, Camille Leutenegger, Johannes Rüegg-Stürm, Institute of Systemic Management and Public Governance, University of St. Gallen, Dufourstrasse 40a, 9008 St. Gallen, Switzerland, Email: harald.tuckermann@unisg.ch

Narrative, Rhetoric and Possible Worlds

Narrative, Rhetoric and Possible Worlds

‘Time has no being since the future is not yet, the past is no longer, and the present does not remain.’ (Ricoeur 1984: 7)

A rhetorician, I take it, is like one voice in a dialogue. Put several such voices together, with each voicing its own special assertion, let them act upon one another in cooperative competition, and you get a dialectic that, properly developed, can lead to the views transcending the limitations of each.

-KENNETH BURKE
“Rhetoric-Old and New” (1950)

Connecting Scenarios with Strategy and Action

How to bring about social, organizational, and strategic change?

For several years now, I have been attempting to piece together various strands of knowledge scattered around in boundaries of institutions and academic disciplines. I see a pattern emerging as to how we can attempt to bring about social, cultural, organizational change for strategic management.

More I read and learn, I find astonishing that all we need now is ability to read past knowledge hidden in old books correctly.

Dialectic (Alternatives/Scenarios) + Narratives (Stories) + Rhetoric (Persuasion) = Effective communication and action with scenarios for strategic management.

Narrative Scenarios

Source: Creating narrative scenarios: Science fiction prototyping at Emerge

Scenarios are stories. In the diverse field of scenario planning, this is perhaps the single point of universal agreement. Yet if scenarios are stories, their literary qualities are often underdeveloped. Scenarios used in business and government frequently do not contain a relatable protagonist, move a plot toward resolution, or compellingly use metaphor, imagery, or other emotionally persuasive techniques of literature. In these cases, narrative is relegated to an adjunct role of summarizing the final results of the workshop. While this neglect of narrative may be reasonable in some contexts, the power of narrative should not be underestimated. Scenario planning methodologies can benefit from using diverse narrative techniques to craft compelling and infectious visions of the future. This article explores the relationship between science fiction and scenarios as story genres and investigates a creative story-telling technique, ‘‘Science Fiction Prototyping’’ (Johnson, 2011). While the method is promising, it is an ultimately problematic means to incorporating narrative into scenario planning.

Key Terms

  • Possible Worlds
  • Futures
  • Narratives
  • Meaning Making
  • Temporality
  • Scenarios
  • Alternatives
  • Rhetoric and Dialectic
  • Acts of Meaning
  • Actual Minds, Possible Worlds
  • World Views
  • Beliefs
  • Culture
  • Meaningful
  • Competition
  • Cooperation
  • Coopetition
  • Socially Extended Mind
  • Six Degrees of Separation
  • Strategic Management
  • Law of Requisite Variety
  • Explicit vs Implicit
  • Tacit Knowledge
  • Assumptions
  • Contextual Environment
  • Operative Environment
  • Many Futures
  • Possibilities Space
  • Uncertainty
  • Complexity
  • Ambiguity
  • Normative Futures
  • Strategic Change Management
  • Social Change
  • Organizational Change
  • Cultural Change
  • Images of the Future
  • Subjunctivization
  • Jerome Bruner
  • Kenneth Burke
  • Strategy as Practice
  • Narrative Scenarios
  • Narratives and Strategy
  • Matti Hyvärinen
  • Victor Turner
  • Groups
  • Boundaries
  • Hierarchies
  • Inclusion and Exclusion
  • Networks

The narrative turn and Bruner’s contributions.

Source: Jerome Bruner and the challenges of the narrative turn

I take Jerome Bruner’s books, articles, and chapters that relate to narrative as a starting point for my contribution. He published most these texts between 1985 and 1991 (Bruner, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1990, 1991). Later, at 80 years of age, Bruner published a book on culture, education and narrative (Bruner, 1996), and more recently, a monograph on narratives (Bruner, 2002). The texts he wrote in the second half of the 1980s are at the heart of his contribution to the narrative field. The two later books mentioned are reworked texts on the same subject matter, though with a focus on education and law, on which he also co-authored another important book (Amsterdam & Bruner, 2000).

