The etymological journey of the term antithesis begins in late Latin (antithĕsis) and then goes into Greek (antithesis) before reaching our language. A Greek word is this that is the result of the sum of several clearly defined elements such as these:
-The prefix “anti-“, which can be translated as “contrary”.
-The term “tithemi”, which is equivalent to “I put”.
-The suffix “-sis”, which is synonymous with “action”.
The first meaning mentioned in the dictionary refers to what, due to its characteristics or conditions, is completely opposite to something else.
For example: “Ricardo is the antithesis of Juana: he is silent and withdrawn, while she is all day talking and socializing”, “The opposition’s political project is the antithesis of the model that we have been successfully developing at a national level since more than a decade ago “, ” The actions of the police in this case is the antithesis of what the procedures indicate. ”
It must be established that one of the most important sentences of how many have become part of rhetoric is precisely a perfect example of what antithesis is. We are referring to the one pronounced by Neil Amstrong when he arrived on the moon in 1969: “This is a small step for man, but a great step for humanity.”
However, there are many other examples of antithesis also well known, such as these verses by renowned writers:
– “When I want to cry I don’t cry, and sometimes I cry without meaning to” (Rubén Darío).
– “Love is so short and forgetting so long” (Pablo Neruda).
– “You are like the rose of Alexandria, red at night, white by day” (Lope de Vega).
At the level of rhetoric and philosophy, the antithesis is the opposition that exists between two expressions or judgments. Its use allows the development of the dialectic that derives in the construction of knowledge.
In this framework, we find a proposition, a conception or a discourse that constitutes the thesis. It is an affirmation that, in some way, is justified or demonstrated. The antithesis is the opposite reasoning: it proposes something that contradicts the thesis, confronting its arguments. The dialectic indicates that, after the opposition between the thesis and the antithesis, a new look emerges that is condensed in the synthesis. This third proposition (the synthesis) represents a different understanding of the matter at hand.
A simplified example of the process is as follows: “Dogs are black” (thesis) / “However, yesterday I saw a white dog” (antithesis) / “There are black dogs and white dogs” (synthesis).
Within what is the field of philosophy we can emphasize that the use of the antithesis and this in itself has a number of peculiarities. Specifically, among them we can highlight the following:
-Its use can be understood because it, clearly and forcefully, can be used to undertake a rebuttal.
-Also, it should be borne in mind that, as a general rule, the antitheses used in this case are preceded by expressions such as “however”, “notwithstanding” or “but”, among others.