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Unity (of Opposites)

A ‘unity of opposites’ is a concept in which the two elements are a prior unity, rather than the sum of two concepts apprehended independently and added together.


When something is conceived as a ‘unity’ or ‘unity of opposites’ this implies a concept of the thing in which the two opposites form a prior unity. That is, the concept necessarily contains within it the two subordinate concepts, which can be derived from it by conceptual (dialectical) analysis. But at the same time, a genetic analysis will reveal the independent roots of the opposites. Once the opposites have formed a unity, their mutual contradiction is the driving force for the development of the unity.

For example, ‘action’ is a unity of behaviour and consciousness, and an analysis of the concept of action shows that behaviour without consciousness or thinking unconnected to behaviour is not action. However, genetic analysis of consciousness and behaviour shows that both ontogenetically and phylogenetically behaviour exists without consciousness for a long time, controlled by conditioned reflexes. Action appears only when behaviour has reached a certain level of development, giving rise to the need for and possibility of consciousness, which in turn subjects behaviour to conscious control, with actions, whose immediate goal differs from its ultimate object. Once action appears on the scene, the development of actions (i.e., activity) drives the development of both behaviour and consciousness.

-- AndyBlunden - 15 Nov 2013


Topic revision: r8 - 20 Nov 2013, AndyBlunden

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