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Difference Between Thesis and Antithesis
• Categorized under Miscellaneous | Difference Between Thesis and Antithesis
Thesis and antithesis are literary techniques used to make a point during a debate or a lecture or discourse about a topic. The thesis is the theory or the definition of the point under discussion. Antithesis is the exact opposite of the point made in the thesis. Anti is a prefix meaning against. The antithesis therefore goes against the thesis to create an opposition effect. The antithesis creates a clash of ideas or opinions and is a rhetorical device used to sway the opinions of the reader. The two opposite statements highlight a point in literature, politics and other forums of debate. Hearing the two sides of an argument has to have more impact on the reader or listener. The two opposing ideas make the writer’s point more definite and obvious.
Definition of Thesis
The thesis is the beginning of the study or debate. It is the introduction to the topic. The thesis is the normal way of looking at the subject matter. The thesis is the accepted way of thinking or viewing an issue to be discussed or written about. It is often the theory that is presented by philosophers and usually believed by the majority. A thesis can be used in a written document or as a speech. The thesis study looks at the positive side of the topic to be presented or discussed. The subject matter is usually what readers consider normal. In a political context it may be what is seen as the status quo. Not necessarily the right situation for the times politically, but what has been the norm, and what has been established before change must take place.
Definition of Antithesis
The antithesis is the opposite or opposition to the thesis. Anti being the prefix, and when it is added to thesis, spells antithesis. Anti changes the meaning of the word thesis. Opposition or an opposing statement or word, is the role that the antithesis plays. The antithesis helps to bring out the reason behind a debate or an emotive statement. Looking at the opposing theme and comparing the thesis and the antithesis highlights the mental picture through the anti aspect of the word antithesis. For example, when Neil Armstrong told the world he had made one small step for man and a giant leap for mankind he used the normal step he took as the thesis, and used the antithesis as a giant leap to create the picture of how great this step was for mankind. This created a memorable image, and shows the enormity of the first man walking on the moon. Antithesis is a form of rhetoric and a useful way of persuading people and igniting emotional reactions. Antithesis has been used by writers and politicians to stir emotions and bring home an important point.
What is the connection between Thesis, Antithesis and synthesis?
Thesis, together with antithesis results in a synthesis, according to philosopher Hegel. Hegel’s dialectics is a philosophical method involving a contradictory series of events between opposing sides. He describes the thesis as being the starting point, the antithesis is the reaction and the synthesis is the outcome from the reaction. Karl Marx used this philosophy to explain how communism came about. According to Marx’s theory:
The thesis was capitalism, the way Russia was run at the time.
The antithesis was the Proletariat, the industrial workers and labor force, at that time. The Proletariat decided to revolt against the capitalists, because they were being exploited. This reaction is the antithesis, or the opposition.
The synthesis results from these two groups opposing one another and there is an outcome, a synthesis. The outcome is a new order of things and new relationships. The new order was Communism. I t was a direct result of the antithesis or political opposition. The connection is therefore between the perceived ‘normal’ or starting point against the opposition, the antithesis, to create a new order of doing things.
How is Thesis and Antithesis used in literary circles?
Dramatic effect and contrasts of character are created through an antithesis. The writer uses the normal character matched with the completely opposite character to create an understanding or the different personalities or the different environment. Snow White and the wicked queen, who is the stepmother, are a shining example of antithesis. Hamlet’’s soliloquy, to be or not to be, sums up his dilemma at the time and creates a confusion of thought. Charles Dickens uses this rhetorical technique in a Tale of Two Cities as he describes ‘It was the best of times and the worst of times,’ when chapter one begins. The reader is immediately drawn into the story and the upsetting times of the French Revolution that is the scene for the book.
How are Thesis and Antithesis used in the political arena?
Well known politicians have used thesis and antithesis in their propaganda and speeches to rouse their followers. The well known Gettysburg address, given by Abraham Lincoln, used the antithesis of little and long at Gettysburg at the dedication to national heroism. Lincoln said:
“The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.” This speech has gone down in history as one of the most important speeches and it has definitely been remembered.
Antithesis in a speech helps to advertise sentiments and rally crowds together due to its emotional power. Martin Luther King used antithesis to sway a crowd by saying unless people chose to live together as brothers they would surely perish as fools.
How does Thesis and Antithesis form part of a debate?
Formal debates make good use of the opposition concept brought about by the use of antithesis. The debate will start with the presentation of the thesis, followed by the antithesis and summed up in the synthesis. For example, a debate about eating meat could open with the points for eating meat. The next section of the debate argues for not eating meat and finally the points for and against could sum up eating meat, but as small portions of a persons dietary needs. The conflict of the argument comes between the thesis and the antithesis. The summary for the listeners to take away is the synthesis of the points made in the debate.
What makes Antithesis a rhetorical device?
The antithesis conjures up a more emotive response because of the opposition factor. Adding in the opposite or exaggerated form of a word in a statement makes more impact for the listener. In the event of a man walking on the moon, for example, this was not just a small event happening when a rocket went to the moon. No, this was a gigantic expedition to another planet. Whether it was intentional or not this statement has stood the test of time. It has become one of the most well known quotes highlighting a particular event. The clever use of the antithesis of a giant leap as part of the statement has made these words stand out in asthey marked this occasion. They bring the impact of these steps to the world as a great vision and achievement for mankind.
Chart to compare Thesis and Antithesis
Summary of thesis and antithesis:.
- Thesis and antithesis are literary devices that highlight themes or emotional rhetorical situations.
- Well known events, using thesis and antithesis, show how this form of rhetoric creates an emotional response from readers or audiences. Neil Armstrong’s comment upon landing and walking on the moon for the first time in history is a shining example.
- The use of thesis and antithesis in literature enable the author to give more emphasis to an event or a theme in a story or play.
- Karl Marx used the thesis, antithesis and conclusion of a synthesis, to explain the evolution of communism.