In the mid-1980s, drawing on the discipline of psychology, Bruner sets criticism of cognitive psychology as a basis for his work, stressing that cognitive psychology had betrayed and narrowed down its initial agenda, to which he himself had so resolutely contributed. Its approach progressively had morphed into a simplistic approach to the processing of information; or, in other words, into a computational model of the mind.

Bruner throws into these foundational texts his theoretical and ideological interests, in a search for connections between psychology on the one hand, and literature, humanities and anthropology on the other. This is an innovative, courageous approach that aimed at shaking the foundations of the psychological study of language, cognition, education, personality, self and identity.

Bruner places himself within the framework of a tradition which he upholds and to which he wants to contribute. A classical precedent among the ancestors of this tradition would be Aristotle’s Poetics, in addition to the much more recent L. S. Vygotsky, A. Schütz, M. Weber, K. Burke and C. Geertz. The interpretive turn, according to Bruner, started in the first quarter of the 20th century, first surfacing in literature, then moving on successively to history, social sciences and epistemology, and eventually reaching the domain of education between the 80s and 90s. Towards the mid-70s meaning became a central element in social sciences. The moment of transition specifically related to the narrative turn (understood as the growing interest in narrative in both research and practice) occurred over the course of the 80s, which, according to Bruner, is when the idea of self as a narrator or a storyteller became more evident. This new momentum was reflected in a short space of time in various influential books from different disciplines: oral history (P. Thompson, F. Ferrarotti), anthropology (C. Geertz), sociology (D. Bertaux, K. Plummer, N. Denzin), philosophy (P. Ricoeur), education (I. Goodson, G. Pineau), and the humanities (D. Polkinghorne). It is interesting to note that all of these books were published within a seven-year period, which shows that the ecology of ideas shapes emerging paradigms based on a set of new, shared assumptions across different fields.

These epistemological transformations form part of a broader intellectual movement – the qualitative approach. This approach has been characterized by its critical stance vis-à-vis positivism, the broader redefinition of the concept of human sciences, a focus on interpretation and on the construction of meaning, as well as the use of qualitative research methods and techniques, such as the open interview, participative observation, action research, and life stories. Constructivism, postmodernism and literary studies on their part have influenced the development of these tendencies, and the said approaches have had a major impact on psychology and education. It is therefore in this grand panorama of epistemological and methodological renovation where we are to place Jerome Bruner, as the innovator of the narrative paradigm that he is (Spector-Mersel, 2010; Domingo, 2005; Shore, 1997).

Bruner has highlighted the importance of meaning as a central process of the individual mind as well as of social interaction. In psychology there can be no avoiding of the problem of meaning, and when it is tackled, the creation of meaning needs to be placed within a community of practice. Culturalism assumes a shared and symbolic mode of preserving, creating and communicating the human world. Meanings have a situated character and this allows their negotiability and communicability. Bruner frequently mentions C. Geertz when specifying his own conception of culture, and emphasizes Geertz’s idea of cultures as texts (Lutkehaus, 2008; Mattingly, Lutkehaus & Throop, 2008). Within this cultural perspective, Bruner’s contribution finds itself placed within the vast domain of cultural psychology, in which he connects with researchers such as as M. Cole, B. Rogoff and J. V. Wertsch.

Characteristics and functions of narratives.

Bruner returns to earlier studies on narrative, he redefines them and brings them into the sphere of social sciences, and into cultural psychology in particular (for a synthesis on narrative and psychology until 1980, see Polkinghorne, 1987, pp. 101-123). In taking on this task, Bruner is conscious of the difficulties and the risks of his intellectual venture. But he also considers his initiative a way to invigorate the intellectual and methodological situation of psychology and other social sciences in the mid-80s. Bruner begins this phase with a text of enormous influence (Bruner, 1985), in which he defends the existence of two basic modes of thinking: paradigmatic or logical-scientific thinking and narrative thinking. The two modes operate with different means, ends and legitimacy criteria. The narrative mode is based on common knowledge and stories; it is interested in the vicissitudes of human actions, it develops practical and situated knowledge; it has a temporal structure and it emphasizes the agentivity of social actors (Bruner, 1985, 1987, 1991).

