Dialectical Thinking – Zeno, Socrates, Kant, Marx by Tommi Juhani Hanjijarvi Ph.D.

DLT
TheBreakaway
Zy Marquiez
March 10, 2017

This particular book is a great foray for those beginning to delve into dialectics.

In Dialectical Thinking – Zeno, Socrates, Kant, Marx by Tommi Juhani Hanjijarvi Ph.D., the author seeks to show how valuable dialectical thinking is as he examines the minds of former dialecticians.

To accomplish this, Hanjijarvi sifts through critical data points spoken by the likes of Socrates, Kant, Zeno and Marx.  The author does make it a point to supplant additional data and couple it to specific dialectics discussed when the need arises.

For instance, while analyzing Marx’s foray into dialectics, the author delves into information brought about by Engel, Bernstein, Lenin and such.

As the author makes clear, dialectics have extensive uses.  More importantly, as the author argues “Dialectics are always about the dynamics of the self.”

Being someone who is delving into formal dialectics for the first time, it was quite mentally invigorating seeing the different dialectics employed by the great dialecticians.  Moreover, it was also interesting to note where some of their ruminations dovetailed and what paths it led them on.  That said, there were times that the text demanded a bit more from the readers as its complexity increased some.  Still, what the book offers is plenty even if it might be intricate at certain junctures.

These days, the benefit of thinking from opposite spectrums, as dialecticians do and this book showcases, would be a great skillset for individuals to learn.  Rarely do people put themselves on both sides of an equation; people usually end up just simply fostering their points of views without taking the other person’s view into consideration.  For instance, the mainstream media is the greatest purveyor of this and shuns anybody who wishes to think outside the box or question anything that is passed off as fact.  And if they show two sides to a coin, it’s always to stoke the flames of the divide and conquer left right paradigm that we see manifesting in countless forms.

Of course, in reality, there are many sides to countless issues.  This reason is why this type of book is vital, since it helps lay a solid foundation as an introductory volume into the discipline of dialectics.

Thinking unilaterally about incisive issues won’t help people think critically, nor will it help people to think outside the box.  Predictably, this prevents individuals from grasping crucial issues at their core.

For those reasons, and many others, this book is definitely to be considered for the inquiring individual.  In fact, am even going to suggest this book to some friends for homeschooling.  Look forward to reading more books like this.

As an introduction to the dialectical thinking employed by some of the greatest dialecticians, this book carries out its premise rather well.

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This article is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Zy Marquiez and TheBreakaway.wordpress.com.

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Suggested resources reviewed below for those seeking ideas to self-teach and become autodidacts:

Socratic Logic V3.1 by Peter Kreeft Ph.D.
The Trivium – The Liberal Arts Of Grammar & Rhetoric by Sister Miriam Joseph Ph.D.
How To Read A Book – The Classic Guide To Intelligent Reading by Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren
Philosophy 101 – An Introduction To Philosophy Via Plato’s Apology by Peter Kreeft Ph.D.
The Complete Workbook For Arguments – A Complete Course In Critical Thinking [2nd Ed.] by David R. Morrow & Anthony Weston
The Imaginative Argument – A Practical Manifesto For Writers by Frank L. Cioffi

The following books reviewed below cover the disturbing issues within the public schooling system:

Rotten To The Common Core by Dr. Joseph P. Farrell Ph.D.& Gary Lawrence
Dumbing Us Down – The Hidden Curriculum Of Compulsory Schooling by John Taylor Gatto
A Different Kind Of Teacher – Solving The Crisis Of American Schooling by John Taylor Gatto
Weapons Of Mass Instruction by John Taylor Gatto
Drilling Through The Core, by Sandra Stotsky & Contributors

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Book Review: Philosophy 101 By Socrates – An Introduction To Plato’s Apology by Peter Kreeft Ph.D.

philosophy101
TheBreakaway
Zy Marquiez
February 10, 2017

My introduction to Peter Kreeft’s work took place via his magnum opus Socratic Logic A Logic Text Using Socratic Method, Platonic Questions, And Aristotelian Principles Edition 3.1With that book Kreeft set the bar extremely high for his own work given the phenomenal job he did in the creation of that book.  Thankfully, that type of high quality standard travels with him to this other book.