- Using this format in debate helps to understand how two opposing ideals, around one debatable topic, can help the speakers provide their arguments. The debate is then wrapped up in a synthesis of ideas and the conclusion of the debate leading to a consensus of opinion.
- When well known politicians make a statement using thesis and antithesis, the statement is more powerful. These rhetorical statements become part of our history and become famous for the impact they made using just a few words to express a life changing situation.
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Cite APA 7 Wither, C. (2020, November 23). Difference Between Thesis and Antithesis. Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects. http://www.differencebetween.net/miscellaneous/difference-between-thesis-and-antithesis/. MLA 8 Wither, Christina. "Difference Between Thesis and Antithesis." Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects, 23 November, 2020, http://www.differencebetween.net/miscellaneous/difference-between-thesis-and-antithesis/.
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What Is the Difference between Synthesis and Antithesis?
Synthesis and antithesis are two elements of a dialectic argument, the third being the original thesis. The difference between synthesis and antithesis is that antithesis is an idea in opposition to another, while a synthesis blends two opposing ideas together. Antithesis is likely to occur when a thesis is put forward, but synthesis is not guaranteed to happen unless both protagonists decide to compromise or someone decides to compromise for them.
One similarity between synthesis and antithesis is that neither can exist without a thesis to work from. Their relationship to the central thesis defines the differences between them. A thesis can be proposed in a letter, article or speech and sets out an idea and elaborates on it with examples and reason. The aim is to get readers and listeners to agree with the idea.
An example of a thesis came from St. Augustine of Hippo, a Roman theologian, who set out the idea of original sin. He believed that all babies were born sinful and would go to hell unless baptized. Even after baptism, all humans are still sinful without divine aid from God. He believed predestination and not good works decided if someone went to heaven or not.
The antithesis is a counter position to the thesis. It is set out in the same way in a speech or in written form and also attempts to persuade people to agree with it instead of the thesis. Pelagius, a British priest, proposed a counter idea to Augustine’s ideas on original sin. Pelagius believed that babies were born innocent and man could earn a place in heaven if he or she did good works and lived a good life.
One big difference between synthesis and antithesis is that while an antithesis is common in reaction to a thesis, the production of synthesis is not. Synthesis attempts to find common ground between two arguments. It insinuates that both the proponent of the thesis and the champion of the antithesis are willing to discuss the matter and reach a conclusion. This can be done by a third person or by the creators of the thesis and antithesis together.
Often this is not the case. With Augustine and Pelagius, neither, especially Augustine, was willing to compromise. The Church then ruled on the matter and found in favor of Augustine. This led to Pelagius being denounced as a heretic and hounded for the rest of his life. The Church ruled that there could be no synthesis and antithesis, just the thesis.
Once basic points of agreement are found, the synthesis then attempts to reconcile other elements of the thesis and antithesis. If the Catholic Church had forced Augustine and Pelagius to sit down and compromise, they would have formed a synthesis together. Pelagius might have agreed that man is sinful, but Augustine would have relented on babies, allowing an un-baptized baby to go to heaven and not hell.
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Persuasive Writing In Three Steps: Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis
April 14, 2021 by Ryan Law in
Great writing persuades. It persuades the reader that your product is right for them, that your process achieves the outcome they desire, that your opinion supersedes all other opinions. But spend an hour clicking around the internet and you’ll quickly realise that most content is passive, presenting facts and ideas without context or structure. The reader must connect the dots and create a convincing argument from the raw material presented to them. They rarely do, and for good reason: It’s hard work. The onus of persuasion falls on the writer, not the reader. Persuasive communication is a timeless challenge with an ancient solution. Zeno of Elea cracked it in the 5th century B.C. Georg Hegel gave it a lick of paint in the 1800s. You can apply it to your writing in three simple steps: thesis, antithesis, synthesis.
Use Dialectic to Find Logical Bedrock
“ Dialectic ” is a complicated-sounding idea with a simple meaning: It’s a structured process for taking two seemingly contradictory viewpoints and, through reasoned discussion, reaching a satisfactory conclusion. Over centuries of use the term has been burdened with the baggage of philosophy and academia. But at its heart, dialectics reflects a process similar to every spirited conversation or debate humans have ever had:
- Person A presents an idea: “We should travel to the Eastern waterhole because it’s closest to camp.”
- Person B disagrees and shares a counterargument: “I saw wolf prints on the Eastern trail, so we should go to the Western waterhole instead.”
- Person A responds to the counterargument , either disproving it or modifying their own stance to accommodate the criticism: “I saw those same wolf prints, but our party is large enough that the wolves won’t risk an attack.”
- Person B responds in a similar vein: “Ordinarily that would be true, but half of our party had dysentery last week so we’re not at full strength.”
- Person A responds: “They got dysentery from drinking at the Western waterhole.”
This process continues until conversational bedrock is reached: an idea that both parties understand and agree to, helped by the fact they’ve both been a part of the process that shaped it.
Dialectic is intended to help draw closer to the “truth” of an argument, tempering any viewpoint by working through and resolving its flaws. This same process can also be used to persuade.
Create Inevitability with Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis
The philosopher Georg Hegel is most famous for popularizing a type of dialectics that is particularly well-suited to writing: thesis, antithesis, synthesis (also known, unsurprisingly, as Hegelian Dialectic ).
- Thesis: Present the status quo, the viewpoint that is currently accepted and widely held.
- Antithesis: Articulate the problems with the thesis. (Hegel also called this phase “the negative.”)
- Synthesis: Share a new viewpoint (a modified thesis) that resolves the problems.
Hegel’s method focused less on the search for absolute truth and more on replacing old ideas with newer, more sophisticated versions . That, in a nutshell, is the same objective as much of content marketing (and particularly thought leadership content ): We’re persuading the reader that our product, processes, and ideas are better and more useful than the “old” way of doing things. Thesis, antithesis, synthesis (or TAS) is a persuasive writing structure because it:
- Reduces complex arguments into a simple three-act structure. Complicated, nuanced arguments are simplified into a clear, concise format that anyone can follow. This simplification reflects well on the author: It takes mastery of a topic to explain it in it the simplest terms.