Bruner has shown great interest in literature and has explored the potential contributions of literature to social sciences. He points out that modern science has become less ontological and more epistemological, adding that literature has developed in the same direction. Literature offers a new and open outlook on the world. This is crucial for education, a field that can be characterized by the development of critical conscience and by the search for alternatives and possibilities. This is why Bruner affirms that democratic classrooms are the ideal place for novelists and poets, while dictatorships control literature and hinder creativity.

By concentrating on narrative, Bruner maintains and deepens his interest in language. This does not solely entail language development in babies and children but also the acquisition and evolution of narrative competence, a subject linked to the understanding of the minds of others. It also refers to philosophical and sociocultural dimensions of human language. Language is not neutral and this has profound implications when it is used in scientific, educational, social and political contexts. The visibility that Bruner has given to language and cognition is also important to note. He highlights the significance of speech and orality – which taken in their everyday contexts can be described as processes of expression, negotiation and exchange – out of which the theories emerge that guide people in their everyday lives to understand themselves as well as to understand others and to interact with them. This is related to studies on folk psychology, which are based on the contents and processes of knowledge of ordinary people. Here we find also, as part of a broader movement, the so-called linguistic turn. Contrary to Saussure’s conception of language as an abstract, balanced system, the new tendencies take an interactive and dialogical perspective, and underline the functions of speech in real, natural, everyday communicative contexts. In this field we can also not forget the influence of Bakhtin and his circle.

In addition, narratives are characterized by their complexity. Stories are about problems, dilemmas, contradictions and imbalances. They connect the past, the present and the future, and they link past experiences with what may be yet to come. Bruner calls this process of imagining and creating alternatives subjunctivization. For this reason he insists on the importance of the possible worlds, even in sectors such as law, in which the possibility of contemplating or foreseeing alternatives seemingly does not exist (Bruner, 2002). This capacity of narratives for imagining and constructing other worlds, and for trying to make them a reality, is an essential feature of the human capacity to transform our own selves as well as our social contexts. Narrative reality has a high level of complexity, which manifests itself through its specific characteristics: temporality, generic particularity, interpretability, implied canonicity, negotiability, ambiguous reference and historical extension (Bruner, 1996, 133-147).

Bruner has emphasized and criticized our ignorance of the subject of narrative. The knowledge of the ways in which we interpret, construct and use stories has been nonexistent or marginal in the education system as well as in other areas. Bruner also criticizes the lack of interest in narrative and the emphasis on logical-scientific knowledge modes (we know more about the right-angled triangle than about Aristotle’s Poetics). In an attempt to change the situation, Bruner has invested much effort into introducing narrative to research, teaching, law and social debates. Teaching the art of narrative and storytelling represents a necessity but, at the same time, a challenge given the difficulty of the task.

Books by Jerome Bruner

Source: Wikipedia

Narratives in Organizational Studies

Source: A Review of Narrative Methodology

Case studies of narrative in organisational studies demonstrate how narrative can be used to effect cultural change, transfer complex tacit knowledge through implicit communication, construct identity, aid education, contribute to sense making, act as a source of understanding, and study decision making.

This review of storytelling positions narrative research largely within the postmodernist paradigm. Postmodernism came into use during the late 20 century, and questions the modernist philosophical assumptions of rationality and universal truth, and the application of scientific empirical methods to problem solving. Instead, postmodernism emphasises that knowledge is value-laden, and reality is based on multiple perspectives, with truth grounded in everyday life involving social interactions amongst individuals. Context plays a crucial role in the social construction of reality and knowledge. Its criticism of the modernist or positivist (empirical, rational) paradigm is based on the concept of social representation. Postmodernism is said to account for this limitation in modernism by acknowledging that stories told through language as the medium are constitutive of reality. Postmodernism emphasises the social nature of knowledge creation.

There is some indication that the narrative approach is gradually gaining recognition in various disciplines including those outside the social sciences. The approach is said to enable capture of social representation processes such as feelings, images, and time. It offers the potential to address ambiguity, complexity, and dynamism of individual, group, and organisational phenomena.

