Hegel used it as a philosophy of history. To him, ideas are basic to all human activity which develops in a zigzag manner following the formula of thesis, antithesis and synthesis. The social institutions are merely manifestation of ideas. He conceived of nation state as highest stage of social evolution.
Karl Marx appreciated Hegelian conception but he replaced dialectical idealism with dialectical materialism. Unlike Hegel, he believed that the social institutions are shaped by material conditions of life, which are determined by the economic mode of production.
According to Marx, the world by its very nature is material and the various phenomenon of the world constitute different forms of matter in motion. In his own words, “it is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but on the contrary their social being that determines their consciousness”.
1. Three Laws of Dialectics:
Dialectical method is based on three laws which are as follows:
1. The law of transformation of quantity into quality and vice versa:
It means that changes are qualitative till a certain point after which its form is changed. For example, capitalism to socialism
2. The law of unity of opposites:
It implies that everything within itself contains contradictory but interdependent elements. For example, Capitalism contains both, bourgeoisie and proletariats.
3. The law of negation of negation:
Thesis, antithesis and synthesis are connected in a chain which develops by negating other.
Through this process, Marx explains the history from primitive communism to world communism.
Sabine and Way per accuse Marx of failing to outline the details of his dialectical materialism.
Prof. Hunt does not accept the scientific claim of dialectical materialism. For, one cannot be sure as to what constitutes a thesis, antithesis and synthesis.
John Plamentz dubs it as a preliminary model to prepare for historical materialism.
Unlike the methodology of predecessors, Marx introduces dialectical materialism as a tool to analyze change. But, its complete dependence on economy leaves it exclusivist character. Changes are multidimensional wherein culture, ideology, value system may have dominant role.