- Presents a balanced argument by “steelmanning” the best objection. Strong, one-sided arguments can trigger reactance in the reader: They don’t want to feel duped. TAS gives voice to their doubts, addressing their best objection and “giv[ing] readers the chance to entertain the other side, making them feel as though they have come to an objective conclusion.”
- Creates a sense of inevitability. Like a story building to a satisfying conclusion, articles written with TAS take the reader on a structured, logical journey that culminates in precisely the viewpoint we wish to advocate for. Doubts are voiced, ideas challenged, and the conclusion reached feels more valid and concrete as a result.
There are two main ways to apply TAS to your writing: Use it beef up your introductions, or apply it to your article’s entire structure.
Writing Article Introductions with TAS
Take a moment to scroll back to the top of this article. If I’ve done my job correctly, you’ll notice a now familiar formula staring back at you: The first three paragraphs are built around Hegel’s thesis, antithesis, synthesis structure. Here’s what the introduction looked like during the outlining process . The first paragraph shares the thesis, the accepted idea that great writing should be persuasive:
Next up, the antithesis introduces a complicating idea, explaining why most content marketing isn’t all that persuasive:
Finally, the synthesis shares a new idea that serves to reconcile the two previous paragraphs: Content can be made persuasive by using the thesis, antithesis, synthesis framework. The meat of the article is then focused on the nitty-gritty of the synthesis.
Introductions are hard, but thesis, antithesis, synthesis offers a simple way to write consistently persuasive opening copy. In the space of three short paragraphs, the article’s key ideas are shared , the entire argument is summarised, and—hopefully—the reader is hooked.
Best of all, most articles—whether how-to’s, thought leadership content, or even list content—can benefit from Hegelian Dialectic , for the simple reason that every article introduction should be persuasive enough to encourage the reader to stick around.
Structuring Entire Articles with TAS
Harder, but most persuasive, is to use thesis, antithesis, synthesis to structure your entire article. This works best for thought leadership content. Here, your primary objective is to advocate for a new idea and disprove the old, tired way of thinking—exactly the use case Hegel intended for his dialectic. It’s less useful for content that explores and illustrates a process, because the primary objective is to show the reader how to do something (like this article—otherwise, I would have written the whole darn thing using the framework). Arjun Sethi’s article The Hive is the New Network is a great example.
The article’s primary purpose is to explain why the “old” model of social networks is outmoded and offer a newer, better framework. (It would be equally valid—but less punchy—to publish this with the title “ Why the Hive is the New Network.”) The thesis, antithesis, synthesis structure shapes the entire article:
- Thesis: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram grew by creating networks “that brought existing real-world relationships online.”
- Antithesis: As these networks grow, the less useful they become, skewing towards bots, “celebrity, meme and business accounts.”
- Synthesis: To survive continued growth, these networks need to embrace a new structure and become hives.
With the argument established, the vast majority of the article is focused on synthesis. After all, it requires little elaboration to share the status quo in a particular situation, and it’s relatively easy to point out the problems with a given idea. The synthesis—the solution that needs to reconcile both thesis and antithesis—is the hardest part to tackle and requires the greatest word count. Throughout the article, Arjun is systematically addressing the “best objections” to his theory and demonstrating why the “Hive” is the best solution:
- Antithesis: Why now? Why didn’t Hives emerge in the first place?
- Thesis: We were limited by technology, but today, we have the necessary infrastructure: “We’re no longer limited to a broadcast radio model, where one signal is received by many nodes. ...We sync with each other instantaneously, and all the time.”
- Antithesis: If the Hive is so smart, why aren’t our brightest and best companies already embracing it?
- Thesis: They are, and autonomous cars are a perfect example: “Why are all these vastly different companies converging on the autonomous car? That’s because for these companies, it’s about platform and hive, not just about roads without drivers.”
It takes bravery to tackle objections head-on and an innate understanding of the subject matter to even identify objections in the first place, but the effort is worthwhile. The end result is a structured journey through the arguments for and against the “Hive,” with the reader eventually reaching the same conclusion as the author: that “Hives” are superior to traditional networks.
Persuasion isn’t about cajoling or coercing the reader. Statistics and anecdotes alone aren’t all that persuasive. Simply sharing a new idea and hoping that it will trigger an about-turn in the reader’s beliefs is wishful thinking. Instead, you should take the reader on a journey—the same journey you travelled to arrive at your newfound beliefs, whether it’s about the superiority of your product or the zeitgeist-changing trend that’s about to break. Hegelian Dialectic—thesis, antithesis, synthesis— is a structured process for doing precisely that. It contextualises your ideas and explains why they matter. It challenges the idea and strengthens it in the process. Using centuries-old processes, it nudges the 21st-century reader onto a well-worn path that takes them exactly where they need to go.
Ryan is the CMO at Animalz, an agency that provides high-end content marketing solutions to SaaS and tech companies.
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In philosophy, the triad of thesis, antithesis, synthesis (German: These, Antithese, Synthese; originally: Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis) is a progression of three ideas or propositions. The first idea, the thesis, is a formal statement illustrating a point; it is followed by the second idea, the antithesis, that contradicts or negates the first; and lastly, the third idea, the synthesis, resolves the conflict between the thesis and antithesis. It is often used to explain the dialectical method of German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, but Hegel never used the terms himself; instead his triad was concrete, abstract, absolute. The thesis, antithesis, synthesis triad actually originated with Johann Fichte.
1. History of the Idea
Thomas McFarland (2002), in his Prolegomena to Coleridge's Opus Maximum , [ 1 ] identifies Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason (1781) as the genesis of the thesis/antithesis dyad. Kant concretises his ideas into:
- Thesis: "The world has a beginning in time, and is limited with regard to space."
- Antithesis: "The world has no beginning and no limits in space, but is infinite, in respect to both time and space."
