dialectic or dialectics (greek: διαλεκτική, dialektikḗ; related to dialogue), also known as the dialectical method, is at base a discourse between two or more people holding different points of view about a subject but wishing to establish the truth through reasoned arguments. dialectic resembles debate, but the concept excludes subjective elements such as emotional appeal and the modern pejorative sense of rhetoric. dialectic may thus be contrasted with both the eristic, which refers to argument that aims to successfully dispute another's argument (rather than searching for truth), or the didactic method, wherein one side of the conversation teaches the other. dialectic is alternatively known as minor logic, as opposed to major logic or critique.
within hegelianism, the word dialectic has the specialised meaning of a contradiction between ideas that serves as the determining factor in their relationship. dialectic comprises three stages of development: first, a thesis or statement of an idea, which gives rise to a second step, a reaction or antithesis that contradicts or negates the thesis, and third, the synthesis, a statement through which the differences between the two points are resolved. dialectical materialism, a theory or set of theories produced mainly by karl marx and friedrich engels, adapted the hegelian dialectic into arguments regarding traditional materialism.
dialectic tends to imply a process of evolution and so does not naturally fit within formal logic (see logic and dialectic). this process is particularly marked in hegelian dialectic and even more so in marxist dialectic which may rely on the evolution of ideas over longer time periods in the real world; dialectical logic attempts to address this.