Hamilton: President Trump and the hegelian dialectic (column)
April 11, 2017
For those who slept through Philosophy 101, George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was a 19th century German philosopher who taught that the human mind cannot understand anything unless it can be divided into two polar opposites. In other words: Right vs. Wrong, Good vs. Evil, Left vs. Right. The late, great humorist, Robert Benchley, used to say: "The world is divided into two kinds of people: Those who divide the world into two kinds of people, and those who do not."
According to Hegel, the way the discussion of a subject or argument proceeds is for one side to propose a Thesis. Those who take an opposing view, respond with an Anti-Thesis. There the debate percolates until the proponents of the Thesis and the proponents of the Anti-Thesis can work out a Synthesis, or not.
In current American politics, Synthesis is rarely achieved. In fact, even within our two major political parties, Synthesis is, indeed, rare. For example, the Bernie Sanders wing of the Democratic Party vs. the Hillary Clinton wing. Or, the Freedom Caucus vs. the rest of the GOP.
Actually, the ancient Greek plays (circa 441 BC) often included an early form of the Hegelian Dialectic. One Greek chorus, called the Strophe, would advocate one view. Another Greek chorus, called the Antistrophe, would advocate the opposite view. Sometimes, but not always, the two choruses would join together at center stage as the Epode, chanting a unified, "Kumbaya" solution to the play's conflictions.
So far, it appears that President Trump, using Twitter, is a practitioner of the Hegelian Dialectic. President Trump offers his Thesis in the strongest of terms (some say outrageous), forcing his opponents in the myth-stream media (MSM) to respond with their Anti-Thesis. Then, depending on the 24-hour cable news cycle, the Thesis and Anti-Thesis are bandied about until everyone but the MSM figures out that President Trump, surprisingly, had the better set of facts built into his Thesis all along and that the Anti-Thesis did not have all the facts. Voila! The Synthesis, which the MSM is loath to report, is loaded with heaps of crow for the proponents of the Anti-Thesis to eat.
The most recent case in point began on March 4, 2017, when President Trump tweeted that he and his associates had been illegally surveilled by former President Obama and his associates. What the MSM failed to realize was that President Trump already had all the proof he needed to back up his Thesis (tweet). He laid a twitter trap for the MSM's Anti-Thesis.
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In the fullness of time, two congressional committees will eventually provide a Synthesis which, in the main, is highly likely to support President Trump's Thesis. But, that does not mean that the Hegelian Dialectic should be dismissed as an "Art of the Deal," con game.
Stated as: Problem: Reaction: Solution, the Hegelian Dialectic coupled with civil give-and-take debate, can be an effective means of examining all the elements of an issue Add the Westphalian conception of an agreement (a deal is a deal) and we have the basis for civilized decision-making in the Western World. Call it "Kumbaya" or Epode, the result can be Synthesis.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, is a laureate of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, the Nebraska Aviation Hall of Fame, the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma University Army ROTC Wall of Fame, and is a recipient of the University of Nebraska 2015 Alumni Achievement Award. He was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the George Washington University, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University. For more, see: http://www.central-view.com.