Inasmuch as conjectures like these can be said to be resolvable, Fichte's Grundlage der gesamten Wissenschaftslehre ( Foundations of the Science of Knowledge , 1794) resolved Kant's dyad by synthesis, posing the question thus: [ 1 ]
- No synthesis is possible without a preceding antithesis. As little as antithesis without synthesis, or synthesis without antithesis, is possible; just as little possible are both without thesis.
Fichte employed the triadic idea "thesis–antithesis–synthesis" as a formula for the explanation of change. [ 2 ] Fichte was the first to use the trilogy of words together, [ 3 ] in his Grundriss des Eigentümlichen der Wissenschaftslehre, in Rücksicht auf das theoretische Vermögen (1795, Outline of the Distinctive Character of the Wissenschaftslehre with respect to the Theoretical Faculty ): "Die jetzt aufgezeigte Handlung ist thetisch, antithetisch und synthetisch zugleich." ["The action here described is simultaneously thetic, antithetic, and synthetic." [ 4 ] ]
Still according to McFarland, Schelling then, in his Vom Ich als Prinzip der Philosophie (1795), arranged the terms schematically in pyramidal form.
According to Walter Kaufmann (1966), although the triad is often thought to form part of an analysis of historical and philosophical progress called the Hegelian dialectic, the assumption is erroneous: [ 5 ]
Whoever looks for the stereotype of the allegedly Hegelian dialectic in Hegel's Phenomenology will not find it. What one does find on looking at the table of contents is a very decided preference for triadic arrangements. ... But these many triads are not presented or deduced by Hegel as so many theses, antitheses, and syntheses. It is not by means of any dialectic of that sort that his thought moves up the ladder to absolute knowledge.
Gustav E. Mueller (1958) concurs that Hegel was not a proponent of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis, and clarifies what the concept of dialectic might have meant in Hegel's thought. [ 6 ]
"Dialectic" does not for Hegel mean "thesis, antithesis, and synthesis." Dialectic means that any "ism" – which has a polar opposite, or is a special viewpoint leaving "the rest" to itself – must be criticized by the logic of philosophical thought, whose problem is reality as such, the "World-itself".
According to Mueller, the attribution of this tripartite dialectic to Hegel is the result of "inept reading" and simplistic translations which do not take into account the genesis of Hegel's terms:
Hegel's greatness is as indisputable as his obscurity. The matter is due to his peculiar terminology and style; they are undoubtedly involved and complicated, and seem excessively abstract. These linguistic troubles, in turn, have given rise to legends which are like perverse and magic spectacles – once you wear them, the text simply vanishes. Theodor Haering's monumental and standard work has for the first time cleared up the linguistic problem. By carefully analyzing every sentence from his early writings, which were published only in this century, he has shown how Hegel's terminology evolved – though it was complete when he began to publish. Hegel's contemporaries were immediately baffled, because what was clear to him was not clear to his readers, who were not initiated into the genesis of his terms. An example of how a legend can grow on inept reading is this: Translate "Begriff" by "concept," "Vernunft" by "reason" and "Wissenschaft" by "science" – and they are all good dictionary translations – and you have transformed the great critic of rationalism and irrationalism into a ridiculous champion of an absurd pan-logistic rationalism and scientism. The most vexing and devastating Hegel legend is that everything is thought in "thesis, antithesis, and synthesis." [ 7 ]
Karl Marx (1818–1883) and Friedrich Engels (1820–1895) adopted and extended the triad, especially in Marx's The Poverty of Philosophy (1847). Here, in Chapter 2, Marx is obsessed by the word "thesis"; [ 8 ] it forms an important part of the basis for the Marxist theory of history. [ 9 ]
2. Writing Pedagogy
In modern times, the dialectic of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis has been implemented across the world as a strategy for organizing expositional writing. For example, this technique is taught as a basic organizing principle in French schools: [ 10 ]
The French learn to value and practice eloquence from a young age. Almost from day one, students are taught to produce plans for their compositions, and are graded on them. The structures change with fashions. Youngsters were once taught to express a progression of ideas. Now they follow a dialectic model of thesis-antithesis-synthesis. If you listen carefully to the French arguing about any topic they all follow this model closely: they present an idea, explain possible objections to it, and then sum up their conclusions. ... This analytical mode of reasoning is integrated into the entire school corpus.
Thesis, Antithesis, and Synthesis has also been used as a basic scheme to organize writing in the English language. For example, the website WikiPreMed.com advocates the use of this scheme in writing timed essays for the MCAT standardized test: [ 11 ]
For the purposes of writing MCAT essays, the dialectic describes the progression of ideas in a critical thought process that is the force driving your argument. A good dialectical progression propels your arguments in a way that is satisfying to the reader. The thesis is an intellectual proposition. The antithesis is a critical perspective on the thesis. The synthesis solves the conflict between the thesis and antithesis by reconciling their common truths, and forming a new proposition.
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Opus Maximum. Princeton University Press, 2002, p. 89.
- Harry Ritter, Dictionary of Concepts in History. Greenwood Publishing Group (1986), p.114
- Williams, Robert R. (1992). Recognition: Fichte and Hegel on the Other. SUNY Press. p. 46, note 37.
- Fichte, Johann Gottlieb; Breazeale, Daniel (1993). Fichte: Early Philosophical Writings. Cornell University Press. p. 249.
- Walter Kaufmann (1966). "§ 37". Hegel: A Reinterpretation. Anchor Books. ISBN 978-0-268-01068-3. OCLC 3168016. https://archive.org/details/hegelreinterpret00kauf.
- Mueller, Gustav (1958). "The Hegel Legend of "Thesis-Antithesis-Synthesis"". Journal of the History of Ideas 19 (4): 411–414. doi:10.2307/2708045. https://dx.doi.org/10.2307%2F2708045
- Mueller 1958, p. 411.
- marxists.org: Chapter 2 of "The Poverty of Philosophy", by Karl Marx https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1847/poverty-philosophy/ch02.htm
- Shrimp, Kaleb (2009). "The Validity of Karl Marx's Theory of Historical Materialism". Major Themes in Economics 11 (1): 35–56. https://scholarworks.uni.edu/mtie/vol11/iss1/5/. Retrieved 13 September 2018.
