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  A term proposed by the American geographer E. Soja (1996) as \'a mode of dialectical reasoning that is more inherently spatial than the conventional temporally-defined dialectics of Hegel or Marx\' (p. 10). As this suggests, \'trialectics\' depends on the transcendence of conventional dialectics: it does so by identifying three moments (not two), each of which contains the others. Soja\'s purpose is to insist on the importance of the \'third term\' in any trialectic in order \'to defend against any form of binary reductionism or totalization\' (cf. deconstruction).

This is more than an abstract exercise in logic, and Soja proposes two basic trialectics (see the figure). The first is primarily concerned with ontology: Soja (1996, pp. 71-3) describes this as the trialectics of being, and uses it to diagram the production of time, being in the world and space: his argument turns on the claim that the \'third term\', space, is characteristically erased in conventional critical theory (cf. Soja, 1989).

{img src=show_image.php?name=bkhumgeofig81a.gif }

{img src=show_image.php?name=bkhumgeofig81b.gif }

trialetics (a) Ontology: ‘trialetics of being’; (b) Epistemology: ‘trialetics of spatiality’

The second is primarily concerned with epistemology: Soja (1996, pp. 73-82) describes this as the trialectics of spatiality, and uses it to diagram three approaches to spatiality which he derives from H. Lefebvre\'s (1991) thematization of the production of space. In Soja\'s reading of Lefebvre, most discussions of spatiality have been confined to the realms of either (i) \'spatial practices\', a space of objectivity and object-ness that Soja terms \'Firstspace\' or (ii) \'representations of space\', a space of signification and subject-ness that Soja terms \'Secondspace\'. Again, it is the force of the \'third term\' that Soja seeks to release: (iii) \'spaces of representation\', where representation carries both political and cultural connotations, and whose animation corresponds to the subversive, radical and even revolutionary potential of \'Thirdspace\' (see third space). (DG)

References Lefebvre, H. 1991: The production of space. Oxford and Cambridge, MA: Blackwell. Soja, E. 1989: Postmodern geographies: the reassertion of space in critical social theory. London: Verso. Soja, E. 1996: Thirdspace: journeys to Los Angeles and other real-and-imagined places. Oxford and Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.

Suggested Reading Soja (1996), 53-82 .



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