Dialectics and Postmodernists: A Multidimensional Comparison

This paper compares two schools of thought in human development theory: the dialectical paradigm described by Stevens-Long and Michaud (2003) and the postmodern perspective described by Goldhaber (2000).  The comparison is conducted from three different viewing angles to offer a more complete picture than is possible with one.  The first compares the two ideologies as processes of development and concludes that they are highly dissimilar.  The second compares them as stages of development and concludes the opposite, that they are highly similar.  In the third view, the act of comparison is consciously subordinated to exploration, dissolving the intent to find sameness and difference.  A generative process is thereby discovered, producing a level of synthesis previously unreachable in the first two views that unconsciously imposed conceptual uniformity.  Such an approach is therefore likely to please both postmodernists and dialectics.  Postmodernism’s inclusivity is modeled to reveal meaningful differences.  They are then dialectically leveraged to generate fresh insights.  The picture that emerges is one of wholeness and interdependence.  In this way, the value that dialectics and postmodernists add to the human development field is simultaneously discussed and demonstrated.