thesis

Thesis, antithesis, synthesis

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".

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