On Dialectic: Dissoi Logoi – Teaching the Trivium

Trivium 21c


Plato saw dialectic as a way of refining opinions to reveal truth. Aristotle saw dialectic as remaining in the world of ‘opinion,’ (with logic being the way to reveal truth). In the ‘Topics’ Aristotle talks of dialectic as probable ideas being discussed in a spirit of enquiry, with the result likely to be opinion rather than certainty. To Aristotle dialectic is a series of interruptions, questions and answers, objections and counter objections.  Dialectic has a long and varied history as an idea and as a pedagogical and philosophical technique. Rhetoric seeks to persuade, dialectic, maybe, seeks to explore.

Nowadays we are, arguably, brought closer to conflicting world views in our everyday lives than ever before. It can be problematic to arrive at ‘the truth’ as it sometimes means we end up decrying another’s opinions as a lie, a falsehood or, indeed, evil. This means that relativism rears its ugly head, challenging us to believe that anything might be true and…

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