This book considers the emergence of dialectic out of the spirit of dialogue and traces the relation between the two. It moves from Plato, for whom dialectic is necessary to destroy incorrect theses and attain thinkable being, to Cusanus, to modern philosophers—Descartes, Kant, Hegel, Schleiermacher and Gadamer, for whom dialectic becomes the driving force behind the constitution of a rational philosophical system. Conceived as a logical enterprise, dialectic strives to liberate itself from dialogue, which it views as merely accidental and even disruptive of thought, in order to become a systematic or scientific method. The Cartesian autonomous and universal yet utterly monological and lonely subject requires dialectic alone to reason correctly, yet dialogue, despite its unfinalizable and interruptive nature, is what constitutes the human condition.
About the author
Dmitri Nikulin is Professor of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research in New York. His most recent books are Matter, Imagination and Geometry: Ontology, Natural Philosophy and Mathematics in Plotinus, Proclus, and Descartes (2002), and On Dialogue (2006).
"In this beautifully written and erudite book, Dmitri Nikulin brings philosophy to life in a double sense. He shows how the method of dialectic originates in the open-ended practice of dialogue, and he engages us in a lively dialogue with thinkers of the past, both ancient and modern. Nikulin's narrative is full of original insights and surprises, such as a defense of the philosophical dignity of interruption (for which many of us have long been waiting)."
—Rainer Forst, Goethe-University, Frankfurt am Main
"Nikulin's newest book on dialogue and dialectics displays a beautiful combination of great scholarship, fine storytelling, and innovative ideas."
—Ágnes Heller, New School for Social Research
"Dialectic and Dialogue is a very important work, potentially a classic. It is stimulating throughout, as well as original in conception and execution—the first study to bring together these two signal concepts."
—Mark Roche, University of Notre Dame
"This book is one of the most interesting, intelligent, and engaging discussions of dialogue and dialectic in recent decades. While it returns us to certain practices of ancient philosophy, it can be seen paradoxically as serving the contemporary continuation of philosophy as a meaningful mode of engaged mindfulness."
—William Desmond, Catholic University of Leuven