- Nadeau, Jean-Benoit; Barlow, Julie (2003). Sixty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong: Why We Love France But Not The French. Sourcebooks, Inc.. p. 62. https://archive.org/details/sixtymillionfren00nade_041.
- "The MCAT writing assignment.". Wisebridge Learning Systems, LLC. http://www.wikipremed.com/mcat_essay.php. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
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- J Indian Soc Periodontol
- v.16(2); Apr-Jun 2012
Thesis, antithesis, and synthesis in periodontal and systemic interlink
K. r. akshata.
Department of Periodontology, AECS Maaruti College of Dental Sciences and Research Centre, Bangalore, Karnataka, India
Ashish s. nichani.
The theory of focal infection, which was promulgated during the 19 th and early 20 th centuries, stated that "foci" of sepsis were responsible for the initiation and progression of a variety of inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, peptic ulcers, and appendicitis. In the oral cavity, therapeutic edentulation was common as a result of the popularity of the focal infection theory. Since many teeth were extracted without evidence of infection, thereby providing no relief of symptoms, the theory was discredited and largely ignored for many years. Recent progress in classification and identification of oral microorganisms and the realization that certain microorganisms are normally found only in the oral cavity have opened the way for a more realistic assessment of the importance of oral focal infection. It has become increasingly clear that the oral cavity can act as the site of origin for dissemination of pathogenic organisms to distant body sites, especially in immunocompromised hosts such as patients suffering from malignancies, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or in patients undergoing other immunosuppressive treatment. A number of epidemiological studies have suggested that oral infection, especially periodontitis, may be a risk factor for systemic diseases.
It is estimated that 10 14 normal or commensal microbes reside on the surfaces of teeth, prosthetic implants, dentures, dental restorations, and the mucosal epithelia lining the oral cavity, respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract, and urinary tract. The oral cavity contains almost half the commensal bacteria in the human body – approximately 6 billion microbes representing 300–500 species In certain conditions, some of these microorganisms may become opportunistic species that contribute to local and/or systemic infections. It is known that the oral microbial ecosystem is highly dynamic and the oral cavity faces a constant challenge of opportunistic infections and various oral complications of systemic diseases and disorders.[ 1 ]
In some ways, periodontal diseases are among the most unusual human infections. The major reason for this uniqueness is the unusual anatomic feature that the tooth passes through the integument, so that part of it is exposed to the external environment while part is solidly rooted in the connective tissues. In contrast to the outer surface of most parts of the body, the outer layers of the tooth do not shed and thus provide a relatively stable surface for microbial colonization.[ 2 ] This facilitates microorganisms maintaining continuous immediate proximity to the periodontal tissues. Furthermore, the tooth surface and the attached microorganisms are immersed in an aqueous environment, where any bacterial infection is less able to be controlled by the potent mechanisms of host defenses and antimicrobial therapy.[ 1 ]
In advanced stages of periodontitis, the gums markedly separate from the teeth. Continuing destruction of the periodontal attachment and deep periodontal pockets may develop with significant loss of tooth-supporting tissues and alveolar bone. Under these conditions, the thin, highly permeable, and frequently ulcerated pocket epithelium is the only barrier between the bacterial biofilms and the underlying connective tissues. It is apparent that in the presence of uncontrolled advanced periodontitis, microbial-induced infection presents a substantial infectious burden for the entire body by releasing bacteria, bacterial toxins, and other inflammatory mediators into the bloodstream that then affect the other parts of the body. This notion represents a paradigm shift in thinking about the directionality of oral and systemic associations.[ 3 ]
THESIS, ANTITHESIS, AND SYNTHESIS
The triad thesis, antithesis , and synthesis is often used to describe the thought of German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Hegel never used the term himself, and almost all of his biographers have been eager to discredit it.
The triad is usually described in the following way:
- The thesis is an intellectual proposition
- The antithesis is simply the negation of the thesis, a reaction to the proposition
- The synthesis solves the conflict between the thesis and antithesis by reconciling their common truths and forming a new proposition.
“ Oral health is not an independent entity cut off from the rest of the body. Rather, it is woven deeply into the fabric of overall health .”
What researchers are trying to determine is whether oral health is woven into that fabric with paper or steel threads.[ 4 ] The foundation of our knowledge of periodontal disease(s) is not the product of a linear chronology of events, but rather a bringing together of theories, discoveries, and advances that have occurred in parallel.
Specifically, what is the relationship between periodontal disease and systemic diseases?
There are three possibilities: 1) Thesis/association : Periodontitis is a cause for systemic disease – along with many others – showing the patient is at an increased risk, but with no causation, 2) antithesis/no relationship : periodontal disease and systemic disease are random concomitant occurrence/happen stances or coincidences, and 3) synthesis : a causal relationship requiring intervention; periodontitis is a contributing cause that initiates or aggravates systemic diseases [ Figure 1 ].
Relationship between periodontal disease and systemic disease: thesis, antithesis, and synthesis
A careful review of the medical literature indicates the belief that conditions affecting the mouth could have implications on peripheral tissues and organs [Tables [Tables1 1 – 3 ].[ 5 – 9 ]
Relationship of mouth to body during the ancient civilization
Relationship of mouth to body during the modern times
Relationship of mouth to body during the middle ages
Frank Billings defined a focus of infection as a “circumscribed area of tissue infected with pathogenic organisms.” He said that the term focal infection implied: 1) that such a focus or lesion of infection existed; 2) that the infection was bacterial in nature; and 3) that as such it was capable of dissemination, resulting in systemic infection of other contiguous or noncontiguous parts.[ 10 ]
William Hunter stated that the degree of systemic effect produced by oral sepsis depended on the virulence of the infection and individual's resistance, and also that oral organisms had specific action on different tissues and that these microbes acted by producing toxins, resulting in low-grade “subinfection,” which produced systemic effects for prolonged periods [ Table 4 ]. Finally, Hunter believed that the connection between oral sepsis and the resulting systemic conditions could be shown by removal of the causative sepsis through extraction and observation of improvement systemically.[ 11 ] This theory was widely accepted in Britain and USA. Many patients became edentulous as a result of the (unnecessary) removal of teeth [ Figure 2 ].[ 6 ]
Focal infections leading to acute systemic disease noted by Dr. Billings in 1912
Advertisement for treatment of focal infection during the 1920s
There is no good scientific evidence to support the theory that removal of infected teeth would relieve or cure arthritis, rheumatic heart disease, and kidney, eye, skin, or other disorders [ Table 5 ].
