Okay, so then what is Hegel’s triad and why does it fit here so well?

First, it’s important to acknowledge that the dialectical triad described in the next couple hundred words is not actually directly attributable to Hegel. Some cite Emanuel Kant and then Johann Fichte as the progenitors here, but that assertion can also be called into question. Regardless, there definitely exists a pattern in Hegel’s dialectical arguments that can still be abstracted into: thesis-antithesis-synthesis.

Here’s a thesis: when I eat, I am full.

Here’s an antithesis: when I do not eat, I am not full.

And here’s a synthesis of those first two positions: eating fills me up.

This feels quite obvious, but basic examples of complex philosophical frameworks always do. The key here is that the negation of the thesis with the antithesis leads to a synthesis that finds common ground and results in a new proposition: that eating fills me up.

Here’s a more complex example.

Thesis: The iPhone makes it easier to connect with loved ones around the world.

Antithesis: Communicating with loved ones around the world through the iPhone does not produce real “connections”.

Synthesis: Connection is a critical but complex goal of communication, no matter the medium or channel.

I’m using the iPhone in this example because it helps illustrate why Marie Swan and I are both eager to use this framework when understanding technology: there are levels of complexity that must be addressed when moving beyond the simplistic or facile.