Defining "Dialectical Series" - Ch. 3 The Origin of Philosophy by Jose Ortega y Gasset

 Ch. 3 - Dialectical Series

Chapter three is very short and Ortega simply takes a moment to explain the way in which he chose to write this book, with the use of "dialectical series." In a very broad sense he defines this phrase as such: "The term is confined to designating the following sum of mental acts, which transpire in all attempts to conceptualize reality." 1 

Ortega has previously made the point, in a Pragmatist vain, that what reality is and what we know of it are two different things. We think we know a thing, and we call it true, yet our knowledge about that thing is incomplete. 2 The point of dialectic then is to begin to assimilate the different aspects that we take in of something in order to generate a more full picture of the truth of the thing. He mentions four essential components to this process: Pausing to frame each known part, move logically to new conclusions, maintain parts already known, and then integrate the old and new into a synthesis. 

This process is particularly spurred on through the proceeding logically to the truths which touch upon the current truth known but aren't obviously clear yet. Most specifically through truths which are attached and bring about more complexity into the original idea, not just ones which are clearly contained in the original idea. The example he uses is the earth. If the earth is a sphere, then by definition that creates a new concept of the space that is around or outside earth. That is a new complexity which touches from the original concept but introduces a new aspect to this discussion.  3

He wraps up this chapter simply saying that his commentary on the history of philosophy began as something like a connecting list of dialectical ideas, from which he fleshed out and formed these chapters. 4


1 - 47

2 - 46

3 - 48

4 - 49, 50