One basic tenet of the opponent process theory is that there is a gradual unbalancing of the relation between an emotion and its own counter agent. For example holding a bucket of bricks with a wire handle, the intensity of the pain which is generated also produces and correlates with the degree of relief once the bricks are put down. according to the theory over time the ratio shifts and more brick holding becomes required for diminishing levels of relief.

could this be interpreted as a thesis generating its antithesis?

  • 2
    Just in passing: Hegel never uses this "thesis-anthithesis-synthesis" language -- maybe you could specify your "Hegelian" reading here a bit further?
    – Joseph Weissman
    Aug 21, 2012 at 21:33
  • a fair point. i can't claim to fully understand the dialectic as it's explained by Hegel, but in his notion of identity "Identity is the identity of identity and non-identity", it encompasses both what it is and its negation. At each moment in the 'holding bricks-not holding bricks' process there are the effects of both the pain and relief implicated in both the holding and the putting down, i think in a sense this may be seen as an "Identity [of] identity of identity and non-identity"
    – Dr Sister
    Aug 22, 2012 at 5:49
  • do you guys get it though? i think maybe the question is a bit sparse for details.. its the assumption that relief is the negation of the pain in the brick holding example, so holding them contains both the pain of carrying, and the degree of relief that will be felt. I think insofar as relief is considered the negation pain, then this could be seen as similar to the idea of a phenomena being produced as an identity and an it's negation .. things encompassing what they are and also the forces which negate them, and yet they are experienced as a unified event as its effects are spread out
    – Dr Sister
    Aug 25, 2012 at 9:19

1 Answer 1


The Opponent Process Theory (OPT) of emotion, proposed by Richard Solomon, suggests that every emotional experience triggers an opposing emotion. Over time, the initial emotional response (A-process) weakens, while the opposing emotional response (B-process) strengthens[1]. This theory has been applied to various areas, including color perception and emotional and motivational states[1][2][3][4].

On the other hand, the Hegelian dialectic, proposed by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, is a philosophical process that involves a thesis generating an antithesis, which then combine to form a synthesis. This synthesis then becomes a new thesis, generating a new antithesis, and the cycle continues[5][6][7].

While both theories involve a process of opposition, they are fundamentally different in their applications and implications. The OPT is a psychological and biological theory used to explain specific phenomena like color perception and emotional responses[1][3][4]. The Hegelian dialectic, however, is a philosophical concept used to understand the progression of ideas and historical change[5][6][7].

In the OPT, the opposing process (B-process) does not synthesize with the initial process (A-process) to form a new state. Instead, the B-process counteracts the A-process, and with repeated exposure, the A-process weakens while the B-process strengthens[1]. This is different from the Hegelian dialectic, where the thesis and antithesis resolve their conflict through a synthesis, forming a new thesis[5][6][7].

Therefore, while the OPT and the Hegelian dialectic both involve opposition, they are not equivalent. The OPT could be seen as a thesis generating an antithesis, but it does not follow the full Hegelian process of synthesizing into a new state.


[1] https://www.simplypsychology.org/opponent-process-theory.html

[2] http://gettingstronger.org/2010/05/opponent-process-theory/

[3] https://www.healthline.com/health/opponent-process-theory

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opponent_process

[5] https://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/it/croce.htm

[6] https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/hegel/

[7] https://iep.utm.edu/hegelsoc/

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