Category Archives: Deutschland

Lectures on the Philosophy of World History

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

Stupid is as stupid does. This means YOU Liberals.

Hegel Knew There Would Be Days Like These

There have been places and periods of history when only a congenital optimist could have had any hope for the future of our species. Think of the end of Athens’s golden age, the fall of the Roman Empire, the petering out of the Renaissance, the close of the Enlightenment, the rise of fascism…

It’s when things look bleak indeed that it pays to remember the German 19th century philosopher Hegel. In his Lectures on the Philosophy of World History, published in 1830, Hegel offered us a way of looking at the darker periods of history that neither glosses over their pain nor refuses to give up hope — but intelligently helps us to understand why human progress cannot be linear while encouraging us to trust that it does occur nevertheless.

For Hegel, history moves forward in what he termed a dialectical way. A dialectic is a philosophical term for an argument made up of three parts:

  1. A thesis
  2. An antithesis
  3. And a synthesis

Both the thesis and the antithesis contain parts of the truth, but they are also exaggerations and distortions of the whole, and so need to clash and interact, until their best elements find resolution in a synthesis.

                          Lady Liberty leading the People

Hegel thought this pattern a constant in history. The world makes progress by lurching from one extreme to another, as it seeks to compensate for previous mistakes and generally requires three moves before the right balance on any issue can be found.

For example, the Ancient Athenians discovered the idea of individual liberty, but their regime was blind to the need for collective discipline and organisation. The Ancient Persians knew all about that and were thereby able to conquer the Athenians on the battlefield, yet they were also despotic enemies of free thought, which with time became its own liability. It took many centuries for the correct synthesis between liberty and discipline to be worked out in the form of the Roman Empire.

In Hegel’s own era, the stifling, unfair 18th-century system of inherited monarchy had been abolished by the French Revolution — but what should have been the peaceful birth of representative government ended up in the anarchy and chaos of the Terror. This in turn led to the emergence of Napoleon, who restored order but became a military brute, trampling on the liberty he had professed to love. Only after forty years and much bloodshed did the modern ‘balanced constitution’ emerge, an arrangement which more sensibly balanced up popular representation with the rights of minorities.

Or to take another example, the European Enlightenment had stressed the importance of Reason, but it had in many parts been sterile and reductive. The movement known as Romanticism had then swept in to assert the importance of Emotion but this had carried excesses of its own. Only eventually had a correct reconciliation been worked out between the legitimate, competing needs of Reason and Emotion.

Hegel’s argument has a highly consoling feel at moments when it seems that one kind of progress has been entirely lost. He is on hand to reassure us that we are merely seeing the pendulum swing back for a time. Yet he also wisely counselled that this was needed because the initial move forward had been blind to a range of crucial insights. All sides on a matter will contain important truths lodged amidst exaggerations, and bombast — yet will eventually be sifted through the wisdom of time.

Hegel reminds us that big overreactions are eminently compatible with events broadly moving forward in the right direction. The dark moments aren’t the end, they’re a challenging but even in some ways necessary part of an antithesis that will — eventually — locate a wiser point of synthesis.


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Stop TTIP! Save The Climate! Fight Poverty!

At least it looks like they’ve got enough Porta-Potties.

Observing Hermann

And while you’re at it down there, folks… Faster horses! Younger women! Older whiskey! And more money!

Elmau

It’s time to gear up for G7 demonstration time. Jeepers creepers. This is going to be like Blockupy, Burning Man and Woodstock all rolled up into one! And to really give that special psychedelic touch, let’s do it in German.

The main demonstration was due to kick off at 1200 GMT in the state capital Munich, around 100 kilometres (60 miles) north of the Alpine venue where Chancellor Angela Merkel is to welcome leaders from the club of rich nations from Sunday.

Stop G7 Elmau!

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I´ve got 99 Words for Happiness, but the Germans only have One

I see the positive side of this in semantics as well.  All these American English words are based in Goodness. The word “Good” is based on several psalms and verses.  Some argue that it has roots in the word “God.”  Timothy 4:4 “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude;”

– See more at: http://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/God,-Goodness-Of

The-Goodness-of-God

Mappalicious

In earlier posts, I´ve shared with you my personal feeling that Positive Psychology and the German language seem to be a bit of a mismatch, as my mother tongue is impoverished with respect to words describing positive experiences and states of being. Later on, I shared a study that is able to demonstrate that some languages are indeed happier than others – in that they are able to “hold” more positivity.

Today, I stumbled upon another piece of evidence pertaining to that matter. Below, you´ll see screenshots of the two most important translation websites in Germany. On the left, you can see the English words, a wide array positive states (of mind). On the right, the German translations are displayed. As you can see, all those English words are translated into the same German expression: Glück.

