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New Word: "Dialectical"

Posted on Oct 18, 2015

Filed Under: words


An adjective which means:

  • relating to the logical discussion of ideas and opinions.
  • concerned with or acting through opposing forces.

I found this in a review of Bridge of Spies, in the New York Times, which described the move as “insistently dialectical.”  Wikipedia describes the root form – dialectic – this way:

The dialectical method is discourse between two or more people holding different points of view about a subject, who wish to establish the truth of the matter guided by reasoned arguments.

And this is a fair way to describe Bridge of Spies. The movement is a constant examination of the opposing forces during the Cold War.  It presents both sides, and careens back and forth between them, never particularly choosing a side as correct.

The term dialectics is not synonymous with the term debate. While in theory debaters are not necessarily emotionally invested in their point of view, in practice debaters frequently display an emotional commitment that may cloud rational judgement. Debates are won through a combination of persuading the opponent; proving one's argument correct; or proving the opponent's argument incorrect.

And this is an accurate description of the movie.  Bridge is very detached from the subject. It's more of a a neutral observation of a situation that took place during the Cold War. The movie invites the viewer to make their own decision, while at the same time, subtly making the point that nothing has really changed, and standoffs between superpowers continue today and will forevermore.