Although he never used the terms himself, the triad thesis, antithesis, synthesis
is often used to describe the thought of German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
. Although the triad is often thought to form part of an analysis
of historical and philosophical progress called the Hegelian dialectic
, the assumption is erroneous. Hegel used this classification only once, and he attributed the terminology to Immanuel Kant
. The terminology was largely developed earlier by the neo-Kantian Johann Gottlieb Fichte
, also an advocate of the philosophy identified as German idealism
The triad is usually described in the following way:
- The thesis is an intellectual proposition.
- The antithesis is simply the negation of the thesis, a reaction to the proposition.
- The synthesis solves the conflict between the thesis and antithesis by reconciling their common truths, and forming a new proposition.
The triad is often said to have been extended and adopted by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels; however Marx referred to them in The Poverty of Philosophy as speaking Greek and "Wooden trichotomies".