Most people, if they have heard anything about Hegel, associate him with the "dialectical method" he claimed to use. The associated "Hegelian dialectic" is often cavalierly explained as thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. Yet, in fact, Hegel never wrote any substantial account of dialectical logic or dialectical method.
This book reopens the whole question of the dialectical method in a contemporary context. Dialectical logic is explained in terms of variations on indirect proof translatable into today’s standard formal logic, and evidence is given that it can be found embedded in individual and collective histories. Hegel scholar Clark Butler distinguishes Hegel’s use of the dialectical method for understanding the standpoint of the present from its little-recognized adaptation by Sigmund Freud and from its well-known use by Karl Marx. Butler notes a strong convergence emerging from the historical Hegel, psychoanalysis, and historical materialism. Beyond Hegel scholarship, he suggests ways of continuing Hegel’s work in our own time.
This book will be of interest not only to Hegel scholars but also to students of history, psychoanalysis, Marxism, theology, and formal logic.
"The Dialectical Method is very helpful in throwing important light on the power of dialectical thinking. With precise knowledge of Hegel’s system and careful analytic intelligence in making its guiding concerns intelligible to the non-Hegelian, Butler offers what some admirers and many critics of Hegel deem impossible—the formalization of Hegel’s dialectical logic. Claims to succeed in this translation from dialectical to formal logic will raise important disputes, but the complex arguments offered by this well-respected Hegel scholar illuminate the central Hegelian themes and are well deserving of serious attention." —William Desmond, David Cook Visiting Chair in Philosophy, Villanova University, past president of the Hegel Society of America, and professor of philosophy, Institute of Philosophy, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium
"Clark Butler goes further than Jean Hyppolite’s path-breaking article of the 1950s in connecting the ideas of Hegel with psychoanalysis. Butler points to a justified optimism in Hegel because he accepts a radical teleology that pushes human civilization toward mastering both the otherness of nature and the painful dependence upon other human beings." —Wilfried Ver Eecke, professor of philosophy, Georgetown University, teaching psychoanalysis as an affiliated faculty member in the psychology department.
"Hegel’s dialectical logic displays a kind of necessitation present unwittingly in historical reality as well as in thought and alone makes them intelligible. That necessitation cannot be understood by standard textbook formal logic of self-conscious reasoning. Clark Butler provides unique and indispensable help in understanding how dialectical necessitation works and how it depends upon and interweaves with standard logic. Such understanding is of great importance, because standard logic alone has never been remotely capable of elucidating the necessary connections that structure thought, language, and life. Of these connections Hegel is the master, and this book goes far to make his contributions to philosophy intelligible." —Dallas Willard, professor of philosophy at the University of Southern California
"Clark Butler’s The Dialectical Method is the finest and most illuminating study of the purely dialectical and purely logical methods of Hegel’s thinking, and while we are living in the time of perhaps the most creative of all periods of Hegelian interpretation, Hegel’s dia-lectical method has remained tantalizingly opaque until the publication of this all too important book." —Thomas J. J. Altizer, author of The New Gospel of Christian Atheism and Godhead and the Nothing.