Philosophy 101 By Socrates – An Introduction To Plato’s Apology by Peter Kreeft PhD is an indispensable introduction into the realm of Philosophy.

Although notably not as long as Kreeft’s book cited initially, this book still packs a punch.  The author creates what one may call a ‘user-friendly’ guide to Philosophy.

Given its length, the book can be read rather quickly.  Additionally, Philosophy 101 by Socrates is distilled to serve as a jump-off point for the reader/learner to venture forth into other philosophical topics.  Not only is it possible to use this book as a portable classroom, but it can be useful for homeschooling and even college classrooms.

Arguably the main strength of the Kreeft thesis is that philosophy takes no prisoners.  It questions everything.  Like a curious kid asking why in their nascent stage, it seeks truth – not belief – within every crevice it dares to delve into.  This may be problematic for individuals that do not want their beliefs question.

Kreeft shows how Socrates ‘philosophy operates in the following passage:

“Socrates is the apostle of reason.  He demands that we give logical reasons, grounds for beliefs, and follow the logical consequences of our beliefs, taken as premises or hypotheses, to their logical conclusions through a number of logically compelling steps.”[1]

Such incisiveness will undoubtedly get to the core of the issue far more often than not if employed correctly.

And yet, as Kreeft implies, philosophy isn’t an antithesis to certain disciplines, such as religion.  In fact, Kreeft goes to show how faith and reason can coexist if used trenchantly:

“One of the main functions of philosophy as practiced by Socrates is a critique of religion, finding reasons for (or against) faith.  These reasons often claim only probability rather than certainty; and even when they claim certainty, they may be mistaken) for man is not God and infallible); but it is surely a gain to use binocular vision, reason and faith, and to make at least somewhat clearer and/or more reasonable the ideas most people find the most important in their lives.”[2]

As an introduction to philosophy and Socrates simultaneously, one would be hard-pressed to find a better book than this.  In that Kreeft does an exceptional job in showing how Philosophy and Socrates interweave, especially given how Socrates planted many of the seeds for this whole discipline with his life’s work.

Using Plato’s Apology as a jump-off point, Kreeft undertakes the task to show the reader many of the ways philosophy can be understood by using forty different descriptions of the subject.  It was particularly interesting seeing the range of descriptions that Kreeft was able to come up with – some of it which might shock the reader – and how he was able to seamlessly show how apt those descriptions were to the act of philosophizing.

Subsequent to that Kreeft gives readers a cursory analysis of parts of the Euthyphro, as well as Phaedo, which are both dialogues by Plato, the latter of which details Socrates’ last days.  There are various purposes for the dialogues and the commentary that follows, and these merge swiftly with the overview of philosophy that Kreeft undertook.

One of the main strengths of this book is its ability to narrow complex topics into practical – but not overly simplified – gems of information that the reader can glean.  By contrast, many other philosophy books tend to overcomplicate philosophy, which turn readers off, or to oversimplify philosophy, which ends up not showcasing the latitude that philosophy can employ when used trenchantly.

This practical primer of philosophy also helps readers realize the importance of the art of cross-examination, which Socrates is the father of.  Coupled with that, and more importantly, by its very precision cross-examination employs in philosophy, Kreeft helps readers gain an understanding of the thorough depth which philosophy will go to in search for truth.  This journey in search for Wisdom will percolate into all disciplines, and can only strengthen an individual’s repertoire.

Drawing on all the data above, the book should be an integral component in education.  What the book offers is a template for what’s possible by philosophy’s employment, and not having these skills/knowledge in life emblematic of a surgeon at the operating room without a scalpel.

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Sources & References:

[1] Peter Kreeft Ph.D., Philosophy 101 By Socrates – An Introduction To Plato’s Apology, p. 104.
[2] Ibid., p. 141.