Dialectic, Rhetoric and Contrast: The Infinite Middle of Meaning

by Richard Boulton (St George’s, University of London; Kingston University)

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In a world in which differences divide more often than stand as points of relation, what we need urgently is to understand why. What is contrast? How does it function? What meanings do we make of the differences that we hold in common? A bold, original, and exquisitely written account of what lies between us, and why that matters.

-- Garnet C. Butchart, author of "Embodiment Relation, Community: A Continental Philosophy of Communication"
Department of Communication and Rhetorical Studies
Duquesne University.

By compiling an experimental method combining both dialectic and rhetoric, ‘Dialectic, Rhetoric and Contrast: The Infinite Middle of Meaning’ demonstrates how singular meanings can be rendered in a spectrum of 12 repeating concepts that are in a continuum, gradated and symmetrical. The ability to arrange meaning into this pattern opens enquiry into its ontology, and presents meaning as closer to the sensation of colours or musical notes than the bivalent oppositions depicted in classical logic. However, the experiment does not assert that this pattern suggests some sort of constant or absolute principle; instead, it theorises on the ways in which meaning can be considered to be recursive. To explain this, the book explores the concept of contrast itself. No exactitude on the precise existence of contrast can ever be struck because the answer varies infinitely depending upon the scale of measurement used to gauge the meeting point. This characteristic of contrast helps to define a whole new dimension from which sensation, meaning, cognition and consciousness can be analogised to the infinite forms between forms.

At a time when the widest consensus in philosophy is the exhaustion of its central themes, the significance of such a hypothesis provides fresh impetus to revise some of the key meanings and concepts underpinning contemporary thought. To do this, the method explores the opposing themes of idealism and realism that run throughout western philosophy from Plato to the Speculative turn.

This book will be of interest to professional academic audiences in the humanities and social sciences, from graduates to senior scholars. It will also be an interesting read to anyone wishing to keep abreast of developments in continental philosophy, epistemology, metaphysics, and the sociology of knowledge.


Chapter I Method
Dialectic and Rhetoric
Validating a Concept Spectrum

Chapter II Sense
The Absolute

Chapter III Essence
Patterns and Problems

Chapter IV Consequence
Mind and Body
The Individual
Rules and Exceptions


Richard Boulton teaches sociology in Kingston University and St George's, University of London, and is an alumnus of the Centre for Invention and Social Process, Goldsmiths College, University of London. His research interests include epistemology and theories of knowledge, and he has worked first-hand in disciplines across the divides of science, the social sciences and humanities. His work up to now has explored the boundaries of knowledge and the delineation of academic disciplines and their implementation in the ‘real’ world.

Existence, Being, Nothingness, Theory of everything, Semantics, Absolute, Life and death, Consciousness, Humanity

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Bibliographic Information

Book Title
Dialectic, Rhetoric and Contrast: The Infinite Middle of Meaning
Number of pages
Physical size
236mm x 160mm
21 B&W
Publication date
June 2021