John Atkinson posted an interesting article on Stereophile that might have been missed with the excitement over CES:A dialectic is a dialogue between two parties (who may have conflicting viewpoints) and yet wish to seek the truth of the matter through discussion and refinement of those ideas and view points. It is unlike a debate - in which both sides wish to win the debate either by persuading the other side that they are right, or proving the other side to be wrong. It is also not a rhetoric, which is designed to persuade an audience to side with their viewpoint.
An important characteristic of a dialectic is the ability to put up with contradictions - that there can be opposite viewpoints which are equally valid - whereas much of Anglo-American intellectual culture trends towards positivism. Hence, it is sometimes referred to as a "Continental" philosophy, but the culture of dialectical thought first flourished during the period of the "Hundred Schools of Thought" in China from 770BC to 220BC (which ended with the burning of books and burying of scholars by the Qin). Let's hope this dialectic does not end that way - but the thoughts and ideas discussed and refined in those days still profoundly influence lifestyles and society up till today.
It opens the Pandora's Box as he states:
So, does it make sense for Stereophile (or any of us) to still consider electronic measurements as an objective gauge of the quality any hifi component? I've always said that you can tell how lousy a loudspeaker sounds from its measurements, but measurements cannot tell you how good a loudspeaker sounds. We've had any number of objective/subjective food fights, so I am proposing a dialectic:After a quarter century of measuring the performance of audio components for this magazine, I'm not so sure that we have a firm handle on what makes audio products sound different from one another.
Discuss.Objective Measurements can tell us how bad a hifi component is, but it takes Subjective Judgement to tell us how good it is.