Second Degree Dialectics: Learning and David Harvey’s Dialectics

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McGray, Robert G.
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Mount Saint Vincent University
This thesis argues that our world is based in process. Through acts of learning, we are able to create permanencies to understand these processes. This movement of the creation of permanencies is a dialectical movement explained by David Harvey’s theory of dialectics. The dialectical movement that is learning becomes the differentiation between space and time, which allows us to form spaces and times for being in the world. In this way, spatio-temporalities find their genesis in the act of learning. It is important to note that these spatio-temporalities are not indeterminate, but are constrained by causal mechanisms and generative processes that are real (i.e. exist in a way that is not totally dependant on agency). Because of this, learning beings (animals, humans, etc.) create a spatio-temporality for themselves individually. Humans, though, have the added ability to share their spatio-temporalities and their meanings with each other. This aspect of human learning creates an understanding between multiple spatio-temporalities to allow a shared cultural meaning of the world. This cultural act of human learning is a dialectical method engaged with a dialectical world, or, what is called here, second degree dialectics. This allows human learning the opportunity for political action, whereby we can learn and then act collectively in non-violent and emancipatory ways.
David Harvey’s theory of dialectics , spatio-temporality , Second Degree Dialectics , Learning