If Wittgenstein was right, and “The limits of my language means the limits of my world”, then having only a single…

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We Know Nothing

Who remembers Sergeant Schultz?  You know – Hogan’s Heroes with Camp Kommandant Colonel Wilhelm Klink and Air Force Colonel Robert Hogan in a Nazi POW Camp?  He “knows nothing” and gets a chuckle to this day (John Banner, Actor) even from Germans who adore the show for its silliness. Hogan's_Heroes_Title_Card

Observing Hermann

Nothing! Not even the last name of this guy. He’s just Andreas L. to us. And that’s why everybody here is so pissed off at some of the German media for revealing, like, his entire name and everything!

Andreas Lubitz

We Germans respect his privacy, you see. Even though he’s dead – along with the other 149 innocent people he killed. Oops! We don’t know that yet. No jumping to conclusions here, folks. At any rate, we’re crazy about privacy. Some say we’re even stark raving mad about it.

In the U.S., it’s standard operating procedure to release the names of people who are suspected of committing a crime. But in Germany, where people are far more sensitive about the line between public and private, that is not done. Critics in the country have cast the move as a reckless rush to judgment, and accuse the media of exploiting the tragedy…

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Easter in Germany – Ostern in Deutschland

Easter in Germany – Customs and Traditions

Colored eggs and rabbits play a large part in an Ostern in Deutschland, Easter in Germany, together with many other religious, secular and folk traditions and customs, while Good Friday and Easter Monday, originally “free days” for workers so they could attend church services, are public holidays throughout the country.

Palm Sunday, Palmsonntag, the Sunday before Easter, is a time for young people to take their first communion, and often combined with church parades in towns and villages symbolizing the journey made by Jesus, as he rode a donkey along palm branch covered roads to Jerusalem. A poignant sight.

Processions led by priests and choirs, young and old, fit pushing the infirm in wheelchairs, families, children in baby carriages and babes in arms, singing and carrying Palmbuschen, decorated pussy-willow bouquets in lieu of the difficult to find palms, to be blessed during the morning church service. The blessing was believed to give Palm Bouquets protective qualities, as well as being a sign of protection for the home and family until Ash Wednesday of the following year. They are also often the first Easter decorations in a home.

The next Thursday is Maundy Thursday, Gruendonnerstag Green Thursday, celebrated since the 13th century and originally with no connection to green but stemming from an old German word, greinen to groan, mourn or weep, because it commemorated the Last Supper and the betrayal by Judas.

Over time this association was lost, and been replaced by “green” as the color of hope and symbol for the awaking of nature after the winter.

Homes are cleaned and decorated with green branches or ornaments, while green food, green vegetables: spinach, beans, broccoli, leeks with chives and other herbs, make up the meals of the day. Popular ones are Gruene Bohnensuppe, Green Bean Soup, and Sieben Kraeuter Suppe, Seven Herb Soup, because of a custom based on an old superstition that green foods eaten on Gruendonnerstag give protection for the rest of the year.

Good Friday, Karfreitag is from kara – “care”, Caring Friday. The week after Palm Sunday used to be known as Karwoche, “Caring Week”, and Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were dedicated to an account from the bible, but now only the Friday is marked by a special liturgy, as a day of remembrance for the crucifixion, with church services and religious processions.

Including the Kreuzwegandacht, which is a walk in prayer along the 15 Stations of the Cross, and usually held at 3 p.m. The time it is said Jesus died on the cross.

No church bells are rung and children are told they have flown to Rome to be blessed.

Fish is often on the menu on Good Friday, and it could be anything from herring salad or fish soup to an extravagant fish terrine.

In many areas the bakers mark the crust of the day’s bread with a cross, although its four sections could also have represented the quarters of the moon honoring the pre-Christian Eostre, the goddess of spring, which later become Easter. A religious festival controlled by the lunar calendar.

Easter Bonfires, “Osterfeuer”, are a custom that takes place on the Saturday, or in some regions on Easter Sunday or Monday, based on a Christian belief fire is a sign of the resurrection of Christ. Although the tradition dates back to at least the 16th century its origins are probably from pre-Christian days, and the families, friends and neighbors who gather around bonfires, which are made mainly from old Christmas trees, are not all Christians but there to have “fun”, the tradition and the light and warmth of fire symbolizing the end of winter and arrival of spring.

