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The ancient use of the dialectic was essentially defined by Socrates and Plato and continued by the scholastic tradition.However, the idea of dialectical movement appeared earlier in the thought of Heraclitus, where it carried a very different meaning.
In appreciating the dialectic, one question is whether it over-emphasizes the role of conflict in development.
In Eastern worldviews such as Daoism, development occurs through harmonious interaction of natural polarities, such as male and female.
Heraclitus represents what could be called the prehistory of the dialectic.
Though he never used the term to refer to his own philosophy, he was credited for pioneering the way of the dialectic by Hegel and Engels, who applauded his departure from what they perceived to be the static tendency of Parmenides and his successors.
Conflict in nature may also beget development, but acting in a different way.
This same confusion has pervaded concepts of the dialectic in philosophy, particularly in Marxism.Zeno’s paradoxes have long been denigrated as mere sophistry, but they have recently received renewed attention and praise for their insight into the nature of mathematics.Zeno was a disciple of Parmenides, the philosopher who first introduced the notion of the permanence of Being as opposed to the primacy of movement stressed by Heraclitus.Hegel never used the words 'thesis, antithesis, synthesis', as we all know.I read something recently trhat suggests that the first use f the the term was Marx in the Poverty of Philosophy, ad that Marx picked this up from the Berlin Hegel Club where a recent publication by a Professor Chalybus was being discussed.In fact, Heraclitus was an earlier pre-Socratic than Parmenides, and his thought is proof that the dialectical frame of mind has been with Western philosophy from the very beginning.Heraclitus’ thought was dialectical in the sense that he believed everything to have originated from fire, the symbol of movement and development through self-consumption.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.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.