Dialectics – open your mind and balance will occur naturally


 Quick summary: There are many different definitions of what “dialectic” means and most are relatively related while others are a bit different (the Hindu and the Buddhist dialectics are more similar than the Socratic dialectic). I intend to talk about Dialects as a subject which helps us to experience the idea that all things are both “good” and “bad” at the same time. The purpose of such a discussion is to propose that people whom you disagree with are not wrong per say… they simply hold a different opinion or perspective. I am not trying to create indifference regarding the actions that you or anybody else would take… by accepting dialectics we can free ourselves from the judgments of our minds; which I believe leads us naturally towards engaging in actions that promote systemic harmony.


Note – It is virtually impossible to write about dialectics without constantly contradicting one’s self. For every point I make the opposite point is infinitely true – if I wrote this way I would never finish this blog.


Dialectic – everything is good and bad, right and wrong (the chicken and the egg)

Dichotomy – everything is good or bad, right or wrong (the chicken or the egg)


One purpose of dialectic thinking is to enable yourself to be open-minded about all that occurs in your perception.

  • By accepting that you will not be able to successfully categorize your environment with dichotomous labels, such as good or bad, you free yourself to engage the world with a child-like curiosity while being less guarded or defensive. In short – you are more open and accessible to this experience we call life.


“I don’t know” – this statement is often thought of as an example of wisdom and there are many expressions based on its’ underlying themes. Why? When someone says, “I don’t know,” he or she is essentially suggesting,

  • “I don’t claim to know any objective truths or any truths that would increase my likelihood of finding life predictable- and I can accept that.”


Opening your minds to other people’s subjective perception opens you up to more people – I am a proponent of relationships and I have seen many relationships falter because people chose their dichotomous belief over the relationship. (This also has to do with the ego, which I will cover in a future blog).

            – lets say you have a friend that is your skiing buddy… one night you get into an argument about health care… you can’t reach a point of agreement and you both go your separate ways. Here is the dichotomy – “I like going skiing with my friend, but he has health care views I disagree with” (what does health care have to do with skiing?). Here is the dialectic – “I like my going skiing with my friend, and he has health care views I disagree with.”

            – Dialectics can allow you do observe without the need for judgments (which can call for decisive actions) – in this way you get to keep more of the friends that you “disagree” with.


Existentialism (pertaining to meaning such as the meaning of life)Our mind needs to categories and judge our existence to reduce something called existential anxiety (anxiety that we hold when we find something to be meaningless – example – “why did the person die in the natural disaster”).

            – We create dichotomies to make life appear to be more predictable – if life was more predictable it would be easier for us to find meaning or to make sense of life. Our minds believe that if we could find meaning then we could significantly reduce our constant underlying fear of death (I will blog about this in the future). Incidentally for some reason my acceptance of the dialectic –“I am infinitely everything and infinitely nothing,” dramatically reduced my own fear of death.


Exercise 1) – Get together with a group of people and try to arrive at a universal truth (something that is always true in every context). Be sensitive in your critiques, but at the same time hold an understanding that the point of the exercise is to prove that from a philosophical perspective there are no universal truths. Note – this is not a jab at religions – I too choose to have faith in some of my beliefs (the difference is that I don’t really care if they are ‘true’ and I know that I could never prove them to be ‘true’).

Exercise 2) – think about a subject that you subjectively label as “bad”… now attempt to alter your perception so that you see that subject as good (pick a fairly benign topic when you start).

            -ex) * The forest fire that burned down my fiends house was bad… it destroyed irreplaceable possession like their photo albums.

                   * The forest fire was good in that the forest needs fires in order to be healthy; my friends chose to live there because of the forest. Without fire the forest seeds are not released.


I have two biases (related to the subject) that I should offer – These biases explain why I do not hold a fear that dialects will lead to an indifference that will cause people to engage in meaningless destruction. –or why I believe dialectics do not lead to sociopathic behavior.


  • I believe that all people are inherently ‘good’ – by ‘good’ I mean that the intention of all individuals (parts) holds the intention of maintaining balance or harmony for the system (whole) – and visa versa (this is the biological dialectic – the parts are the whole and the whole is the parts – the part are greater than the whole and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts). As a therapist I have never met a “bad person” and by opening my mind I can say that I don’t need to ‘fake’ acceptance as my reality has thus far shown that there is something to empathize with in every human I’ve ever met (and organism for that matter). “The worst things done in the world were done with good intention.”


  • I believe in intuition – sure I have read about meta-cognition (pre-thought – cognitions outside of our awareness) and I love the literature on the subject… and I am talking about something a bit different – something metaphysical which universally communicates an understating of ecological like principles (the interconnectedness of all things).


Judgments which serve to objectively categorize – Our minds tend to make decisions based on information that is not based on the present moment (ex. if I destroy this person I will be safer in the future). By holding firmly to a set belief that something is absolutely always good or absolutely always bad, we remove our ability to let our intuition guide our actions within the relative context of the given moment.

Do the Ends justify the Means? – If your intuition or your inner empathy compass (or whichever term you prefer) tells you in the moment what action ‘feels’ right, would it be the right decisions to ignore this feeling in order to follow the procedure manufactured by your mind and its’ desire to create objectivity? Again – “some of the worst actions imaginable were done with good intention.”

  • the concept of “the ends justify the means” is based on the idea that – there is a cause and effect relationship between the ends and the means – in other word the means (actions) will irrefutably lead to the desired ends (result) – If this were true then life would be predicable.

“Life is good and bad… now you choose how your gonna see it” – Will

William Hambleton Bishop is a practicing therapist in Steamboat Springs Colorado.
William Hambleton Bishop
William Hambleton Bishop is a practicing therapist in Steamboat Springs Colorado.

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