"Hegel is an important philosopher; his penetrating analysis of the human predicament in modern society is perhaps unsurpassed among social observers of the past two centuries. At the same time, his thought is subtle and complex; his writings are difficult, even infuriating - laden with impenetrable and pretentious jargon from which his meaning can be separated only with skilled and careful surgery, even then usually not without risk of mortal injury.
The inevitable result is that Hegel is citted much more frequently than he is read, and discussed far oftener than he is understood. Some of those who discourse on Hegel with theh greatest sophistication know him only through warped, inaccurate or bowdlerized second-hand accounts (for instance, accounts of the Hegelian dialectic as 'thesis-antithesis-synthesis)."17
"17This particular triadic piece of jargon was actually used by both Fichte and Schelling (each for his own puposes), but to my knowledge it was never used, not even once, by Hegel. We owe this way of presenting the Hegelian dialectic to Heinrich Moritz Chalybäus, a bowdlerizer of German idealist philosophy (see G.E. Mueller, 'the Hegel Legend of 'Thesis-Antithesis-Synthesis', Journal of the History of Ideas 19 (1958), pp. 411-414. To use this jargon in expounding Hegel is almost always an unwitting confession that the expositor has little or no first-hand knowledge of Hegel."
The above passage and its footnote are taken from Allen W. Wood's introduction to G.W.F Hegel's Elements of the Philosophy of Right ed. Allen W. Wood (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) xxvii.
The problem with considering Hegel's dialectic in terms of the well known 'thesis-antithesis-synthesis' formulation is that it ignores the essentially organic nature of dialectic. It is reductionist to state that there are merely a thesis and its antithesis colliding and producing a new term which is synthesized of the first two. When considering the philosophy of world history (as Hegel is well known for), one must realize that the world is made up of a multiplicity of facets which each play their own part. The dialectic of world history is the interaction of all these facets, overlapping, conquering, subsiding, appearing and fading away. This is infinitely more complex than the 'thesis-antithesis-synthesis' concept can convey.