Rhetoric in Organizational and Social Sciences

Affective Rhetoric: Unity and Division

Source: Affective Rhetoric in China’s Internet Culture

According to Burke, rhetoric is “the use of language as a symbolic means of inducing cooperation in beings that by nature respond to symbols” (Rhetoric 43). Rhetoric induces cooperation through symbols to effect an identification between a speaker and an audience and among members of organizations and social groups. It therefore also, and necessarily, both unifies individuals and groups and divides them from one another. It is thus a “simultaneous identification-with and division-from” (46). As recent scholarship has demonstrated, however, Burke’s view of language encompasses both its symbolic and affective dimensions (Hawhee 83-86). In Permanence and Change, Burke observes the “remarkable affective responsiveness” required “to be terrified at a gun the first time in one’s life a gun is pointed at one, and without ever having been shot” (149). This affective responsiveness is not solely a bodily reaction but is a consequence of “our interpretations of the signs, [which,] be they true or false, can instigate the most intense affections” (149). Debra Hawhee explains this affective responsiveness as “a serialized process of meaning making whereby affect enters at every step, forming and reforming what is called rational” (84). In Language as Symbolic Action, Burke insists that computers are incapable of this kind of affective responsiveness. Computers, he explains, “not being biological organisms, . . . lack the capacity for pleasure or pain (to say nothing of such subtler affective states as malice, envy, amusement, condescension, friendliness, sentimentality, embarrassment, etc.)” (23). Contemporary theories of affect show, however, how computers can facilitate and enable the serialized process of meaning making that Hawhee attributes to Burke.

Persuasion in the Rhetorical Tradition

Source: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.686.8630&rep=rep1&type=pdf

List of selected studies

Source: Strategy as Practice and the Narrative Turn

Key References

  • Introduction to Narrative For Futures Studies
  • Creating narrative scenarios: Science fiction prototyping at Emerge
  • Strategy as Practice and the Narrative Turn

My Related Posts

Networks, Narratives, and Interaction

Kenneth Burke and Dramatism

Erving Goffman: Dramaturgy of Social Life

Narrative Psychology: Language, Meaning, and Self

Psychology of Happiness: Value of Storytelling and Narrative Plays

Phenomenological Sociology

Phenomenology and Symbolic Interactionism

Global Trends, Scenarios, and Futures: For Foresight and Strategic Management

Shell Oil’s Scenarios: Strategic Foresight and Scenario Planning for the Future

Water | Food | Energy | Nexus: Mega Trends and Scenarios for the Future

On Anticipation: Going Beyond Forecasts and Scenarios

Strategy | Strategic Management | Strategic Planning | Strategic Thinking

Art of Long View: Future, Uncertainty and Scenario Planning

Third and Higher Order Cybernetics

A Unifying Model of Arts

Key Sources of Research:

A Tripartite Self-Construction Model of Identity

LEOR COHEN

Bar-Ilan University

In TELLING STORIES: Language, Narrative, and Social Life 

Deborah Schiffrin, Anna De Fina, and Anastasia Nylund, Editors

The Narrative Construction of Reality

Jerome Bruner

Critical Inquiry 18 (Autumn 1991)

Click to access bruner1991narrative.pdf

NARRATIVES OF AGING 

JEROME BRUNER*

New York University

Jerome Bruner and the challenges of the narrative turn

Then and now

José González Monteagudo University of Seville, Spain

(Narrative Inquiry, Clark University/USA, 21, 2, 295-302, ISSN: 1368-6740).

https://idus.us.es/bitstream/handle/11441/70368/2011%20ar%20Bruner%20Preprint.pdf?sequence=1

Life as Narrative

Jerome Bruner

Click to access Bruner_J_LifeAsNarrative.pdf

Chapter 1
Narrative Inquiry: From Story to Method

Margaret S. Barrett and Sandra L. Stauffer

In Narrative Inquiry in Music Education : Troubling Certainty

Jerome Bruner. A psychologist beyond any border

Piero Paolicchi pierpaolic@gmail.com

Introduction to Narrative For Futures Studies

Vuokko Jarva

University of Helsinki Finland

Journal of Futures Studies, March 2014, 18(3): 5-26

Reaching for Meaning : Human Agency and the Narrative Imagination

Jens Brockmeier
Theory Psychology 2009 19: 213

DOI: 10.1177/0959354309103540

Click to access Reaching-for-Meaning.pdf

Complexity Thinking, Complex Practice: The case for a narrative approach to Organizational Complexity

