Norman O. Brown and the Dialectic Process.
(Life against Death: The Psychoanalytical Meaning of History)

"By 'dialectical' I mean an activity of consciousness struggling to circumvent the limitations imposed by the formal-logical law of contradiction." (Norman O. Brown, Life against Death: The Psychoanalytical Meaning of History) What Brown meant by this is that when the child uses dialectic 'reasoning' ("self 'justification'") he is able 'liberate' himself (at least in mind), from his father's "top down," "do right and not wrong" authority system, i.e., "circumventing" his established commands, rules, facts, and truth, i.e., his "formal-logical laws of contradiction," i.e., his "negative" system of "not's," i.e., "You can not ..."—"Thou shalt not ...," i.e., "Do right and do not do wrong, or else" i.e., "Obey me and do not disobey what I say," i.e., "Because I said so." which "limits" (blocks or inhibits) him from satisfying his carnal desire of the 'moment,' preventing him from doing what he wants to do, when he wants to do it, i.e., in the 'moment,' i.e., preventing him from doing that which is "positive" in his eyes. It is a "struggle" which begins with the child's first attempt to strike out against the father when he stops him from doing "his thing," which ends in failure because of the father's strength (authority). With "group" support, i.e., affirmation from other child (who are having or have experienced the same failure in their home) in an informal, tolerant environment (dialoguing of opinions with no "put down," judgmentalism), he is able to overcome his "fear" of the father's authority, 'liberating' his feelings, thoughts, and actions as he learns to question and challenge the father's authority system.

If we just focus upon doing "right," i.e., upon what we want to do, i.e., upon being "positive," with no "negative" putdowns, i.e., with no "wrongs" ("You are wrong") judging or condemning us, then "the formal-laws of contradiction," i.e., the father's "top-down," "right-wrong" authority system fades away. In this way, through the child's use of dialectic 'reasoning' ("self-'justification'"), with "group" approval (consensus), i.e., through his eyes, he is able to "circumvent" his parent's authority system, i.e., have no "guilty conscience" in doing what he wants to do, when he wants to do it, i.e., sin with impunity—since their commands, rules, facts, and truth have become "irrational" (unreasonable, i.e., impractical) in his eyes (according to his feelings, thoughts, and actions, i.e., according to his desires of the 'moment') and therefore they and their authority system has become "irrelevant," i.e., not worth paying attention to (other than identifying and removing it when it shows up, i.e., gets in the way). Immanuel Kant, George Hegel, Karl Marx, and Sigmund Freud all had this in mind.

© Institution for Authority Research, Dean Gotcher 2015-2017