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  The perpetual resolution of binary oppositions: a metaphysics most closely associated in European philosophy and social thought with G.W.F. Hegel (1770-1813) and Karl Marx (1818-83). In human geography, a simple example would be the following, essentially Hegelian reading of August Lösch\'s location theory. There:

a perfectly homogeneous landscape with identical customers, working inside the framework of perfect competition, would necessarily develop, from its inner rules of change, into a heterogeneous landscape with both rich, active sectors and poor, depressed regions. The homogeneous regional system negates itself and generates dialectically its contradiction as regional inequalities appear. (Marchand, 1978, emphasis added).This is a helpful first approximation, but the dialectic is usually deployed outside the framework of neo-classical economics that contains conventional location theory. In fact it is a characteristic of the Löschian system that once the heterogeneous landscape has emerged it is \'frozen\' in equilibrium rather than convulsed through transformation. As such, it is really an example of a categorical paradigm — one in which change is simply the kaleidoscopic recombination of the same and ever-present, fixed and precise categories and elements (Gregory, 1978) — rather than a fully dialectical paradigm.

The most developed dialectical paradigms in geography are derived from Marx\'s historical materialism, and they have been deployed to elucidate the contradictory constitution and restless transformation of capitalism as a mode of production. A formal statement of the principles of dialectics within historical materialism has been provided by Harvey (1996, pp. 48-57; cf. 1973, pp. 286-302). Its key propositions include the following:

{img src=show_image.php?name=2022.gif } Dialectical thinking emphasizes processes, flows and relations. {img src=show_image.php?name=2022.gif } The formation and duration of systems and structures is not the point of departure (these \'things\' are not treated as \'givens\') but rather a problem for analysis: processes, flows and relations constitute — form, shape, give rise to — systems and structures. {img src=show_image.php?name=2022.gif } The operation of these processes, flows and relations is contradictory, and it is these contradictions that feed into the transformation of systems and structures. All systems and structures thus contain possibilities for change. {img src=show_image.php?name=2022.gif } Spaces and times (or, rather, \'space-times\') are not external coordinates but are contained within — or \'implicated in\' — different processes that effectively \'produce\' their own forms of space and time.Within this scheme, particular analytical importance is attached to the identification of contradictions. Formally, a contradiction is a principle that both (i) enters into the constitution of a system or structure and (ii) whose operation negates, opposes (\'contradicts\') the stability or integrity of that system or structure. A vivid example is provided by one standard model of protoindustrialization which identifies two circuits: a circuit of petty commodity production, in which independent artisans work at home or in their workshops to produce cloth; and a circuit of market exchange in which merchants buy the cloth from the artisans to sell on domestic or overseas markets. The circuit of petty commodity production is supposed to be organized around use values (meeting the consumption and cultural needs of the artisan) while the circuit of market exchange is organized around exchange values (the strictly commercial search for the highest profits). Seen thus, the protoindustrial system both (i) depends on the articulation of both circuits — it is constituted through the activities of artisans producing cloth and merchants buying and selling cloth; and yet (ii) is constantly subject to disruption and dislocation through the operation of a system of use values (which encourages artisans to step up production when prices tumble, in order to meet their consumption needs, and to slow down production when prices soar, since they can meet those needs much more quickly) in concert with a system of exchange values (which means that merchants want production cut back when prices tumble and increased when prices soar to enhance their search for the highest profits). According to this model of protoindustrialization, the contradiction is \'resolved\' through the transformation of the domestic system into a factory system.

Harvey\'s statement sets out principles; Castree (1996) has provided a rigorous reading of Harvey\'s practice. In doing so, he raises important questions about reflexivity and, in particular, about the relations of power that inhere within Harvey\'s claims to knowledge. One of Castree\'s central theses is that in Harvey\'s writings, as elsewhere, dialectics functions as both a mode of explanation and a mode of representation. It was once said that Marx\'s words are \'like bats: one can see in them both birds and mice\'. And this attentiveness to the slippery subtleties of language and to the powers released by words has occasioned a series of reflections in and around human geography that have taken some writers a considerable distance from Harvey\'s own base in historical materialism. Thus Gunnar Olsson argues that the categorical paradigm which rules conventional modes of analysis fails to recognize the interpenetration of form and process, subject and object: as a result, its propositions reveal more about the language we are talking in, whereas \'statements in dialectics will say more about the worlds we are talking about\'. To be sure, \'words\' and \'worlds\' are connected, and for this reason Olsson insists on the importance of attending to \'the dialectics of spatial analysis\' (Olsson, 1974, 1980, 1991). He too makes much of the play of power through language, although it is by no means clear that his writing is any more reflexive than Harvey\'s (Sparke, 1994). A similar interest in language and its system of differences has nonetheless impelled some writers to follow the so-called \'linguistic turn\' in the humanities and social sciences still further. In particular, those who have been persuaded by the claims of deconstruction have set dialectics aside, challenging the metaphysics of binary opposition on which dialectics depends and refusing to conceive of difference as contradiction (Doel, 1992). (See also trialectics.) (DG)

References Castree, N. 1996: Birds, mice and geography: Marxisms and dialectics. Transactions, Institute of British Geographers NS 21: 342-62. Doel, M.A. 1992: In stalling deconstruction: striking out the postmodern. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 10: 163-79. Gregory, D. 1978: Ideology, science and human geography. London: Hutchinson. Harvey, D. 1973: Social justice and the city. London: Edward Arnold; reprinted 1988. Oxford and Cambridge, MA: Blackwell. Harvey, D. 1996: Justice, nature and the geography of difference. Oxford and Cambridge, MA: Blackwell. Marchand, B. 1978: A dialectic approach in geography. Geographical Analysis 10: 105-19. Olsson, G. 1974: The dialectics of spatial analysis. Antipode 6:3: 50-62. Olsson, G. 1980: Birds in egg/Eggs in bird. London: Pion. Olsson, G. 1991: Lines of power, limits of language. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Sparke, M. 1994: Escaping the herbarium: a critique of Gunnar Olsson\'s chiasm of thought and action. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 12: 207-20.

Suggested Reading Castree (1996). Harvey (1996), 48-57. Olsson (1991), 66-77.



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