I may as well confess that I’m a recovering academic. As the most cursory and perfunctory background research to this post, I looked up “American Dialectic” and found a philosophy journal filled with philosophy writing by earnest young students like I used to be, and I was deep in. Tried to read a little, but I’m over my love of philosophy. Pro-tip: always remember that Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig was about a philosophy student who held on a little too tight. It’s subtitle, “an inquiry into values,” hints at its philosophical origins.
Of course the term “dialectic” derives from Hegel’s work — you know, thesis, antithesis. People in my opinion make the mistake of associating Hegel with communism, and there is an association, but that’s just communism incorporating and discrediting good work because Hegel actually provides a pathway to complexity, which is the next big philosophy thing.
Complexity will be addressed in due course, but I want to think a little about what I mean by American dialectic. The Great Seal of the United States hints at a couple of dialectics. First, the motto, “E pluribus unum,” which means “out of many, one,” and which has its own inherent dialectic-ness as one is the thesis, many is its antithesis, and the United States is the synthesis.
Additionally, the olive branch and arrows held in the eagle’s claws hint at the thesis of peace, the antithesis of war, and their synthesis again in the United States. Marines, as usual, have a more pithy and direct version, “No better friend, no worse enemy.” That same theme will emerge in this blog, which endeavors to illuminate certain philosophical themes through a narrative.
Finally, to not overlook the obvious, the seal features an eagle, a predator. Part of complexity is a deep and nuanced understanding of systemic balance, and the Nature, through which God is revealed, is driven fundamentally by a balance between predator and prey. Part of the reason that the global environment is so out of balance is that predators have a bad reputation because they eat other animals, and they have suffered commensurately. Appreciating the role of predators, like the eagle, and how they help support the natural environment will be a repeated blog theme.