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The first pre-Socratics had found the origin of all things in various prime elements, such as water (Thales) and air (Anaximenes).Life, hence movement, is implicit in these elements, and so is permanence and immutability.Thus, this concept came, for a time, to play a prominent role on the world stage and in world history.
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Differences have been due to a great diversity of terminological uses, but more essentially to a tension between two fundamental tendencies.
With thinkers such as Heraclitus, Hegel, and Marx, the dialectic refers essentially to a conflictual movement inherent to reality.
The term was given new life by Hegel, whose dialectically dynamic model of nature and history made it a fundamental aspect of the nature of reality.
In the mid-nineteenth century, the concept of "dialectic" was appropriated by Marx and retooled in a non-idealist manner, becoming a crucial notion in their philosophy of dialectical materialism.
With Socrates, Plato, and the scholastic tradition initiated by Aristotle, the dialectic refers to a movement of the mind in search for truth.
The term "dialectic" owes much of its initial prestige to its role in the philosophy of Plato, where it figures as the logical method of philosophy in the Socratic dialectical method of cross-examination.
Broadly defined in philosophical language, the dialectic is an exchange of propositions (theses) and counter-propositions (antitheses) resulting in a synthesis of the opposing assertions, or at least a qualitative transformation in the direction of the dialogue or progress.
The term dialectic has accompanied most of the history of Western philosophy, but its meaning has varied considerably.