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SOC231H5 Study Guide - Dialectic, French Revolution, Institute For Operations Research And The Management Sciences

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Zaheer Baber

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2. Explain Marx’s dialectical perspective and how it informs his analysis of society and
social change
The non-dialectic perspective looks at everything as either positive or negative and
never looks at what can be in-between. This was the perspective of the positivists and romantic
conservatisms during the period of enlightenment. Positivism saw social change as something
that is very positive and that society should move forward from what it “is” to what it “ought” to
be, it truly embraced social change. Romantic conservatisms, however, were shocked at the
changes that took place and seeing tradition being cast aside. They thought that everything had
been ruined because of the French revolution and wanted to turn the clock back and go to the
past. Hence, the two perspectives are non-dialectical as they only portray the situation as being
either positive or negative. Positivists see social change as only positive while the Romantic
conservatisms see it as only negative. To help illustrate the idea more thoroughly, another
example of a non-dialectic perspective is the idea that it can’t be night and day, it is can only be
night or day.
On the other hand, the dialectic perspective rejects the dichotomy of a situation being
this or that (good or bad). It states that social life is not that simple and that instead, everything
is in a constant state of movement. It chooses to look at events as if they are always in the
process of becoming, and of ceaseless contradictions. This ongoing process is a quest for self-
actualization and of fulfillment. To add on, this perspective does not pin “either/or” at any
particular moment. The idea of permanence of change is a dialectical notion which refers to the
fact that change always happens. This includes the concept of the number zero- the number
has no meaning yet it is still something.
Karl Marx was a child of the enlightenment who utilized the dialectic perspective to
analyze the social change that he was experiencing in his lifetime. He was influenced by the
German philosopher, Hegel, who looked at the dialectics at the level of ideas which are in
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