What is the difference between Marxist dialectial theory & Hegelian dialictical theory? Please discuss.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There have been volumes written on this subject.  In a very brief synopsis, I would say that the emphasis on materialism is probably the primary difference between both thinkers' dialectics.  Marx sought to take Hegel's teachings and apply it to the ownership of the means of production and the wealth created as a result.  Hegel never really attempted to move his phenomenological understanding to this realm of specific context and contingency, but Marx believed that the dialectical process can best explain history, and the stages of economic development.  Whereas Hegel is more driven to achieving a philosophical end, Marx is convinced that there is a social application and dimension to the dialectic process, something that he is more than willing to articulate in his vision of dialectics.  On a more technical note, I would also submit that Hegel's dialectical process of thesis and antithesis is more organic and more fluid than Marx's.  Marx presents his dialectic in almost static terms:  A thesis collides with an antithesis forming synthesis, resulting in new thesis.  Hegel presents this evolution as more of an organic process, like a flower shedding pedals, as opposed to the strictly material process presented in Marx.