Origins of Dialectic dialectic (dialektik): term of Greek philosophy, derived from the verb meaning to converse or to discuss. The dialectical method of Socrates, as it appears from the dialogues of Plato, had as its aim the testing of the truth of a proposition by question and answer, in a manner roughly resembling ordinary conversation. It was destructive rather than constructive, in that it demonstrated flaws in a suggested proposition but arrived at no better substitute. Plato's own dialectic is a development from that of Socrates. At its simplest it starts from an assumption taken to be true for the purposes of argument, and proceeds through question and answer (as did Socrates') in a methodically rigorous way until a conclusion is reached. It seemed to Plato that his method made it possible to acquire knowledge, and provide explanations for what is known, positively and systematically. For Plato dialectic was the only way to reach the true end of philosophy, knowledge. (The Classical Literature Companion)
What is a dialectical journal? A dialectical journal is a running dialogue between you, the reader, and what you are reading. This is done by recording notes in the form of quotations and then commenting upon what you have recorded.
What do I write? How do I write it? A dialectical journal takes the form of a double entry notation, with the quotation located on the left side of the page and your reaction on the right side.
What do I write? A Quotation that: May hit with some force; May make you think or question; That strikes you as significant; That has layers of meaning to decipher. Explanation of why you chose the quotation: Question: Ask questions while you read. Analyze/Evaluate: Form opinions both while you’re reading and after you’ve finished. Develop your own judgments about the characters and your own ideas about events. Interpret: determine the meaning of what you’ve read Reflect: what does the quote say about all people and humanity? In other words reflect on the universal themes. Literary Techniques: Comment upon when and why they are used. On the left: On the right:
First, pick out a significant quote. Next, transcribe it into your journal (on the left side of your page). Now, write your response to the quotation (on the right side. For example...
“MASHENKA PAVLETSKY, a young girl who had only just finished her studies at a boarding school, returning from a walk to the house of the Kushkins, with whom she was living as a governess, found the household in a terrible turmoil” (1). The reader gains a substantial amount of knowledge from the very first sentence. Most of which requires reading between the lines. Although the first word of Chekhov’s story is “Mashenka,” we learn that she indeed is not terribly important within the world of the story, that is, the other characters do not see her as important. Chekov quickly gives us her story within the commas. We will learn that despite her education, she is relegated to a lowly position within the Kushkin household. The peacefulness of her walk is destroyed by the “terrible turmoil” the household is in. The theme of power vs. powerlessness is subtly suggested here. Dialectical Journal :An Upheaval” by Chekhov
observations, revelations, questions, reflections — any thoughts you have about the quotation’s significance. Discuss the author’s use of language. How does he convey his ideas? Who is his intended audience and what is his purpose? What are the techniques he uses to accomplish his purpose? Discuss any distinctive or interesting aspects of this author’s style. Choose quotations that will allow you to discuss a variety of literary elements including diction (word choice), literary devices (simile, metaphor, allusion, personification, etc.) as well as theme, tone and point of view. Your response might include...
DJ Rubric Generic Dialectical Journal Scoring Guide Features meaningful quote selections Analysis of the text demonstrates careful thought Coverage of text is complete and thorough Journal is neat, organized Uses thoughtful interpretation and commentary; avoids clichés Makes insightful personal connections Asks thought-provoking and insightful questions Careful reading as evidenced through an awareness of levels of meaning Character analysis is consistent with the material presented Shows an understanding of character motivation Comparisons and connections are made between text and other literary and artistic works Recognizes the author’s writing choices (including techniques) and reasons for those choices Recognizes the energy and deliberateness of the writing process Demonstrates an awareness of point of view
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