IDM Practica in Dialectical Thinking

When it comes to acquiring developmental and dialectical thinking, “philosophies of the mind”, “theories”, and “world views” are insufficient. They are all abstractions that can be moved around like pieces of furniture, and in dazzling ways. What matters are PRACTICES based on them, and such practices require METHODS. The Constructive Developmental Framework (CDF), which includes DTF, the Dialectical Thought Form Framework, is a set of practices and associated methods. They have little to with “adult developmental theories” and “developmental models” in the conventional sense, although they synthesize and refine the latter for greater evidential power and effectiveness in real time work. Practically speaking, CDF and DTF are TOOL SETS people learn by doing, viz., working as members of a cohort in IDM workshops.

In addition to long-term (1-2 year) case study workshops, beginning in 2022 IDM also offers shorter-term, ten session (15 hour) Practica. These Practica are attended by up to 10 participants working together for up to 6 months, to acquire a professional grounding in the practice of dialectical thinking and developmental coaching. Applications of this practice are found in areas such as permaculture, city planning, ecological rewilding, architectural design, art making, not solely organizational or institutional work.

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Dialectical thinking is a quintessential human technology that enables the inclusion and reversal of purely logical thinking for the benefit of a broader and deeper view of the real world and its possibilities. In such thinking, often called ‘critical thinking’ or ‘meta-thinking’, we go beyond a purely logical understanding of things, and discover that any concept we use is located at the center of a four-dimensional conceptual network through which we can apprehend the world in a much broader way than is otherwise possible. Accordingly, we can also ACT more circumspectly and assess our chances and projects more realistically.

Dialectical thinking has received a new license on life through the introduction, in 2008, of Otto Laske’s DTF (Dialectical Thought Form Framework). Whether used for analyzing, listening, inquiring, dialoguing, or (self-) reflecting, the thought forms DTF comprises are real-time tools everybody can learn by practicing awareness of him- or herself as an unceasingly thinking speaker functioning in real time: DTF takes dialectical thinking “off the page” and brings it into real time, for the sake of scrutinizing not only conventional communications but also the ‘internal conversations’ by which people make sense and meaning of the real world. DTF is being used in a variety of fields: developmental coaching, team facilitation, text composition and critique, project management, architectural design, and art making.

Dialectical thinking poses the question;  WHAT ELSE IS THERE? This is a positive way of asking: What is missing, incomplete, ideological, or conventional in what I am presented with? Dialectical thinking is nothing to be “taught” in the sense of “instilled into”, but rather something to be drawn out of the thinker so as to shake him/her into self-awareness. What is drawn out of the learner of dialectical thinking is the purely logical aspect of his thinking which is shown to flatten the world and rob it of its abundance and differentiation. This brings the thinker closer to how the brain’s right hemisphere sees the world and helps him avoid mistaking his re-presentations for ‘reality’.

The Interdevelopmental Institute (IDM) founded by Otto Laske has the longest record of teaching dialectical thinking in the USA. Founded in 2000, IDM has developed a curriculum for professionals of all kinds, to put to use their developmental resources for breaking the ‘logical thinking barrier’. By so doing, people move toward a holistic and transformational way of encountering the social and cultural world, in pursuit of whatever endeavor. In its newest form, IDM teaching has fully absorbed Critical Realism, with a focus on understanding and boosting human agency, as well as Stiegler’s writing about Techne (Technicity) relative to human agency, and McGilchrist’s insights into logical thinking as a mere — but run-away — emissary of its right-hemisphere master.

In the context of run-away innovation within today’s technoscience nothing could be more helpful than having acquired a practice of dialectical thinking for structuring one’s concerns and the internal conversations dealing  with them. Once apprehended and mastered, the four dialectical thinking modes and their associated ‘thought forms’ enable an enlightened common-sense practice in remediating the social and cultural ruptures that are now everybody’s daily bread.

For more details concerning the Practica, see the document attached, entitled The 2022 IDM Dialectics Practicum

Author: Otto Laske

I am the founder and director of IDM, the Interdevelopmental Institute. My background is in philosophy, psychology, consulting, and coaching based on developmental theory to which I have mightily contributed myself. See the blogs at