Theories/evidence against focal infection theory
An editorial in The Dental Cosmos in 1930 suggested that the concept of the mouth causing all or most human illness was irrational. It called for a return to constructive rather than destructive treatment .[ 12 ]
By 1950s, an issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association stated: “Many authorities who formally felt that focal infection was an important etiologic factor in systemic disease have become skeptical and now recommend less radical procedures in the treatment of such disorders.”[ 12 ]
The application of the focal infection theory eventually fell from scientific favor for many reasons including the following:
- Improvement in dental care
- Advent of antibiotics
- Small percent of “cures”
- Inability of science to prove the value of the theory
- Eventual unfavorable reaction to the “orgy” of dental extractions and tonsillectomies
- Inability to replicate the experiments of its advocates
- Occasional exacerbation of the disease by the removal of the focus
- Lack of controlled clinical trials
By the middle of the 20 th century, medicine and dentistry concluded that medical surgery and tooth extraction had no effect on ending the ills.
It was not until the last decade of the 20 th century that dentistry and medicine again began to consider the role of oral diseases, such as periodontal disease, as a contributor to the risk for certain systemic diseases.
This link between periodontal and systemic disease came to the forefront in the late 1980s, when preliminary research in dental journals identified systemic diseases also seen in those with periodontal disease.[ 13 ] By the 1990s, the term periodontal medicine was seen in the literature. It was observed that the periodontitis-plagued may also have cardiovascular disease (CVD), premature labor, and delivery (DeStefano et al ., 1993; Offenbacher et al ., 1996; Beck et al ., 1996).[ 14 ] In the early 2000s, dentists were being instructed to warn their patients that these systemic diseases may worsen when they have periodontal disease.
CURRENT STATUS OF THE PERIODONTAL AND SYSTEMIC DISEASES CONNECTION
To date, findings from recent studies, mostly epidemiological studies, support an association between periodontal infection, with particular emphasis on chronic periodontitis, and a number of clinically important systemic diseases [ Figure 3 ].[ 15 – 18 ] These include CVD (Beck and Offenbacher, 2005), respiratory disease (Scannapieco and Ho, 2001), diabetes (Taylor et al ., 1996), adverse pregnancy outcomes (Xiong et al ., 2006), pancreatic cancer (Michaud et al ., 2007), Alzheimer's disease (Kamer et al ., 2008), and other systemic conditions, which continue to appear in the literature. However, to date, a direct causal role of periodontal infection in the development and or/progression of systemic diseases is not established (Hujoel et al . 2001; Friedewald et al . 2009).
Periodontal infection and systemic conditions – Potential linkage and possible pathogenic mechanisms
GENERAL MECHANISMS CONNECTING PERIODONTAL AND SYSTEMIC DISEASES
To better understand this association, a number of hypotheses have been proposed (Paquette, 2002; Seymour et al ., 2007)[ 19 , 20 ]
- Common susceptibility to both oral infection and systemic diseases through shared risk factors: This common susceptibility can be mediated through genetic or environmental factors such as age, smoking, and socioeconomic status. According to this hypothesis, periodontal disease is associated with systemic diseases, but the relationship is not causal.
- Systemic inflammation with heightened levels of circulating inflammatory biomediators in response to the local infection or circulating bacteria: According to this hypothesis, periodontal infection induces systemic inflammation and immune responses that may play a causal role in systemic disease.
- Systemic dissemination of oral bacteria (i.e. bacteremia) and/or their products: According to this hypothesis, periodontal infection causes bacteremia and endotoxemias which may subsequently play a causal role in systemic diseases.
- Cross-reactivity between bacterial and host heat-shock proteins: According to this hypothesis, the immune system does not discriminate between host and bacterial heat-shock proteins, and thus results in an autoimmune response that may contribute to the progression or development of systemic diseases.
Periodontal disease and coronary heart disease/atherosclerosis and stroke
CVDs are a group of diseases that include congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease (including atherosclerosis and myocardial infarction), valvular heart disease, and stroke. Among these, atherosclerosis, a major component of cardiovascular diseases, is characterized by the deposition of atherosclerotic plaques on the innermost layer of walls of large- and medium-sized arteries. End-stage outcomes associated with atherosclerosis include coronary thrombosis, myocardial infarction, and stroke. Several mechanisms that could explain this association have been investigated. The host response to the presence of periodontal pathogens may trigger the production of inflammatory mediators such as C-reactive protein, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), interleukin (IL)-1β, and IL-6, which can accelerate the progression of pre-existing atherosclerotic plaques and are related to an increased number of adverse cardiovascular events. Also, several studies demonstrated the ability of periodontal pathogens to induce platelet aggregation and the formation of atheroma.[ 21 , 22 ]
Myocardial infarction (MI) has been associated with acute systemic bacterial and viral infections.[ 23 ] A systematic review published in 2003 (Scannapieco et al ., 2003) studied the evidence supporting the association between periodontal disease (PD) and CVD. Thirty-one human studies were selected. The authors concluded that periodontal disease may be modestly associated with atherosclerosis, MI, and cardiovascular events. In cross-sectional studies of patients with acute MI or confirmed CHD compared with control patients, MI patients had significantly worse dental health (periodontitis) than the controls ( Janket et al ., 2003, Mattila et al ., 1989, 1993). This association between poor oral health and MI was independent of known risk factors for heart disease such as age, cholesterol levels, hypertension, diabetes, and smoking. Cross-sectional studies thus suggest a possible link between periodontal disease and CHD.