Osterraeder, huge flaming wood and straw wheels, are an alternative way of marking Easter and winter’s end just as they were used to represent the sun 2,000 years ago, especially in parts of North Rhine Westphalian. A spectacular sight, they roll down hills leaving behind hundreds of meters of burning tracks, and if the wheel makes it to the bottom of the hill this is a sign that the next harvest will be successful.

Ostersonntag, Easter Sunday, a day of celebration for the triumph of life over death, when the Easter rabbit or hare brings colored and chocolate eggs, hiding them or leaving them in nests already prepared by children.

This odd combination of rabbit, eggs and a Christian Festival began in the Middle Ages. Rents due from tenant farmers had to be paid on the Thursday before Easter, and as they had not been eaten during Lent Medieval landlords were paid in eggs that had been cooked to preserve them. As well as with hares caught on their property.

Nevertheless it was not until the mid 20th century that the rabbit as Egg Bringer finally won out over the foxes, storks and cranes that up until then had shared the tradition.

And with all those cooked eggs around Frankfurter Gruene Sosse mit Eiern, Eggs with Frankfurter Green Sauce, using herbs left from Green Thursday, is a favorite dish that is often added to the Easter Sunday end of Lent meal.

Ostermontag, Easter Monday in Germany, is the final day of Easter celebrations and a public holiday. It’s a family day when the entire extended family could meet for lunch, this used to be lamb but the tradition is no longer as strong as it was, and then there might be egg rolling competitions, visits to the countryside, to sports events or festivals.

Many towns hold special festivals and processions and one of these is Traunstein in Bavaria, where Joseph Ratzinger, the former Pope Benedikt XVI, lived when young.

It is the scene of the St. George Parade, a horse mounted pilgrimage in traditional dress, accompanied by brass bands, with the riders in armor andmaidens in medieval costumes. The climax of the parade is a blessing given to a gathering of almost 500 horses from the neighborhood, a complete mixture of various shapes, sizes, ages and types, none of whom are outshone by “St. George’s” pure white steed.

It is the last day of Easter celebrations, but not the end of Eastertide. That is Whitsun, Pfingsten and in Germany many of the trees, branches, wells and fountains decorated with colored eggs, together with greenery remaining from Palm Sunday, will stay in place for fifty days until the end of the celebrations for Pfingsten and Pfingstenmontag.

Frohe Ostern! – Happy Easter

Illustrations: The Stations of the Cross, 9th Station Jesus helped by Simon of Cyrene, photographer Unterillertaler, de.Wikipedia – Osterraederlauf in Luedge, photographer Nifoto, de.Wikipedia – Horses leaving the ancient Ettendorfer Kircherl, Traunstein, on Easter Monday, ChiemgauOnline

Content copyright © 2014 by Francine McKenna-Klein. All rights reserved.

Original Source: http://www.bellaonline.com/

The German Wings

Today this is a town in deep mourning, for the 16 high school pupils and two teachers who were victims of Germanwings Flight 4U 9525, as they returned from a school exchange trip in Spain. Haltern am See in Muenster, North Rhine-Westphalia.

Flags at German embassies and organizations around the world have been at half mast today in honor of the 150 lives lost.

Haltern am See, 13th century Watermill in Sythen.

germanwings

Content copyright © 2014 by Francine McKenna-Klein. All rights reserved.

Original Source: http://germanculture.bellaonline.com/Site.asp

March Equinox – What a History

Friday was March Equinox, Spring Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. A time to celebrate new beginnings and all will be quiet here at Grosser Karlsteine, Charlemagne’s Stones, in Osnabruck. But on Winter Solstice and Summer Equinox orbs of light are said to hover over the stones to a background of tortured screaming, while stains appear on them that are impossible to explain away.

Charlemagne's Stones

Charlemagne’s Stones

The haunted stones of “Karlsteine im Hone”, a former pagan temple and burial area. A megalithic chambered tomb built sometime between 3,500 and 2,800 BC, the alleged phenomenon is said to be a result of pagan priests being killed, and their graves desecrated, by Charlemagne.

There is a legend that he broke the site’s largest altar stone with just one blow, to prove Christian beliefs were stronger than paganism.

The population of this region, as many others during Charlemagne’s reign, converted to Christianity – the alternative being death.

Charlemagne, Charles the Great, was later crowned western Europe’s first Emperor in three centuries by Pope Leo III in 800 AD, and his remains lie in Aachen cathedral, the oldest cathedral in northern Europe.

Photo of Karlsteine im Hone (Karl’s Stones), Osnabrueck, Lower Saxony in northwestern Germany, via strassedermegalithkultur.de – The Route of Megalithic Culture. Strasse der Megalithkultur, a 310 kilometer – 193 mile journey of discovery through Megalithic era sites.

Original Source: German Culture