Hegel and the Dialectic of the Ancient Philosophers

Gadamer, Hans-Georg. “Hegel and the Dialectic of the Ancient Philosophers,” Hegel’s Dialectic, tr. P. Christopher Smith. New Haven, 1976.


In Plato Hegel sees the earliest development of speculative dialectic, for Plato goes beyond allowing the universal to emerge indirectly by merely confounding a point of view. That the Sophists had done too. In contrast to them, as Hegel sees it, Plato strives to bring the universal into view, purely, by itself, i.e., that which is held to be valid as definition or determination; and that, according to Hegel, means that he seeks to display it in its unity with its opposite. For the very same reason Aristotle is the proper teacher for us all since he is a master at bringing the most various determinations together under one concept. He gathers up all aspects of an idea, as unrelated as he might first find them, while neither leaving determinations out nor seizing first upon one and then upon another; rather, he takes them all together as one. Furthermore, Hegel sees the speculative element in Aristotle in the catholicity of the latter’s analysis.

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