tumblr_p1a1ggkHGW1rqxd5ko5_1280 Inspired by CIP's ventures into philosophy (see also my insightful comment) I thought I would share my little project to improve the "dialectic" article on wiki. Regular readers will know my hatred of wanky philosophical words that I don't really understand, and "dialectic" is one of them. Partly because it seems to have a different meaning for every person that uses it. But! I think I have now become enlightened - on this issue at least - and have decided to share my enlightenment.

This is a link to the state of the article as I found it. Before touching it I threatened to improve it, but no-one responded, so I've made it better. If you prefer you can look at the diff.

Ironically, perhaps, the dictionary definition was most helpful in resolving the problem. So the answer is threefold:

1. Any formal system of reasoning that arrives at a truth by the exchange of logical arguments.

Or, put another way, hardly to be distinguished from discussion, except we emphasise rationality and put aside appeals to emotion (and we'll quietly forget that many of the actual Socratic dialogues don't do this). This I think is part of my annoyance with the philosophers: adding a word that can only just be distinguished from a commonplace word, so as to make their sentences more high falutin'; and then failing to distinguish different meanings of their shiny new word carefully.

2. A contradiction of ideas that serves as the determining factor in their interaction.

This is the Hegelian version. Subtly, the concept of evolution or process has come in; in that things start in one state and end in another. Quite exactly what it means is up for grabs; if you believe Popper it allows contrary ideas to stand and is thus the death of reason; if you're an Hegel fanboi it will mean something subtly different; as you can tell I'm not a great fan of big H. But that's OK; my purpose on wiki was mostly to distinguish things.

3. A progress of conflict, especially class conflict.

This is the Marxist version. TBH I'm still not entirely sure what it is, but I think it just takes the "process" idea and runs with it; the connection with the original meaning has become rather tenuous at this point.

There's another point - which I'm not fully sure of - which is that dialectic doesn't fit well with formal logic. The arguments can all be logical, of course, but it relies on a process of evolution, whereas logic is timeless. Anyone able to explicate that more clearly - or refute it - is welcome to try.

And there you have it. If you have any interest, or even philosophical training, I encourage you to improve the wiki article too. As long as you agree with me, of course.


* Jesus and Mo.


Anonymous said...

Sorry, I've no thoughts on 'dialectic'. But do you have any thoughts on this? (Yes, it's OT but it is about Wikipedia.)

I am [xxx xxxxxxxxx]. I want the page concerning me deleted. I don't want a debate or discussion but the page struck off. It has become the target of constant editing by one person and as a donor to Wikipedia I believe I should have my wishes respected.

As it happens, I think he was right to delete the two or three recent edits that inserted stuff about the xxxx xxxxx and the xxxxxxx of his xxx. They were unWikipedic in that they were speculations and weren't supported by the cited sources - they couldn't be otherwise because the injunction (whose exact terms remain mysterious) has meant that the trial verdict hasn't been published.

But forget that. What are your Wiki-insider thoughts about the subject of a Wiki article demanding that his article be deleted because he has given money to the Wiki project?

Is that a first?

And what are his chances of success?

Anonymous said...

That last comment was by Vinny Burgoo. (New computer. I can't find my Google password.)

William Connolley said...

I don't think there's any need for mysterious secrecy about the article, which is [[Ian Swingland]]. And you linked to the AFD, which I've now patched up (he hadn't formatted it properly, or linked it to the day's discussions. Never mind, people expect that of noobs).

As to the wiki-substance: (1) plenty of people say "I've donated, therefore..." and the answer is always "no"; (2) he is of course "wrong" (well, probably lying, but noobs are also not good at reading or understanding history) about the "constant" editing; the changes he doesn't like have been re-inserted once as far as I can see; (3) people not liking what wiki writes about them is commonplace, this is no new star. The answer will depend on: is the subject notable (answer: most likely yes); is there coverage from reliable sources about the subject (ditto).

Articles are almost never deleted just because they are subject to vandalism / malice / unreasonable addition of content; the solution is simply to clean them up. The good news is that simply listing them for deletion brings them to the attention of people who care about this kind of stuff.

As to the substance of the additions: that a trial occurred is true; I didn't find owt about injunctions but I did notice the oddity of a trial in 2016 with no result published and a distinct alck of recent stories about him. The stripping of the OBS is well sourced so I can't see the objection to that being included.

Anonymous said...

Your edit seems about right Wikipedically. The 'following a trial...' is factual and suggests a connection without going beyond what the sources say. Is it legal, though? The Daily Mail said, in an article about the same Gazette, that it couldn't name Prof Mysterioso for legal reasons and the other big papers didn't report the removal at all - a bit crazy given that the Gazette wasn't anonymized, but there we are.

I can't find a likely injunction on various lists of such things, so either I didn't look hard enough or it's a superinjunction or, perhaps most likely, the secrecy is due to the reporting restrictions that are usual in big fraud cases being extended because there's a retrial or one of the defendants is involved in a related trial.

Anonymous said...

VB again.

William Connolley said...

AFD closed as keep as was almost inevitable. On the page discussion continues about mentioning The Trial.

Anonymous said...

'The Trial': Ha! It's certainly inexplicable at the moment.

As is this:


One of the scheme's Mauritius-based companies is using the Irish courts to try and get money back from some of the British 'high net worth individuals' involved in it. I must have misunderstood the scheme. I thought the loans weren't really loans and that the Mauritius companies were only there to bat the money to and fro, but ~300 cases so far, so it must be worthwhile for them.