Mary J Hatch

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.621.6579&rep=rep1&type=pdf

Conversation at the Border Between Organizational Culture Theory
and Institutional Theory

Mary Jo Hatch and Tammar Zilber

Journal of Management Inquiry
21(1) 94–97
2012
DOI: 10.1177/1056492611419793

Cultural Paradigms in Management Sciences 

Łukasz Sułkowski

Management and Business Administration.Central Europe

Vol.22,No.3(122):p.50–57,ISSN2084–3356

Click to access MBA_03_2013_Sulkowski_050.pdf

USING STORIES IN ORGANIZATIONAL RESEARCH

Yiannis Gabriel

School of Management Imperial College

From:
Cassell, Catherine and Gillian Symon (eds.), An essential guide to qualitative research methods in organizations, Sage Publications, London

Making Sense of Stories: A Rhetorical Approach to Narrative Analysis

Martha S. Feldman

University of California at Irvine

Kaj Sko ̈ldberg

Stockholm University

Ruth Nicole Brown Debra Horner University of Michigan

The Sociology of Storytelling

Francesca Polletta, Pang Ching Bobby Chen,

Beth Gharrity Gardner, and Alice Motes

Department of Sociology, University of California, Irvine, California 92697; email: polletta@uci.edu, chenpc@uci.edu, gardnerb@uci.edu, amotes@uci.edu

Annu. Rev. Sociol. 2011. 37:109–30

This article’s doi: 10.1146/annurev-soc-081309-150106

Click to access Polletta,%20Chen,%20Gardner%20&%20Motes%20(2011)%20-%20The%20sociology%20of%20storytelling.pdf

Strategy as Practice and the Narrative Turn

Christopher Fenton

HEC Montréal

Ann Langley

HEC Montréal

Organization Studies 32(9) 1171–1196 /2011

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0170840611410838

Click to access GePS-08-06.pdf

What Is Complexity Science? A Possible Answer from Narrative Research

 John T. Luhman & David M. Boje

EMERGENCE, 3(1), 158–68
2001,

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.594.3354&rep=rep1&type=pdf

Phenomenology of embodied implicit and narrative knowing

Wendelin Ku ̈pers
Wendelin Ku ̈pers is a Senior Lecturer and Researcher at the Open University Hagen, Hagen, Germany.

JOURNAL OF KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT j VOL. 9 NO. 6 2005, pp. 114-133

RETELLING STORIES IN ORGANIZATIONS: UNDERSTANDING THE FUNCTIONS OF NARRATIVE REPETITION

STEPHANIE L. DAILEY
The University of Texas at Austin

LARRY BROWNING
The University of Texas at Austin and University of Nordland

Academy of Management Review 2014, Vol. 39, No. 1, 22–43. http://dx.doi.org/10.5465/amr.2011.0329

https://digital.library.txstate.edu/bitstream/handle/10877/9375/dailey2.pdf?sequence=1

Narrative Temporality: Implications for Organizational Research

Ann L. Cunliffe, John T. Luhman and David M. Boje

Organization Studies
25(2): 261–286 ISSN 0170–8406 /2004

Time and Narrative Volume 1

Paul Ricoeur

1984

Translated by Kathleen McLaughlin and David Pellauer

The Handbook of Narrative Analysis, First Edition.

Edited by Anna De Fina and Alexandra Georgakopoulou.

© 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2015 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

NARRATIVES AND PROCESSUALITY

Anniina Rantakari

University of Oulu anniina.rantakari@oulu.fi

Eero Vaara
Aalto University School of Business EMLYON Business School Lancaster University eero.vaara@aalto.fi

A Review of Narrative Methodology


Narrative and Rhetorical Approaches to Problems of Education.

Jerome Bruner and Kenneth Burke Revisited

Kris Rutten • Ronald Soetaert

Published online: 24 August 2012

Stud Philos Educ (2013) 32:327–343 DOI 10.1007/s11217-012-9324-5

Applying Burke’s Dramatic Pentad to scenarios

Allan W Shearer

Department of Landscape Architecture, Harvard Graduate School of Design, 48 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA

Available online 21 May 2004.