The established risk factors do not fully account for the risk of stroke. Periodontitis is associated with elevated markers of inflammation that are themselves indicators of stroke risk. Armin et al ., 2004, Joshipura et al ., 2003, Morrison et al ., 1999, and Wu et al ., 2000, found significant associations between stroke and periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease and diabetes mellitus
Diabetes is a group of metabolic diseases characterized by hyperglycemia and results from either a deficiency in the secretion of insulin and/or reduced insulin action.[ 21 ] The interrelationship between diabetes and periodontal disease is established through a number of pathways and is bidirectional. One of the mechanisms to explain the relationship between diabetes mellitus and periodontal disease suggests that the presence of periodontal disease may induce or perpetuate a state of chronic systemic inflammation, as demonstrated by the increase in the C-reactive protein, IL-6, IL-1, and fibrinogen levels found in individuals with periodontitis. Periodontal infection may elevate the state of systemic inflammation and exacerbate the resistance to insulin, as the inflammatory process induces this resistance. Furthermore, it may induce increased levels of IL-6 and TNF-α, which is similar to obesity inducing or exacerbating the resistance to insulin.[ 24 ]
Diabetes increases the risk for and severity of periodontal diseases and periodontal disease is considered as the sixth complication of diabetes.[ 25 ] The synergism between diabetes and periodontal disease has been demonstrated in a number of studies. It has been made clear that effective periodontal treatment can improve some complications of diabetes, especially hyperglycemia, and that severe periodontitis is associated with poor blood sugar control. Periodontal treatment improves blood sugar control, especially in individuals with type 2 diabetes, and its association with low glycated hemoglobin levels has been demonstrated. In a longitudinal study (Taylor et al . 1996) of patients with type 2 (non–insulin-dependent) diabetes, severe periodontitis was associated with significant worsening of glycemic control over time. Periodontal treatment designed to decrease the bacterial insult and reduce inflammation might restore insulin sensitivity over time, resulting in improved metabolic control (Mealey 1996, 1999).
Periodontal disease and pregnancy outcome
It has been observed that oral infections may increase the risk of low birth weight (LBW). LBW is defined, according to the international definition established by the World Health Organisation in 1976, as a birth weight lower than 2500 g.
The etiology of preterm birth (PB) is multifactorial, but inflammation is the common pathway that leads to uterine contractions and cervical changes with or without premature rupture of membranes. Inflammation associated with PB can be mainly attributable to intrauterine infection and bacterial vaginosis, and the latter accounts for up to 40% of the cases of spontaneous preterm labor and PB. There is also a causal relationship between bacterial vaginosis and PB and the presence of significantly higher levels of proinflammatory cytokines and prostaglandins in the amniotic fluid.[ 26 ] Biological plausibility of the link between both conditions, periodontal disease and PB, does exist and can be summarized in three potential pathways. One of them refers to the hematogenous dissemination of inflammatory products from a periodontal infection, while the second potential pathway involves the fetomaternal immune response to oral pathogens. The third pathway proposed to explain the theoretical causal relationship between periodontal disease and PB involves bacteremia from an oral infection.
In 2007, Vergnes and Sixou published a systematic review where they concluded that PD may be an independent risk factor of PB or LBW. Association does not imply causation, and it seems important to consider the possibility that there is some underlying mechanism causing both PD and adverse pregnancy outcomes.[ 27 ]
Periodontal disease and respiratory infections
Respiratory diseases is the term for diseases of the respiratory system, including lung, pleural cavity, bronchial tubes, trachea, and upper respiratory tract. They range from a common cold to life-threatening conditions such as bacterial pneumonia or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which are important causes of death worldwide.[ 21 ] There is increasing evidence that a poor oral health can predispose to respiratory diseases, especially in high-risk patients (nursing home residents, older subjects, intensive care unit patients, and hospitalized individuals requiring mechanical ventilation). The oral cavity is contiguous with the trachea and may be a portal for respiratory pathogen colonization. Dental plaque can be colonized by respiratory pathogens, which may be aspirated from the oropharynx into the upper airway and then reach the lower airway and adhere to bronchial or alveolar epithelium.
In 2003, Scannapieco et al . conducted a systematic literature review to examine whether the rate of pneumonia in high-risk populations is reduced by interventions that improve oral hygiene. They found an association between periodontal disease and pneumonia and a potential association between periodontal disease and COPD in several studies.[ 28 ]
INTEGRATION OF PERIODONTAL MEDICINE IN CLINICAL PRACTICE
The concept of periodontal diseases as localized entities affecting only the teeth and supporting structures is oversimplified and in need of revision. Rather than being confined to the periodontium, periodontal diseases may have wide-ranging systemic effects. In most persons, these effects may be relatively inconsequential or at least not clinically evident. In susceptible individuals, however, periodontal infection may act as a risk factor or may be involved in the basic pathogenic mechanisms of these conditions. Furthermore, periodontal disease may exacerbate existing systemic disorders. Patient education is a priority. In the realm of periodontal medicine, patient education must emphasize the nature of periodontal infections, the increased risk for systemic disease associated, and the biologically plausible role periodontal infection may play in systemic disease. Most reliable origin of information should be the dental and medical professionals through daily contact with patients. Increased appreciation of the potential effects of periodontal infection on systemic health may result in increased patient demand for periodontal evaluation.
Source of Support: Nil
Conflict of Interest: None declared
Thesis, antithesis, synthesis
This simple model for the progression of ideas is sometimes called a dialectic. It has many philosophical roots, but regardless it’s a nice way to think of how ideas, and perhaps society can progress. Something is created or put forward. It has some benefits but gives rise to negative effects and somehow we figure out a resolution as progress. That new solution then becomes the basis for the next step.
