#AtoZAprilChallenge: Dialectic

Plato According to Williams dialectic “appeared in English from the fourteenth century, in its Latin sense to describe what we would now call logic. Dialectique, dialectica, dialektike, were all, in their primary senses, the art of discussion and debate, and then, by derivation, the investigation of truth and discussion… Plato’s version has an important subsequent history: dialektike meant the art of defining ideas and, related to this, the method of determining the interrelations of ideas in the light of a single principle. These two senses would later be distinguished as logic and metaphysics respectively…

There was then a special and influential use of dialectic in German idealist philosophy. This extended the notion of contradiction in the course of a discussion or dispute to a notion of contradiction in reality. For Kant, dialectical criticism showed the mutually contradictory character of the principles of knowledge when these were extended to metaphysical realities. For Hegel, such contradictions were surpassed, both in thought and in the world-history… in a higher and unified truth: the dialectical process was then the continual unification of opposites, in the complex relation of parts to a whole. A version of this process – the famous triad of thesis, antithesis and synthesis – was given by Fichte. It was then in Marxism that the sense of dialectic to indicate a progressive unification  through the contradiction of opposites was given a specific reference in what Engels called dialectical materialism.”

Brandenburg and her capital: #longing

I dream of the city, as it was, long before Frederick, not the capital of  a respected and feared kingdom, with a formidable army, but the main settlement of a peaceful people, in the midst of lakes and thick forests, surrounded by wilderness.

Soldiers plundering a farm during the thirty years' war Then came the long war, the uninterrupted banditry, the destructions, the killing of women and children by drunk and pitiless soldiers, the burning of churches. All the German lands were ransacked by marauding troops of mercenaries, and the land’s own army was no better. Lawlessness ruled, and finally the whole land laid in ruins. But the people fought back, order was recreated out of chaos… It took thirty years.

The city, Faust’s city, later became the capital of the new kingdom, that was proclaimed, far to the East, in Königsberg, on the shores of the Baltic Sea, the Ostsee. When Frederick, der Philosopher König, inherited the crown from his father, der Soldaten König, Prussia was already a power among the other European powers. His city, Berlin, became the centre of the Enlightenment, and it was befitting that Königsberg was also Immanuel Kant’s birth place.

So, I keep dreaming, of the long history, of Blücher’s victory in Waterloo, for it was Prussia, and the Prussian armies that won that war. Before many others. I see the Siegessaüle column, in the middle of the Tiergarten, and the memorial that dominates Viktoria Park. My thoughts are never very far from there, from the streets of Kreuzberg, from the river, from the Landwehr canal where they threw the martyred body of Rosa Luxemburg in 1919. So much to think about, to write about.

Soon, we will walk those streets again, our minds full of those memories, our eyes capturing the beauty and strangeness of the scenery: us, among  so many others, enthralled, astonished, under the spell of Berlin. And so many ghosts, so many familiar faces that cannot be there, but somehow are, out of films, out of books, out of our own demented imagination, out of a deep past.