Creating narrative scenarios: Science fiction prototyping at Emerge

Michael Burnam-Fink 

Futures 70 (2015) 48–55

Gramma of Motives: The Drama of Plato’s Tripartite Psychology

John J. Jasso

Philosophy & Rhetoric Vol. 53, No. 2 (2020), pp. 157-180 (24 pages) 

Published By: Penn State University Press 

https://doi.org/10.5325/philrhet.53.2.0157

Kenneth Burke on Dialectical-Rhetorical Transcendence

James P. Zappen

Philosophy & Rhetoric 

Vol. 42, No. 3 (2009), pp. 279-301 (23 pages) 

Published By: Penn State University Press

Affective Rhetoric in China’s Internet Culture

10th Triennial Kenneth Burke Society Conference Conflicts & Communities: Burke Studies in a World Divided East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania, June 8-11, 2017

James P. Zappen

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

CHAPTER 1
Persuasion in the Rhetorical Tradition

J. Michael Hogan

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.686.8630&rep=rep1&type=pdf

Click to access 51183_CH_1.pdf

Kenneth Burke’s New Deal

Dries Vrijders Ghent University

https://www.monmouth.edu/department-of-english/documents/kenneth-burkes-new-deal.pdf/

‘Dramatistic to the Core’: Allen Tate and A Grammar of Motives

M. Elizabeth Weiser Ohio State University

The Space Between, Volume V:1 2009 ISSN 1551-9309

https://www.monmouth.edu/department-of-english/documents/dramatistic-to-the-core-allen-tate-and-a-grammar-of-motives.pdf/

Rhetoric of Motives

Kenneth Burke

Click to access kenneth_burke_-_a_rhetoric_of_motives_1950.pdf

Narratology: A Guide to the Theory of Narrative.

Jahn, Manfred. 2005.

English Department, University of Cologne.

Click to access 0cef85a3-0b78-4bf8-8fa2-f2e8e57f5092.pdf

‘Roleplaying to Improve Resilience’. 

Shearer, A. W.

Architecture_MPS 18, 1 (2021): 6. DOI: https://doi.org/10.14324/111.444.amps.2020v18i1.006.

Does the intuitive logics method – and its recent enhancements – produce “effective” scenarios?

George Wright a,⁎, Ron Bradfield b, George Cairns

Technological Forecasting & Social Change (2012)

The Handbook of Narrative Analysis

Edited by

Anna De Fina and Alexandra Georgakopoulou

From Ritual to Theater

the Human Seriousness of Play

Victor Turner

Victor Turner’s Postmodern Theory of Social Drama:

Implications for Organization Studies

David M. Boje, Ph.D., New Mexico State University

August 1, 2003

https://business.nmsu.edu/~dboje/theatrics/7/victor_turner.htm

A Narrative to Approach to Strategy as Practice: strategy making from texts and narratives.

Valérie-Inès de la Ville, Eléonore Mounoud.

Damon Golsorkhi; Linda Rouleau; David Seidl; Eero Vaara.

Cambridge Handbook of Strategy as Practice, Cambridge University Press, pp.249-264, 2015, 978- 1107421493. halshs-01390100

https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-01390100/document

Rhetoric, Discourse and Argument in Organizational Sense Making: A Reflexive Tale

Tony J. Watson

First Published September 1, 1995 

https://doi.org/10.1177/017084069501600503

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/017084069501600503

A narrative approach to strategy-as-practice.

Brown, A.D. & Thompson, E.R. 2013.

Business History 55, 7: 1143-1167

https://www.academia.edu/4965170/A_narrative_approach_to_strategy_as_practice

Kenneth Burke’s Dramatistic Pragmatism:
A Missing Link between Classical Greek Scholarship and the Interactionist Study of Human Knowing and Acting1

Robert Prus

University of Waterloo, Canada

2017 QSR Volume XIII Issue 2

Click to access QSR_13_2_Prus.pdf

Jerome Bruner

Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerome_Bruner

CLASSICAL RHETORIC
History of Classical Rhetoric – An overview of its early development (1)

BY BRIAN LEGGETT
Posted on October 16, 2012