In engineering I learned that we progress by the resolution of contradictions. As a very simple example, it’s nice to have a walking stick. But a full-length walking stick is difficult to transport. You want it to be long when you’re walking, and short when you’re traveling with it. So we invent retractable ones. But retractable ones break more easily, so we invent…to be determined.
You also see a similar idea in stories, for example, the story spine .
It’s sometimes erroneously called Hegel’s dialectic, perhaps partly because Hegel’s work was sometimes so difficult to grasp and this is nicely simple.
You’re welcome to use and share this image and text for non-commercial purposes with attribution. Go wild! See licence
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Thesis -- Antithesis -- Synthesis
"What is rational is real and what is real is rational." -- Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
- Media Planning
“What is rational is real and what is real is rational.” –Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
The early 19th century German philosopher, Georg W.F. Hegel is best known for his system of inquiry into the nature of reality. This system is called the dialectic. Now, reading Hegel will confirm some of your worst nightmares about delving into philosophical writing. His work likely made his own contemporaries’ eyes glaze over.
Simply put, the dialectical method involves the notion that the form of historical movement (process or progress), is the result of conflicting opposites. This area of Hegel’s thought has been broken down in terms of the categories of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. Hegel’s philosophy of history embraces the concept that a conflict of opposites is a struggle between actual and potential worlds.
A thesis can be seen as a single idea. The idea contains a form of incompleteness that gives rise to the antithesis, a conflicting idea. A third point of view, a synthesis, arises from this conflict. It overcomes the conflict by reconciling the truths contained in the thesis and antithesis at a higher level. The synthesis is a new thesis. It generates a new antithesis, and the process continues until truth is arrived at.
“Thanks for the philosophy lesson, Poindexter, but why are you wasting my time talking about all this longheaded mumbo jumbo?” some of you are saying. Others may be saying something more mean-spirited that can’t be printed here. And a select few of you are probably looking for a pack of clove cigarettes and the nearest café to go sit at and revisit your college days, a copy of “Being and Time” sitting heavily on the table next to your latte.
Well, what got me thinking about this is the ongoing debate about whether online marketing is a direct response or a branding tool.
Now, I’ve written about this before here and elsewhere, and some of you may have heard me comment on the subject recently. But the debate is still raging. I thought that perhaps putting it in terms of thesis/antithesis, we might come to a synthesis that can take us to the next level.
I’d say that most readers, it is hoped, have come to a position that is already at the stage of synthesis — that is, you believe the medium accommodates both direct response and branding objectives.
The majority of activity in the online advertising space is direct response. A little over 80 percent of advertisers still use the medium specifically for direct response objectives. Advertisers in the space are still looking for a causal relationship between the advertising activity they are committing and revenue yielded as a result. Not that all advertisers don’t want this to some degree with their advertising, but traditionally the big boys understand that advertising is a more sublime endeavor that works over time.
The problem is that direct response can accomplish only so much in serving as a direct sales channel. At best, it is an ancillary means of sales and distribution. What do you do when you want to expand beyond the market of drunks, insomniacs, unemployed, and impulse purchasers that late-night TV and banner-ads has to offer?
We arrive at branding. The roster of advertisers many publishers are starting to sign these days is beginning to read more like those found in offline media. Traditional advertisers are finding their way to the Web, and it isn’t because they are hoping to get users to click and buy online. It is because the branding capabilities of the medium are being demonstrated. Advertisers interested in branding are getting involved as a result.
There is a third concept, a synthesis, which comes out of the conflict between direct response and branding. It is an idea that to some extent brings these two together. It is “engagement branding.”
The term comes from David Yoder, erstwhile media maven who retired from Andersen & Lembke a few years back. I don’t know whether he visualized the meaning of the term exactly as I’m using it, but the idea is something like this:
Branding is traditionally a “lean back” experience, a passive state of being awash in moods and tones tied to sound, motion, and images, which work in concert to elicit an emotional response from an audience that will connect with a given product or service.
Direct response is more of a “lean forward” experience, especially in the online space, where an audience is asked to actively submit to a call to action.
Engagement branding brings these two ideas together, allowing for the rhetorical exercise of convincing an individual that by interacting with a given product or service, she will alter her relationship with the world around her in a positive, meaningful way. It allows users to satisfy that need within the confines of the medium.
Online marketing brings direct response and branding concepts together and allows them to be something more than the sum of their parts.
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Thesis, antithesis, synthesis
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The triad thesis, antithesis, synthesis is often used to describe the thought of German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel . Hegel never used the term himself, and almost all of his biographers have been eager to discredit it.
The triad is usually described in the following way:
- The thesis is an intellectual proposition.
- The antithesis is simply the negation of the thesis, a reaction to the proposition.
- The synthesis solves the conflict between the thesis and antithesis by reconciling their common truths, and forming a new proposition.
According to Walter Kaufmann, although the triad is often  thought to form part of an analysis of historical and philosophical progress called the Hegelian dialectic , the assumption is erroneous. Hegel used this classification only once, and he attributed the terminology to Immanuel Kant . The terminology was largely developed earlier by the neo-Kantian Johann Gottlieb Fichte , also an advocate of the philosophy identified as German idealism .
The triad is often said to have been extended and adopted by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels , however, Marx referred to them in The Poverty of Philosophy as speaking Greek and "Wooden trichotomies".
See also [ ]
- The Phenomenology of Spirit
- Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences - the first volume may be the most helpful to someone trying to grasp Hegel's thinking
- Heinrich Moritz Chalybäus
References [ ]
- ↑ Walter Kaufmann (1966). "§ 37" Hegel: A Reinterpretation , Anchor Books . "Whoever looks for the stereotype of the allegedly Hegelian dialectic in Hegel's Phenomenology will not find it. What one does find on looking at the table of contents is a very decided preference for triadic arrangements. ... But these many triads are not presented or deduced by Hegel as so many theses, antitheses, and syntheses. It is not by means of any dialectic of that sort that his thought moves up the ladder to absolute knowledge."
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