chapter  1
Introduction
Natural necessity, being and becoming
Pages 21

The recent republication of Roy Bhaskar’s works of the early 1990s, Dialectic: The Pulse of Freedom (1993, 2008b)1 and Plato Etc. (1994, 2009), provides an appropriate occasion for reflection on what has become known as the dialectical turn in his thought, the philosophical system that he called dialectical critical realism. When these books were published, they seemed destined to have a major impact on critical philosophy, social theory and in the social sciences generally, but this has not happened. Overall, they have tended to be marginalised, and even in critical realist circles it is only a mild overstatement to describe dialectical critical realism as the ‘forgotten turn’ in Bhaskar’s work. Bhaskar himself moved in works published in the late 1990s2 to spiritual concerns, and the effect of this later turn, whether the reaction to it was positive or negative, was to overshadow the dialectical works. To use a Bhaskarian metaphor, these works were subject to a ‘squeeze’ between two standpoints, that of original critical realism, by which I mean the philosophy advanced by Bhaskar up to the period of his dialectical work, and the post-dialectical works informed by spiritual themes. Now, with a measure of distance between these three periods of intellectual output, it is time for a reappraisal of Bhaskar’s dialectic.